This online help provides codes for countries and other places existing at the time the code list was compiled.  The names of the places are also those current at the time of compilation.  Changes in the status of places as well as changes in names are reflected in revised versions of this list.  The following discusses how such changes are presented in the list.

When a country has changed its name, the existing code is retained but the new name is used and the earlier name is added as a reference.  For example:

Sri Lanka  [ce]

UF   Ceylon


USE  Sri Lanka

When it becomes necessary to change a code because the status of an entity has changed, notes are added to the list to explain the code changes and the date the change was made.  If the old code is discontinued, it is retained in the code list for information.

The code for the latest name (the new code) should be used in all new records.  The old code, however, will not always be changed in previously input records.  Thus when using country codes to retrieve records, if the code for the entity has changed since the implementation of an earlier code list, it is advisable to specify both the new and previously assigned (historical) codes in the retrieval request if records coded prior to the changes are desired.

The following are events that lead to changes in the codes.

Two entities previously coded separately combine to form one entity.

In this case, two existing codes are discontinued, and a new code in addition to appropriate explanatory notes are added.  For example, North Vietnam and South Vietnam combined to become Vietnam:

Vietnam  [vm]

[Coded [vn] (Vietnam, North) or [vs] (Vietnam, South) before Jan. 1978]

UF  Democratic People's Republic of Vietnam

North Vietnam

South Vietnam

Vietnam, North

Vietnam, Republic of

Vietnam, South

Vietnam, North

[Coded [vn] (Vietnam, North) before Jan. 1978]

USE  Vietnam

One entity assigned a single code splits into two or more separate entities.

In this case, each of the new entities is assigned a new code, and the code for the older combined entity is discontinued.  Notes are also added to each entity indicating the date of the code change.  For example, Gilbert and Ellice Islands split into Kiribati and Tuvalu:

Gilbert and Ellice Islands

[Coded [gn] (Gilbert and Ellice Islands) before Oct. 1978]

USE  Kiribati


Kiribati  [gb]

[Coded [gn] (Gilbert and Ellice Islands) or [ln] (Central and Southern Line Islands) before Oct. 1978]

UF    Banaba

Birnie Island

Canton Island

Caroline Island

Central and Southern Line Islands

Christmas Atoll

Enderbury Island

Fanning Atoll

Flint Island

Gardner Atoll

Gilbert and Ellice Islands

Gilbert Islands

Hull Atoll


Line Islands (Southern)

Malden Island

Manra Atoll

McKean Atoll

Nikomaroro Atoll

Ocean Island

Orona Atoll

Phoenix Atoll

Phoenix Islands


Starbuck Island

Sydney Atoll

Tabuarean Island

Vostok Island

Washington Island

Tuvalu  [tv]

[Coded [gn] (Gilbert and Ellice Islands) before Oct. 1978]

UF    Ellice Islands

Funafuti Atoll

Gilbert and Ellice Islands

Niulakita Island

Nukufetau Atoll

Nukulaelae Atoll

Nukulailai Atoll

Nurakita Island

One entity previously assigned a code is annexed by another entity which is already assigned a different code.

In this case, the code for the annexed entity is discontinued, and the annexed entity becomes a reference to the name of the entity whose code is used after the change.  For example, Sikkim was annexed by India:

India  [ii]

UF    Amindivi Islands

Andaman Islands




Laccadive Island

Minicoy Island

Nicobar Islands



[Coded [sk] (Sikkim) before Jan. 1978]

USE  India

An entity which was assigned the code of another entity splits off.

In this case, the code for the existing entity is retained, and a new code is created for the entity which split off.  For example, Mayotte split off from Comoros:

Mayotte  [ot]

[Coded [cq] (Comoros) before July 1987]

Comoros  [cq]

UF    Anjouan Island


Grande Comore Island

Moheli Island

See also: