Wednesday, October 26, 2011

What's On Your Country List?

Tags: country list; countries and territories; international destinations

Many companies turn to international organizations or governmental departments for their country list:  the International Standards Organization (ISO), the United Nations (U.N.), the World Bank, a Department of State or Foreign Office.  Or they may be dependent on a list provided by an outside vendor, such as a list management service or database software provider.  Each company's "country list" will have both countries and some territories.  Looking more closely at the country lists and modifying the one you use to your requirements is important.  

What's on your country list should depend on your type of business, the purpose of that list, and your country of residence.  A list on your web site or on your printed material adds to or detracts from your company's image as knowledgeable and current on international business matters.  If you maintain other information on destinations, such as local currency and languages, entries that should not be on your list add to the maintenance costs while producing no benefit.  You may also need to add destinations.  For example, Taiwan and Kosovo are not on some lists.

Look out for some common problem entries on your own list or any others you consider using:

·     Antarctica is a continent with no countries.  It has research stations and bases with staff from over 25 countries.  Both mail and telephone communication arrangements vary by base administration and locale.

·    Regional groupings, such as Channel Islands, Spratly Islands, United States Outlying Islands, or West Indies, are made up of countries or territories that need to be considered individually.

·    Regions or provinces of other countries are sometimes included on these lists.  Hawaii seems to appear on many non-U.S. lists.

·    Uninhabited areas, such as Jan Mayen, Heard Island, or McDonald Islands, can add length to the list making it more unwieldy to use.

·    If your list contains names that are no longer in use, such as Dahomey, Moldovia, Western Sahara, or Western Samoa, it can create the impression that your company is not knowledgeable about international business.

·    Ambiguous designations, such as Antilles, China, Congo, Korea, or Timor, will create confusion.  Antilles is both an area in the Caribbean and part of the name of the Dutch Antilles.  The People's Republic of China is recognized by the U.N. and is usually referred to as China although the government on Taiwan considers itself the legitimate Republic of China.  The Democratic Republic of Congo and the Republic of the Congo can both be called Congo.  The same is true of North and South Korea.  Timor is an island, divided into the country of Timor Leste or East Timor and West Timor which is part of the Indonesian province East Nusa Tenggara.

Call me at +1 410-522-4223 or email me if you would like to discuss your country list in more detail.