When alphabetising countries in English (specifically, a drop-down menu on my website), "El Salvador" is after "Egypt" and "the Gambia" is after "Gabon"; "Virgin Islands" and "Christmas Island" are sorted in the "V" and "C" areas respectively.

In the Spanish version of the same list, would "El Salvador" be filed under "E" or "S"? (Traditionally; not necessarily whatever is in vogue now.)

Also, would (in a properly-sorted list of nations and territories) there be (under "R" and "I") several countries beginning with the word "República" or "Isla"? Or would "Dominica" and "República Dominicana" be nowhere near each other in such a list? (On the other hand, the two Koreas do end up being listed consecutively in Spanish.)

The Spanish lists of nations that I have found online appear to be programmatically sorted (by the same methods that file "Michael Jackson" under "M" instead of "J") and tend to exclude non-sovereign territories such as the aforementioned Virgin and Christmas Islands. So I'm not 100% sure that a strict alphabetic ordering is observed in real life.

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    Welcome to Spanish Language. As a rule of thumb, I would say you should sort them with their name including those articles, "Republica", "Isla", etc. If you sort by "S" in "El Salvador" it may not be intuitive, and the entry would look misplaced. BTW, some interesting reading about the article in some names
    – Diego
    Apr 14, 2017 at 16:55
  • Also, check this link. It may be useful: foro.spamloco.net/…
    – Diego
    Apr 14, 2017 at 16:56
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    Note by the way that we Spanish from Spain people are so used to automatic ordering that tend to look for "España" right after "Corea del Sur" and "Somalia". That is, we assume that in most of cases the ordering just remains as in English.
    – fedorqui
    Apr 14, 2017 at 18:58
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    The worst case I've found is the names in Spanish, sorted by their name in English
    – MikMik
    Apr 17, 2017 at 8:02
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    In Debian/Ubuntu install screens, the names for country/keyboard layout are sorted by English spelling even if you've already chosen Spanish as the interface language, so like @fedorqui says, the "Español" keyboard app comes in the place where you'd expect to find "Spanish".
    – pablodf76
    May 31, 2017 at 14:52

2 Answers 2


Esta es una lista de países y capitales con su gentilicios, cortesía de la Real Academia de la Lengua (pocas entidades pueden tener más autoridad repecto al tema). Como verás ellos ordenan usando el nombre completo del país, incluyendo artículos y otros denominadores como "Republica" e "Isla", pero no el "las" de las Islas Marshall o las Islas Salomón, por ejemplo.

This list is compiled by the Spanish Academy of Language, so it is as authoritative as it can be. As you can see, their sorting is based on the full name of the country, including the article and other descriptor such as "Republica", "Isla", etc. For certain countries you can omit the article in from of the name.

Otra opción / Another solid list that could be used: CODIGOS PAÍSES SEGÚN ISO 3166/2

  • A side question: what do you mean by: "pocas cosas puede tener más autoridad repecto al tema?" (which sounds incorrect to me). Two options: Few things can it be more authoritative on (En pocas cosas puede tener más autoridad) OR Few institutions can be more authoritative in that respect (Pocas instituciones pueden tener más autoridad respecto del tema).
    – Gustavson
    Apr 14, 2017 at 21:56
  • @Gustavson La última: pocas entidades/instituciones pueden tener más autoridad sobre este tema.
    – Diego
    Apr 15, 2017 at 1:59
  • Entonces, sugiero que lo corrijas.
    – Gustavson
    Apr 15, 2017 at 11:21
  • Pues siento discernir, pero la Real Academia de la Lengua es el lugar menos apropiado donde encontrar una lista correcta de países. Para eso hay organismos internacionales que se encargan de normalizar y de crear estándares y donde se pueden encontrar versiones en múltiples idiomas.. ISO 3166
    – roetnig
    Apr 17, 2017 at 13:18
  • I don't know which one is better but in the link provided by @roetnig there is a PDF with the ISO codes and country names in Spanish that looks quite good. It could be added to this answer since I do not think is worth another answer. One thing I do not understand is why Spain is twice in that list. Here is the link to that PDF servicios.educarm.es/templates/portal/ficheros/websDinamicas/30/…
    – DGaleano
    Apr 17, 2017 at 13:57

When there is a need to use a list of elements in an application, the best practice is to use a list normalized by a standardization body.

For example:

There are lists in several languages.

Regarding the ordering of the lists, the best practice is to order by the first letter of the name.

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