Template:Infobox Book The World Factbook (ISSN Template:ISSN search link; also known as the CIA World Factbook)[1] is a reference resource produced by the Central Intelligence Agency of the United States with almanac-style information about the countries of the world. The official paper copy version is available from the National Technical Information Service and the Government Printing Office. Other companies—such as Skyhorse Publishing—also print a paper edition. The Factbook is available in the form of a website, which is partially updated every two weeks. It is also available for download for use off-line. It provides a two- to three-page summary of the demographics, geography, communications, government, economy, and military of 266 entities[2] including U.S.-recognized countries, dependencies, and other areas in the world.

The World Factbook is prepared by the CIA for the use of U.S. government officials, and its style, format, coverage, and content are primarily designed to meet their requirements.[3] However, it is frequently used as a resource for academic research papers.[4] As a work of the U.S. government, it is in the public domain.[5]

Factbook sourcesEdit

In researching the Factbook, the CIA uses the sources listed below. Other public and private sources are also consulted.[3]


File:Wfb webby.png

Because the Factbook is in the public domain, people are free to redistribute and modify it in any way that they like, without permission of the CIA.[3] However, the CIA requests that it be cited when the Factbook is used.[5] The official seal of the CIA, however, may not be copied without permission as required by the Central Intelligence Agency Act of 1949 (Template:UnitedStatesCode).

Frequency of updates and availability Edit

Before November 2001, The World Factbook website was updated yearly.[6] Since then, the Factbook website is updated every two weeks.[6] Generally, information currently available as of January 1 of the current year[7] is used in preparing the Factbook.

Government edition of the FactbookEdit

The first classified edition of Factbook was published in August 1962 and the first unclassified version in June 1971.[8] The World Factbook was first available to the public in print in 1975[8]. In 2008, the CIA discontinued printing the Factbook, instead turning printing responsibilities over to the Government Printing Office.[9] This happened due to a CIA decision to "focus Factbook resources" on the online edition.[10] The Factbook has been on the World Wide Web since October 1994.[11] The Web version gets an average of 6 million visits per month;[4] it can also be downloaded.[12] The official printed version is sold[13] by the Government Printing Office and National Technical Information Service. In past years, the Factbook was available on CD-ROM,[14] microfiche[15], magnetic tape[15], and floppy disk[15].

Reprints and older editions online Edit


Many Internet sites use information and images from the CIA World Factbook.[16] Several publishers, including Grand River Books,[17] Potomac Books (formerly known as Brassey's Inc.),[18] and Skyhorse Publishing[19] have re-published the factbook in recent years.

Older editions of the CIA World Factbook, going back to 1989, together with country rankings constructed from CIA data and additional country information from other sources are available at the Countries of the World website, which was begun in 1996.

Entities listedEdit

Main article: List of entities and changes in The World Factbook

As of February 2008, The World Factbook consists of 266 entities.[2] These entities can be divided into categories.[2] They are:

Independent countries
This category has independent countries, which the CIA defines as people "politically organized into a sovereign state with a definite territory".[2] In this category, there are 194 entities.
The Other category is a list of other places set apart from the list of independent countries. Currently there are two: Taiwan and the European Union.
Dependencies and Areas of Special Sovereignty
This category is a list of places affiliated with another country. They may be subdivided into categories using the country they are affiliated with:
This category is for Antarctica and places in dispute. There are six entities.
Other entities
This category is for the World and the oceans. There are five oceans and the World (the World entry is intended as a summary of the other 265 entries).[4]

