The World Factbook
Learn more about The World Factbook
The World Factbook (ISSN 1553-8133; also known as the CIA World Factbook)<ref name="press">Template:Cite web</ref> is an annual publication of the Central Intelligence Agency of the United States with almanac-style information about the countries of the world. The Factbook provides a two- to three-page summary of the demographics, geography, communications, government, economy, and military of 272 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.<ref name="cci">Template:Cite web</ref> However, it is frequently used as a resource for student papers, web sites and non-governmental publications.<ref name=press/> As a work of the U.S. government, it is considered to be in the public domain.<ref name="pd">Template:Cite web</ref>
 Factbook sources
In researching the Factbook, the CIA uses the sources listed below. Other public and private sources are also consulted.<ref name=cci/>
Because the Factbook is in the public domain, people are free to redistribute and modify it in any way they like, without permission of the CIA.<ref name=cci/> However, the CIA requests that they be cited when the Factbook is used.<ref name=pd/>The official seal of the CIA, however, may not be copied without permission as required by the CIA Act of 1949 (50 U.S.C. section 403m). Misuse of the official seal of the CIA could result in civil and criminal penalties <ref>Template:Cite web</ref>:
Federal law prohibits use of the words "Central Intelligence Agency," the initials "CIA," the seal of the Central Intelligence Agency, or any colorable imitation of such words, initials, or seal in connection with any merchandise, impersonation, solicitation, or commercial activity in a manner reasonably calculated to convey the impression that such use is approved, endorsed, or authorized by the Central Intelligence Agency.
Many Internet sites have used information and images from the CIA World Factbook.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref>
 Frequency of updates and availability
Before November 2001, The World Factbook website was updated yearly. Since then, the Factbook website is updated every two weeks; the print edition is still updated annually.<ref name=faqs-u2d/> Generally, information currently available as of January 1 of the current year is used in preparing the Factbook.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref>
 The government edition of the Factbook
As of 2006, The World Factbook is available on the World Wide Web and in print. The Web version gets an average of 6 million visits per month;<ref name=press/> it can also be downloaded.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref> A printed version is available <ref name="buy">Template:Cite web</ref> and is released around the middle of the year.<ref name="faqs-u2d">Template:Cite web</ref> This version is sold to the public via the Superintendent of Documents and the National Technical Information Service; US government officials can generally query about Factbook purchases from their department or CIA liaison channel.<ref name=buy/> In past years, the Factbook was available on CD-ROM,<ref>Template:Cite web</ref>, microfiche, magnetic tape, and floppy disk.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref>
 The Potomac Books reprint
Since 1992, Potomac Books, Inc. (formerly known as Brassy's Inc.)<ref>Template:Cite web</ref> has published a reprint of The World Factbook to, in their words, "extend the limited audience" of the official government publication.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref> The publisher makes no copyright claim on the reprint itself.<ref>The World Factbook staff (2000). The World Factbook 2000 (CIA's 1999 edition). Dulles, Virginia: Potomac Books. ISBN 1-57488-266-X. </ref>
 Entities in the Factbook
As of October 2006, The World Factbook consists of 272 entities <ref name="notes">Template:Cite web</ref>. These entities can be divided into categories.<ref name=notes/> 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".<ref name=notes/> In this category, there are 193 entities.
- Others - 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:
- Miscellaneous - 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 271 entries) <ref name=press/>.
 Oddities and controversies
 Areas not covered
Specific regions within a country or areas in dispute among countries, such as Kurdistan, Kashmir and Kosovo, are not covered,<ref>Template:Cite web</ref> but other areas of the world whose status is disputed, such as the Spratly Islands, have entries.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref>
 Northern Cyprus
Northern Cyprus is not given a separate entry or listed as part of Turkey because "territorial occupations/annexations not recognized by the United States Government are not shown on U.S. Government maps."<ref>Template:Cite web</ref>
 Taiwan/Republic of China
Taiwan has a separate entry not listed under "T", but at the bottom of the list.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref> The name "Republic of China" is not listed as Taiwan's "official name" under the "Government" section <ref>Template:Cite web</ref>, due to U.S. recognition of Beijing's One-China Policy according to which there is one China - the People's Republic of China - and Taiwan is a part of it.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref> The name "Republic of China" was briefly added on January 27, 2005 <ref>Template:Cite web</ref> but has since been changed back to "none".<ref>Template:Cite web</ref> (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. <ref>Template:Cite web</ref>
The Republic of Macedonia is entered under Macedonia.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref> This is despite the fact that no international organisations such as the United Nations <ref>Template:Cite web</ref>, the European Union <ref>Template:Cite web</ref>, NATO <ref>Template:Cite web</ref>, the European Broadcasting Union <ref>Template:Cite web</ref>, and the International Olympic Committee <ref>Template:Cite web</ref> use this short form (they all use the phase The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia) The history of the name used for the entry is a bit complex. In the 1992 edition of The World Factbook, the entry for the nation was listed under the former <ref>Template:Cite web</ref> (at the same time, new entries were added for the 20 nations that were formed out of the former Soviet Union and Yugoslavia; the latter two being dropped.) In the 1994 edition, the name of the entry was changed to the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia <ref>Template:Cite web</ref>. For the next decade, this was the name the nation as listed under. Finally, in the 2005 edition of the Factbook, the name of the entry was changed back to Macedonia.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref> This came after a November 2004 US decision to refer to the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia as the Republic of Macedonia.<ref>"US snubs Greece over Macedonia" (HTML), 2004-11-04. Retrieved on 2006-09-23. (in english)</ref> (See also the article about the naming issue of Macedonia.)
