This database includes the ISO 3166 country codes for all 249 countries of the world. It does also contains the subdivision codes with all states and provinces as per ISO 3166-2.
These codes are known as international standards for country codes and their subdivisions. Basic purpose of ISO country codes is to define codes based on digits and letters, which can be used to refer countries and their subdivisions internationally. However, these are not to define country names as per information by United Nation Sources. However, using these codes instead name (which can be changed on the basis of language) can save your time and efforts. You can use a unique combination of letters and digits which are known all around the world.
For example, entire national postal organizations all around the world are exchanging international mail containers to be identified with their country code. While, internet domain name systems are also defining top domains as “.au” for Australia, and “.fr” for France. Even more, the codes in machine readable passports are also being used to identify nationality of individual and in bank transfers country codes will be used to determine where recipient bank account is located.
ISO 3166 codes are available on online browsing platform on the ISO website. The online browsing platform contains up to date information. You can also sign up to this platform to get update notifications on time. These notifications can keep you informed about whenever the changes will be made. Users can also access an archive of changes to standard on server. You can find country code collection which contains codes from ISO 3166 parts 1, 2, and 3 available in .xml, .xls and .cvs formats. Availability of different formats will make it easier for you to integrate these lists into your own systems. While, updates alert notification will ensure you are having up to date information in this regard.
Things included in ISO 3166
ISO 3166 codes contain 3 different parts given below:
This part may consist of a 2-letter code known as general purpose code, a 3-letter code which is closely related to the country’s name and a 3-digit which can be useful to avoid Latin script. These codes are known as alpha-2, alpha-3 and numeric-3 respectively.
This part of country code is followed by country code, and based on up to 3-letters normally. For example, ID-RI is indicating Indonesian Riau province. Codes and names for subdivisions are taken from official national information sources generally.
This is a 4-letter alpha code whose construction will depends on factor why country name has been removed from this.
As per United Nations (UN) notification, maintenance agencies of ISO 3166 will assign alpha 2 or alpha 3 code elements to the new members of UN. While, UN assign numeric country code itself. As a general rule, maintenance agencies will not define country codes for the geographical areas which are not a part of UN. While, these agencies can define codes for dependencies of countries who are United Nation’s member. However, the area needs to be separated from its parent countries and must be outside of its territorial waters.
Even, if all the requirements are met then still maintenance agencies can decide to assign a country code or not to someone because of limited alpha 2 code elements.