What is ISO 3166
the ISO 3166 is the International Standard for country codes. The purpose of ISO 3166 is to establish codes for the representation of names of countries, territories or areas of geographical interest, and their subdivisions. It does not establish:
the names of countries, territories or areas of geographical interest which are taken from the relevant UN sources;
the names of subdivisions of countries, territories or areas of geographical interest, which are taken from relevant official national information sources.
ISO 3166-1:2006, Codes for the representation of names of countries and their subdivisions – Part 1: Country codes
which is what most users know as ISO’s country codes. First published in 1974, it has since then become one of the world’s most popular and most widely used standard solution for coding country names. It contains a two-letter code which is recommended as the general purpose code, a three-letter code which has better mnenomic properties and a numeric-3 code which can be useful if script independence of the codes is important.
ISO 3166-2:2007, Codes for the representation of names of countries and their subdivisions – Part 2: Country subdivision code
which gives codes for the names of the principal subdivisions (e.g provinces or states) of all countries coded in ISO 3166-1. This code is based on the two-letter code element from ISO 3166-1 followed by a separator and a further string of up to three alphanumeric characters.
ISO 3166-3:1999, Codes for the representation of names of countries and their subdivisions – Part 3: Code for formerly used names of countries
which contains a four-letter code for those country names which have been deleted from ISO 3166-1 since its first publication in 1974. The code elements for formerly used country names have a length of four alphabetical characters (alpha-4 code elements).
These three related documents taken together make up ISO 3166.
ISO 3166-1 is by far the most important of the three standards.
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