Country/Region Names

Country and region names may be used as part of Language/Locale Names, or may be used in UI menus and lists to select countries or regions. 

Please follow these guidelines:

  1. Use the most neutral grammatical form for the country/region that is natural for these two usages above. If there is no single form that can accomplish that, favor the usage within UI menus.
  2. Use the capitalization that would be appropriate in the middle of a sentence; the  <contextTransforms> data can specify the capitalization for other contexts. For more information, see Capitalization. 
  3. Each of the names must be unique (see below).
  4. Don't use commas and don't invert the name (eg use "South Korea", not "Korean, South"). 
  5. Don't use the characters "(" and ")", since they will be confusing in complex language names. If you have to use brackets, use square ones: [ and ].

Customary Names

The ISO names and the "official" names are often not the best ones. The goal is the most customary name used in your language, even if it is not the official name. For example, for the territory name in English you would use "Switzerland" instead of "Swiss Confederation", and use "United Kingdom" instead of "The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland". One of the best sources for customary usage is to look at what common major publications such as newspapers and magazines do, the equivalents of The Economist, NY Times, BBC, WSJ, etc. in your language. You can look at style guides if available or at a sampling of pages, but favor publications’ rather than academic style guidelines. For example, to see how "Congo" is used in French, one might search for Congo on Le Monde and on other publications.

Also look at frequency data: for example, at the time of this writing, "Côte d’Ivoire" has 117M hits on Google in English, while "Ivory Coast" has 99M. That makes them roughly equal, and other factors come into play. Favor shorter names, all other things being (roughly) equal, and consider carefully politically sensitive names (see below). The most customary name may change over time, but this tends to happen slowly; we do not want changes between versions without good cause. 

Politically Sensitive Names

Certain country names can be sensitive in given locales. 
  • In some cases, square brackets are used purely to disambiguate. For example:
    • Cocos [Keeling] Islands
    • Congo [DRC]
    • Congo [Republic]
  • In other cases, the phrase in square brackets is required for political sensitivity. For example:
    • Falkland Islands [Islas Malvinas]
    • Macedonia [FYROM] (FYROM standing for "Former Yugoslavian Republic of Macedonia")
    • Myanmar [Burma]
    • Hong Kong [SAR China]
    • Macau [SAR China]
  • Some of the politically sensitive cases have a "short" or a "variant" marker indicating that there are two different forms.
    • The one with "short"  is more informal, and should be shorter, such as "US" instead of "United States".
    • The one with "variant" is more formal, and qualified to be less sensitive, such as "Macedonia [FYROM]".
  • In any event, choose make sure that you choose a name which will be least offensive (most neutral) to everyone. 

Unique Names

All names must be unique within a given category: thus one cannot use the same translated name for the codes CD and CG; only one can be called "Congo". Names include countries, some parts of countries (such as Hong Kong) with a special status, and so-called macroregions: continents and subcontinents (defined by a UN standard).

All of these must be unique: for example, you can't give the same name to the country South Africa (the country) and to Southern Africa (the southern region of the continent of Africa), even though there may be no distinction in your language between the terms for "South" and "Southern". Similarly, North America is the continent that extends down to Panama; Northern America is the region of the Americas north of Mexico.

When there is a conflict between country name and macroregion name, the country name should be the most natural: generally you'll adjust instead the name of the macroregion. So you might say the equivalent of "South Region of Africa", or add clarifying language like "Amérique du Nord continentale" vs "Amérique du Nord". If you have any question as to the extent of any region, see Territory Containment.

Code Possible Pairs of Translations Comments
CD Democratic Republic of the Congo or Congo - Kinshasa or Congo - formerly Zaire See also below
CG Congo Congo - Brazzaville Congo  
003 North America or North American Continent or North America  
021 Northern America Northern America Americas north of Mexico  
018 Southern Africa or Southern Region of Africa or  
ZA South Africa South Africa
057 Micronesian Region or Micronesian Region or Micronesian Region  
FM Micronesia Micronesia [FS] Micronesian States FS = “Federated States”

Sensitive Names

The following is a summary of these issues for some key regions. Some of these require brackets, which should either be the ASCII ones (…), or the full-width ones (CJK).

