Genders of countries in Russian
Source: atrubetskoy (reddit)
A few explanations:
• Соединённые Штаты (United States) is plural, but Америка (America), which is feminine, is used most often outside of formal context.
• Перу (Peru) and Чили (Chile) are most often neuter when talking about the political entity, but feminine when talking about the physical country.
• Somalia seems to be in anarchy even in the Russian language. Сомали (Somalia) can be seen variously as masculine, feminine or neuter.
• There is a similar ambiguity with Тонга (Tonga) and other Pacific Islands; generally they are masculine by default.
Edit 2: Individual clarifications —
As someone has pointed out, Нидерланды (Netherlands) is the more proper name in Russian, which is plural. Голландия (Holland) is not incorrect, however, unlike in English; it is feminine.
Also, Turkmenistan and Kyrgyzstan are masculine by their official names, which are rarely used favor of the “-ia” feminine versions.
For the UK, Великобритания (Great Britain, fem.) is the standard. Соединённое королевство (United Kingdom, neut.) is seldom used and generally refers to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, and Англия (England, fem.)
The Dem. Rep. Congo and Rep. Congo are marked as feminine, which is correct when using the long names. “Конго” (Congo), however, is neuter.
Edit 3: Gender patters —
People are asking how the gender is determined.
• Historical countries in Russian end in -ия (-ia) and are thus feminine, with a few exceptions (China, Lebanon, Algeria).
• Younger or smaller countries have names that are simply transliterated. If they happen to end in -a or -ia, they will generally be feminine (except Tonga). Otherwise, they are mostly masculine.
• There are few countries that are neuter, and these are generally those that end in -o (Morocco, Monaco, San Marino, etc.). Chile and Peru are exceptions because they end in a vowel, which makes it sound awkward in masculine; this means they are in a limbo between neuter and feminine, as explained previously.
• Because Russian does not have articles, the genders of many countries are much less clear-cut. Сомали́ (Somalia) sounds equally awkward in any of the three genders. Because gender is only rote memorization, unsure writers avoid this altogether by saying “the nation of Tonga” or “islands of Tonga”, shifting the subject to other words.