Countries and territories - EU Vocabularies
A corporate code list of countries and territories

Geospatial reference data: Corporate list of countries and territories 

To address the diversity of country and territory codes and names used in the EU institutions, the European Commission has developed a corporate code list of countries and territories.

This code list was endorsed by the Information Management Steering Board in April 2023 and it became a corporate reference data asset. The new corporate list of countries and territories replaces the Country authority table and is applicable for new IT systems in the Commission from 15 September 2023. Owners of existing IT systems are invited to align their systems when possible.

The corporate list of countries and territories provides codes and names of geospatial and geopolitical entities in all official EU languages and is the result of a combination of multiple relevant standards, created to serve the requirements and use cases of the EU Institutions services (e.g. drop down menus in IT applications, maps, charts, invitation letters and other).

The list adheres to the principle of one content type per asset and is for this reason limited to current and deprecated countries and territories. This means that it does not include geographical aggregations, such as continents and regions, nor political and/or economic country groupings and organisations.

Eurostat is the Data owner of the corporate list of countries and territories, whereas the Publications Office of the EU assumes the role of Data steward.

You can consult and download the corporate list of countries and territories on the EU Vocabularies website where you will also find the corresponding documentation. You can also check Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) section below. Technical information such as sample queries can be found on the EU Vocabularies space on code.europa.eu in the Wiki space.

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate contacting the EU Vocabularies support team.

FAQ

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The Countries and territories corporate reference data asset is a resource providing codes and names of geospatial and geopolitical entities in all official EU languages. It aggregates and combines different standards into a single code list to serve different preferences and application scenarios of EU Institutions activities.

The data owner and data stewards within the CRDM coordination group are responsible for maintaining Countries and territories. The Data Owner is Eurostat, the Data Steward is the Publications Office. Questions regarding the content and the re-use of the code list can be sent to OP-EU-VOCABULARIES@publications.europa.eu.

The Countries and territories corporate reference data asset complies with specific data standards for countries and territories. To address user requirements, additional extensions or user defined codes are included to cover entities (usually, broader groupings) that are not included in the ISO 3166-1 or M49 standards and the Annex 5 of the Interinstitutional Style Guide, UNSD-geoscheme. These codes can be supplemented by additional aggregation or subdivisions of these countries and territories. For example:

For coding Administrative territorial unit and Administrative territorial unit type

For coding areas within Europe, use of the Eurostat "Nomenclature of Territorial Units for Statistics" (NUTS) is recommended. 

For coding internationally defined geographical, political and economic groups, M49 is recommended.

CL_AREA:This code list provides code values for geographical areas, defined as areas included within the borders of a country, region, group of countries, etc Code list for providing values to concepts such as “Reference area” and/or “Counterpart reference area”.

Users can find an overview of the Countries and territories corporate reference data asset on the CRDM webpage, in the Corporate Assets section. There is a dedicated page on the EU Vocabularies website, that is both human and machine readable, with dedicated queries to retrieve and display parts of the list. The asset does not only contains country or territory names and codes, we also included other details like memberships – of the EU or other international organisations, with dates, translations of names in more than 40 languages.

The Countries and territories corporate reference data asset is designed to be compatible with ISO 3166 and ISG standards while addressing specific European Commission's needs. Countries and territories is based on the Interinstitutional Style Guide (ISG, Section 7.1 and Annexes A5 and A6.) for the names of the entities and the order in which they are listed. Additional entities with user defined codes have been added to cover entities that are not included in the ISO 3166-1 standard nor in the Annex 5 of the ISG.

There is a broad compatibility between the ISG, the basis for the Countries and territories and ISO 3166-1, the international standard for country codes and codes for their subdivisions. Differences in preferred terminology used to describe certain entities have led to different country or territory codes and labels. E.g. According to the definition in ISO 3166-1, the French Southern and Antarctic Lands excludes Adélie Land which is covered by Antarctica with alpha-3 code ATA, while it is included in the ISG. Because the ISO 3166-1 list is not available in most EU languages, the terminologists in the Council translate the name of the entities in the different languages. This in turn is reflected in the Interinstitutional Style Guide.

