ISO 3166:1974 was first published in 1974. It was descended from the distinguishing signs for vehicles under the Conventions on Road Traffic
of 1949 and 1968. It has been modified as needed over the years, and updated with new editions in 1981, 1988, and 1993. One source says that
the three-digit codes first appeared in the 1981 edition. In 1996, it was announced that the standard would be divided into three parts. ISO
3166-1 would continue to provide two-letter, three-letter, and three-digit codes for countries. ISO 3166-2 would contain codes for primary
administrative subdivisions of countries. ISO 3166-3 would provide codes for obsolete country names (those deleted from ISO 3166 since 1974).
The first publication of ISO 3166-1 was dated 1997.
The following timeline lists all the changes I could find that have affected the names or the codes for any entity. In most cases I haven't
mentioned the code values following a change, because they can be looked up in the Country Codes table, or sometimes
farther down the timeline.
- 1975: Sikkim (codes
SK, SKM) merged with India.
- ~1976: Three-letter code for Philippines changed from
- 1977: North Vietnam (codes
VD, VDR, full name Democratic Republic of Viet-Nam) merged with South Vietnam (
VNM, full name Republic of Viet Nam) to form Vietnam.
- 1977: Name of French Territory of the Afars and Issas (codes
AI, AFI, 262) changed to Djibouti.
- 1977: Name of Dahomey (codes
DY, DHY, 204) changed to Benin.
- 1979: French Southern and Antarctic Territories (codes
FQ, ATF) split into French Southern Territories and a section
corresponding to Adélie Land, which was not given an entry because it was considered part of Antarctica.
- 1979: British Antarctic Territory (codes
BQ, ATB) merged with Antarctica.
- 1979: Gilbert and Ellice Islands (codes
GE, GEL, 296) split into Kiribati and Tuvalu.
- 1980: Southern Rhodesia (alpha codes
RH, RHO, 716) changed to Zimbabwe.
- 1980: Name of New Hebrides (codes
NH, NHB, 548) changed to Vanuatu.
- 1980: Panama Canal Zone (codes
PZ, PCZ) merged with Panama.
- 1983: Dronning Maud Land (codes
NQ, ATN, 216) merged with Antarctica.
- 1984: Canton and Enderbury Islands (codes
CT, CTE, 128) merged with Kiribati.
- 1984: Name of Upper Volta (codes
HV, HVO, 854) changed to Burkina Faso.
- ~1985: Saint Kitts-Nevis-Anguilla (codes
KN, KNA, 658) split into Anguilla and "Saint Kitts and Nevis".
- ~1985: Official English name of Spanish Sahara changed to Western Sahara.
- ~1986: Aruba split from Netherlands Antilles.
- 1986: Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands (codes
PC, PCI, 582) split into Federated States of Micronesia, Marshall
Islands, Northern Mariana Islands, and Palau.
- 1986: United States Minor Outlying Islands formed by merging Johnston Atoll (codes
JT, JTN, 396), Midway Islands
MI, MID, 488), United States Miscellaneous Pacific Islands (
PU, PUS, 849), and Wake Island (
- 1989-12-05 (Newsletter III-1): Official English name of Burma (codes
BU, BUR, 104) changed to Myanmar.
- 1990-08-14 (Newsletter III-7): People's Democratic Republic of Yemen (short name, Democratic Yemen; codes,
720) merged with Yemen Arab Republic (short name, Yemen). Numeric code changed from
Short name changed to Republic of Yemen.
- 1990-08-14 (Newsletter III-10): Official English name of Kampuchea changed to Cambodia.
- 1990-10-30 (Newsletter III-13): German Democratic Republic (codes
DD, DDR, 278) merged with Federal Republic
of Germany. Numeric code changed from
- 1992-04-19 (Newsletter III-22): Official English name of Micronesia changed to Federated States of Micronesia.
