Unicode is a 16-bit character set where all characters occupy the same space. The first 256 values are the same as the ISO-Latin character set, which is also the basis for the ANSI Character set used in Windows 3.1 and Windows 95. But Unicode goes on to define 34,168 distinct coded characters. In most character sets a single value is often assigned to several characters. For example, in ASCII a "-" is used to represent a hyphen, a minus sign, a dash and a non-breaking hyphen. In Unicode each meaning is given its own code. The Unicode standard contains only one instance of each character and assigns it a unique name and code value. It also supports "combining" accent characters, which follow the base character that they are to modify.
For more information on Unicode, visit the Unicode Web Site.