I believe there are two countries related to "Virgin Islands" - US (ISO 850) and British (ISO 92).

In some lists I see them listed as

Virgin Islands, British and Virgin Islands, US (this is the way ISO lists them)

...and some lists have them listed as

British Virgin Islands and US Virgin Islands

I presume having them done as in the first example has the benefit of grouping them together for ease of finding them in a list.

What is the most common way someone would expect to see them ordered in a list of countries? I am interested in the most known/understood convention and not necessary the "proper" one.

  • 3
    Ah yes, the flaws in country selectors. You might be interested in this article. See the link at the bottom to the demo of their better country selector. Dec 24, 2015 at 18:12
  • @KenMohnkern - that article proposes what sounds like a great improvement. Any drawbacks you can think of with the design outlined in the article?
    – GWR
    Dec 24, 2015 at 18:41
  • Also, I noticed the user can free-form their entire "location" in the edit-profile page of stack exchange sites, and they offer (but don't enfoce auto-complete suggestions from the yahoo geo api...
    – GWR
    Dec 24, 2015 at 18:45
  • I think it's a great solution. The hardest part, I expect, would be convincing your dev team to implement it. Dec 24, 2015 at 19:03
  • 1
    At the risk of incurring "this is not an implementation forum" wrath, JQuery-UI has this as standard as an auto-complete widget for a web app/page. jqueryui.com/autocomplete As said above it's a way better solution unless you really want to know the order countries occur in alphabetically.
    – mgraham
    Dec 24, 2015 at 20:44

3 Answers 3


Having the countries ordered alphabetically, I personally think it would be better to have Virgin Islands (UK) and Virgin Islands (USA), so they can find it by the letter V and not by B(ritish) or U(S). That is what an user would expect, because the official names are just Virgin Islands for the UK and Virgin Islands of the United States as Wikipedia specifies.

The official name of the British territory is the Virgin Islands, and the official name of the U.S. territory is the Virgin Islands of the United States. In practice, the two island groups are almost universally referred to as the British Virgin Islands and the U.S. Virgin Islands

Also, is true that the owner name in the practice comes first, but as i've seen on all the country prompts, it often uses the official name or rarely shortened.

  • 1
    Welcome to the site @TheCrimulo. Do you have any evidence to support the assertion that "the main name is 'Virgin Islands'"? Mar 1, 2016 at 23:42

As a user, I want UI to be inline with my perception of the world as much as possible. This helps me to guess how it works even if I don't know for sure.

Thus, when building UI we rely on common practices, abbreviations and usages. From this perspective, U.S. Virgin Islands and British Virgin Islands are far more common form of referring to these territories. In fact, I wasn't able to find ISO version in any of common publications. That said, as a user I'm expecting to find them in the list named as described above and sorted accordingly.


I'd try including them in the list in both places.

Your goal isn't to follow official ISO lists, it's to have the islands show up in the list where users expect them.

If you've checked for conventions, asked some sample users (remembering that depending on your context, the only users selecting Virgin Islands might be those who live there, so try and find resident users), and you still think there's two places users will look, then you can just... accommodate them.


British Indian Ocean Territory
British Virgin Islands
United Kingdom
United States
US Virgin Islands
Virgin Islands (British)
Virgin Islands (US)

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