n. The group consisting of countries with names that end in "-stan," such as Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan.
Collectively, they are sometimes called 'the stans.' Individually, as the United States prepares for possible military action in their neighborhood, the stans are suddenly the focus of intense attention in Washington and Moscow.
—Maura Reynolds, “Crisis Puts New Focus on 'Stans' of Central Asia,” Los Angeles Times, September 23, 2001
1982 (earliest)
Pakistan president Mohammad Zia ul-Haq … said Canada-Pakistan relations 'show how two diverse countries can combine their efforts and resources for their mutual benefit and for the creation of a better international environment.'

The 58-year-old military dictator also displayed a surprising sense of humor when he confused the name of Baluchistan with a neighboring province.

'Sometimes I get confused with all these 'stans,' But as long as I don't say Hindustan, I'll be okay,' Zia said of the province of northern India.
—Bill Beacon, United Press International, December 15, 1982
This word has usually been applied to the five Central Asian countries that used to make up a big chunk of the south part of the Soviet Union — Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. In light of recent events, both Afghanistan and Pakistan are now usually included in the stan clan, as well. The suffix shared by these country names comes from the Persian word stan (or istan) which means "place of" or "home of."
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