In watching CCTV-4 news, I frequently see country names abbreviated but miss the leading character before I can look it up carefully (I know the major ones). Is there a list anywhere of those standard abbreviations (most of the form X国)?
I think this is a fairly exhaustive list of currently existing countries. This does not encompass unabbreviated country names that end with 国 (e.g., 孟加拉国):
- 中国 (Zhōngguó) - P. R. China or R. O. China depending on context
- 法国 (Fǎguó) - France
- 德国 (Déguó) - Germany
- 泰国 (Tàiguó) - Thailand
- 英国 (Yīngguó) - England / UK
- 美国 (Měiguó) - USA
- 韩国 (Hánguó) - South Korea
- 俄国 (Éguó) - Russia
- 寮国 (Liáoguó) - Laos (chiefly Taiwan, the term is dated in mainland China. Use 老挝 (Lǎowō).)
- 奥国 (Àoguó) - Austria
- 葡国 (Púguó) - Portugal
- 墨国 (Mòguó) - Mexico
- 加国 (Jiāguó) - Canada
Most countries can be abbreviated by the first character in their name especially when describing the relations between two or more countries. There are some exceptions and many will be duplicates.
印 can refer to both 印度 India and 印尼 Indonesia; short for 印度尼西亚.
伊 can refer to 伊朗 Iran and 伊拉克 Iraq. 两伊 means Iran-Iraq.
新 can refer to 新加坡 Singapore and 新西兰 New Zealand.
巴 can refer to 巴基斯坦 Pakistan, 巴勒斯坦 Palestine, 巴拿马 Panama, 巴拉圭 Paraguay and 巴布亚新几内亚 Papua New Guinea.
So you can put two countries together + 战争 War, + 冲突 Conflict, + 关系 Relations, etc.
以巴冲突 Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
两伊战争 Iran-Iraq War.
中日关系 Sino-Japanese relations.
We only refer to some countries this way:
德国 (Deutsch)，法国 (France)，美国 (America), 英国 (England), 俄国 (Russia) - these countries were the first countries to visit China. Maybe at that time people began to learn English and translated the name in a different way.
Also 俄国 is more for referring to Russia before Soviet Union (苏联). Current Russia we call 俄罗斯.
For 韩国 (south Korea), it's because Koreans call their country 大韓民國.
For 泰国, I'm not sure.
For other countries' names, we try to use the pronunciation for translation:
- Australia - 澳大利亚, 澳洲
- Austria - 奥地利
- Spain - 西班牙
- Canada - 加拿大
- Portugal - 葡萄牙 ...