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Geographic code

Part A - Short definition:

Numerical identifier assigned to a geographic area. Every kind of geographic area in Canada has its own type of geographic code. For example, the geographic code assigned to a town makes it possible to distinguish that town from any other towns with the same name that is located in a different province.

Part B - Detailed definition:

A geographic code is a numerical identifier assigned to a geographic area. The code is used to identify and access standard geographic areas for the purposes of data storage, retrieval and display.

Census years:

2011, 2006, 2001, 1996, 1991, 1986, 1981, 1976, 1971, 1966, 1961


Geographic codes are used in combination with the province/territory code and other higher level geographic area codes in order to uniquely identify each geographic unit in Canada.

The Standard Geographical Classification (SGC), Statistics Canada's official classification of geographic areas, provides unique codes for three hierarchically-related geographic areas: provinces and territories, census divisions and census subdivisions.

For further details, refer to the description of geographic code in the definitions of census agricultural region (CAR); census consolidated subdivision (CCS); census division (CD); census metropolitan area (CMA) and census agglomeration (CA); census subdivision (CSD); census tract (CT); designated place (DPL); dissemination area (DA); dissemination block (DB); economic region (ER); federal electoral district (FED); population centre (POPCTR); province or territory and Standard Geographical Classification (SGC). Also refer to the 2011 Standard Geographical Classification (SGC), Volumes I and II (Catalogue nos. 12-571-X and 12-572-X).

Changes prior to the current census:

Since 1981, the Standard Geographical Classification has been the sole official geographic classification system used for disseminating data for provinces/territories, census divisions and census subdivisions.

For 1976 and 1971, both the SGC and census codes were used to disseminate census data.

Prior to 1971, only census codes were used to disseminate census data.

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