186 countries underpin the functioning of IFs and these countries can be displayed separately or as parts of larger groups that users can determine.
Below is a visual representation of how different entities are organized into Countries/Regions, Groups or Geography-Lists.
Countries/Regions are currently the smallest geographical unit that users can represent. There are 186 different countries/regions that users can display. But the ability to split countries down into smaller regions like states, provinces, or districts is under development and only available for selected countries (South Africa, India, China, and Mexico). Moreover, it is only available in the stand-alone model version, not in the online version.
*Important Note: In older versions of IFs, Regions were used as intermediaries between Countries and Groups. That use of the term Regions is no longer relevant and when you see Country/Region references in the online version of the model you should simply think of this as a term that really means Country.
Groups are variably organized geographically or by memberships in international institutions/regimes. You can find out the countries represented in each group by exploring the Identify Group or Country/Region Members sub-option under Data Analysis from the Main Menu.
IFs also features a grouping option titled Decomposed Groups that allows users to select a group and display forecasts or data for individual member countries of that group. Decomposed Group options are located in several IFs display forms, including the Flexible Displays.
Geography Lists (or G-Lists) can contain Countries, Groups, or both. The Geography-List can be useful as some users may want to place, for example, the Africa group in a display with the country of India.
When using IFs, there are many occasions where the user is asked whether or not they would like to display their results as a product of single countries, or larger groups. This is typically a toggle switch that moves between Country/Region and Groups; however, it might be a three-way-toggle that includes Country/Region, Group and Geography-List.