Country codes, how did they arise and why?

A country code is what you dial in to call another country. +46 is the country code for Sweden. But how is it that Sweden has that particular number? When were the country codes created and who decided which countries would receive which codes? That is something we are going to give answers to below.

Why was country codes created?

For us, it may sound obvious to have different country codes. But considering that the phone was invented in the 1870s, it took a long time before they were introduced. It was not before the early 1960s that the concept of country codes emerged.

At that time, rotary phones were used, you know those who had a number disc where you rotated one digit at a time. The mechanism in the disk then controlled the rotation counterclockwise to produce pulses down the telephone line. Entering telephone numbers took time and therefore they wanted to avoid telephone numbers being too long. With the country codes, it was ensured that a telephone number never became more than 11 digits.

Who decided how the country codes would be distributed?

It was the ITU – International Telecom Union, a body that contains various countries’ network suppliers, which together agreed on how the different codes would be distributed.

Which countries have which codes?

On a rotary phone, a “1” takes significantly shorter time to enter than a “9”. The countries that were most influential in the telecommunications union, combined with those who had the largest population, were given the shortest and thus the simplest codes to enter. Therefore, it may not be surprising that the US and Canada received the single-digit country code +1. They had a well-developed network and had good contacts with the rest of the world which made this an area that many people were presumed to call.

A bit more surprising may be that Africa got the + 2-series. Europe got the following numbers, +3 and +4. Countries with much influence received “nicer” country codes, such as +33 (France) and +44 (England).

At that time, the then USSR network was rather poorly developed but had a large land mass and large population. Therefore, they got the world’s other single-digit code but with the fairly high number +7. Only North America and the USSR received single-digit codes. The rest of the world later got two or three digits.

Uzbekistan drew the shortest straw, or the longest number, when they were assigned the country number +998.

Politics affects

There is a country code listed as “Reserved” without other comments in the official list of country codes, namely +886. But the fact is that if you use the country code +886 you will call Taiwan. This is because mainland China did not receive any code at all to begin with. Instead, the country code belonged to the People’s Republic of China, which at that time was advocated by Taiwan. The mainland China did not receive its own code because Taiwan still claimed the Chinese mainland. China now has +86 as its country code, but because of China’s influence over this list, Taiwan is not shown in the list of official codes.

Country codes in alphabetical order

COUNTRYCOUNTRY CODE
Afghanistan93
Albania355
Algeria213
American Samoa1-684
Andorra376
Angola244
Anguilla1-264
Antarctica672
Antigua and Barbuda1-268
Argentina54
Armenia374
Aruba297
Australia61
Austria43
Azerbaijan994
Bahamas1-242
Bahrain973
Bangladesh880
Barbados1-246
Belarus375
Belgium32
Belize501
Benin229
Bermuda1-441
Bhutan975
Bolivia591
Bosnia and Herzegovina387
Botswana267
Brazil55
British Indian Ocean Territory246
British Virgin Islands1-284
Brunei673
Bulgaria359
Burkina Faso226
Burundi257
Cambodia855
Cameroon237
Canada1
Cape Verde238
Cayman Islands1-345
Central African Republic236
Chad235
Chile56
China86
Christmas Island61
Cocos Islands61
Colombia57
Comoros269
Cook Islands682
Costa Rica506
Croatia385
Cuba53
Curacao599
Cyprus357
Czech Republic420
Democratic Republic of the Congo243
Denmark45
Djibouti253
Dominica1-767
Dominican Republic1-809, 1-829, 1-849
East Timor670
Ecuador593
Egypt20
El Salvador503
Equatorial Guinea240
Eritrea291
Estonia372
Ethiopia251
Falkland Islands500
Faroe Islands298
Fiji679
Finland358
France33
French Polynesia689
Gabon241
Gambia220
Georgia995
Germany49
Ghana233
Gibraltar350
Greece30
Greenland299
Grenada1-473
Guam1-671
Guatemala502
Guernsey44-1481
Guinea224
Guinea-Bissau245
Guyana592
Haiti509
Honduras504
Hong Kong852
Hungary36
Iceland354
India91
Indonesia62
Iran98
Iraq964
Ireland353
Isle of Man44-1624
Israel972
Italy39
Ivory Coast225
Jamaica1-876
Japan81
Jersey44-1534
Jordan962
Kazakhstan7
Kenya254
Kiribati686
Kosovo383
Kuwait965
Kyrgyzstan996
Laos856
Latvia371
Lebanon961
Lesotho266
Liberia231
Libya218
Liechtenstein423
Lithuania370
Luxembourg352
Macau853
Macedonia389
Madagascar261
Malawi265
Malaysia60
Maldives960
Mali223
Malta356
Marshall Islands692
Mauritania222
Mauritius230
Mayotte262
Mexico52
Micronesia691
Moldova373
Monaco377
Mongolia976
Montenegro382
Montserrat1-664
Morocco212
Mozambique258
Myanmar95
Namibia264
Nauru674
Nepal977
Netherlands31
Netherlands Antilles599
New Caledonia687
New Zealand64
Nicaragua505
Niger227
Nigeria234
Niue683
North Korea850
Northern Mariana Islands1-670
Norway47
Oman968
Pakistan92
Palau680
Palestine970
Panama507
Papua New Guinea675
Paraguay595
Peru51
Philippines63
Pitcairn64
Poland48
Portugal351
Puerto Rico1-787, 1-939
Qatar974
Republic of the Congo242
Reunion262
Romania40
Russia7
Rwanda250
Saint Barthelemy590
Saint Helena290
Saint Kitts and Nevis1-869
Saint Lucia1-758
Saint Martin590
Saint Pierre and Miquelon508
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines1-784
Samoa685
San Marino378
Sao Tome and Principe239
Saudi Arabia966
Senegal221
Serbia381
Seychelles248
Sierra Leone232
Singapore65
Sint Maarten1-721
Slovakia421
Slovenia386
Solomon Islands677
Somalia252
South Africa27
South Korea82
South Sudan211
Spain34
Sri Lanka94
Sudan249
Suriname597
Svalbard and Jan Mayen47
Swaziland268
Sweden46
Switzerland41
Syria963
Taiwan886
Tajikistan992
Tanzania255
Thailand66
Togo228
Tokelau690
Tonga676
Trinidad and Tobago1-868
Tunisia216
Turkey90
Turkmenistan993
Turks and Caicos Islands1-649
Tuvalu688
U.S. Virgin Islands1-340
Uganda256
Ukraine380
United Arab Emirates971
United Kingdom44
United States1
Uruguay598
Uzbekistan998
Vanuatu678
Vatican379
Venezuela58
Vietnam84
Wallis and Futuna681
Western Sahara212
Yemen967
Zambia260
Zimbabwe263

