Generating Country List For HTML Select

December 13, 2011

During a client project using Paypal DirectPayment API, I had to make a <select> with all the countries with their country codes as the value. For example:

<option value="US">United States</option>
<option value="CA">Canada</option>

Paypal already gives this list.

Problem is that it's only in English and all in caps. What I needed is a French version and an English version, not in caps. just happens to have what I needed. This Python script is what I coded to generate what I needed:

import urllib, json, unicodedata

def get_list(username='demo', lang='en'):
"""Fetches the json of all countries from"""
params = urllib.urlencode({'lang': lang, 'username': username})
url = '' % params
f = urllib.urlopen(url)
response_text =
return json.loads(response_text)["geonames"]

def country_list_generator(country_list, func):
"""Returns a generator of countries.
They are sorted alphabetically,
and the func passed as argument is applied to each of them."""
ordered = sorted(country_list,
key=lambda k: strip_accents(k['countryName']))
return (func(country) for country in ordered)

def country_to_option(country):
"""Transforms a country dict to an html option tag,
The country code is used for the value."""
return ('<option value="%s">%s</option>\n' % \
(country['countryCode'], country['countryName'])).encode('utf-8')

def country_to_csharp_dict_pair(country):
"""Transforms a country dict to a C# Dictionary pair."""
return ('{"%s", "%s"},\n' % \
(country['countryCode'], country['countryName'])).encode('utf-8')

def strip_accents(s):
"""Removes the accents from a unicode string.
This function is used for sorting."""
return ''.join((c for c in unicodedata.normalize('NFD', s) \
if unicodedata.category(c) != 'Mn'))

if __name__ == '__main__':
country_list = get_list('demo', lang='en')
with open('output.txt', 'w') as f:
gen = country_list_generator(country_list, country_to_option)

Hope it's useful to someone else.

The code is on Github.