Here’s a grin. The US designed FIPS. Europe designs NUTS. Both systems are crazy.
Update: I’ve changed my mind. I like ISO_3166-1.
The FIPS 10-4 country list differs from ISO 3166 in many minor and sometimes surprising ways. It has assigned separate codes to Bassas da India (BS), Europa Island (EU), Glorioso Islands (GO), Juan de Nova Island (JU), and Tromelin Island (TE), tiny and mostly uninhabited Indian Ocean islands administered from Reunion; also, Ashmore and Cartier Islands (AT) and Coral Sea Islands (CR), Australian territories; and Clipperton Island (IP), which is administered from French Polynesia. It splits Svalbard and Jan Mayen Islands into two countries (JN and SV). * It shows United States Minor Outlying Islands as nine countries: Baker Island (FQ), Howland Island (HQ), Jarvis Island (DQ), Johnston Atoll (JQ), Kingman Reef (KQ), Midway Islands (MQ), Navassa Island (BQ), Palmyra Atoll (LQ), and Wake Island (WQ). It treats Palestine as the Gaza Strip (GZ) plus the West Bank (WE); also, a code is assigned to No Man’s Land (NM), a small and winding band of neutral territory near Jerusalem. The 2004 edition of the CIA World Factbook explains why it has added country listings for Akrotiri and Dhekelia, two British military bases in Cyprus. FIPS codes have not yet been assigned to these “countries”, but the Factbook‘s naming scheme implies that they should be AX and DX, respectively. Finally, FIPS allocates codes to the Paracel (PF) and Spratly (PG) Islands, two island groups in the South China Sea that are claimed by every country within shooting distance; ISO 3166 is noncommital about the Paracels and Spratlys.