 

If you want to find the country code for a specific country, there are plenty of websites that can help you, for example  CountryCode.org.

Latest update nov 2019

By Elin Gunnarsson
Content Manager
In a time of "it must happen now" it is of the utmost importance to have the right communication solutions.

8 responses to “Country codes, how did they arise and why?

    1. Country Country Code
      Canada 1
      United States 1
      Kazakhstan 7
      Russia 7
      Egypt 20
      South Africa 27
      Greece 30
      Netherlands 31
      Belgium 32
      France 33
      Spain 34
      Hungary 36
      Italy 39
      Romania 40
      Switzerland 41
      Austria 43
      United Kingdom 44
      Denmark 45
      Sweden 46
      Norway 47
      Svalbard and Jan Mayen 47
      Poland 48
      Germany 49
      Peru 51
      Mexico 52
      Cuba 53
      Argentina 54
      Brazil 55
      Chile 56
      Colombia 57
      Venezuela 58
      Malaysia 60
      Australia 61
      Christmas Island 61
      Cocos Islands 61
      Indonesia 62
      Philippines 63
      New Zealand 64
      Pitcairn 64
      Singapore 65
      Thailand 66
      Japan 81
      South Korea 82
      Vietnam 84
      China 86
      Turkey 90
      India 91
      Pakistan 92
      Afghanistan 93
      Sri Lanka 94
      Myanmar 95
      Iran 98
      South Sudan 211
      Morocco 212
      Western Sahara 212
      Algeria 213
      Tunisia 216
      Libya 218
      Gambia 220
      Senegal 221
      Mauritania 222
      Mali 223
      Guinea 224
      Ivory Coast 225
      Burkina Faso 226
      Niger 227
      Togo 228
      Benin 229
      Mauritius 230
      Liberia 231
      Sierra Leone 232
      Ghana 233
      Nigeria 234
      Chad 235
      Central African Republic 236
      Cameroon 237
      Cape Verde 238
      Sao Tome and Principe 239
      Equatorial Guinea 240
      Gabon 241
      Republic of the Congo 242
      Democratic Republic of the Congo 243
      Angola 244
      Guinea-Bissau 245
      British Indian Ocean Territory 246
      Seychelles 248
      Sudan 249
      Rwanda 250
      Ethiopia 251
      Somalia 252
      Djibouti 253
      Kenya 254
      Tanzania 255
      Uganda 256
      Burundi 257
      Mozambique 258
      Zambia 260
      Madagascar 261
      Mayotte 262
      Reunion 262
      Zimbabwe 263
      Namibia 264
      Malawi 265
      Lesotho 266
      Botswana 267
      Swaziland 268
      Comoros 269
      Saint Helena 290
      Eritrea 291
      Aruba 297
      Faroe Islands 298
      Greenland 299
      Gibraltar 350
      Portugal 351
      Luxembourg 352
      Ireland 353
      Iceland 354
      Albania 355
      Malta 356
      Cyprus 357
      Finland 358
      Bulgaria 359
      Lithuania 370
      Latvia 371
      Estonia 372
      Moldova 373
      Armenia 374
      Belarus 375
      Andorra 376
      Monaco 377
      San Marino 378
      Vatican 379
      Ukraine 380
      Serbia 381
      Montenegro 382
      Kosovo 383
      Croatia 385
      Slovenia 386
      Bosnia and Herzegovina 387
      Macedonia 389
      Czech Republic 420
      Slovakia 421
      Liechtenstein 423
      Falkland Islands 500
      Belize 501
      Guatemala 502
      El Salvador 503
      Honduras 504
      Nicaragua 505
      Costa Rica 506
      Panama 507
      Saint Pierre and Miquelon 508
      Haiti 509
      Saint Barthelemy 590
      Saint Martin 590
      Bolivia 591
      Guyana 592
      Ecuador 593
