The United States of…Columbia?!?

Lady Columbia

Known today for the less well-known (and let’s be honest, far less deserving) – Amerigo Vespucci, America was once affectionately known as Columbia!

Countries have long been supplied with anthropomorphisms. The former Gaul (France) is known as Gallia, for example. Britain is known affectionately as Britannia, Germany Germania, and Switzerland Helvetia (not to be confused with this cheese).

In the mid-1800s it was common for European countries to adopt a Latin variant that added a bit of gravitas and poetic credibility to their country. The blossoming British Colonies in America adopted Columbia for the more famous Italian explorer as the personification through which, symbolically at least, they channelled their hopes and dreams for freedom.

By the time the War of Independence was won, Columbia had caught on as the popular reference for the new country. Ode to Columbia’s Favourite Son was written about General Washington [the words of which can be found in Thomas Jefferson’s Scrapbooks.]

Although Columbia has fallen from prominence (a distant second behind Lady Liberty since the World Wars of the 20th Century), and a variation of which is now taken by Venezuela’s western neighbor, Columbia has been distilled (at least in name) throughout the United States:

Source: Wikipedia 1, 2,3,

One Response to The United States of…Columbia?!?

  1. Anonymous says:

    If America was called Columbia it would be much easier to distinguish the country and the continent in a discussion so i guess it’s a shame the USA is not the USC.
    But it’s just names.

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