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Keeping the 'stans straight

Oct 072015

I've got a tip for you that will make it really easy to learn the location of the countries that end with "stan"!  

There are seven countries in Central Asia that end in "stan". Thankfully, Pakistan and Afghanistan have been around for a lot longer, so for those of us who grew up and learned our geography back when the U.S.S.R. existed, we really only have to learn 5 of them. 

 For starters, the other five "stans", in alphabetical order, are:

  • Kazakhstan
  • Kyrgyzstan
  • Tajikistan
  • Turkmenistan
  • Uzbekistan

Notice that there are two K's, two T's, and a U. We're simply going to put them on the map clockwise from the top, starting with Kazakhstan and ending with Uzbekistan:


Simple, right? And Afghanistan and Pakistan are right underneath, in alphabetical order, from the top down.

Are you ready to try out the tip? Try it out now on the Central Asia: Countries that end with stan quiz.

(By the way, the suffix 'stan' comes from the Persian root, istan, meaning land.)

WARNING: The next part, the capital cities, gets a little crazy. You may not even want to try to get through this - but if you've got a test coming up, and you really need to memorize this, it might help.

Ready for the capital cities? They aren't quite as easy to create a tip for, but here's my best shot... 

First, let's review the capitals:

  • Astana, Kazakhstan
  • Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan
  • Dushanbe, Tajikistan  (did you notice, so far we're still in alphabetical order?)
  • Ashgabat, Turkmenistan (uh-oh, another one starting with 'A'!)
  • Tashkent, Uzbekistan
  • Kabul, Afghanistan
  • Islamabad, Pakistan

For the capitals, we're going do the clockwise circle thing again, but we'll drop Ashgabat, Turkmenistan out of the list, and do it later, along with Afghanistan and Pakistan.

What we're left with is basically still alphabetical order, clockwise, starting with Kazakhstan, as before, but this time we'll leave out Turkmenistan, which was the most southern country in our previous clockwise loop:


For the last 3, we have:

  • Kabul, Afghanistan
  • Islamabad, Pakistan
  • Ashgabat, Turkmenistan

Nothing's in alphabetical order (my favourite go-to memory tip), so we're going to use first letters to make something we can pronounce: AshTu-KA-IP. That stands for Ashgabat, Turkmenistan - Kabul, Afghanistan - Islamabad, Pakistan.  And it's going on the map from top left towards bottom right:


Ready to try out the capital cities tips? Here's the Central Asia: capital cities of the stan countries quiz