Want your child to feel a connection to where you grew up, your family’s ancestral homeland, your preferred vacation spot, or simply a dreamy-sounding faraway place? You’re not alone. According to 2013 data from the Social Security Administration (and the State Department’s list of every country in the world), thousands of American babies born last year were given names seemingly inspired by more than two dozen countries.
It’s not terribly difficult to think of celebrities who share their names with countries — America Ferrara, Holland Taylor, India.Arie, Ireland Baldwin, even Morocco Tyson — but interestingly, most of these names aren’t obviously attributable to a particular famous namesake. Malaysia, our clear winner, cracked the top 500 most popular female baby names for the first time in 2013, after its popularity nearly doubled between 2011 and 2012. (One possible explanation is that the reality TV show Basketball Wives LA premiered in August 2011, with NBA point guard Jannero Pargo’s wife Malaysia among its stars.)
We omitted four relatively common names from this chart — Jordan, Chad, Israel (its origins actually date back to Genesis), and Georgia — under the assumption that most of those children weren’t named specifically for those countries. But of course, take all this with a grain of salt. Mali, for instance, might very well refer to the West African country in some cases, but it’s also a Thai word meaning “flower” and the Welsh form of Molly.