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Article 'the' in Country Names

the + (adjective) + noun.

the (United) States
the (United) Kingdom
the (Soviet) Union
the (Philippine) Islands = the Philippines
the (Bahama) Islands = the Bahamas


When the (adjective) is removed, a simple noun remains.

the states the kingdom the union the islands


Country names without an article stand only for those countries.

America Austria Croatia England Russia


Special Note of Interest for New Yorkers
Why do we say "The Bronx"?
The area was owned by a family named Bronck, so people would say they were going to visit the Broncks.
Spelling was changed to reflect the pronunciation.