Meet the ISO

Our country reference and demographics database product includes information derived from ISO – International Organization for Standardization – standards and publications. We though you would like to know more about the organization, so meet the ISO…

ISO logoFounded February 23, 1947, the ISO is a network of the national standards institutes of 159 countries, with one member per country. Its Central Secretariat, which coordinates the system, is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, and English and French serve as the official languages.

ISO is not an acronym in either of the organization’s official languages and the letters are not delimited with periods like initials. The short-form name is based on the Greek word ἴσος (isos in English), meaning equal. Fitting, since their mission is to equalize and standardize across nations and cultures.

The ISO is the world’s largest developer and publisher of international standards. While not a government organization, it has strong links to governments, and the ISO’s stature gives it the ability to set standards that often become law, either through treaties or national standards.

The organization’s work helps improve international collaboration and communication and promotes steady and equitable growth of international trade. ISO standards encompass most technical and nontechnical fields and affect aerospace, alphabetization and transliteration, chemistry, design, engineering, fuels, image technology, machines, manufacturing, measurements, medical equipment, methods of testing, production, specifications for parts, shipbuilding and tools, among other areas. Most of the standards are reviewed and optimized every five years.

ISO standards are identified in the format:

ISO nnnnn:yyyy: Title

where nnnnn is the number of the standard, yyyy is the year published and Title describes the subject.

EN ISO nnnnn is the European version of the international standard, and BS EN ISO nnnnn is the British variation. Some standards are issued in collaboration with other organizations and are identified accordingly.

Standards not covered by the ISO include electrical and electronic engineering, which is the responsibility of the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC).

In addition to standards, the ISO also publishes technical reports, specifications, corrigenda and guides. Their documents are copyrighted and they usually charge for copies, however, the organization does not charge for most draft copies delivered in electronic format. Note that drafts are often substantially modified before they are finalized as standards.

ISO standards supplied with our pdCountry database product include:

  • ISO 3166-1 alpha-2 – two-letter country abbreviation
  • ISO 3166-1 alpha-3 – three-letter country abbreviation
  • ISO 3166-1 numeric – three-digit country code
  • ISO 4217 alpha-3 – three-letter national currency abbreviation
  • ISO 639-1 alpha-2 – two-letter language abbreviation

The product also provides data drawn from United Nations (UN), International Olympic Committee (OIC), International Telecommunication Union (ITU), top-level domain (TLD) data, and other information sources.

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