Territorial issues and controversiesEdit


Areas not covered
Specific regions within a country or areas in dispute among countries, such as Kashmir, are not covered,[20] but other areas of the world whose status is disputed, such as the Spratly Islands, have entries.[20][21] Subnational areas of countries (such as US States or the Canadian provinces and territories) are not included in the Factbook. Instead, users looking for information about subnational areas are referred to "a comprehensive encyclopedia" for their reference needs.[22] This criterion was invoked in the 2007 edition with the decision to drop the entries for French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Martinique, and Reunion. They were dropped because besides being overseas departments, they were now overseas regions, and an integral part of France.[23]
Maps depicting Kashmir have the India–Pakistan border drawn at the Line of Control, but the region of Kashmir administered by China drawn in hash marks.[24]
Northern Cyprus
Northern Cyprus, which the U.S. considers part of the Republic of Cyprus, is not given a separate entry because "territorial occupations/annexations not recognized by the United States Government are not shown on U.S. Government maps."[25]
Taiwan/Republic of China
Taiwan has a separate entry not listed under T, but at the bottom of the list.[26] The name "Republic of China" is not listed as Taiwan's "official name" under the "Government" section,[27] due to U.S. acknowledgement of Beijing's and Taipei's One-China policy according to which there is one China and Taiwan is a part of it.[28] The name "Republic of China" was briefly added on January 27, 2005,[29] but has since been changed back to "none".[27] The map of the People's Republic of China on the World Factbook shows Taiwan included on the map of China.[24](See also: Political status of Taiwan, Legal status of Taiwan)
The U.S. does not recognize the renaming of Burma by its ruling military junta to Myanmar and thus keeps its entry for the country under "Burma". This is done because the name change "was not approved by any sitting legislature in Burma". As a result, the US government has never adopted the name Myanmar.[30]
The Republic of Macedonia is entered as Macedonia,[31] the name used in its first entry in the Factbook upon independence in 1992.[32] In the 1994 edition, the name of the entry was changed to the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia as a result of the Macedonia naming dispute with Greece, which objected to the use of the name "Macedonia".[33] For the next decade, this was the name the nation was listed under. Finally, in the 2004 edition of the Factbook, the name of the entry was changed back to Macedonia following a November 2004 US decision to refer to the country using this name.[34][35]
European Union
On December 16, 2004, the CIA added an entry for the European Union (EU).[36] (Before this date, the EU was excluded from the Factbook.[37]) According to the CIA, the European Union was added because the EU "continues to accrue more nation-like characteristics for itself".[28]
United States Pacific Island Wildlife Refuges and Iles Eparses
In the 2006 edition of The World Factbook, the entries for Baker Island, Howland Island, Jarvis Island, Kingman Reef, Johnston Atoll, Palmyra Atoll and the Midway Islands were merged into a new United States Pacific Island Wildlife Refuges entry.[38] The old entries for each individual insular area remain as redirects on the Factbook website.[39] On September 7, 2006, the CIA also merged the entries for Bassas da India, Europa Island, the Glorioso Islands, Juan de Nova Island, and Tromelin Island into a new Iles Eparses entry.[40] As with the new United States Pacific Island Wildlife Refuges entry, the old entries for these five islands remained as redirects on the website.[41] On July 19, 2007, the Iles Eparses entry and redirects for each island were dropped due to the group becoming a district of the French Southern and Antarctic Lands in February.[42]
Serbia and Montenegro/Yugoslavia
The Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRY) broke apart in 1991. The following year, it was replaced in the Factbook with entries for each of its former constituent republics.[32] In doing this, the CIA listed the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY), proclaimed in 1992, as Serbia and Montenegro, as the U.S. did not recognize the union between the two republics.[43][44] This was done in accordance with a May 21, 1992, decision[45] by the U.S. not to recognize any of the former Yugoslav republics[46] as successor states to the recently dissolved SFRY.
These views were made clear in a disclaimer printed in the Factbook: Serbia and Montenegro have asserted the formation of a joint independent state, but this entity has not been recognized as a state by the United States.[48] Montenegro and Serbia were treated separately in the Factbook data, as can be seen on the map.[49] In October 2000, Slobodan Milošević was forced out of office after a disputed election.[50] This event led to democratic elections and U.S. diplomatic recognition. The 2001 edition of the Factbook thus referred to the state as Yugoslavia.[51] On March 14, 2002, an agreement was signed to transform the FRY into a loose state union called Serbia and Montenegro;[52] it took effect on February 4, 2003.[53] The name of the Yugoslavia entity was altered in the Factbook the month after the change.[54]
On February 28, 2008, the CIA added an entry for Kosovo;[55] before this, Kosovo was excluded in the Factbook.[20] The Kosovo declaration of independence is supported by the majority of EU member states, but disputed by Serbia,[56] which continues to regard Kosovo as its own territory, and most other countries.
East Timor/Timor-Leste
On July 19, 2007, the entry for East Timor was renamed Timor-Leste following a decision of the US Board on Geographic Names (BGN).[57]


