The Gender of Countries in the German Language

Which countries use der, die, and das.

JFK speaking to crowd in Berlin, black and white photograph.
JFK famously said "Ich bin ein Berliner".

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Most countries are spelled differently in German than English and they may be masculine, feminine, or neuter. It's easiest to simply memorize which gender is associated with which country in the German language as you learn the spellings of the countries themselves.

Gender of Countries

Generally speaking, countries in German are not preceded by definite articles. There are however exceptions. The following are some countries that do take on definite articles when talking or writing about them.

  • DIE : die Schweiz, die Pfalz, die Türkei, die Europäische Union
  • DIE Plural: die Vereinigten Staaten (the United States), die USA, die Niederlande
  • DER: der Irak, der Libanon, der Sudan (note that Middle Eastern countries tend to be masculine).
  • DAS: das Tessin, das Elsass, das Baltikum

'Born in' versus 'From'

When stating that someone is from a certain city, often the suffix –er/ erin will be added:

Berlin -> ein Berliner, eine Berlinerin
Köln (Cologne)-> ein Kölner, eine Kölnerin
To state that someone is from a certain country, see Countries and Cities in German
To some cities that already end in –er, you can add –aner/ anerin: ein Hannoveraner, eine Hannoveranerin
However, that is quite a mouthful, therefore it is more commonly expressed as such: Sie/ Er kommt aus Hannover. (She/He is from Hanover.)