I've setup nginx as a reverse proxy for a couple of apache backend/upstream servers.

Using the GeoLite database from MaxMind, I'm trying to loadbalance requests between the two servers dependent on the clients country code.

Nginx Configuration:

geo $geo {
        default default;
        include geo.conf;
    upstream default.backend {
        server; #Server A
        server; #Server B
    upstream DE.backend {
        server; #Server A
    upstream US.backend {
        server; #Server B
server {
        listen 80;
        server_name myserver.com;
        location / {
            proxy_pass http://$geo.backend;
            proxy_set_header        Host            $host;
            proxy_set_header        X-Real-IP       $remote_addr;
            proxy_set_header        X-Forwarded-For $proxy_add_x_forwarded_for;

So I'm trying to send any German clients to server A, and US clients to server B, and any other clients not matching German or US country codes to be loadbalanced between servers A & B.

However, since geo.conf contains country codes for many (all) other countries, these values are being set to the variable $geo, as opposed to the 'default' value.

With my current configuration this causes '502 Bad Gateway' errors with all requests that aren't DE or US.

Nginx error log:

2013/10/11 08:18:50 [error] 25017#0: *1 no resolver defined to resolve NL.backend, client:, server: myserver.com, request: "GET / HTTP/1.1", host: "myserver.com"

Nginx access log: - - [11/Oct/2013:08:18:50 -0700] "GET / HTTP/1.1" 502 574 "-" "Mozilla/5.0 (X11; Linux x86_64) AppleWebKit/537.31 (KHTML, like Gecko) Chrome/26.0.1410.63 Safari/537.31" "-"

How can I configure nginx.conf to interpret any IP country code value from geo.conf that's not DE or US as default, and loadbalance it accordingly to upstream default.backend?

1 Answer 1


default specified inside geo specifies only a default value for IP addresses which aren't in the database at all. So $geo will always have country codes for whatever is present in the database. So default here does nothing for you.

To deal with this, use a map in addition.

map $geo $backend {
    default default;
    US US;
    DE DE;
  • Thanks for this. So do i add this to my existing config? Oct 11, 2013 at 16:27
  • Managed to figure it out. I got confused by the $backend variable. Didn't know that I had to change proxy_pass http://$geo.backend; to proxy_pass http://$backend.backend; Oct 11, 2013 at 16:40
  • 1
    @ElijahPaul can you post the updated version with your changes? It would help alot.
    – Donny V
    Jan 8, 2015 at 5:19

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