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MySQL 5.6 Reference Manual
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10.1.4.6 National Character Set

Standard SQL defines NCHAR or NATIONAL CHAR as a way to indicate that a CHAR column should use some predefined character set. MySQL uses utf8 as this predefined character set. For example, these data type declarations are equivalent:

CHAR(10) CHARACTER SET utf8
NATIONAL CHARACTER(10)
NCHAR(10)

As are these:

VARCHAR(10) CHARACTER SET utf8
NATIONAL VARCHAR(10)
NVARCHAR(10)
NCHAR VARCHAR(10)
NATIONAL CHARACTER VARYING(10)
NATIONAL CHAR VARYING(10)

You can use N'literal' (or n'literal') to create a string in the national character set. These statements are equivalent:

SELECT N'some text';
SELECT n'some text';
SELECT _utf8'some text';

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