Country, language and currency codes (ISO3166, ISO639 and ISO4217)

Country, language and currency codes (ISO3166, ISO639 and ISO4217)

By this, I would like to clarify how to write countries, languages and currencies in short form. Especially it is important when working in international projects or with software components where these standards are used and respected. For example, how to you think what is 3 digit code for country Latvia? – LAT or LAV? Correct answer is LAV, because LAT is language short form.

Country code

Usually countries can be “shortened” using 2 digit code. Official standart is ISO 3166. Country code for Latvia is LV, for example Antarctica, even this is not a country, but weakly populated place in south has code AQ.

Language codes:

With languages and its codes it is a little bit sophisticated, because ISO-639 standart group is in use: ISO639-1, ISO639-2 and ISO639-3. Even more – ISO 639-2 has biblibliographical (B) code and terminological (T).

Basically, these two standards can be assumed as 2 digit standard (ISO 639-1) and 3 digit standard (ISO 639-3).

For Latvian 2 digit code is LV, but 3 digit code is LAV. Some countries has different 3 digit codes. For example German 2 digit code is DE (not ge!), but 3 digit code can be DEU or GER, depending on standard.

Investigating languge codes, I have discovered that, there is such language – apache. Apache language is used in small are in South of America. Latgalian (know as Latvian language dialect) has now its own language code.


Latgalian language achieve its own language code!

GRN Language Number: #21083
ISO / Ethnologue 16th edition Language Code: ltg
ISO / Ethnologue 16th edition Language Name: Latgalian

Currency code

Codes for currencies are specified in ISO 4217. Currency code consists of 3 letters, they have also numeric 3 digit code. For Latvian lat code is LVL and numeric code 428. Amazing, but it is different from phone country code (371). No idea why.

Amazing discovery investigating currency codes is, that currency code is assigned to gold (XAU, 959), silver, and other noble metals. Own code has also theoretical currency, used for testing purposes only (XTS, 963)

Usage of Ls currency

Short code Ls can be used, but its usage is not defined in international standards, but is specified by Latvian spelling. (Apinis M., Koluža R. Latviešu valodas pareizrakstība, R.: Zvaigzne ABC, 1995)

Domains (top level)

Top level domains, state codes are used based on ISO 3166 standard, with some exceptions and additions. Latvia - .lv.

Own top level domain has also penguin homeland – Antarctica - .aq :)


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