Country codes/Talk

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JamieTheFoool wrote:

There's nothing historial about it. The name of the country is THE UNITED KINGDOM OF GREAT BRITAIN AND NORTHERN IRELAND -- hence UK not GB] .

I live the UK, so I'm perfectly well aware of what UK and GB stand for. But the ISO-3166 codes for the UK are GB and GBR. Yes, this is stupid, but that's the way it is. Complain to ISO. The UK should therefore use GB as its TLD. In fact it does - see for an example (requires JavaScript). But it uses UK as its main TLD, for reasons which apparently have something to do with the old-style e-mail addresses used in the UK before the advent of the domain name system. Which of this do you not agree with? --Zundark

I live in the UK too. I do agree that according to the ISO-3166 standard the country code for The United Kingdom is GB (Which is just plain wrong, it should be UK) I wasn't disputing that. But UK was chosen as the main TLD for political reasons as this would exclude people/business in other parts of the UK. For example, It wouldn't be appropriate for a business in Northern Ireland to have a .gb domain name as Northern Ireland is not in Great Britain. This is why .uk was chosen.

There is also some dispute with Jersey(.je) and The Isle of Man(.im) having their own TLDs

Legally speaking, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man are not part of the United Kingdom; they are British crown dependencies. -- Simon J Kissane.

Further research on this is obviously necessary.

Further research reveals:

  1. The reason the ISO code for the UK is GB is because the Ukraine also wanted UK. As a compromise, neither got it.
  2. The use of UK as the TLD for the UK originates from JANet.


Official ICANN/IANA policy is to use ISO-3166 codes. The use of UK violates this policy, but the use predates the policy and hence is grandfathered. So it is for historical reasons, and I was completely correct to say so originally. The appropriateness of GB as the ISO-3166 code is an irrelevant consideration; that is a matter for the ISO-3166-MA, not ICANN/IANA. -- Simon J Kissane

The list currently contains NT (Neutral Zone). Where does this come from? It's not in the official list of ISO 3166 codes, and it doesn't appear to be in use as a TLD. --Zundark, 2001 Nov 7

I've removed NT for the time being. On a different subject, does anyone know why ICANN and IANA allowed the AC, GG, IM and JE ccTLDs, even though these aren't ISO 3166 codes? --Zundark, 2001 Nov 7

Zundark: It is possible they are on the reserved ISO 3166 list (i.e. codes that aren't official ISO 3166 codes, but which are reserved by ISO-3166-MA for those who wish to use them.) ICANN permits the creation of ccTLD for reserved list codes (witness its support for the creation of a .EU ccTLD -- "EU" isn't on the ISO-3166 list, but it is reserved for special purposes by the ISO-3166-MA. (I'm just guessing by the way -- IIRC, the reserved code list is not available online, though if you ask I think they'll send it to you for free via snail mail.)

As for NT, it sounds to me it is some kind of demilitarised zone somewhere, e.g. the border between North and South Korea. Its possible its a FIPS or US DOD code which someone added to the list by mistake.

Also, wrt domains like GB (Great Britain) and CS (Czechoslovakia) and SU (Soviet Union) and DD (East Germany), these domains are obsolete and will eventually be deleted. They exist in DNS, but they do not exist on the official IANA list of domain names; almost no one uses them, and no new applications to use them will be accepted. We should note that, or better yet move them to a separate section for 'obsolete domain names'. -- SJK

You're probably right about the reserved codes list. I had heard something similar before, but couldn't confirm it. As for obsolete codes, I don't want to move them to a separate list, because that would destroy the alphabetical order. As long they as they are clearly marked, I don't see a problem with having them in the same list (unless they are reallocated - but we can worry about that when it happens). We should probably mention that there are no issuing authorities for GB and SU. However, it's not true that "almost no one uses" SU - there are thousands of SU domains, far more than for most ccTLDs. GB has only a few domains, but unlike SU it's still an ISO 3166 code. The ones I have marked as obsolete have no domains at all, as far as I know, although in a few cases the top-level domain may still be on root servers pending deletion. --Zundark, 2001 Nov 8

I now see that the problem of obsolete codes being reallocated already exists. AI is now Anguilla but was formerly used for the French Territory of the Afars and Issas (now DJ). GE is now Georgia but used to be the Gilbert and Ellis Islands (now KI and TV). So perhaps a separate list for obsolete codes would be best. But GB and SU should remain in the main list, for the reasons given above. By the way, it seems that NT was an ISO 3166 code discontinued in 1993, but I still don't know what it was supposed to represent. --Zundark, 2001 Nov 8

NT Probably refers to the Saudi-Iraqi neutral zone which existed from 1920 to 1983. For anyone who feels inclined to write it up there is public-domain info at -- Eob

I propose we create two separate pages, one for ISO 3166, and one for Internet ccTLDs, since some Internet ccTLDs are not ISO 3166 codes, and most ISO 3166 codes are not Internet ccTLDs. Then we can have a page country codes, which points to various different types of country codes -- Internet ccTLDs, ISO 3166 codes, FIPS codes, E.164 codes, etc. -- SJK

If, as seems to be the case, you're intending to list all the alpha-3 codes, then I think we need separate pages for the lists, otherwise the article will become unwieldy. So I suggest that we have a page for the alpha-2 list and another page for the alpha-3 list (and another page for the numeric codes if we want to list them). Any general information on ISO 3166 codes can be moved to the ISO 3166 article. Information on ccTLDs can go in the ccTLD section of the top-level domain article. And the country codes article can be used as you suggest. --Zundark, 2001 Dec 20