Compiled by the UNGEGN Working Group on Romanization Systems
Version 2.2, January 2003


The following table contains languages with non-Roman writing systems as identified in the Report of the Working Group on Toponymic Data Exchange Formats and Standards (7th United Nations Conference on the Standardization of Geographical Names. New York, 13-22 January 1998. Document E/CONF.91/CRP.11). It also contains some other languages mentioned in the toponymic guidelines for individual countries.

Languages are arranged alphabetically according to their English name. The names of languages conform to those mentioned in the appropriate United Nations resolutions.

In column 3 countries are shown where at least one of the official languages is the language concerned. Official languages are identifed in the report of the Working Group of Country Names (Country Names. Eighth United Nations Conference on the Standardization of Geographical Names. Berlin, 27 August – 5 September 2002. Document E/CONF.94/CRP.11).

In column 4 the year of the adoption of the system by the United Nations is given. The numerals that follow in parentheses refer to the United Nations Conference on the Standardization of Geographical Names (preceding the slash), and to the resolution number (following the slash).

In column 5 various other systems are mentioned that could have some international usage. The equal sign (=) will indicate that the systems in question more or less coincide. By a national system one would ordinarily mean those adopted by national cartographic services for rendering their geographical names. BGN/PCGN refers to systems jointly adopted by the United States Board on Geographic Names and the Permanent Committee on Geographical Names for British Official Use. Almost all of these systems have been published in a book "Romanization Systems and Roman-Script Spelling Conventions" by the Defense Mapping Agency (U.S.) in 1994. I.G.N. stands for Institut Géographique National in France. ISO is the abbreviation for the International Organization for Standardization, and its systems here are presented for the sake of integrity. ISO transliteration schemes are normally not used for rendering geographical names.

Language Writing System Country (Countries) Romanization Systems
United Nations Other
Amharic Ethiopic Ethiopia 1967 (I/17)  
        BGN/PCGN 1967
Arabic Perso-Arabic (General) 1972 (II/8) = BGN/PCGN 1956
        I.G.N. System 1973

      ISO 233:1984 (transliteration) ISO 233-2:1993 (simplified transliteration)
    Algeria (see General)  
    Bahrain (see General)  
    Chad (see General)  
    Comoros (the) (see General)  
    Djibouti (see General)  
    Egypt (see General)  
        National: Survey of Egypt
    Eritrea (see General)  
    Iraq (see General)  
    Israel (see General)  
    Jordan (see General)  
        National: Royal Jordanian Geographic Centre System
    Kuwait (see General)  
    Lebanon (see General)  
        National: 1963
    Libyan Arab Jamahiriya (the) (see General)
    Mauritania (see General)  
    Morocco (see (General)  
        National: 1932
    Oman (see General)  
    Qatar (see General)  
    Saudi Arabia (see General)  
    Somalia (see General)  
    Sudan (the) (see General)  
    Syrian Arab Republic (the) (see General)
    Tunisia (see General)  
    United Arab Emirates (the) (see General)
    Yemen (see General)  
Armenian Armenian Armenia BGN/PCGN 1981
        ISO 9985:1996
Assamese Bengali India 1972 (II/11), 1977 (III/12)
        National: Hunterian System
Bengali Bengali Bangladesh 1972 (II/11), 1977 (III/12)  
        National: Hunterian System
    India 1972 (II/11), 1977 (III/12)  
        National: Hunterian System
Bulgarian Cyrillic Bulgaria 1977 (III/10)
        BGN/PCGN 1952
Burmese Burmese Myanmar BGN/PCGN 1970
Byelorussian Cyrillic Belarus National: 2000
        BGN/PCGN 1979
Chinese Chinese China 1977 (III/8) = BGN/PCGN 1979; = ISO 7098:1991
        Modified Wade-Giles (1912)
    Singapore Modified Wade-Giles (1912)
Dari Perso-Arabic Afghanistan 1967 (I/13)¹
Dzongkha Dzongkha Bhutan National: 1997
Georgian Georgian Georgia National: 2002
        BGN/PCGN 1981
        ISO 9984:1996
Greek Greek Cyprus 1987 (V/19) = ELOT 743, = ISO 843:1997
    Greece 1987 (V/19)
Gujarati Gujarati India 1972 (II/11), 1977 (III/12)
        National: Hunterian System
Hebrew Hebrew Israel 1977 (III/13) = BGN/PCGN 1962
        ISO 259:1984 (transliteration) ISO 259-2:1994 (simplified transliteration), ISO/DIS 259-3 (phonemic conversion)
Hindi Devanagari India 1972 (II/11), 1977 (III/12)
        National: Hunterian System
        ISO 15919:2001
Japanese Sino-Japanese Japan National: Kunrei-siki (1954), = ISO 3602:1989
        National: Modified Hepburn, = BGN/PCGN
Kannada Kannada India 1972 (II/11), 1977 (III/12)
        National: Hunterian System
Kazakh Cyrillic Kazakhstan BGN/PCGN 1979
Khmer Khmer Cambodia 1972 (II/10) = BGN/PCGN 1972
        National: provisional 1995
Kirghiz Cyrillic Kyrgyzstan BGN/PCGN 1979
Korean Korean (General) McCune–Reischauer 1939, = BGN/PCGN

