Country Names and Codes
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.
- 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
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