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Classification could be defined as a set of finite, discrete and exhaustive observations that are mutually exclusive. Observations are collected together into groups or classes or categories according to their characteristics and purposes for which they are classified. Classification, in statistical terms, means systematic breakdown of phenomena and objects in groups, classes, categories, based on their similarity or difference. Classifications define the basis for collection, processing and dissemination of data in all statistical areas. Classifications could be structured into one or more levels of detail used to group data in a given domain, according to their similarities. They provide standardised concepts used to describe economic phenomena (such as activities, products, consumption) and social phenomena (such as education, occupation, or health of the people).

Classifications are necessary for consistent measuring of the phenomena in the country and to ensure comparability across countries and geographical regions. International reference classifications establish standards for internationally harmonised classifications that serve as models for the development of corresponding regional and national statistical classifications and provide basis for internationally comparable data. They are tools used by national statistical institutions, international agencies, policy makers, academia and other users. Without accurate and systematically arranged data according to common characteristics, statistical data may not be reliable or comparable.

According to the "United Nations Glossary of Classification Terms", the term nomenclature is defined as the systematic denomination or as a system of names and terms of categories or items, while the term classification, besides naming and sorting, also means coding according to certain structures.
In everyday statistical work these two terms are considered as synonymous.
When the classification has only one hierarchical level, sometimes the word "list" is used.

             National classifications
             Classifications of the European Union
             Classifications of the United Nations and other international organizations

             Correspondence tables


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