 European Union
On December 16, 2004, the CIA added an entry for the European Union.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref> According to the CIA, the European Union was added because the EU "continues to accrue more nation-like characteristics for itself". Their reasoning was explained in this small statement in the introduction:
The evolution of the European Union (EU) from a regional economic agreement among six neighboring states in 1951 to today's supranational organization of 25 countries across the European continent stands as an unprecedented phenomenon in the annals of history. Dynastic unions for territorial consolidation were long the norm in Europe. On a few occasions even country-level unions were arranged - the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and the Austro-Hungarian Empire were examples - but for such a large number of nation-states to cede some of their sovereignty to an overarching entity is truly unique. Although the EU is not a federation in the strict sense, it is far more than a free-trade association such as ASEAN, NAFTA, or Mercosur, and it has many of the attributes associated with independent nations: its own flag, anthem, founding date, and currency, as well as an incipient common foreign and security policy in its dealings with other nations. In the future, many of these nation-like characteristics are likely to be expanded. Thus, inclusion of basic intelligence on the EU has been deemed appropriate as a new, separate entity in The World Factbook. However, because of the EU's special status, this description is placed after the regular country entries.
 Isle of Man
 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 <ref>Template:Cite web</ref>. The old entries for each individual insular area remain as redirects on the Factbook website.<ref>For an example of a redirect, see what happens with the profile for Kingman Reef.</ref> 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.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref> As with the new United States Pacific Island Wildlife Refuges entry, the old entries for these five islands remain as redirects on the website.<ref>For an example of a redirect, see what happens with the profile for Juan de Nova Island.</ref>
 Yugoslavia/Serbia and Montenegro
Yugoslavia has had a confusing history in the Factbook. Before 1992, the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRY) was included in the Factbook.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref> In 1992, the entry was dropped <ref name="yugo">Template:Cite web</ref> and entries where added for all of the former republics.<ref name=yugo/> In doing this, the CIA listed the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY) as Serbia and Montenegro. <ref>Template:Cite web</ref> This was done in accordance with a May 21, 1992 decision by the US Government not to recognize the FRY as the successor state to the SFRY <ref>Template:Cite web</ref>; this view was made clear in a disclaimer printed in the Factbook: <ref>Template:Cite web</ref>
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.
Besides the disclaimer, the republics of Serbia and Montenegro were treated separately in the data.<ref>For an example, see the profile for the FRY in the 1999 World Factbook.</ref> In October 2000, Slobodan Milošević resigned after being defeated in elections held the previous month.<ref>"Kostunica sworn in as president of Yugoslavia" (HTML), 2000-10-07. Retrieved on 2006-10-30. (in english)</ref> This event caused a change in the 2001 edition of the Factbook, with the Serbia and Montenegro entity being renamed Yugoslavia.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref> On March 14, 2002, an agreement was signed to transform the FRY into a loose state union called Serbia and Montenegro; <ref>"Yugoslav partners sign historic deal" (HTML), 2002-03-14. Retrieved on 2006-10-30. (in english)</ref> it took effect on February 4, 2003. <ref>"Yugoslavia consigned to history" (HTML), 2003-02-04. Retrieved on 2006-11-17. (in english)</ref> The name of the Yugoslavia entity was changed in the Factbook the month after the change.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref> On May 22, 2006, Montenegro held a referendum on independence from the state union which passed; <ref>"Montenegro chooses independence" (HTML), 2006-05-22. Retrieved on 2006-10-30. (in english)</ref> independence was declared on June 3, two weeks after the vote. <ref>"Montenegro declares independence" (HTML), 2006-06-04. Retrieved on 2006-10-30. (in english)</ref> Two weeks after Montenegro's declaration of independence, profiles were added to the Factbook for both Serbia <ref>Template:Cite web</ref> and Montenegro <ref>Template:Cite web</ref>.
Before 1998, the United Kingdom (UK) profile contained a sentence that asserted the UK had gained independence on 1 January 1801.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref> This terse, confusing description has since been greatly expanded.<ref name="uk">Template:Cite web</ref>
The factbook uses standard American English.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref> As a consequence, the name of the governing party in the United Kingdom is spelled "Labor".<ref name=uk/> The Factbook's house style for spelling defers to the United States Board on Geographic Names and the CIA itself; as a consequence the head of Al-Qaeda is referred to as Osama Bin Ladin <ref>Template:Cite web</ref> and the ruler of Libya is referred to as Muammar Abu Minyar al-Qadhafi.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref>
The map of the United States contains Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, the only city noted in the state other than Anchorage.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref> Despite being an oil field town with several thousand temporary workers at any given time, the town has a permanent population of only five residents according to the 2000 census.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref>
 See also
- Besides the World Factbook, the CIA also publishes a directory of Chiefs of State and Cabinet Members of Foreign Governments each week.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref>
- Abbreviations used in CIA World Factbook
This article contains material from the CIA World Factbook which, as a US government publication, is in the public domain.
 External links
- Current CIA World Factbook
- Previous of The World Factbook:
- From Project Gutenberg:
- From University of Missouri-St. Louis archive:
- From GPO archive:
- Nationmaster: Allows the user to create graphs and charts with CIA, UN and OECD data.
- The World Factbook for Google Earth: The Factbook as Google Earth placemarks
- CIA World Factbook for Pocket PC and Palm OS devices
- Authorama 2000 CIA World Factbook as XHTML1.0 (easily readable, no images, device-independent)
- CIA World Factbook as mobile friendly XHTML
- CIA World Factbook as Flash factbook sitede:CIA World Factbook
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