Logo of the World Factbook, adopted in 2014
|Genre||Almanac about the countries of the world|
|Publisher||Central Intelligence Agency|
|See frequency of updates and availability, no longer published in paper book form by the CIA|
The World Factbook, also known as the CIA World Factbook, is a reference resource produced by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) with almanac-style information about the countries of the world. The official print version is available from 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 that is partially updated every week. 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 each of 267 international entities 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. However, it is frequently used as a resource for academic research papers and news articles. As a work of the U.S. government, it is in the public domain in the United States.
In researching the Factbook, the CIA uses the sources listed below. Other public and private sources are also consulted.
Because the Factbook is in the public domain, people are free under United States law to redistribute it or parts of it in any way that they like, without permission of the CIA. However, the CIA requests that it be cited when the Factbook is used. Copying the official seal of the CIA without permission is prohibited by U.S. federal law—specifically, the Central Intelligence Agency Act of 1949 (50 U.S.C. § 403m).
Before November 2001 The World Factbook website was updated yearly; from 2004 to 2010 it was updated every two weeks; since 2010 it has been updated weekly. Generally, information currently available as of January 1 of the current year is used in preparing the Factbook.
The first classified edition of Factbook was published in August 1962, and the first unclassified version in June 1971.The World Factbook was first available to the public in print in 1975. In 2008 the CIA discontinued printing the Factbook themselves, instead turning printing responsibilities over to the Government Printing Office. This happened due to a CIA decision to "focus Factbook resources" on the online edition. The Factbook has been on the World Wide Web since October 1994. The web version receives an average of six million visits per month; it can also be downloaded. The official printed version is sold by the Government Printing Office and National Technical Information Service. In past years, the Factbook was available on CD-ROM,microfiche,magnetic tape, and floppy disk.
Many Internet sites use information and images from the CIA World Factbook. Several publishers, including Grand River Books, Potomac Books (formerly known as Brassey's Inc.), and Skyhorse Publishing have published the Factbook in recent years.
Specific regions within a country or areas in dispute among countries, such as Kashmir, are not covered, but other areas of the world whose status is disputed, such as the Spratly Islands, have entries. Subnational areas of countries (such as U.S. 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. This criterion was invoked in the 2007 and 2011 editions with the decision to drop the entries for French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Martinique, Mayotte, and Reunion. They were dropped because besides being overseas departments, they were now overseas regions, and an integral part of France.
Some entries on the World Factbook are known to be in line with the political views and agenda of the United States. The United States is behind both the excision of the Chagos Archipelago from Mauritian territory and the forcible expulsion of the Chagossians from their lands to establish a military base on one of the island of the archipelago, namely Diego Garcia. The US does not recognise the sovereignty of Mauritius over the Chagos Archipelago and the archipelago is listed as the British Indian Ocean Territory on the CIA Website. The website further erroneously mentioned that the Chagos Archipelago is also claimed by the Seychelles, while officially 116 countries including the Seychelles against only 6 countries including the United States voted in favor of a United Nations General Assembly resolution dated 24 May 2019 which called upon the United Kingdom to withdraw its colonial administration from the Chagos Archipelago unconditionally to enable Mauritius to complete the decolonization of its territory as rapidly as possible.
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."
The name "Republic of China" is not listed as Taiwan's official name under the "Government" section, due to U.S. acknowledgement of Beijing's One-China policy according to which there is one China and Taiwan is a part of it. The name "Republic of China" was briefly added on January 27, 2005, but has since been changed back to "none". Of the Factbooks two maps of China, one highlights the island of Taiwan as part of the country while the other does not. (See also: Political status of Taiwan, Legal status of Taiwan)
The Paracel Islands and Spratly Islands, subjects of territorial disputes, have entries in the Factbook where they are not listed as the territory of any one nation. The disputed claims to the islands are discussed in the entries.
The country was first entered as Macedonia in the Factbook upon independence in 1992. In the 1994 edition, the name of the entry was changed to the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, as it is recognised by the United Nations (pending resolution of the Macedonia naming dispute). For the next decade, this was the name the nation was listed under. In the 2004 edition of the Factbook, the name of the entry was changed back to Macedonia, following a November 2004 U.S. decision to refer to the country using this name. On February 19, 2019, the entry was renamed to North Macedonia following the country's name change to the Republic of North Macedonia.
