ISO 3166 is the International Standard for country codes and also includes codes for their subdivisions. Using the official two letter code instead of using each country’s name (which will change depending on the language being used) saves time and avoids errors. The ISO 3166 code is a combination of letters and/or numbers that are understood all over the world, and do not change.
The abbreviation ISO stands for the International Organization for Standardization which is the world’s largest developer of voluntary International Standards and today has members from 161 countries. International Standards are of great help because they offer a simple way to provide specifications for products, services and good practice, helping to make industry more efficient and effective.
The ISO Standards are developed through global consensus and they help to break down barriers to international trade. They cover not only country names but also many other subjects. At present, there are over 19,500 International Standards covering almost all aspects of technology and business.