Wikipedia talk:WikiProject Countries/Archive 4

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Unilateral additions

Discussion on whether to include the labels "head of state" and "head of government" is at Talk:Canada#Re: my last edit. Please take a look. I disagree strongly with the notion.

I think adding "Gross Domestic Product" was a good idea, but shouldn't we shorten it to "GDP" so it doesn't distort the table width?

While I think adding "political status" is also a good idea in cases where a country's independence (yes, spell it right) was not obtained through a single event (eg Australia) or in cases where the template is applied to dependencies, it's inappriate to apply it to all countries. In addition, the way it has been worded makes it rather lengthy and it distorts the table - makes the second column longer than it should. Solutions?

--Jiang 14:10, 30 Nov 2003 (UTC)

Why is it GDP/head? Isn't the correct term "GDP per capita"? —Noldoaran (Talk) 03:46, Dec 14, 2003 (UTC)
I would have thought so, yes...
James F. (talk) 02:00, 16 Feb 2004 (UTC)

Continued from Talk:Canada

The current formatting is the standard prescribed as Wikipedia:WikiProject Countries. If we are to change it here, we must also change it on the country template and everywhere. The new formatting used, however, is problematic for countries with mixed presidential-parliamentary systems where there is no clear-cut head of state and head of government. There's nothing wrong with the current format. --Jiang 18:54, 29 Nov 2003 (UTC)

Menchi stated at User talk:Karukera that "Especially that "Queen" category tag didn't sit well w/ me when I saw it a while back, since Canada's heads of state have obviously been male before, and will probably be another king after Elizabeth II. "

Elizabeth II's official title is "Queen" and her official power comes from that title. The Consitutional Act specifically states "the office of the Queen..." Apparently, it makes no reference to the event that a King succeeds the current Queen. Likewise, we do not need to make that reference.

--Jiang 19:04, 29 Nov 2003 (UTC)

Everything is perfectible. As I have read elsewhere on wikipedia, no article is definitely written. I propose to change the current formatting, because it is incomplete and not accurate. I quite disagree with what was said before. To answer the question, the new formatting used is not problematic at all. There is no country where the head of state is not clear-cut. In case of a monarchy it is always the monarch, king or queen. In case of a republic it is a president. For example, in France where there is a mixed presidential-parliamentary system, the head of state is the president, and the head of government is the prime minister even though the president has his own prerogative, powers. Furthermore, Queen or king is a title, it is not a function. I agree with Menchi when he says that "Queen" category tag did not sit well. A function is permanent, a title whether it is president, king or queen may change. In Germany, before World War I, The head of state was an emperor, now it is a president. With the current format, in case a male comes after Elisabeth, a change will be necessary. In case there a the system of governement changes as it was proposed in australia, a change will be necessary. In all these cases aforementioned, the function head of state is permanent and do not change. I think the formatting must be the same whatever the system of government. Ihave a degree in law I know what I am talking about.
User:Karukera 20:33, 29 Nov 2003 (UTC)

It's imporatant that we keep standards. As an example where we do not have a defined head of state, take a look at North Korea. Is it "eternal president" Kim Il-sung (who can't possibly be it since he's technically dead), Kim Yong-nam (who for all purposes fulfills that purpose at times), or Kim Jong-Il?

Although there are few countries where one cannot tell the head of state, there are many where the head of government role is shared between the President and Prime Minister/Premier. Just because a "prime minister" office exists doesnt mean that office is actually head of government. In South Korea, it's a parliamentary ceremonial position - not something you can call "head of government". In North Korea, we have to choose between Kim Jong-Il (who's proably it) or the PM. If we label one as "head of state" and another as "head of government" we mislead the reader into believing that the head of state is just a figurehead.

It's also very awakward to leave the first column as fuctional descriptions for the Queen and Prime Minister, yet leave "Governor-General" remaining. Is that column for the position or the role? Let's keep it consistent.

A fuction is not permanent. 200+ years ago, the monarch would have been head of government. Before Pitt became PM of the UK, we couldn't really have called it "head of government". We would be searching for other positions, such as the Lord Chancellor, etc. If a country's consitution can specifically state "The Executive Government and Authority of and over Canada is hereby declared to continue and be vested in the Queen" and have it last hand have authority after Queen Victoria's death, we shouldn't be concerned here.