Countries and territories is extendable (e.g. by adding new countries and territories) and can be enriched with information that is useful to maintain centrally (e.g. by adding additional properties) on request of European Commission/European Institutions users that have a valid use case. The extensions cover unified names and codes of various geospatial and geopolitical entities that are needed for administrative data exchange with and in the Commission but that are not included in ISO 3166, nor in the ISG. These extensions include:

  • Entities recognized by some UN Member states e.g. Kosovo*, Palestine*;
  • Entities used to express country/place of citizenship in population and housing censuses legislation;
  • Disputed territories (e.g. Abyei Region, Aksai Chin);
  • Marine territories (e.g. International Waters).

An important difference between the Countries and territories and the Interinstitutional Style Guide is that it guarantees backwards compatibility. The ISG contains only the current names and codes of countries and territories while for backwards compatibility reasons the deprecated entries must be preserved and included.

It is recommended to use the 3-alpha authority code to record, search, reuse or exchange data, unless legal obligation stating otherwise.  The authority code is based on the ISO 3166-1 alpha-3 codes. The three-letter codes are unique, unambiguous and permanent, thus allowing to trace the historic evolution of a concept, whereas the two-letter ISO codes have been reused for different concepts. E.g. AI (French Territory of the Afars and Issas; Anguilla), BQ (British Antarctic Territory; Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba), CS (Czechoslovakia; Serbia and Montenegro), GE (Gilbert and Ellice Islands; Georgia), SK (Sikkim; Slovakia). The "Country and territory” reference data asset contains mappings with the two-letter ISO codes, the ISG codes and with many other identifiers. It is backwards compatible; deprecated authority codes will not be used to represent another country or territory.  The two-letter ISG code is based on ISO 3166-1 alpha-2, except for Greece, for which the code “EL” should be used and for the United Kingdom for which the code “UK” is used in the context of the EU institutions. In the CRDM Geospatial WG it was discussed that further updates of legal acts should aim to use 3 letter codes if possible.

The Countries and territories corporate reference data asset. The corresponding ISG content will be extracted from the new asset.

The Countries and territories corporate reference data asset can be accessed and utilised for various data integration and analysis purposes. The asset is available for browsing and for download from the EU Vocabularies website. IT systems can access the data directly from the cellar SPARQL endpoint. For the human-readable view the asset is available browse page where users can find the named authority codes in the first column, the labels, the ISO codes and the validity dates.

Users can adapt the Countries and territories corporate reference data asset to their specific business cases through customisable queries and data mappings. As a first step always analyse which concepts are necessary for your particular use case and NOT use all avaiable codes as the code list contains a large list of geospatial and geopolitical concepts that are being used in the European Commission. When reusing this list, it is recommended to carefully select the concepts the business needs for the specific use context. A user might not need all countries and territories in the context of their business case. The list contains filter options that could help the user to the select a relevant subset. Although flexibility in using the code list is ensured, this section presents some examples to help the data collector understand when and how to use the country and territory code list.

Examples of possibilities and usage scenarios offered by the list:

  • Map internal EU codes to external (ISO-3166-1 alpha-2 and ISO-3166-1 alpha-3) standard codes to facilitate interoperability;
  • Display different code depending on context. E.g. the current code for internal usage (e.g. CZE) or in documents compliant with ISG (e.g. CZ);
  • Display short name and/or the official name of the country in all 24 official EU languages including the old names;

Filter on EU Member States;

  • Order the EU Member States by protocol order;
  • Have a history of previously used codes and labels;
  • Filter which are the current country codes to be used;
  • Select only territories that are needed for specific use cases (E.g. exclude disputed territories, country/territory of birth).

