Country Names and Codes

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Description

The most commonly used standard for uniquely referring to country names is the ISO 3166-1 standard. This standard defines three different codes:

  • ISO 3166-1 alpha-2 Two-letter alphabetic code. Example: DE for Germany.
  • ISO 3166-1 alpha-2 Three-letter alphabetic code. Example: DEU for Germany.
  • ISO 3166-1 numeric Three-digit numeric code. Example: 276 for Germany.

ISO codes are maintained to only represent present-day countries. There is a 4-letter ISO standard ISO 3166-3 for countries which merged, were divided, or changed name; but it only reaches back to 1974. There is no ISO standard for pre-1974 historical countries, like Prussia.

Potential problems

  • Ambiguous country names
  • Geographic position does not match specified country
  • Country not specified, but subdivision/region
  • Historical countries that do not exist anymore (e.g. Yugoslavia)
  • Countries with territorial changes
  • Location does not match the coordinates, see Geolocation_Mistakes

Web services

See List of web services

Country name list

David has made a comprehensive list containing the name of all countries specified in ISO 3166 by up to 240 different expressions in various languages: File:Countries names.xml Caveat: Some country names are ambigous in different languages.

In case an unambiguous list is needed, a list with the conflicts removed is also available: File:Countries names unambiguous.xml

Possibility of own tool

A very rough check can be done with a list of rectangular bounding boxes for each country (Min/max Lat/Long). For a more detailed conversion of Lat/Long to ISO-codes a shapefile with country boundaries would have to be used. Those files are publicly available. E.g. geocommons, gadm, . Bounding boxes available on opengeocode

Country names in different languages are available at the translation project.on the Unicode Common Locale Data Repository or, sorted by language, on Umpirskys github

Links

Wikipedia:ISO 3166-1

Official ISO 3166-1 decoding table