--Jiang 22:39, 29 Nov 2003 (UTC)

This conversation has really moved in a direction I did not expect. It is fact that the Heaf of State of Canada is the Queen Elizabeth II and the Head of Government is the Prime Minister. I was simply raising the issue of an exact date of Canada's independence as it seemed debatable in a way. SD6-Agent 15:15, 30 Nov 2003 (UTC)
Actually, my post was not in response to yours. But yes, that date should be added in under "political status." I was going to but the server timed out on me. --Jiang 15:26, 30 Nov 2003 (UTC)

I think also that it is important that we keep standards. I do see the point raised by Jiang when he cites the case of North Korea as an example when the head of state is actually a deceased person. But one must admit that North Korea is a special case.

Before we go any further, it is necessary to redefine the requisite required for a formatting to be declared valid. For a formatting to be declared valid, certain conditions must be met.

      - All the items forming part of the formatting must be constant.
      - The different items of the format should be as clear as possible 
        and chosen with adequacy.

As a consequence, the following terms: president, prime minister, premier, queen, king are not relevant for the simple reason that they vary according to the country concerned. Under the circunstances, they should be placed on the right side of the fact sheet which is where the variable data are placed.

As for the terms Head of state and Head of government, although they are not perfect, they are to my mind more adequate. I am perfectly aware that in some countries the Head of state is at the same time head of government eg USA, South Korea. But there are exceptions to the rule. Furthermore it is possible to put the same name in the section head of governement and head of state.

If you consider those former or present communist countries (Cuba,Viet nam...) the leader of the country is neither the Head of state nor the head of governement it is the secretary general of the Communist Party. The same thing may be applied in a theocracy like Iran where the leader is an ayatollah (a religious leader)and hold no official position in the executive.

To conclude and to illustrate what I have just said, I shall comment some examples of guides to country profiles proposed by two eminent the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) an international broadcaster and the CIA.

In the formatting adopted by the BBC (on their web site), the titles President, Queen, King, Prince etc.. come under the following category: leader. As for the titles Queen, King..., not only they all come under the sub category Head of state, but they are not part of the formatting but constitute a variable data. l

The formatting adopted by the CIA appears as follows on their web site.

  • Executive branch
    • Chief of state
    • Head of government
    • Cabinet
    • Election

Once again the titles president, king, queen (governor-general included) or prince are not part of the formatting for the above-mentioned reason.

By refering to those examples I just wanted to illustrate my point in regard to this issue.

Considering all that said before, it is not relevant to retain those titles earlier mentionned in our formatting if we want to maintain to keep some logical structure. So a generic term which apply to all those titles has to be found Should I add that those titles are the only items which are not constant in the present format.

Of course, the categories: head of state or head of government are not the only options left to us, but they are those which are the least inconvenient. Other options could be: leader, the executive, the person in charge or I do not know what.

Karukera 14:26, 01 Dec 2003 (UTC)

Although I see your point that variable data should be left in the second column, there are problems with having to classify certain positions as "head of government" and "head of state". If we just limited ourselves to labelling the position of state, we would not have to make this classification. In certain cases it is not exactly clear who fits what role. The GG is not constitutionally head of state in the commonwealth countries. It would be inappropriate to list the GG and Queen in the same slot. But where should be put him/her? What is his/her label?

I can also say that cases in which the most powerful person does not also hold a top state position is the exception rather than the rule. Vietnam, for example, has a PM. So who's "head of government"? The Communist Party SG or the PM? It's impossible to make this distinction. If the need is present, we can always explain in more detail in the "politics" section. The table is not a place to write an essay.

In addition, your style of formatting may confuse the state title with the honorary title. If we put Ayatollah Ali Hoseini Khamenei on the right slot, people might think "Ayatollah" is his position in the government when that term is used for any high ranking religious leader. We could avoid this confusion by listing "supreme leader" on the left - his appropriate title.

There is more certainly in a leader's official title, than in his role in government. "Head of state" and "head of government" are not clear-cut things and trying to classify these roles in each country would be problematic. Listing more than one person per slot would look crunched while the degree these roles are shared between president and PM is variable. --Jiang 22:21, 1 Dec 2003 (UTC)

You may be also interested in how the CIA lists things: [1]. --Jiang
My $.02 worth is that I don't think it's appropriate to prescibe this aspect of country articles at this time. Do every country as best fits that country. Later, if it proves possible in the light of this experience to propose a guideline, and then a standard, do so then. But the idea of standards is to have better articles. If as a result of a standard the articles are misleading or incomplete, then the standard should be abandoned or at least suspended for those parrticular articles.
That's not to say abandon the whole template. Just allow lattitude in this one aspect of it until the shape of the data becomes clear. Andrewa 09:07, 7 Dec 2003 (UTC)

Country template

No it is not fair. It is not the CIA formatting. You are trying to mislead the reader. As I told you a formatting is constituted of non variant data.