On December 16, 2004, the CIA added an entry for the European Union (EU) for the first time. The "What's New" section of the 2005 Factbook states: "The European Union continues to accrue more nation-like characteristics for itself and so a separate listing was deemed appropriate."
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. The old entries for each individual insular area remain as redirects on the Factbook website. 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. As with the new United States Pacific Island Wildlife Refuges entry, the old entries for these five islands remained as redirects on the website. 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.
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. 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. This was done in accordance with a May 21, 1992, decision by the U.S. not to recognize any of the former Yugoslav republics 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." Montenegro and Serbia were treated separately in the Factbook data, as can be seen on the map. In October 2000, Slobodan Milo?evi? was forced out of office after a disputed election. This event led to democratic elections and U.S. diplomatic recognition. The 2001 edition of the Factbook thus referred to the state as Yugoslavia. On March 14, 2002, an agreement was signed to transform the FRY into a loose state union called Serbia and Montenegro; it took effect on February 4, 2003. The name of the Yugoslavia entity was altered in the Factbook the month after the change.
On February 28, 2008, the CIA added an entry for Kosovo, which declared independence on February 17 of the same year. Before this, Kosovo was excluded in the Factbook. Kosovo is the subject of a territorial dispute; Serbia continues to claim Kosovo as part of its own sovereign territory. Kosovo's independence has been recognised by 113 out of 193 United Nations member states, including the United States.
The Factbook contains some errors (usually of a minor nature), inaccuracies, and out-of-date information, which are often repeated elsewhere due to the Factbooks widespread use as a reference.[dubious ] For example, Albania was until recently, described in the Factbook as Muslim 56.7%, Roman Catholic 10%, Orthodox 6.8%, atheist 2.5%, Bektashi 2.1%, other 5.7%, unspecified 16.2%, which was based on a survey conducted in 1939, before World War II; numerous surveys conducted since the fall of the Communist regime since 1990 have given quite different figures. Another example is Singapore, which the Factbook states has a total fertility rate of 0.78 children per woman, despite figures in Statistics Singapore which state that the rate has been about 1.2-1.3 children per woman for at least the past several years, and it is unclear when, or even whether, it ever dropped as low as 0.78. This low and inaccurate value then gets cited in news articles which state that Singapore has the world's lowest fertility, or at least use the figure for its shock value. Another serious problem is that the Factbook never cites its sources, making verification of the information it presents difficult if not impossible.
In June 2009, National Public Radio (NPR), relying on information obtained from the CIA World Factbook, put the number of Israeli Jews living in settlements in the West Bank and Israeli-annexed East Jerusalem at 250,000. However, a better estimate, based on State Department and Israeli sources put the figure at about 500,000. NPR then issued a correction. Chuck Holmes, foreign editor for NPR Digital, said, "I'm surprised and displeased, and it makes me wonder what other information is out-of-date or incorrect in the CIA World Factbook."
Scholars have acknowledged that some entries in the Factbook are out of date.
The World Factbook provides information on the history, people, government, economy, geography, communications, transportation, military, and transnational issues for 267 world entities.
The World Factbook is prepared by the Central Intelligence Agency for the use of US Government officials, and the style, format, coverage, and content are designed to meet their specific requirements. Information is provided by other public and private sources. The Factbook is in the public domain. Accordingly, it may be copied freely without permission of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).
The World Factbook remains the CIA's most widely disseminated and most popular product, now averaging almost 6 million visits each month. In addition, tens of thousands of government, commercial, academic, and other Web sites link to or replicate the online version of the Factbook. * * * Included among the 271 geographic entries is one for the "World," which incorporates data and other information summarized where possible from the other 270 country listings.
The World Factbook is in the public domain and may be used freely by anyone at anytime without seeking permission.* * * As a courtesy, please cite The World Factbook when used.
Formerly our Web site (and the published Factbook) were only updated annually. Beginning in November 2001 we instituted a new system of more frequent online updates. The World Factbook is currently updated every two weeks.
Since 2004, The World Factbook website has been updated on a bi-weekly schedule. Culminating a three-month trial effort, we are pleased to announce that the Factbook will now be updated on a weekly basis.