Before 1998, the United Kingdom profile contained a sentence that asserted the UK had gained independence on 1 January 1801.[58] This terse, confusing description in reference to the Act of Union 1801 which expanded the United Kingdom of Great Britain to include Ireland, has since been greatly expanded,[59] although the primary date of UK Independence is now given as 1927. This is entirely misleading, and refers to the date the entity adopted its current name under the Royal and Parliamentary Titles Act, of that year. Indeed it can be argued the country has never been independent since there is an arguable legitimate succession of states, systems and entities from the Norman Conquest, 1066. It can also be argued that the United Kingdom has been independent since 410 AD, the year that the Romans left Roman Britain.

ISBN numbers Edit

This is a list of International Standard Book Numbers (ISBNs) for the Government edition[60] of The World Factbook. ISBNs for the Potomac Books and Skyhorse Publishing reprints of the Factbook are noted as well. For the reprint editions, the year of the data is in parentheses.

Government editions
Potomac Books reprints
Skyhorse Publishing reprints

See also Edit


  • Besides the World Factbook, the CIA also publishes a directory called World Leaders regularly.[61]

Sources Edit

Template:CIA World Factbook

  1. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Template:Cite web
  2. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Template:Cite web
  3. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Template:Cite press release
  4. 5.0 5.1 Template:Cite web
  5. 6.0 6.1 Template:Cite web
  6. Template:Cite web
  7. 8.0 8.1 Template:Cite web
  8. Template:Cite web
  9. Template:Cite web
  10. Miller, Jill Young. "CIA puts data on the internet." Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel 12 December 1994.
  11. Template:Cite web
  12. Template:Cite web
  13. Template:Cite web
  14. 15.0 15.1 15.2 Template:Cite web
  15. Template:Cite web
  16. Template:Cite web
  17. Template:Cite web
  18. Template:Cite web
  19. 20.0 20.1 20.2 Template:Cite web
  20. Template:Cite web
  21. Template:Cite web
  22. Template:Cite web
  23. 24.0 24.1 Template:Cite web
  24. Template:Cite web
  25. Template:Cite web
  26. 27.0 27.1 Template:Cite web
  27. 28.0 28.1 Template:Cite web
  28. Template:Cite web
  29. Template:Cite web
  30. Template:Cite web
  31. 32.0 32.1 Template:Cite web
  32. Template:Cite web
  33. Template:Cite web
  34. Template:Cite news
  35. Template:Cite web
  36. Template:Cite web
  37. Template:Cite web
  38. For an example of a redirect, see what happens with the profile for Kingman Reef.
  39. Template:Cite web
  40. For an example of a redirect, see what happens with the profile for Juan de Nova Island (mirror).
  41. Template:Cite web
  42. Template:Cite web
  43. Template:Cite web
  44. Template:Cite web
  45. Template:Cite web
  46. Template:Cite web
  47. Template:Cite web
  48. For an example, see the profile for the FRY in the 1999 World Factbook.
  49. Template:Cite news
  50. Template:Cite web
  51. Template:Cite news
  52. Template:Cite news
  53. Template:Cite web
  54. Template:Cite web
  55. Template:Cite news
  56. Template:Cite web
  57. Template:Cite web
  58. Template:Cite web
  59. The ISBN for each edition can be found on the Government Printing Office Bookstore website.
  60. Template:Cite web

Alternative publicationsEdit

External linksEdit

1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008
  • The World Factbook for Google Earth: The Factbook as Google Earth placemarks
  • On The CIA World Factbook accessible by location and date range; covers the years 2001—2007. All Factbook entries are tagged with "cia". Requires graphical browser with javascript.

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