      Yale System 1967
        ISO/TR 11941:1996
    Democratic People's Republic of Korea (the) National: 1992
    Republic of Korea (the) National: 2000
Lao Lao Lao People's Democratic Republic (the) BGN/PCGN 1966
Macedonian Cyrillic Cyrillic The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia 1977 (III/11) = BGN/PCGN 1981
Malayalam Malayalam India 1972 (II/11), 1977 (III/12)  
        National: Hunterian System
Maldivian Divehi (Thaana) Maldives National: 1987 (= BGN/PCGN 1988)
Marathi Devanagari India 1972 (II/11), 1977 (III/12)
        National: Hunterian System
Mongolian Cyrillic Mongolia BGN/PCGN 1964
  Mongolian China 1977 (III/8)²  
Nepali Devanagari Nepal 1972 (II/11), 1977 (III/12)
        BGN/PCGN 1964
Oriya Oriya India 1972 (II/11), 1977 (III/12)
        National: Hunterian System
Pashto Perso-Arabic Afghanistan BGN/PCGN 1968
Persian Perso-Arabic Iran (Islamic Republic of) 1967 (I/13) = BGN/PCGN 1958
Punjabi Gurmukhi India 1972 (II/11), 1977 (III/12)
        National: Hunterian System
Russian Cyrillic Belarus 1987 (V/18)  
    Kazakhstan 1987 (V/18)  
    Kyrgyzstan 1987 (V/18)  
    Russia 1987 (V/18)  
        BGN/PCGN 1947
        ISO 9:1995 (transliteration)
Serbian Cyrillic Bosnia and Herzegovina 1977 (III/11)
    Serbia and Montenegro 1977 (III/11)  
Sinhalese Sinhalese Sri Lanka  
Tajik Cyrillic Tajikistan BGN/PCGN 1994
Tamil Tamil India 1972 (II/11), 1977 (III/12)
        National: Hunterian System
    Singapore 1972 (II/11), 1977 (III/12)  
    Sri Lanka 1972 (II/11), 1977 (III/12)  
Telugu Telugu India 1972 (II/11), 1977 (III/12)
        National: Hunterian System
Thai Thai Thailand 1967 (I/14), 2002 (VIII/13) = BGN/PCGN 1970
        ISO 11940:1998 (transliteration)
Tibetan Tibetan China 1977 (III/8)²  
Tigrinya Ethiopic Eritrea BGN/PCGN 1994
Uighur Perso-Arabic China 1977 (III/8)²
Ukrainian Cyrillic Ukraine National: 1996
        BGN/PCGN 1965
Urdu Perso-Arabic India 1972 (II/11), 1977 (III/12)
        National: Hunterian System
    Pakistan 1972 (II/11), 1977 (III/12)  
        National: Hunterian System


  1. The system applies to Persian of which Dari is a variation.
  2. Although the appropriate United Nations resolution does not mention these languages by name, it recognizes the Scheme for a Chinese Phonetic Alphabet (Pinyin) as China's official alphabet scheme and recommends that it be adopted as the international system for the romanization of Chinese geographical names. The Chinese Phonetic Alphabet (Pinyin) covers the direct transcription of Mongolian, Tibetan and Uighur scripts, as well as Chinese.