Code Alt English Name Instructions/Comments
CD none Congo - Kinshasa Use the customary short name in your language. The capital may or may not be included, but the name must be different than for CG. It could be the same as the variant.
variant Congo (DRC) Include an abbreviation for the full name (Democratic Republic of the Congo) in brackets (the name must be different than for CG).
CG none Congo - Brazzaville Use the customary short name in your language. The capital may or may not be included, but the name must be different than for CG.  It could be the same as the variant.
variant Congo (Republic) Include an abbreviation for the full name (Republic of the Congo) in brackets (the name must be different than for CD).
FK none Falkland Islands The simple customary form of the name in your language.
variant Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas) Include both the names corresponding to “Falkland Islands” and “Islas Malvinas”. The most customary one for readers of your language should be first, with the second one following in brackets. For example, the Spanish translation might be “Islas Malvinas [Falkland Islands]”. In your language it may not be necessary to translate the word for islands/islas twice, so the name may correspond to “Falkland Islands [Malvinas]” or Islas Malvinas [Falkland]”.  See Duplicate Names, however.
MK none Macedonia Use the simple customary form of the name in your language.
variant Macedonia (FYROM) Include an abbreviation for “Former Yugoslavian Republic of Macedonia” in brackets. It can be the equivalent of FYROM, or FYR in your language.  See Duplicate Names, however.
PS none Palestinian Territories Include a term like "territories"
short Palestine Use what is most customary in your language; normally that would be a simple name, without any of the terms “Occupied”, “Territories”, “West Bank”, or “Gaza”.
HK none Hong Kong SAR China Follow "Hong Kong" with an abbreviation for "Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China". It can be the equivalent of SARC, or SAR China, in your language.
short Hong Kong Don’t use the abbreviation for “SAR China”, just the common name by itself.
MO none Macau SAR China Follow "Macau" with an abbreviation for "Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China". It can be the equivalent of SARC, or SAR China, in your language.
short Macau Don’t use the abbreviation for “SAR China”, just the common name by itself.
CI none Côte d’Ivoire For English, we use the French name. In your language, use what is most common: that may be a translation of “Ivory Coast”, a transliteration of “Côte d’Ivoire”, etc.
variant Ivory Coast Use the most common name. May be the same as the "plain" (no-alt) version in your language.
TL variant East Timor Use the simple customary form of the name in your language.
none Timor-Leste For English, we use the Portuguese name. In your language, use what is most common: that may be a translation of “East Timor”, a transliteration of “Timor-Leste”, etc. May be the same as the variant.
MM none Myanmar (Burma) Use the names corresponding to “Myanmar” and “Burma”, with the one corresponding to “Burma” in brackets. See Duplicate Names, however.

Duplicate Names

If in your language, one of the disambiguating names (such as in “Myanmar (Burma)”) either is not customarily used or is the same as the ‘main’ name, you don't need to include it in parentheses.

Unused Variants

There are times in a given language where there is no difference between the “alt” form is identical to the “no alt” form, or where there could be an “alt” form, but it would not be customarily used. In such as case, the code value should appear. For example, if there is no difference in a language between the name for “ Palestinian Territories” and the name for “Palestine”, then the value for alt="short" for PS in the language would be "PS". Translators should thus vote for "PS" for the alt="short" form.

Similarly, where there is no special name for a language+region combination, the code should be used. For example, for English we have the forms:

1American Englishen_US
2US Englishen_USalt=short

These override the normal constructions, which would be:

1English (United States)en_US
2English (US)en_USalt=short

If a particular language would just use the normal constructions, such as in the following, then the code "en_US" should be the contents. 

1Englisch (Vereinigte Staaten)en_US
2Englisch (USA)en_USalt=short

EU Names

The EU names on Annex A5 List of countries, territories and currencies are generally a good guide, however, they cannot be used as-is.
  1. They are incomplete, not including continental regions, the EU itself, ZZ (Unknown region), and some dozen others.
  2. They have incorrect country codes (UK and EL for GB and GR).
  3. They do not have the variant names needed for CLDR.
  4. They use the phrasing "X, The" which is not used in CLDR, as in the EU’s "Gambia, The".
  5. They are sometimes unnecessarily longer than the CLDR names (SH, TF, UM, VA).
  6. They differ in important ways for some other codes, such as for ones listed above.
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