There is more certainly in a leader's official title, than in his role in government. "Head of state" and "head of government" are not clear-cut things and trying to classify these roles in each country would be problematic.

This is your point of view. Apparently, it is not problematic as far as the CIA officials are concerned because their listing, found here [2], indicate clearly the head of state and the head of governement and sometimes both fonctions are fulfilled by the same person.

As for a definition of a head of state or a head of governement which seem problematic for you: Head of state includes the name and title of the titular leader of the country who represents the state at official and ceremonial functions but may not be involved with the day-to-day activities of the government. Head of governement includes the name and title of the top administrative leader who is designated to manage the day-to-day activities of the governement. For example, in the UK or Canada, the monarch is the chiel of state, and the prime minister is the head of governement. In the U.S the president is both the chief of state and the head of governement.

The CIA formatting of country profile can be found here [3]

To prove my point I can give examples of two other prominent organisations.

The BBC formatting of country profile [4]

The World Bank formatting of country profile [5] Example:



LEADER: Prime Minister Owen Arthur

ECONOMY: GNP per capita $6,230 (UK $18,060) Monetary unit: Barbados dollar (B$1=US$0.50) Main exports: electronic parts, garments, financial services, sugar Main imports: machinery, foodstuffs, chemicals. Tourism has taken over from sugar as the main foreign-exchange earner and employs about 16 per cent of the workforce.

PEOPLE: 261,000

HEALTH: Infant mortality 9 per 1,000 live births (US 8 per 1,000). As this figure indicates, health standards have reached rich-world levels: government investment in health services has produced impressive results.

CULTURE: 95 per cent of ‘Bajans’ are of African descent, but a small white minority remains powerful. British influence is still strong, but media and fashion are dominated by the US. Religion: Christian – predominantly Anglican. Language: English. There is also a Bajan dialect.

Sources Human Development Report 1995, UNDP; The State of the World’s Children 1996, UNICEF; World Development Report 1995, World Bank; Caribbean Development Bank; Caribbean Insight; Latin America Monitor; Americas Review 1996.

Never previously profiled

another formating of a site inspired by the formating of the CIA [6]

I do not want to impose my point of view, but for me it was illogical to include in the formatting a variable data.

If you take into account all those formatting of country profile available on the internet, no organisation has adopted a similar pattern. There's must be something wrong with it.

As for the CIA, they do consider Kim chon il as the chief of state of North Korea. [7].

Furthermore as the formating you are proposing is recognized NOWHERE, I would suggest to make a compromise.

Here is a proposal of formatting.


 - chief of state           Queen Elisabeth represented by G G 
 - head of governement      Prime minister Jean Chretien 

This is not the fruit of my imagination but a mixture of formatting of country profile adopted by well established organizations like the CIA, the World Bank and the BBC.

But if you remain intransigeant and do not want to make any compromise and stick to your position, it will be pointless to continue debating.

By the way I agree with the idea to replace Gross Domestic Product by its acronym GDP.

Karukera 15:00, 02 Dec 2003 (UTC)

Did my link not come from the CIA? How am I "trying to mislead the reader"?

The CIA is not the ultimate authority on formatting issues. Just because the CIA/BBC/World Bank formats things a certain way doesn't mean that their way of formatting is right or most suitable for our purposes. We are writing an encyclopedia; they are not. Pulling an ad populum won't work here - you need to counter my claims and not simply say something like "the cia does it this way, that are established, therefore this way is right..." I repeat again: pleacing two different people for "chief of state" and "head of government" will imply that the "chief of state" is not also "head of government. Can you answer how this is unproblematic?

Alternately, we could try:

-Chief of state: President Hu Jintao
-Head of government: President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao

But listing both will prove unwieldy. (And are you proposing to change "head of state" from your original proposal to "chief of state"?) Just stating "represented by G G" would be inadequate - we are interested in who the GG is.

The BBC does not provide the HoS and HoG labels for presidential governments, see [8]. The World Bank just lists "leader" and leaves out the head of state - not something we want to do there. Therefore, even if we treat these sources as authorities, they are inadequate.

I am not trying to be "intransigeant". It is just up to you to convince me that your formatting works better. --Jiang 22:08, 2 Dec 2003 (UTC)

Karukera asked me to "join in the debate" -- but I did not exactly read the 2,776 words above. So, I hope my points aren't repetitive of those spoken above.

My feeling is that it is very useful to state who the head of state and head of government are explicitly, especially when they differ. However, I realize that some nations' political situations are complicated, so they don't exactly have people who fit those description. And I think Jiang's point is that it is sometimes impossible to impose the titles "head of state" and "head of government" on certain political system. It'd be too artificial. Maybe if we try to stick such info into that tiny table, it'd look too complex. So in such situations, head of state and head of government are better explained in main text.

