What Are the French Names of Countries, Nationalities, and Languages?

How to Name Names on a Globe of the World

Using the names of countries around the world is fairly easy, if you have memorized them. This is easy vocabulary because the French names are very similar to what you are used to saying in English. The only tricky part is making sure you use the correct prepositions, which change with the gender of the country or continent you're discussing.

Beyond the country name itself, we will learn the word describing the nationality of a country's residents and the names of the primary languages spoken.

Plus, we will review the names for the world's continents. 

Note that the additional letters required to make nationalities and adjectives feminine are indicated in parentheses after the relevant words. Finally, wherever you see a little speaker after a name, you can click on it and hear the word pronounced.

The Continents ('Les Continents')

In the United States, the prevailing convention is seven continents (listed in the table below), while some countries list six continents and others, like France, identify five. 

The French say there are five major continents, which include: l’Afrique, l’Amérique, l’Asie, l'Europe, and l'Océanie, on which the five rings of the Olympic flag are based. But five become seven if you add l'Antarctique and if you count deux ("two") Amériques, according to l'Encyclopédie Larousse. For the record, l'Océanie (Oceania) is not a continent per se; "Oceania," says National Geographic, is a convenient way to agglomerate the lands of the Pacific Ocean, including Melanesia, Micronesia, and Polynesia—which are not part of any continent—and Australia, which is a continent.

In the chart below, notice the similarities between the English and French names. The adjectives are very similar and can be used to describe the residents of each continent; note that the adjectives are not capitalized.

ContinentIn FrenchAdjective
North AmericaAmérique du Nordnord-américain(e)
South AmericaAmérique du Sudsud-américain(e)

Languages and Nationalities ('Les langues et les nationalités')

It would be a very long list if we were to include every country in the world; National Geographic says that "at last count, there were 195 independent countries," including the 193 member states of the United Nations and two states with nonmember observer status: the Holy See and the State of Palestine.

So we're going with a small, indicative selection here. It is designed to give you an idea of how countries, nationalities, and languages are translated from French to English and vice versa. That said, we do have a comprehensive list of the French names for the world's countries elsewhere, which you would do well to review.

For nationalities, the proper noun (the nationality) and adjective (describing the nationality) are spelled exactly the same, except the proper noun is capitalized, while the adjective is not capitalized. Thus: un Américain but un type américain.

You will also notice that the masculine adjective for many of these countries is spelled and pronounced just like the languages. 

Only the primary languages for each country are included in this list, since the residents of many countries speak multiple languages.

Also, note that the names of the languages are always masculine and are not capitalized.

Country NameName In FrenchNationalityLanguage(s)
AlgeriaAlgérieAlgérien(ne)l'arabe, le français
BelgiumBelgiqueBelgele flamand, le français
BrazilBrésilBrésilien(ne)le portugais
CanadaCanadaCanadien(ne)le français, l'anglais
ChinaChineChinois(e)le chinois
FranceFranceFrançais(e)le français
IndiaIndeIndien(ne)l'hindi (plus many others)
IrelandIrlandeIrlandais(e)l'anglais, l'irlandais
JapanJaponJaponais(e)le japonais
MoroccoMarocMarocain(e)l'arabe, le français
NetherlandsPays-BasNéerlandais(e)le néerlandais
PolandPolognePolonais(e)le polonais
PortugalPortugalPortugais(e)le portugais
RussiaRussieRussele russe
SenegalSénégalSénégalais(e)le français
SwitzerlandSuisseSuissel'allemand, le français, l'italien
United StatesUnited StatsAméricain(e)l'anglais