Zimbabwe’s name originates from one of the most prominent landmarks in the country. The name is derived from a large, historical stone structure called the Great Zimbabwe, which translates to “houses of stone,” the Zimbabwe embassy’s website explains. The embassy’s site states that this stone structure is one of the largest in Africa following the Egyptian pyramids.
Prior to the era of colonial rule by Germany, various tribes had already settled into the country that would soon become known as Togo. In the neighboring countries of Ghana and Benin, Portuguese settlers built forts and began to trade at the small fort at Porto Seguro, according to the Journal of the Royal African Society. The area became a major trading center for Europeans in search of slaves, earning the region the name Togo, which translates to “The Slave Coast.”
According to an article published by the National Assembly of Seychelles, the 115-island country was named after Jean Moreau de Sechelles, Louis XV’s minister of finance. In 1756, the French started taking control of the country, which was eventually contested by the British for years starting in 1794.
Gabon’s name originated from the unusual shape of the Rio de Como estuary, according to Encyclopedia of Nations. The Portuguese arrived on the country’s coast around 1470 when explorers realized the estuary was shaped like a hooded cloak called a “gabao.” After a series of adaptations and translations, the country became known as Gabon.
According to Mauritius: A Country Study, the island nation was named in honor of Prince Maurice Nassau by Dutch explorers. In 1715, the French claimed the country and renamed it Ile de France before the British captured the country in 1810 and changed its name back to Mauritius.
According to the country’s official tourism site, the origin of Mozambique’s name isn’t certain, but there is a widely believed theory. The site explains that it is “believed to have come from the name of a Muslim leader called ‘Musa al Bique’ that lived in the Island of Mozambique, where Vasco de Gama in 1498 anchored his ship.”