- 1992-04-19 (Newsletter III-23): Full name (Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic) and short name (Ukrainian S.S.R.) changed to
Ukraine. No codes changed. (Note: although Belarus and Ukraine were as much a part of the Soviet Union as any of the other
constituent republics, they had their own seats in the U.N. General Assembly, and consequently their own ISO codes, during the
- 1992-06-15 (Newsletters III-16, 17, 18, 27, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36): Armenia, Azerbaijan, Estonia, Kazakstan,
Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Russian Federation, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan split from U.S.S.R.
- 1992-06-15 (Newsletter III-19): Full name (Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic) and short name (Byelorussian S.S.R.)
changed to Belarus; its three-letter code changed from
- 1992-06-15 (Newsletter III-26): Croatia split from Yugoslavia.
- 1992-08-28 (Newsletter III-28): Georgia split from U.S.S.R.
- 1992-08-30 (Newsletter III-37): U.S.S.R. (full name Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, codes
SU, SUN, 810) removed
- ~1993 (Newsletter III-39): Bosnia and Herzegovina split from Yugoslavia.
- 1993-06-15 (Newsletter III-38): Slovenia split from Yugoslavia.
- 1993-06-15 (Newsletters III-49 through III-51): Czechoslovakia (full name Czechoslovak Socialist Republic, codes
200) split into Czech Republic and Slovakia.
- 1993-06-18 (Newsletter III-24): Metropolitan France (codes
FX, FXX, 249) added. The standard didn't specify the
geographical compass of this entity, but it was clearly intended to represent France in European, including Corsica. The
entity was later removed from the list (see 1997-07-14).
- 1993-07-02 (Newsletter III-52): Full name of Angola changed from People's Republic of Angola to Republic of Angola.
- 1993-07-12 (Newsletter III-40): Official English name of Republic of Yemen changed to Yemen.
- 1993-07-12 (Newsletter III-46): Neutral Zone (between Saudi Arabia and Iraq, codes
NT, NTZ, 536) removed from list.
The Neutral Zone was split up and merged with Saudi Arabia and Iraq following the Gulf War of 1991.
- 1993-07-12 (Newsletter III-47): Numeric code of Netherlands Antilles changed from
530 (a delayed
consequence of the splitting off of Aruba).
- 1993-07-12 (Newsletter III-48): Mayotte added to list. It apparently was previously considered part of France, but the
standard never said so explicitly.
- 1993-07-12 (Newsletter III-53): Full name of Madagascar changed from Democratic Republic of Madagascar to Republic of
- 1993-07-16 (Newsletters III-55 and III-56): Eritrea split from Ethiopia; numeric code of Ethiopia changed from
- 1993-07-16 (Newsletter III-57): The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia split from Yugoslavia.
- 1993-07-16 (Newsletter III-58): Full name of Afghanistan changed from Democratic Republic of Afghanistan to Islamic State of
- 1993-07-22 (Newsletter III-44): Numeric code of Panama changed from
591 (a delayed consequence of
the merging with the Panama Canal Zone).
- 1993-07-23 (Newsletter III-54): South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands split from Falkland Islands.
- 1993-07-25 (Amendment to Newsletter III-32): Official English name of Kyrgyzstan changed to Kyrgyz Republic.
- 1993-07-28 (Newsletter III-45): Numeric code of Yugoslavia changed from
891 (a consequence of the
splitting off of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, and Slovenia).
- 1994-01-26 (Newsletter III-59): Full name of Andorra changed from Andorra to Pricipality of Andorra.
- 1994-01-26 (Newsletter III-60): Full name of Cambodia changed to Kingdom of Cambodia.
- 1996-04-03 (Newsletter IV-1): Short and full names of Vatican City changed from Vatican City State (Holy See) to Holy See
(Vatican City State).
- 1997-07-14 (Newsletter IV-2): Zaire (full name Republic of Zaire, alpha codes
ZR, ZAR) changed to The Democratic
Republic of the Congo.
