SISO stands for Shea-modified International Standards Organization's 3166-2 list of sub-national territories. In simple terms, SISO is a list of all the provinces of all the countries of the world.
Around 2003, I became aware that the International Standards Organization (ISO) had a country standard, 3166. 3166-2 was a list of sub-national territories, or provinces, 3931 in all. By making a few logical adjustments, I arrived at a list representing the provinces of the world, 3978 in all. SISO is a list of the first-level divisions of every nation in the world, for example, the states of the United States, prefectures of Japan, provinces of France, rayons of Azerbaijan, counties of the UK, divisions of Myanmar, and so on.
Using ISO 3166-2, I created SISO in 2003 in order to establish a permanent and unchanging list of all the territories of the world so that travelers, whether now or a hundred years from now, would have a benchmark upon which to measure their travels and also to compare where they had been in comparison to other travelers, whether in my lifetime or beyond it. Since there were many lists of countries and places, and since they kept changing and expanding every year, I wanted to establish a permanent list that was not arbitrary, but rather that was objective. I also wanted to establish a list with sufficient detail that it adequately addressed the myriad places in the world, many of which are little-known, so that an extreme traveler would have a lifetime of places to visit and study.
The Methodology Used to Create SISO
Using the 2003 version of the International Standards Organization’s 3166-2 list of all the provinces of the world (which they call ‘sub-national territories’), which numbered 3931 in all, I created my list of 3978 provinces. I achieved this by:
a) deleting one each of two overlapping places:
i) Taiwan as a province of China (“CN-71”;”Taiwan) because it was represented on the same list as a country with constituent territories (e.g., “TW-CHA*”;”Changhua” district)
ii) US Minor Outlying Islands as a province of the United States because it was also represented on the same list by its constituent territories (e.g., “UM-79”;”Wake Island”)
b) Adding back 49 territories that were acknowledged on ISO’s national list (3166-1) but not on their sub-national list (3166-2) because these places did not have any provinces within them at the time:
Andorra, Anguilla, Antarctica, Antigua and Barbuda, Aruba, Barbados, Bermuda, Bouvet island, British Indian Ocean Territory, Cayman Islands, Christmas Island, Cocos (Keeling) Islands, Cook Islands, Dominica, Falkland Islands (Malvinas), Faroe Islands, French Guiana, Gibraltar, Greenland, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Heard Island and McDonald Islands, Holy See (Vatican City State), Liechtenstein, Macedonia (The former Yugoslav Republic of), Malta, Martinique, Monaco, Montserrat, Nauru, Netherlands Antilles, Niue, Norfolk Island, Palau, Palestinian Territory (Occupied), Pitcairn, Réunion, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, San Marino, Seychelles, Singapore, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, Tokelau, Tonga, Turks and Caicos Islands, Tuvalu, Virgin Islands (British).
c) The math therefore is 3931 – 2 + 49 = 3978. This is the number of provinces in SISO’s “Combined ISO 3166 list.”
As of the time of this writing, SISO – although it has been mentioned in the press - is mostly known only to a very small list of extreme travelers who take an interest in such detail. Even with its limited public exposure, it is part of an ongoing controversy amongst extreme travelers as to what constitutes an appropriate measurement of travel for those who have already been to every country in the world. There are many existing country lists beyond SISO and TBT - e.g., DX Ham Radio Operators, Globetrotters, Guinness, ISO 3166-2, Most Traveled People, Travelers Century Club, United Nations registry of countries.
The following factors make the SISO list important:
a) SISO is the only permanent list. The problem that I have with all of the other lists is that they change constantly. Unless there is a permanent list, there is no objective way to compare notes with other travelers today let alone compare notes between a traveler today and one 100 years from now. Even the ISO list changes. SISO will allow for travelers now and in the future to compare where they have been and to organize notes and photos in a uniform way.
b) SISO is a more detailed list than the others.
c) SISO is based on an internationally recognized standard that was compiled by constituent countries. All of the other lists, with the exception of ISO and United Nations, are based on arbitrary standards.
d) SISO takes ISO 3166-2 and makes is user-friendly. In addition to the permanent “Combined ISO 3166-2 list,” SISO also contains an Official Unlisted Places list, which allows for recognition of other “Official” lists (e.g., Travelers Century Club) that are not represented under the “Combined ISO 3166-2 list.”
SISO will allow any traveler in any era a sensible basis to compare where they have been and what they have done with respect to travelers in history, such as Jorge Sanchez or myself.