1291.0 - A Guide to Major ABS Classifications, 1998  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 03/09/1998   
   Page tools: Print Print Page  
Contents >> AREA: Standard Australian Classification of Countries (SACC)


The Standard Australian Classification of Countries (SACC) is an Australian statistical standard used for the production and dissemination of official statistics on countries. The SACC is a classification of countries based on the concept of geographic proximity. The SACC groups neighbouring countries into progressively broader geographic areas on the basis of their similarity in terms of social, cultural, economic and political characteristics. The SACC is suitable for a range of applications including the classification of economic as well as population statistics by country.

The SACC is the revised edition of the Australian Standard Classification of Countries for Social Statistics (ASCCSS), which was published in October 1990. In addition to making it suitable for developing economic statistics, a revised edition was required to deal with political change in Eastern Europe (particularly the break up of the former USSR and former Yugoslavia) and to allow for a more stringent application of the classification criteria in both Europe and surrounding areas such as the Middle East and parts of Asia. The SACC also incorporates previous revisions to the ASCCSS.

It should be noted that the structural changes between the SACC and the first edition ASCCSS have resulted in code changes for most countries and country groupings. Concordances between the structures of the two editions have been included in the publication to facilitate the conversion of data to the ASCCSS basis and to convert historical data to the SACC.

Purpose of the classification

The SACC should be used for the production and dissemination of all official statistics on countries. For example, the classification should be used when collecting, aggregating and disseminating data relating to personal characteristics such as country of birth, country of residence, country of citizenship, etc. The classification is now also intended for use in classifying economic statistics by country. For example, the classification can be used to classify countries for international trade and foreign investment data. It is not intended for classifying related concepts such as the ethnicity of individuals or the language spoken by individuals.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics will be replacing ASCCSS with SACC in its statistical collections and other government agencies and private organisations should also use it in classifying demographic, economic, labour and social statistics by country.

Units of the classification

The base units in the classification are 'countries'. The 'countries' identified in the classification are of five types:

      • fully independent countries (excluding their dependencies, external territories, etc.);
      • administrative subdivisions of the United Kingdom (England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland);
      • external territories and dependencies of independent countries, for example, Falkland Islands, Martinique;
      • units which are recognised geographic areas, the ownership or control of which is in dispute, for example, West Bank/Gaza Strip; and
      • residual categories (not elsewhere classified categories) comprised of geographic areas which are not separately identified in the classification and which are not part of one of the separately identified base level units.

The classification includes all countries currently existing in the world, as defined above.

In order to make the SACC useful for the collection and dissemination of economic statistics, a number of other categories which do not equate directly to countries have been identified. These categories include Reserve Bank Gold, Euro Bond Market, Ships' Stores, etc. Although not part of the standard classification structure, they are provided to allow for the convenient classification of certain types of data by country, where some entities other than countries are relevant.

Structure of the classification

The SACC has a hierarchy consisting of three levels:

      • the third and most detailed level contains 244 discrete Countries, as described above;
      • the second level contains 27 Minor Groups which are groups of geographically proximate Countries similar in terms of social, cultural, economic and political characteristics; and
      • the first and most general level contains 9 Major Groups which are formed by aggregating geographically proximate Minor Groups and, therefore, comprise Countries which are broadly similar in terms of social, cultural, economic and political characteristics.

The nine Major Groups of the classification are:
        1.  Oceania and Antarctica
        2.  North-West Europe
        3.  Southern and Eastern Europe
        4.  North Africa and Western Asia
        5.  South-East Asia
        6.  North-East Asia
        7.  Southern Asia
        8.  The Americas
        9.  Sub-Saharan Africa

A Coding Index has been included in the publication to enable responses in statistical and administrative collections to be assigned accurately and quickly to the appropriate category of the classification. It contains a comprehensive list of responses to common questions relating to country and their correct classification codes.

One, two and four digit codes are assigned to the first, second and third level units of the classification respectively. The first digit identifies the Major Group in which each Country or Minor Group is contained. The first two digits taken together identify the Minor Group in which each Country is contained. The four digit codes represent each of the Countries.

The following example illustrates the coding scheme:

    Major Group
    Southern and Eastern Europe
    Minor Group
    Southern Europe
International Standards Organisation (ISO) two and three character alpha and three digit numeric codes have been mapped to the SACC 4-digit codes for use in circumstances where the SACC codes are not suitable.

Further information

Further information may be obtained through the following products:

  • Standard Australian Country Classification (SACC) (Cat. no. 1269.0)
  • SACC on floppy disk (Cat. no. 1269.15.001)

The Standard Australian Classification of Countries (SACC) replaced the Australian Standard Classification of Countries for Social Statistics (ASCCSS) on 24 September 1998 and future changes to the SACC will be reflected on the ABS web site in the Statistical Concepts Library.

      Assistant Director
      Classifications and Data Standards

      Phone: (02) 6252 7074
      Fax: (02) 6252 5281

Previous PageNext Page