If you’ve got a really common last name, you might wish you had something a bit more unique and special, while those that do have a surname outside of the ordinary probably wish they had a name that other people could actually spell right. So, there’s upsides and downsides to any kind of last names, but do you know what the most common last name in your country is? How about in other countries around the world?
The chances are, if you’re from an English-speaking country, that one surname, in particular, popped into your head when you saw that question, and that name was ‘Smith’. And, yes, unsurprisingly Smith is the most popular last night in the UK, USA, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. However, around the world there’s plenty of fascinating results, so why not have a look and find out the most common last names in every country:
There’s plenty of diversity here, with Mohamed featuring a few times in the predominantly Muslim countries, but very few other similarities across a continent where surnames come from the geographic origin, occupation, lineage or personal characteristics. There’s also an interesting mix of countries where the last names reflect colonial pasts with those where African naming heritages were reclaimed along with independence. So, while the most common last name in Cape Verde is the Portuguese ‘Fernandes’, in Kenya it’s Mwangi and in Ghana it’s Mensah.
With 4.5 billion people living in Asia, it’s no surprise that there’s a wide variety of last names on this continent. The names here come from famous dynasties and empires long past, and these names are often much more common than in western countries like the United States. For example, there’s one Smith in every 121 Americans, while in Vietnam one in four people shares the nickname Nguyen.
Along with Smith, other common last names in Europe include Murphy in Ireland, Martin in France, Muller in Germany, Garcia in Spain and Rossi in Italy. There are probably few surprises there, but did you know that Rossi was also the most common name in the principality of Monaco?
One surname dominates this map in terms of size, of course, and there’s no surprise south of the border either with Hernandez the most common name in Mexico, as well as Honduras and El Salvador. Rodriguez is the most common last name in Cuba, Costa Rica, Panama, and the Dominican Republic. Again, colonial influences are big here, especially in the Caribbean, where you can see where the Spanish, French and British colonies used to be by the surnames.
Rodriguez features here too, as the most common last name in Colombia and Uruguay, but Gonzalez dominates with Chile, Argentina, Venezuela, and Paraguay. It is a patronymic from the Spanish first name Gonzalo, which originally comes from the Germanic word for “battle”.
Aside from Smith being the most common name in Australia and New Zealand, there’s an incredible diversity in Oceania, with Japanese-inspired names in islands around the Federated States of Micronesia and the Solomon Islands while the most common name in Fiji is an Indian name, Kumar.
Which of these names would you have guessed before you saw the maps?