In general, information available as of 1 January 2007 was used in the preparation of this edition.
The first classified Factbook was published in August 1962, and the first unclassified version was published in June 1971.
Printing of the Factbook turned over to the Government Printing Office.
The Government Printing Office has assumed production of The World Factbook print edition. The CIA has decided to focus Factbook resources exclusively on the World Wide Web online edition...
Other users may obtain sales information about printed copies from the following: Superintendent of Documents...National Technical Information Service
The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) prepares The World Factbook in printed, CD-ROM, and Internet versions.
This publication is also available in microfiche, magnetic tape, or computer diskettes.
Hundreds of "Factbook" look-alikes exist on the Internet. The Factbook site at: www.cia.gov is the only official site.
The world factbook (Handbook of the Nations). Detroit, Mich.: Grand River Books, 1981-.
"Independent state" refers to a people politically organized into a sovereign state with a definite territory. * * * There are a total of 266 separate geographic entities in The World Factbook that may be categorized as follows...
Also included in the Factbook are entries on parts of the world whose status has not yet been resolved (e.g., West Bank, Spratly Islands). Specific regions within a country or areas in dispute among countries are not covered.
The World Factbook provides national-level information on countries, territories, and dependencies, but not subnational administrative units within a country. A comprehensive encyclopedia might be a source for state/province-level information.
The reason the four entities are no longer in The World Factbook is because their status has changed. While they are overseas departments of France, they are also now recognized as French regions, having equal status to the 22 metropolitan regions that make up European France.
The Indian Ocean island entity of Mayotte became an overseas department of France on 31 March. The change in status makes it an integral part of France and so its description is now included in the France country profile of The World Factbook.(Archived by WebCite at )
Territorial occupations/annexations not recognized by the United States Government are not shown on US Government maps.
Taiwan is listed after the regular entries because even though the mainland People's Republic of China claims Taiwan, elected Taiwanese authorities de facto administer the island and reject mainland sovereignty claims. * * * The European Union (EU) is not a country, but it has taken on many nation-like attributes and these are likely to be expanded in the future.
since 1989 the military authorities in Burma have promoted the name Myanmar as a conventional name for their state; this decision was not approved by any sitting legislature in Burma, and the US Government did not adopt the name, which is a derivative of the Burmese short-form name Myanma Naingngandaw
Bosnia and Hercegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, Serbia and Montenegro, and Slovenia have replaced Yugoslavia.
The name of Macedonia was changed to The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM).
Greece has protested strongly at a decision by the US to refer to the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) simply as "Macedonia".
The World Factbook provides national-level information on countries, territories, and dependencies, but not on subnational administrative units within a country or supranational entities like the European Union.
The five former entities of Bassas da India, Europa Island, Glorioso Islands, Juan de Nova Island, and Tromelin Island, previously grouped as Iles Eparses (Scattered Islands), now constitute a district of the French Southern and Antarctic Lands.
(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.)
On May 21, 1992, the U.S. announced that it would not recognize the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY) as a successor state of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRY). The FRY was composed of the Republics of Serbia and Montenegro.
Since 1992, the United States has taken the position that the SFRY has ceased to exist, that there is no state representing the continuation of the SFRY, and that five successors have arisen--the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro) ("FRY(S&M)"), the Republic of Slovenia ("Slovenia"), the Republic of Croatia ("Croatia"), the Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina ("Bosnia-Herzegovina"), and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia ("FYROM")
Serbia and Montenegro have asserted the formation of a joint independent state, but this entity has not been formally recognized as a state by the US. The US view is that the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRY) has dissolved and that none of the successor republics represents its continuation.
The entity of Serbia and Montenegro is now officially known as Yugoslavia.
Serbia and Montenegro have signed an accord which will consign the name Yugoslavia to history and shelve any immediate plans for Montenegrin independence.
From now on it will be called just Serbia and Montenegro--the two remaining republics joined in a loose union.
Yugoslavia has been renamed Serbia and Montenegro as of 4 February 2003.
Serbia opposes the declaration of independence* * *
The US Board on Geographic Names (BGN) now recognizes Timor-Leste as the short form name for East Timor* * *