Countries and territories meets user needs by providing standardised and comprehensive reference data for countries and territories. As corporate reference data asset, this code list is intended for the use by and in interaction with the European Commission. It is recommended to expand its use to other EU Institutions, agencies and bodies. Other users (e.g. Member States) could also benefit from using this list. The users are typically European Commission staff who need to record, search, reuse or exchange data which has worldwide geospatial and geopolitical information. Users of this standard include: publishers of European Commission data, legal texts, data scientists, data analysts, developers, and so forth. The objective of this list of country and territory codes and names is to have one resource of corporate reference data for geopolitical and geospatial entities for multiple domain usage and for which common use should be encouraged. The Countries and territories corporate referece data asset harmonises and standardises the codes and associated labels used in various environments (web platforms, systems and applications) and facilitates data exchanges between the institutions involved in decision-making process. The country and territory list covers different usage scenarios; it contains all concepts needed to create a subset according to the business need. E.g. for a list with country/place of birth, or for a list with country/place of citizenship, a list of EU Member States etc. Allowing the creation of varying lists of permissible values for different use cases. Countries and territories currently contains 374 entries. The list includes following geospatial entity separations:

  • UN recognized entities (193)
  • UN non-member observer states (2) (e.g. Holy See, Palestine*)
  • Entities recognized by at least one EU Member State (198) (e.g. Kosovo*)
  • Non-UN member state recognised by at least one UN member state (6) (e.g. Areas of the Republic of Cyprus in which the Government of the Republic of - Cyprus does not exercise effective control, Sahrawi Arab Democratic republic, Taiwan)
  • Territories (including disputed territories, marine areas, special areas)
  • Disputed territories (16)

In addition, Countries and territories and the concepts within are identified by persistent identifiers (URIs) in order for them to be accessed and reused consistently over time. Example: http://publications.europa.eu/resource/dataset/country;

http://publications.europa.eu/resource/authority/country/BEL.

The asset and concepts follow the language policy of the European Commission and ensure that the content is of the highest quality and does not contain defects. The commonly used geographical names and official names are translated in minimum in the 24 official EU languages. Synchronisation with the Interinstitutional Toponymy Group, IATE and the ISG will be ensured in a timely manner. It also guarantees backwards compatibility through the use of alpha-3 codes. The reason is that a 3-letter authority code guarantees uniqueness and manages historicity. While the three-letter codes are unambiguous and permanent, the two-letter ISO codes have been reused for different concepts; e.g. CS (Czechoslovakia; Serbia and Montenegro), SK (Sikkim; Slovakia). Countries and territories contains mappings with the two-letter ISO codes, the ISG codes and also with many other internal and external identifiers including the M49, SDMX, Geonom and OECD identifiers. This list of country and territory codes and names contains different membership properties and filter options e.g. EU membership, candidates for EU membership, potential candidates, EU28, EU27+, EU27+UK, UN membership, EFTA, Eurozone, Schengen area, EU Civil Protection Mechanism, OECD. These properties and filter options allow end users to select the correct subset of concepts needed for their specific use case. The list also supports multiple online data access mechanisms and downloadable information products. Unlike the ISG, this list will be available in a variety of standardised machine-readable formats incorporating also only human readable notes enabling machine to machine communications. Other benefits of using the Countries and territories corporate reference data asset include:

  • reducing duplication of resources and effort on maintenance;
  • reducing ambiguity caused by alternative names and codes for geospatial and geopolitical entities;
  • increasing interoperability between systems within and outside the organisation.

Its values can be used in pick lists, web pull-down lists and lists of menu choices in information systems but also to categorise and aggregate data for statistical purposes. The list adheres to the principle of one content type per asset and is for this reason limited to current and deprecated countries and territories. It means that it does not include geographical aggregations, such as continents and regions nor political and/or economic country groupings, organisations and technical concepts. These concepts are available or will be available in other (corporate) reference data assets. It is possible to create combinations of different datasets for particular use cases. The data owner or data steward can provide support.

After the first publication on 15 September 2023, we expect colleagues to use the list in production mode for NEW Information Technology (IT) systems. It is compulsory – no more own DG-level lists with country codes and names. The expert group on Geospatial reference data – supported by the IMSB – advises everyone to align existing IT systems to the list as well, to reduce the risk of political incidents.