- 1997-07-14: Metropolitan France removed from the list, but remains an "exceptionally reserved code element".
- 1998-02-05 (Newsletter V-1): Formal name of Samoa changed from Independent State of Western Samoa to Independent State of
- 1999-10-01 (Newsletter V-2): Occupied Palestinian Territory split from Israel.
- 2002-02-01 (Newsletter V-3): Three-letter code for Romania changed from
- 2002-05-20 (Newsletters V-4 and V-5): Official English spellings of two country names were changed: Kazakstan to Kazakhstan,
and Macau to Macao. The ISO two- and three-letter codes for East Timor were changed from
TL and from
- 2002-11-15 (Newsletter V-6): Official English name of East Timor changed to Timor-Leste.
- 2003-01-14 (Newsletter V-7): Formal name of Comoros changed from Islamic Federal Republic of the Comoros to Union of the
- 2003-07-23 (Newsletter V-8): Official English name of Yugoslavia changed to Serbia and Montenegro. The alpha codes were
- 2004-02-13 (Newsletter V-9): Åland Islands split from Finland. No code change for Finland.
- 2006-03-29 (Newsletter V-11): Guernsey, Isle of Man, and Jersey split from United Kingdom. No code change for United Kingdom.
- 2006-09-26 (Newsletter V-12): "Serbia and Montenegro", whose codes were (
CS, SCG, 891),
split into two countries: Serbia and Montenegro.
- 2007-09-21 (Newsletter VI-1): Saint Barthélemy and "Saint-Martin (French part)" split from Guadeloupe. No code change for
- 2008-03-31 (Newsletter VI-2): Short name of Republic of Moldova changed to Moldova.
- 2008-09-09 (Newsletter VI-3): Formal name of Nepal changed to Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal.
- 2009-01-07 (Newsletter VI-4): Reversed the change to Moldova in Newsletter VI-2.
- 2009-03-03 (Newsletter VI-5): Short name of Venezuela changed to Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.
- 2009-05-08 (Newsletter VI-6): Name of Bolivia changed to Plurinational State of Bolivia (both short and formal).
- 2010-02-22 (Newsletter VI-7): Short name of Saint Helena changed to Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha.
- 2010-12-15 (Newsletter VI-8): Curaçao and "Sint Maarten (Dutch part)" split from Netherlands Antilles, which was renamed
"Bonaire, Saint Eustatius and Saba". The codes for Netherlands Antilles (
AN, ANT, 530) were retired.
- 2011-06-12 (Newsletter VI-9): "Saint" changed to "Sint" in the English name of Bonaire; formal name of Fiji changed to "Republic
of Fiji"; formal name of Myanmar changed to "Republic of the Union of Myanmar"; formal name of Niue changed to Niue, deleting "Republic
- 2011-08-09 (Newsletter VI-10): South Sudan split from Sudan. Sudan's former N-3 code,
736, was retired. The other
codes for Sudan remained unchanged.
- 2011-11-08 (Newsletter VI-11): Short name of Libya changed to Libya, deleting "-n Arab Jamahiriya".
- 2012-02-15 (Newsletter VI-12): Formal name of Hungary changed to Hungary, deleting "Republic of".
- 2012-08-02 (Newsletter VI-13): Formal name of Eritrea changed to State of Eritrea.
- 2013-02-06 (Newsletter VI-14): Name of Palestine changed from "Occupied Palestinian Territory" to "State of Palestine" (both short
Change history from 1989 to 1994 comes from a document attributed to the RIPE Network Coordination Centre. (RIPE = Réseaux
IP Européens = European IP Networks.) Many copies of this document, with different update dates, exist on the Web. Some
examples are here ,
here , and
I have not actually seen the original newsletters, so I can't explain the discrepancy between their serial numbers and dates; there
may be errors in the RIPE document. Change history from 1996 on comes from documents I have seen, in either printed or electronic
form. Change history prior to 1989 is reconstructed from various printed and online documents, and may have some small mistakes.