But there's really little point in sticking "Prime minister", "vice-president", and "queen", or whatnot in the table if you don't explain why these people and their titles were chosen to be placed there. It should explained, however briefly, why these people's jobs are crucial to their nations, symbolically or in actuality -- and maybe this is what Karukera was aiming for when he changed the table. Categorize these leaders as "head of government" or "head of state" or whatever else if you can. If you cannot, don't bother, write more descriptive stuff in [Politics of Cardassia]. --Menchi 09:14, 3 Dec 2003 (UTC)

Under current guidelines, someone goes into the table only if s/he is 1) head of state, 2) head of government, or 3) the paramount leader. Explaining the functions of these jobs is done in the politics section, on the same page. (If it is not done, then it should!)
I prefer keeping it standard. Yes, these labels would fit perfectly for westminister systems. But do we only want to insert labels for countries w/ parliamentary systems? I would rather have it the same throughout, but that is my personal preference. --Jiang | Talk 02:05, 5 Dec 2003 (UTC)

Sorry if I sounded a bit harsh. But for a time, I thought that you would disagree with me on the fact that the formatting table must remain constant whatever the subject. It is a basic rule that must be observed .

As far as I am concerned, I do not see much difference between head of state and chief of state. The only difference is the origin or chief. As often in the english language there are two ways to express things, the french way and the so-called anglo saxon way because of the influence of the franco-normans. Chief comes from the french chef, and head is of anglo-saxon origin. I did not say that the BBC or the CIA were the ultimate authorities on formatting issues. I just wanted to illustrate my point with examples of fomatting dealing with the same subject, that's all. I could have taken as example the formatting of an administrative document like a passport or a driving licence. They all follow the same pattern. As for an alternative formatting I would suggest some adaptation according to the country concerned. Here are some examples:

For South Korea

-Chief of state: President Hu Jintao
-Head of government: President Hu Jintao assisted by Premier Wen Jiabao
  • For Canada
    • Chief of state: Queen Elisabeth II
    • (represented*) by: G.G Adrienne Clarkson
    • Head of government: Jean Chretien

,*represented could be shortened to repr.

When the leader of the country is neither officially chief of state nor head of government like in Iran we could try.

    • Supreme religious authority(1): Faqih Ali Khameni
    • Chief of state: President Mohammad Khatami
    • Head of government: President Mohammad Khatami

,(1)it could be shortened to supreme authority. I concede, as Menchi duly stated, that in some cases some adaptation is required. Sometimes, I must admit, it is not an easy task to find a short generic term to designate all those leaders.

Karukera 17:00, 04 Dec 2003 (UTC)

How would all this fit into the table? I'm concerned that your proposal adds in more text than the table can handle, and we will see it become deformed. Try a mock table.
Somehow, I feel "President Hu Jintao assisted by Premier Wen Jiabao" makes it seem that the Premier is the president's assistant, which is not the case. Using "and" makes it seem that they share the same duties. The exact relation is more complicated. You may also be interested in the new article, list of national leaders. --Jiang | Talk 02:05, 5 Dec 2003 (UTC)


You will find the mock tables below. As you can see, they are not deformed. You know as the old saying goes, where there's a will there's a way.; As I am not an expert on Korean affairs, I will not argue with you over the most appropriate term to define the exact relationship between the President and the prime minister of South Korea.


Flag of Canada Canada Coat of Arms
(In Detail) (In Detail)
National motto: A Mari Usque Ad Mare (From sea to sea)
Official languages English and French
Political status Former colony of the UK, Independence by the British North America Act on July 1, 1867 and Canada Act 1982
Capital Ottawa, Ontario
Largest City Toronto, Ontario
Chief of state
Queen Elizabeth II Gov.Gen.
  Adrienne Clarkson
Head of government Prime minister
 Jean Chrétien
 - Total
 - % water
Ranked 2nd
9,984,670 km²
Jomhuri-ye Eslami-ye Iran
File:Iran flag medium File:Iran coa
(In Detail)
National motto: Allahu Akbar
(Arabic: "God is greater")
Official language Persian
Capital Tehran
Supreme authority Rahbar ("leader") Ali Khamenei
Chief of state President Mohammad Khatami
Head of government President Mohammad Khatami
 - Total
 - % water
Ranked 17th
1,648,000 km²

Karukera 19:00, 05 Dec 2003 (UTC)

Wen and Hu are of the PRC, not South Korea. While we don't see horizontal expansion, we see some vertical expansion. "Mohammad Khatami" and "Ali Khamenei" are both spread into two lines. The title of "Prime Minister" (which should be capitalized) and "Jean Chrétien" are also in two lines, while the left column only required one. This makes it harder to read. I go to the village pump and ask for other people to comment on this.

