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The World Factbook
World Factbook cover

The World Factbook is an annual publication by the Central Intelligence Agency of the United States with basic almanac-style information about the various countries of the world. The factbook gives a two- to three-page summary of the demographics, location, telecommunications capacity, government, industry, military capability, etc, of all US-recognized countries and territories in the world.

The World Factbook is prepared by the Central Intelligence Agency for the use of U.S. Government officials, and the style, format, coverage, and content are designed to meet their specific requirements.


Information is provided by:


Because this document is public domain, i.e. not under copyright, people are free not only to redistribute it, but also to modify it in any way they like, without permission of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

Many sites have used information and images from the CIA World Factbook, because of its public domain status, including the collaborative on-line encyclopedia Wikipedia.

Besides the World Factbook, the CIA puts out a directory of Chiefs of State and Cabinet Members of Foreign Governments each week.

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.

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.


The Factbook caused some controversy in 1998 when British journalists noticed it contained some glaring errors - most notably that 'the United Kingdom gained its independence in 1801'.

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." Specific regions within a country or areas in dispute among countries, such a Kashmir and Kosovo, are not covered, but other areas of the world whose status is disputed, such as the Spratly Islands, have entries. Maps depicting Kashmir have the India-Pakistan border drawn at the Line of Control, but the region of Kashmir occupied by China drawn in hashmarks. The occupied Golan Heights is not shown as part of Israel and 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."

"Taiwan" is not listed alphabetically under "T" but last after Zimbabwe because of the U.S. recognition of the People's Republic of China and acknowledgement of its One-China Policy. The Factbook is careful to use diplomatic language as not to offend Beijing—the official name of Taiwan under its "Government" section is given as "none" while the title "Republic of China" does not appear once in the Factbook.

See also: Abbreviations used in CIA World Factbook

External links

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