For compliance, colleagues in DGs should check their lists of countries and territories for 4 aspects: content, description (coverage), semantic and technical-code related content. They need to refer to the countries and territories in the corporate data asset or a subset of these. If they need other countries and territories not included in the corporate data asset, they should contact EU VOCABULARIES with their use case. DGs should check the description of the countries and territories to make sure they refer correctly to a given country or territory in their use-cases. Semantically, they need to pay attention to the naming of the countries and territories in various languages and to use the disclaimers. Technically various options exists - from

  1. simple mapping tables between various codelists;
  2. replacing the codes or
  3. linking directly to the assets.

According to the Recommendation of usage, the mapping of current IT systems to the corporate data asset is necessary.  

In general yes these relations should be establised via mappings, however the cases would need to be evaluated at the buisness level. 

Kosovo has no ISO 3166 code, nor ISG code and has been given a user assigned code XKX (XK). When mentioning Kosovo systematically an asterisk “*” should be used next to Kosovo (Kosovo*) and the following footnote: Kosovo* “This designation is without prejudice to positions on status and is in line with UNSCR 1244/1999 and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo declaration of independence.”. Kosovo does not have other alternative names such as “Kosovo (under UNSCR 1244/1999)”. Only “Kosovo*” should be used.

Palestine does not appear in the ISG but has been assigned the ISO 3166-1 alpha-3 code “PSE”. When mentioning Palestine systematically an asterisk “*” should be used next to Palestine (Palestine*) and the following footnote: Palestine* “This designation shall not be construed as recognition of a State of Palestine and is without prejudice to the individual positions of the Member States on this issue.”. Palestine does not have another alternative name.

The use of the asterisk and the inclusion of the footnote are mandatory in all circumstances.

No, the geographic datasets corresponding to the recent entries of the corporate code list can be obtained from the Geographic Information System Coordination (GISCO) reference database in various formats. These datasets can be linked by their respective identifiers and be used for analytical and visualisation purposes. Please note that currently not all territories over time are available.

The preferred label is the short name e.g. The Netherlands. The long form (official title) is used when the state is targeted as a legal entity. E.g. Kingdom of the Netherlands.

Only EU Member States must be listed alphabetically using the spelling of their source language. To retrieve the correct listing the protocol order attribute can be used.

For other countries and territories no specific recommendations are made. 

The following queries retrieves all the current EU member states, their related English (preferred) labels and long labels, and their protocol order:

The results are set on 4 columns:

  • ?country_uri : the identifier of the country or the territory inside the dataset
  • ?country_en : the preferred label (in English)
  • ?longLabel_en : the related long label (in English)
  • ?protocol_order: the related protocol order.

Current EU members in HTML

Current EU members in JSON

Current EU members in CSV for Excel

Please use following query:

PREFIX owl: <http://www.w3.org/2002/07/owl#>
PREFIX skos: <http://www.w3.org/2004/02/skos/core#>
PREFIX skosxl: <http://www.w3.org/2008/05/skos-xl#>
PREFIX org: <http://www.w3.org/ns/org#>
PREFIX rdf: <http://www.w3.org/1999/02/22-rdf-syntax-ns#>
PREFIX dct: <http://purl.org/dc/terms/>
PREFIX euvoc: <http://publications.europa.eu/ontology/euvoc#>

SELECT distinct ?country_uri ?named_authority_code ?country_en WHERE {

    # Retrieving the countries and their english preferred labels 
    ?country_uri a skos:Concept .
    ?country_uri skos:prefLabel ?c_en .
    Bind(str(?c_en) as ?country_en)
    filter(lang(?c_en) = "en") 
    
    # Filtering on the memberhip to UNO
    ?country_uri org:hasMembership ?membership .
    ?membership org:organization <http://publications.europa.eu/resource/authority/corporate-body/UNO> .
    ?membership org:role <http://publications.europa.eu/resource/authority/role/MEMBER>  .
    
