Having information about where artists, labels, etc. come from, and where different venues and studios are, can be very useful, so MusicBrainz supports Areas that help us store this data. In order to make the data more useful and robust, areas exist in a tree such that anything from neighbourhoods to countries can be grouped together and inter-linked just like the rest of our database. This allows us, for example, to show all venues in a country even though they are set to more specific areas such as cities, or find all artists born in a specific region or state. That said, we are not a database of areas, nor are we trying to be. Such a database would be as complex an undertaking as MusicBrainz itself. Areas are meant as a secondary level of data and are not expected to ever be a complete representation of every area on Earth. This is the main reason why area editing is not open to every editor, but restricted to a very small group of them; we want our editors to concentrate on music data. As a normal editor, if you need an area that is missing, you should request it (see how to in the next section).
Our original plan when adding support areas was to just map to another website or database (whether a more generic one such as Wikidata or a specialized one such as GeoNames) and keep our areas in sync with those. However, at this moment, none of the available websites dealing with areas can handle all we need in a way which would make it usable for us. GeoNames is the one that comes closest to meeting our needs, and in case this eventually becomes the case, we link all our areas to their GeoNames entry whenever possible. However, there are many entries in our area database that do not have a GeoNames page, which is one of the reasons we are still using manual entry.
How to request an area
To request the addition of a missing area to the database you should use our JIRA issue tracker; you can use your MusicBrainz account to log in. Choose "Create", and select AREQ (the "Area Requests" project). You should select "New Feature" as the type, unless you want to request a change to an existing area instead, in which case you can choose "Improvement". The summary should generally just be the name of the area, with state/province/country name if desired. Components can be left empty. The main information required to make it possible to add the area is, in addition to the name itself, the country, province, municipality or whatnot that the area is contained in. The more precise, the better - you can give just the name(s) or, if you want to be extra helpful, you can give the MusicBrainz page for the containing area, if we have it already. Also helpful for any area request is a Wikipedia URL for the area, or if the area is not on Wikipedia then another URL that would confirm the area is legitimate.
Please only request areas as needed for another entry in the MusicBrainz database (for example, if an artist you're editing was born or died there, or the venue an album was recorded at is located there). We are clearly missing many areas that exist in the world, and it would be an absurdly large undertaking to add every area in the world that we are missing, especially when most will never be needed.
Supported area categories
Subdivision (state, province)
City (also includes towns and villages, this is the most common and most requested category)
District (the lowest level of categories, these would be parts of cities and towns)
Island (for islands which do not map exactly to an official division of any country)
Indigenous territory / reserve
Special purpose areas
Some areas exist that do not map to a "real world area" as such, but are used for exceptional situations:
Historical and fictional areas
As stated above, we are not a database of areas, so for that reason all historical areas are out of scope for our areas database. Considering the many name changes, country changes, category changes, etc. that many areas have experienced, historical areas are just too complicated to include compared to the utility we would get from them. For any area that no longer exists or exists in a different form today, we will use the current area in the MusicBrainz database (possibly with a credited name on top if the name given on a source is different from the current one).
We only use actual real-world areas and not fictionally claimed areas. For example, while Dr. Octagon claims to have been born in Jupiter, this is fictional information and we will not add Jupiter to the database because of it. We would only add it if an actual artist happened to be born in Jupiter, or a concert was played there.