Information Resources and Technology Management


Data Element: GEOPOLITICAL ENTITY NAME AND CODE

You are invited to read the definitions of terms used in this data standard.

Name
Geopolitical Entity Name and Code
Description
Full names and Federal Information Processing Standards (FIPS) codes for representing the basic geopolitical entities (countries, dependencies, and areas of special sovereignty) of the world and their principal administrative divisions. Each basic geopolitical entity is represented by a two-letter alphabetic "country code." Each principal administrative division is identified by a four-character code consisting of the two-character "country code," followed by a two-character "administrative division code.''
Type
Geopolitical Entity Name:  Character Field

Geopolitical Entity Code:   Alpha

Principal Administrative Division Name:  Character Field

Principal Administrative Division Code:  Alphanumeric

Syntax
Geopolitical Entity Name:  Full name, up to a maximum of 50 characters, including the letters A through Z and punctuation marks. 

Geopolitical Entity Code:  AA, where each A represents a letter from A through Z.

Principal Administrative Division Name:  Full name, up to a maximum of 60 characters,  including the letters A through Z and punctuation marks.

Principal Administrative Division Code:  AANN, where each A represents a letter from A through Z, and each N represents a number from 0 through 9. Punctuation marks are not allowed.

Recommended Field Name Geopolitical Entity Name:  CNTRYNAME

Geopolitical Entity Code:  CNTRYCODE

Principal Administrative Division Name:  ADM1NAME

Principal Administrative Division Code:  ADM1CODE

Values

The values to be used for this data element are described in FIPS 10-4, "Countries, Dependencies, Areas of Special Sovereignty, and Their Principal Administrative Divisions", dated April 1995, and are current as of the date shown on the last FIPS 10-4 PUBLICATION CHANGE NOTICE issued by the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA), formerly known as the National Imagery and Mapping Agency or NIMA.

Important Notice:  Effective September 2, 2008, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) announced in the Federal Register, Volume 73, No. 170 (73FR 51276), that the Secretary of Commerce approved the withdrawal of 10 FIPS Publications, including FIPS 10-4. These FIPS were withdrawn because they are obsolete or have not been updated to adopt current voluntary industry standards, federal specifications, federal data standards, or current good practices for information security. 

Transition from FIPS to the GeoNET Names Server (GNS): The NGA, formerly known as the National Imagery and Mapping Agency or NIMA, has maintenance authority for FIPS 10-4.  The GEOnet Names Server (GNS) provides access to the NGA and the U.S. Board on Geographic Names (US BGN) database of foreign geographic feature names. The GNS database is the official repository of foreign place-name decisions approved by the US BGN, and contains 4 million features with 5.5 million names (approximate as of December 2008). The coordinate system for data served by GNS is WGS84. Coordinates in the GEOnet Names Server are approximate and are intended for finding purposes only. The online database is updated on a bi-weekly schedule.

Source
View or download complete files of geographic names information covering countries or geopolitical areas from the GNS Country Files web site. These files are offered in two formats: Reading Order format (Mount Everest) that works well with mapping applications and Reverse Generics format (Everest, Mount) that works well for gazetteer listings.
Historical Data For information on past versions of this standard, contact the National Data Administrator, Branch of Data and Systems Services, Division of Information Resources and Technology Management.
Reference(s)

Part 270, FW 6, Data Management and Standards, has been superceded by Part 274, FW 2, Establishing Service Data Standards.

Federal Information Processing Standards Publication 10-4, "Countries, Dependencies, Areas of Special Sovereignty, and Their Principal Administrative Divisions".

Use Instructions
As of the approval date, this data element will be used in any new automated system, data set, database, or information application, including new Geographic Information System (GIS) data and applications. This data element will also be used in any major modifications to existing systems or versions of these data-related items that use the full names and/or FIPS codes to uniquely identify the geopolitical entities (countries, dependencies, and areas of special sovereignty) of the world and their principal administrative divisions.

Service staff are strongly encouraged to utilize this data element in existing systems, data sets, databases, and information applications. Where existing systems and data-related items are not in compliance, they should be modified to achieve compatibility and implement this data standard.

This standard may be applied either in the two-letter format, in which only a basic entity is identified, or in the four-character format that identifies both a basic entity and one of its principal divisions. Principal (first-order) administrative divisions in different geopolitical entities (countries, dependencies, and areas of sovereignty) can have the same numeric code. Therefore, in data systems concerned with the identification of administrative divisions in more than one geopolitical entity, the two-letter country codes must be used in conjunction with the two-character administrative division codes identified in FIPS 10-4, 1995 April, "Countries, Dependencies, Areas of Special Sovereignty, and Their Principal Administrative Divisions ." For example, the Province of British Columbia in Canada is represented as CN02, the Aquataine Region France is represented as FR97, and the State of Alaska in the United States is represented as US02. The two-letter country codes and two-character administrative division codes will be handled as separate data fields in any new or modified automated system, and will not be combined in a single data field.

The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) 3166-1:1997, "Codes for the representation of names of countries and their subdivisions -- Part I: Country Codes," is an international standard that was developed independently from FIPS 10-4. The key difference between these two standards is that FIPS 10-4 is a standard for basic geopolitical entities, and U.S. Government Printing OfficeISO 3166-1 is a standard for political entities. This means that codes are changed or applied using different criteria, i.e., changes to FIPS 10-4 codes are triggered by changes in territorial extent, while changes to ISO 3166 codes are triggered by changes in the names of entities. In addition, ISO 3166-1 is based on the country names obtained from the United Nations and, as a result, contains names that are not recognized by the US BGN. It may be necessary to use the ISO 3166-1 country names and codes in a new or existing system, data set, database, or information application, with or without the FIPS 10-4 country names and codes. For example, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) uses the ISO country codes in its permit numbers, and the CITES annual report produced by each country must use these codes to provide consistency. Thus, the Service Permit Issuance and Tracking System (SPITS) database incorporates the ISO country codes for reporting purposes. In these instances, the ISO country names and codes must be identified and labeled in such a manner as to clearly distinguish them from the FIPS 10-4 country names and codes.

Phase
Adopted
Approval Date
June 6, 2001
Validation Date
January 18, 2011
Data Steward
National Data Administrator, Branch of Data and Systems Services, Division of Information Resources and Technology Management.

 


Last updated: February 5, 2013