The suffix -stān
(spelled ـستان in the Perso-Arabic script
) is Persian
for "place of", derived from the Indo-Aryan
((स्थान in the Devanāgarī script
), a cognate Sanskrit
suffix with a similar meaning. In Indo-Aryan languages, sthāna
is also used as a word to mean "place".
They appear in the names of many countries and regions, especially in Central Asia and the Indian subcontinent, areas where ancient Indo-Iranian peoples were established; in Iranian, however, it is also used more generally, as in Persian rigestan (ريگستان) 'place of sand, desert' and golestan (گلستان) 'place of roses, rose garden', Hindi/Sanskrit devasthan (place of devas, "temple"), etc. Both suffixes are of Indo-Iranian and ultimately Indo-European origin, the Proto-Indo-European root being *stā- 'stand,' which is also the source of English stand, Latin stāre, and Greek histamai (ίσταμαι), all meaning 'stand,' as well as many other words, for instance the Russian word стан (stan) meaning 'settlement' or 'semi-permanent camp' (used in reference to semi-nomadic settlements encountered in certain areas of Central Asia) or in other Slavic languages such as Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian where stan means 'apartment'. Also in Germanic languages the suffix has survived, for example in the words Stadt (German), stad (Dutch/Danish) and stêd (West Frisian), all meaning 'city'. The English suffix "-stead" is also yet another variant.
The suffix -stan occurs in the following names, mostly geographical or pseudo-geographical:
- Avaristan — Avari name for Avari land in Dagestan (Russia)
- Balawaristan — another name for the Northern Areas, Pakistan.
- Balochistan or Baluchistan
- Baltistan (in Pakistani Kashmir)
- Bantustan — Apartheid-era South African black 'homelands'; the term is coined by an analogy
- Bargustan/Borgustan - to the NNorth of modern Kislovodsk, mentioned by Evliya Çelebi
- Bashkortostan — constituent republic of Russia
- Cholistan Desert
- Dagestan — constituent republic of the Russian Federation, literally "place of mountains"
- East Pakistan (or East Bengal, historic name for pre-independence Bangladesh)
- Gulistan ("rose garden" in Persian, an Iranian province and a city in Uzbekistan; compare with Gulistan Palace in Tehran and the poem by Saadi)
- Hindustan - originally either the subcontinent of India, or northern India and Pakistan.
- Hunistan, Chenestan - kingdom of Huns in the modern territory of Kumyks
- Kabulistan — ("The Kabul land" — old term used in many historical books and old Persian literature books for Kabul. Kabulistan contained a larger region than today's Kabul Province. Some times it is called as the country of Kabulistan)
- Kafiristan — ("land of the infidels"), historic region in Afghanistan until 1896, now known as Nuristan
- Karakalpakstan — constituent republic of Uzbekistan
- Khuzestan — a province of southwestern Iran
- Kurdistan — Kurdish region
- Kordestan - a Kurdish province in Iran
- Lazistan — another name for Colchis, a region in the Caucasus
- Lorestan or Luristan — a province of western Iran
- Nurestan Province — Afghanistan, formed in 2001
- Pashtunistan or Pakhtunistan is what many Pashtun nationalists call the Pashtun-dominated areas of Pakistan.
- Rajasthan — a state in India
- Registan — historic site in Samarkand, meaning "place of sand"
- Seistan or Sistan — a province of Iran and Afghanistan
- Tatarstan — a constituent republic of the Russian Federation
- Talyshistan - ethnolinguistic region in the SE Caucus and NW Iran
- Turkestan — ethnolinguistic region encompassing Central Asia, northwest China, parts of the Caucasus and Asia Minor
- Uyghurstan - Region of the Uyghur people, located in the north west of People's Republic Of China
- Waziristan — region of northwest Pakistan
- Zabulistan — a historical region in the border area of today's Iran and Afghanistan, around the city Zabol
- Zanjistan, or Zenjistan, term used in medieval texts to refer to the homeland of the Zanj, black slaves of probably East African origin
Other proposed names include Dalitstan, Mughalstan, and other similar names that originated on the Dalitstan website.
- Absurdistan — sometimes used to satirically describe a country where everything goes wrong.
- Boratistan — name used by Kazakh press secretary Roman Vasilenko to describe an image of Kazakhstan created by Sacha Baron Cohen's character, Borat.
- Canuckistan, Soviet Canuckistan — derogatory nickname of Canada.
- Ethniclashistan — sometimes used satirically to describe countries in which multiple ethnic groups were thrown together, who then began fighting each other, e.g. Yugoslavia, the former Soviet Union. It was featured in the satirical The Onion newspaper in June, 2001 as being placed in the West Bank in the article Northern Irish, Serbs, Hutus Granted Homeland In West Bank (here spelled Ethniklashistan)
- Incumbistan - introduced by columnist Mark Steyn to refer to the efforts of politicians of all parties to unite to enact rules seen as assuring their continued reelection
- Londonistan — the British capital of London was given this sobriquet by French counter-terrorism agents.
- Londonistan (book) A book that sounds a warning about how the culture of the United Kingdom is being changed by a high concentration of immigrants.
- Nukhavastan — fictional country created by The Onion that has nuclear weapons.
- Redneckistan - See American South
- Trashcanistan - a joking way of referring to Afghanistan often used by US military personnel.
- The three Jetlag parody travel guides contain faux ads for guides to other countries, each with a -stan reference. Molvanîa contains an ad for "Surviving Moustaschistan" (mentioning also "Carpetstan"), Phaic Tăn contains an ad for "Sherpastan", and San Sombrèro contains an ad for "Tyranistan".