      Paraguay 595
      Suriname 597
      Uruguay 598
      Curacao 599
      Netherlands Antilles 599
      East Timor 670
      Antarctica 672
      Brunei 673
      Nauru 674
      Papua New Guinea 675
      Tonga 676
      Solomon Islands 677
      Vanuatu 678
      Fiji 679
      Palau 680
      Wallis and Futuna 681
      Cook Islands 682
      Niue 683
      Samoa 685
      Kiribati 686
      New Caledonia 687
      Tuvalu 688
      French Polynesia 689
      Tokelau 690
      Micronesia 691
      Marshall Islands 692
      North Korea 850
      Hong Kong 852
      Macau 853
      Cambodia 855
      Laos 856
      Bangladesh 880
      Taiwan 886
      Maldives 960
      Lebanon 961
      Jordan 962
      Syria 963
      Iraq 964
      Kuwait 965
      Saudi Arabia 966
      Yemen 967
      Oman 968
      Palestine 970
      United Arab Emirates 971
      Israel 972
      Bahrain 973
      Qatar 974
      Bhutan 975
      Mongolia 976
      Nepal 977
      Tajikistan 992
      Turkmenistan 993
      Azerbaijan 994
      Georgia 995
      Kyrgyzstan 996
      Uzbekistan 998
      Bahamas 1-242
      Barbados 1-246
      Anguilla 1-264
      Antigua and Barbuda 1-268
      British Virgin Islands 1-284
      U.S. Virgin Islands 1-340
      Cayman Islands 1-345
      Bermuda 1-441
      Grenada 1-473
      Turks and Caicos Islands 1-649
      Montserrat 1-664
      Northern Mariana Islands 1-670
      Guam 1-671
      American Samoa 1-684
      Sint Maarten 1-721
      Saint Lucia 1-758
      Dominica 1-767
      Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 1-784
      Puerto Rico 1-787, 1-939
      Dominican Republic 1-809, 1-829, 1-849
      Trinidad and Tobago 1-868
      Saint Kitts and Nevis 1-869
      Jamaica 1-876
      Guernsey 44-1481
      Jersey 44-1534
      Isle of Man 44-1624

  1. Now that we have the technology that does not depend on physical pulses, we should revise the systems, namely: 1 North America, 2 South America, 3 Europe (Including Russia), 4 Africa, 5 Middle East, 6 South East Asia, 7 Oceania. 8 and 9 should be reserved of special communication. The second and the third digit should be within that area …It shall simplify remembering and recognizing …The Telecommunication World has become too big and too complex. We should try to reach ordinary people and make it as simple as possible.

  2. Hi colleagues,

    I am really excited to heard that there is a reserved country code which our case bit similar to Taiwan cases, therefore, if you help us getting that reserved codes and requirements. It will enable us to communicate more if needed.

  3. I will like to know Egypt has got 20 while USA has 1 what is the phenomena that were used to create the system that named even in Africa as top 20 countries however I would also like to know why the numbers are not arranged from number one because they omitted other numbers

  4. yesterday i was sitting on the toilet. My mother came in and as i yelled at her also decided to go eat an oreo from the pantry, i sat down at my computer to do some work and i came across this post, i read it and thank holy god hallelujah I needid it. so i sat down to do work and then i thought, what if zimbabwes country code wasnt what it was, what if it was 212312312312312312434234143. so i went on change.org and gofundme. i set up a petition on one and a fundraiser on the other. now my sick dog is dead.

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