    # Retrieval of the EU official code
    ?country_uri euvoc:xlNotation ?not_authority .
    ?not_authority rdf:value ?named_authority_code .
    ?not_authority dct:type <http://publications.europa.eu/resource/authority/notation-type/NAC> .

    # Filtering out the deprecated and the retired concepts
    filter not exists {?country_uri owl:deprecated ?true}
    filter not exists {
    ?country_uri euvoc:status <http://publications.europa.eu/resource/authority/concept-status/RETIRED>}

}  order by ?country_uri

 

Any changes to country names and codes within the Countries and territories corporate reference data asset are managed through established updating procedures. Clear and well-documented procedures and processes are established to allow stakeholders of this reference data asset to provide feedback and make change requests. Changes to the country names and three-letter codes are made only when one the following situations occur: an official change in the name of a country or area while its political geography remains the same; this change is not usually accompanied by a change of the country’s three-letter code, only by a change in the two- and/or three-letter codes like Burkina Faso whose previous name was Upper Volta. If a country decides to amend or update its official name, as for instance the case of the Czech Republic adding Czechia as its short name, that new name or short name needs to be added to the list of countries and territory codes and names, but the identifier, the authority code, will remain unchanged. These request of change needs to arrive officially at the UN or EU level (e.g. Council, UN). This practice guarantees certain stability. A new record is created only when the concept changes completely e.g. with the dissolution of Czechoslovakia (CSK). In case of a major change in the political geography of a country or area; this is generally accompanied by a change in three-letter code and often in the name of the country. Possible scenarios:

Two countries merge into one sovereign state as in the case of Germany from the former countries of the German Democratic Republic and the Federal Republic of Germany.

A country may separate or dissolve like the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia where its states declared independence to become six different countries, i.e. Serbia, Croatia, etc.

A country may secede, achieve independence or autonomy from another as the situation of Eritrea which was formerly part of Ethiopia.

Autonomous entities or territories names and codes are needed for administrative purposes.

You play a crucial role in maintaining the asset by reaching out to the data owner or data steward whenever necessary. Regular publications with updates will occur at scheduled intervals, ensuring the asset remains accurate and up-to-date. You can find the publication schedule here. Additionally, special publications will be organised to address urgent change requests promptly.

The historic evolution of countries and territories as well as their names are traced in the corporate code list. For pragmatic reasons, the creation of the European Coal and Steel Community in 1951 is considered as starting point.

The list of codes for the Countries and territories corporate reference data asset was selected through collaboration with various stakeholders within the European Commission. In April 2022 the Corporate Reference Data Management (CRDM) coordination group, a sub-group of the Local Data Correspondents (LDC) network, created a data coordination group on geospatial related corporate reference data, to address the multitude of country and territory codes and names in the Commission. The group had a nine-month mandate to develop a corporate code list for “Country and territory codes and names”.

The data coordination group was composed of participants from various Commission services (17 services AGRI, COMM, DGT, DIGIT, ECHO, ENV, ESTAT, GROW, HR, INTPA, JRC, MARE, NEAR, OIB, OP, RTD and SG participated in one or more meetings) as well as from other institutions (European Parliament, Council, EIB). It brought together experts in the geospatial domain activated via the Commission Interservice Group on Geographical Information (COGI) and colleagues with technical expertise on geospatial data usage, terminologists, and legal experts. The group met six times in 2022. After the analysis of 75 currently used country and territory code lists and a fruitful exchange, the data coordination group proposed one unified corporate code list for country and territory codes and names. After an internal review, the data coordination group endorsed the final proposal in its meeting of 27 March 2023 and presented the outcomes to the Local Data Correspondents network on 29 March 2023. Reporting further lead to the approval by the Information Management Steering Board (IMSB) in their meeting on the 27.04.2023.

The process for the establishment of the “corporate list of country and territory codes and names" followed is described in the “Corporate reference data guidelines” and has included consultation with the Commission Legal Service (SJ) and the Council. The process of selecting corporate reference data is described more in detail in the CRDM policy itself.