BES island flags

Harriet Riddle harjitmoe at
Sat Sep 26 06:20:15 CDT 2020

From: Unicode <unicode-bounces at> on behalf of Christoph Päper via Unicode <unicode at>
Sent: 26 September 2020 11:51
To: unicode at <unicode at>
Subject: Re: BES island flags

Unicode first needed to define a completely new method involving otherwise unused Tag characters to encode ISO 3166-2 codes as emoji flags. This enabled _thousands_ of new valid sequences, not all of which have a definitive flag design associated. Of these, only _three_ were RGIed then. (Few years before, a dozen of preexisting emoji flags lead to the systematic encoding of about two hundred geographic codes, some of which have no unique flag associated with them.) The only preexisting implementation (WhatsApp) used a different method (RIS ‘XE’ etc.) which was absolutely sufficient for handling just a handful of flags.
…and in fairness, we did still end up with, as mentioned already, XK for Kosovo, although that is in some respects a different situation (Kosovo's ISO 3166 code is RS-KM, which is an entire can of worms in itself, though to the best of my knowledge the flag in question isn't used/recognised by the Republic of Serbia, and the code XK apparently gets used for Kosovo in several non-emoji contexts as well, which is not to the best of my knowledge true for XE and England).

For comparison, Taiwan gets both CN-TW and TW in ISO 3166 (although the ISO finish up listing its name as "Taiwan (Province of China)"), and (for further comparison) Hong Kong gets both CN-HK and HK.

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