16 place names you’ve probably been mispronouncing your whole life

Part of travel is educating yourself about the places you’re going. And even if you’re not planning to visit, part of being a traveler is educating yourself about the places in the world.

But where does one even begin with such a biggish task?

Probably with at least getting the country and city names right.

There are so many places in the world that we’ve either never heard of, never heard said out loud or have just spent our entire lives thinking the way we say it is the way to say it. However, chances are, no matter how many Jeopardy questions you can answer and feel smart, I’m pretty sure there’s at least one place on this list that’s going to make you say: whaaaaattttt?

So, let’s make ourselves smarter. Because no one wants to be the person getting side eye for saying the name of a country wrong when everyone else in the circle already knows what’s up.

1. Bequia, St. Vincent & The Grenadines

Photo props: Flickr size4riggerboots

Wrong: Beh-kwee-uh

Right: Beck-way

Fun fact: This tiny island in the Caribbean is known for building boats, which it’s been doing for hundreds of years. Also, the beaches here are unreal in their beauty and largely secluded.

2. Phuket, Thailand

Photo props: Flickr Jeff Gunn

Wrong: Foo-ket

Right: Poo-ket

Fun fact: The word Phuket means mountain jewel, and when you see some of the beaches in this place, it makes perfect sense.

3. Qatar

Photo props: Flickr Christian Senger

Wrong: Kah-tar

Right: Kuhtter

Fun fact (though this one’s more fact than fun): When it’s not having major issues with the Middle East and Africa over terrorism, Qatar is known for having the highest per capita income in the world.

4. Beijing, China

Wrong: Bay-zhhing

Right: Bey-jing

Fun fact: Beijing is the birthplace and world capital of Peking duck and it’s so exceedingly good there, it would be worth traveling back for that alone. (Here’s my post on how best to spend two days in Beijing).

5. Greenwich, England

Photo props: Flickr Daniel Kakiuthi

Wrong: Green-witch

Right: Gren-itch

Fun fact: Greenwich is home to the Prime Meridian, an imaginary line that divides the world into east and west, marked by the Royal Observatory. It’s where standardized time and time zones started, and where Greenwich Mean Time comes from.

6. Edinburgh, Scotland

Photo props: Flickr barnyz

Wrong: Edin-borough

Right: Edin-bur

Fun fact: Turns out the famous Edinburgh Castle is built on an extinct volcano.

7. Reykjavik, Iceland

Photo props: Flickr michi_s

Wrong: Rake-ja-vick

Right: Rey-kya-vick

Fun fact: As Iceland Magazine put it, Iceland was a “curious country” in the 20th century—beer was banned there from 1915-1989, there was no TV on Thursdays until 1987 and dogs were even banned from 1924-1984, so now the city’s overrun with cats.

8.  Melbourne, Australia

Photo props: Flickr Michael Coghlan

Wrong: Mel-born

Right: Melb’n

Fun fact: Melbourne has the most cafes/restaurants per capita in the world. (Check out which of those gazillion restos made my list of 20 of the most Instagram-worthy food spots around the world).

9. Brisbane, Australia

Photo props: Flickr Rodney Topor

Wrong: Bris-bayne

Right: Brisb’n

Fun fact: The early Aboriginal people called Brisbane Mian-jin, which means “place shaped like a spike.”

10. Antigua, Caribbean

Photo props: Flickr Henrik Winther Andersen

Wrong: An-tee-gwah

Right: An-tee-guh

Fun fact: If you’re in the Caribbean Antigua, it’s An-tee-guh, but in Guatemala, its city of Antigua is actually pronounced An-tee-gwah. Also, the highest point in the island’s Shekerley Mountains was renamed Mount Obama in 2009 after President Obama.

11. Niger

Photo props: Flickr Gustave Deghilage

Wrong: Nye-jer

Right: Nee-zhair

Fun fact: Niger is one of the hottest countries of the world, even earning itself the nickname “The Frying Pan of the World.” Apparently we’re talking hot enough to make a rain drop evaporate before it touches ground.

12. Iraq

Photo props: Flickr Larisa Epatko

Wrong: Eye-rack

Right: Ee-rock

Fun fact: Some researchers have claimed Brits and Irish can trace their roots back to Iraq. Things that make you go hmmm.

13. Worcestershire, England

Photo props: Flickr Vince O’Sullivan

Wrong: Wor-chester-shyr

Right: Wusta-sheer

Fun fact: Lea & Perrins, the men behind Worcestershire the sauce, were chemists from Worcestershire the place, and their famous sauce goes into Caesar salad, Bloody Mary’s and probably a million other things.

14. Colombia

Wrong: Co-lum-bee-a

Right: Co-lohm-bee-a

Fun (actually sort of dark) fact: Once Pablo Escobar’s kingdom, Medellin was, at one point, the murder capital of the world. Now it’s a foodie capital in its own right. (So there’s that and these 5 things you didn’t know about Medellin).

15. Budapest, Hungary

Photo props: Flickr Frank Schmidt

Wrong: Boo-da-pest

Right: Boo-da-pesht

Fun fact: Budapest is home to one of the largest music festivals in the world, the Sziget Festival, which takes place over seven days every August.

16. Montreal, Canada

Photo props: Flickr Pedro Szekely

Wrong: Mon-tree-all

Right: Mun-tree-all

Fun fact: Eighty-five percent of the world’s maple syrup comes from Québec, the Canadian province Montreal belongs to. Also, Montreal is really big on fun summer festivals. It even has one dedicated entirely to poutine, its beloved french fries/cheese curds/brown gravy concoction. The festival starts today (Aug. 8-13) if you’re planning to be around.