When I began studying Chinese (years ago), one of the first things I wanted to learn how to do was answer the question about where I am from. That meant learning how to say Minnesota in Chinese.
It is simply a phonetic translation: ming ni su da (明尼苏达).
On top of that, there is Minneapolis: ming ni a po li si (明你阿婆里斯)
Since they are phonetic, I never stopped to ask what the literal translations were.
The good folks at Live the Language recently posted this interesting map of what US State names would be if they were literally translated back into English from Chinese:
Good grief. I speak Chinese and that map still makes my head hurt!
Image credit: Live the Language
Why Minnesota? Why not Michigan? Ha! Mom