Why is the definite article "the" used before some countries and not before some other countries?
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It’s ultimately a question of how usage of names have evolved. Most countries have longer, full names (e.g. Kingdom of the Netherlands) that have been abbreviated. “The” is usually used in front of countries that refer to groups of islands (“the Maldives”, “the ___lands”). It is also used in front of a county name that is a compound noun with an adjective (“United Kingdom”)
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