As for horizontal expansion, I reformatted the Canada table (not here, at the article). "Political status" contained too many words in it. --Jiang|(Talk) 22:32, 6 Dec 2003 (UTC)

I find it confusing to see Chief of state and Head of government containing the same person. I would naturally read this as two separate roles performed by that person, rather than a single role that is both head of state and government. A bit like Tony Blair being Prime Minister and Leader of the Labour Party which are two distinct and independent positions. It is only through reading this page that I would think any differently. HappyDog 18:45, 11 Dec 2003 (UTC)

I got drawn into this because of a disagreement on which jobs to list in the entry for Bermuda. Look, there is no right answer for which positions to list - the answer has to be country-dependent.

It's easy to say we should only list the "chief honcho", whatever he/she is, be it President (e.g. the U.S.), Prime Minister (e.g. the U.K.), the religious Supreme Leader (e.g. in Iran), or whatever.

However, this fails to work in a number of countries which i) have a functioning legal-constitutional system (e.g. there's not a strong-man who really runs things, no matter what the pieces of paper say), and ii) a tradition of a balance of powers between the various branches of government. In those systems, there is no "chief honcho".

An example is France, which has a separate President and Prime Minister - and each has considerable real power. Indeed, in the recent period of "co-habitation", they were from separate parties - which made life, err, interesting.

In Bermuda's case (like many Commonwealth countries), the monarch of the U.K. is also our legal head of state, who is represented by (in our case) a Governor (appointed by the U.K.government), who is not purely a figurehead, and who has certain real powers, which have been used as recently as a week or so ago, when he appointed a Chief Justice who was not the person the Premier wanted appointed.

All of which leads my back to my opening observation - there is no right answer for which positions to list - the answer has to be country-dependent. Leave it up to the people who know the country to decide which positions are the important ones.

Noel 05:52, 23 Dec 2003 (UTC)

Whoever the head of government and head of state are, we should list both. In no country do we list the Vice President, but in many we list the PM. In the French article, we list both the President and PM for the reasons you have mentioned. For Bermuda, we should list only the Governor and Premier, for reasons listed in /Archive3. People would get confused and start thinking that Queen Elizabeth II is Queen of Bermuda when she is acutally Queen in Bermuda. --Jiang 17:47, 23 Dec 2003 (UTC)

Country codes

IMO, the ISO 3166-1 alpha-2 country code should be included in each countries article (in the table). This should be the same as the country's TLD, making that entry not nessesary. What do you think?

By the way, how do I join this WikiProject? —Noldoaran (Talk) 03:14, Dec 14, 2003 (UTC)

Just sign up! It's open acceptance. --Jiang | Talk 03:16, 14 Dec 2003 (UTC)
Ok, I've signed up, thanks! —Noldoaran (Talk) 03:43, Dec 14, 2003 (UTC)
I would say go ahead. Wait a day or two and see if anyone objects though. --Jiang | Talk 03:17, 14 Dec 2003 (UTC)
Ok, I'll change it in a few days if nobody objects. —Noldoaran (Talk) 03:43, Dec 14, 2003 (UTC)

Also, the country codes should be redirects to the country's main article. For example, nz redirects to New Zealand. Most of the country codes already are, but this should be standardized. —Noldoaran (Talk) 03:53, Dec 14, 2003 (UTC)


Howdy. I just finished editing the country and demographics articles on Kazakhstan, and had a couple thoughts while doing so. Is is really a good idea to include lots of statistics on here? This is an encyclopedia, not a database, and it seems like it would take a lot of work to maintain current data. We could just link to sites like the World Bank database, the CIA Fact Book, and the US Census Bureau's International Data Base (see what I did at Demographics of Kazakhstan as an example) Also, I think it's always a good idea to cite sources for whatever statistics you use (is it always the Fact Book?) Just my two cents. Isomorphic 18:53, 9 Dec 2003 (UTC)

I agree that it's a bad idea to include all these statistics that have to be updated every couple years. IMO, they should be incorporated into the text of the article. For some military articles (e.g. People's Liberation Army), they have been put into a table (which I think looks nice). I also think it's US-centric to include US embassy addresses. --Jiang 17:50, 23 Dec 2003 (UTC)

Defunct entities

The table at Irish Free State may be something to keep in mind when applying the template to defunct entities. --Jiang 07:51, 27 Dec 2003 (UTC)