''The World Factbook'', also known as the ''CIA World Factbook'', is a reference resource produced by the
Central Intelligence Agency The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA; ), known informally as "The Agency" and "The Company", is a civilian intelligence agency, foreign intelligence service of the federal government of the United States, officially tasked with gathering, proc ...
(CIA) with almanac-style information about the countries of the
world The world is the Earth and all life on it, including civilization, human civilization. In a philosophical context, the "world" is the whole of the physical Universe, or an Ontology, ontological world (the "world" of an individual). In a theo ...

. 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 Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', literally "earth description") is a field of science devoted to the study of the lands, features, inhabitants, and phenomena of the Earth and planets. The first person to use the word γεωγρα ...
communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share") is the act of developing Semantics, meaning among Subject (philosophy), entities or Organization, groups through the use of sufficiently mutually understood signs, symbols, and Semio ...
government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a State (polity), state. In the case of its broad associative definition, government normally consists of legislature, Executive (government), ex ...

economy An economy (from Greek language, Greek οίκος – "household" and νέμoμαι – "manage") is an area of the Production (economics), production, Distribution (economics), distribution and trade, as well as Consumption (economics), consum ...
, and
military A military, also known collectively as armed forces, is a heavily armed, highly organized force primarily intended for warfare. It is typically officially authorized and maintained by a sovereign state, with its members identifiable by their ...
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. * Antarctic Information Program (
National Science Foundation The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an Independent agencies of the United States government#Examples of independent agencies, independent agency of the United States government that supports fundamental research and education in all the non- ...
) * Armed Forces Medical Intelligence Center (United States Department of Defense, Department of Defense) * United States Census Bureau, Bureau of the Census (United States Department of Commerce, Department of Commerce) * Bureau of Labor Statistics (United States Department of Labor, Department of Labor) * Council of Managers of National Antarctic Programs * Defense Intelligence Agency (Department of Defense) * United States Department of Energy, Department of Energy * United States Department of State, Department of State * United States Fish and Wildlife Service, Fish and Wildlife Service (United States Department of the Interior, Department of the Interior) * United States Maritime Administration, Maritime Administration (United States Department of Transportation, Department of Transportation) * National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (Department of Defense) * Naval Facilities Engineering Command (Department of Defense) * Office of Insular Affairs (Department of the Interior) * Office of Naval Intelligence (Department of Defense) * ''Oil & Gas Journal'' * United States Board on Geographic Names (Department of the Interior) * United States Transportation Command (Department of Defense)


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 Citation, 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 ().

Frequency of updates and availability

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''.

Government edition

The first Classified information, 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 United States Government Publishing Office, Government Printing Office and National Technical Information Service. In past years, the ''Factbook'' was available on CD-ROM, microfiche, magnetic tape, and floppy disk.

Reprints and older editions online

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.

Entities listed

As of July 2011, ''The World Factbook'' comprises 267 entities, which can be divided into the following categories: ; Independent countries: The CIA defines these as people "politically organized into a sovereign state with a definite territory." In this category, there are 195 entities. ; Others: Places set apart from the list of independent countries. Currently there are two: Taiwan and the European Union. ; Dependencies and Areas of Special Sovereignty: Places affiliated with another country. They may be subcategorized by affiliated country: :*Australia: six entities :*China: two entities :*Denmark: two entities :*France: eight entities :*Netherlands: three entities :*New Zealand: three entities :*Norway: three entities :*United Kingdom: seventeen entities :*United States: fourteen entities ; Miscellaneous: Antarctica and places in dispute. There are six such entities. ; Other entities: The World and the oceans. There are five oceans and the World (the World entry is intended as a summary of the other entries).

Territorial issues and controversies


Areas not covered

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 Provinces and territories of Canada, 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 (Archived by WebCite at ) editions with the decision to drop the entries for French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Martinique, Mayotte, and Réunion, Reunion. They were dropped because besides being overseas departments, they were now overseas regions, and an integral part of France. Since the Trump administration has recognized Morocco’s sovereignty over Western Sahara 2020, most of the Western Sahara data has been merged into Morocco’s page.

Chagos Archipelago

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 Expulsion of the Chagossians, forcible expulsion of the Chagossians from their lands to establish a Camp Justice (Diego Garcia), military base on one of the island of the archipelago, namely Diego Garcia. The US does not Chagos Archipelago sovereignty dispute, 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 of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, 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.


Maps depicting Kashmir have the Indo-Pakistani border drawn at the Line of Control, but the region of Aksai Chin, Kashmir administered by China drawn in hash marks.

Northern Cyprus

Northern Cyprus, which the U.S. considers part of the Cyprus, 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."

Taiwan/Republic of China

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 ''Factbook''s 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)

Disputed South China Sea Islands

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 U.S. does not recognize the renaming of Burma by its State Peace and Development Council, ruling military junta to ''Myanmar'' and thus keeps its entry for the country under the ''Burma'' name.

North Macedonia

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 North Macedonia, Republic of North Macedonia.

European Union

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 European integration, more nation-like characteristics for itself and so a separate listing was deemed appropriate."

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 Atoll, 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.

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. 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 Milošević was 5th October (Serbia), 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 2008 Kosovo declaration of independence, 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; Kosovo–Serbia relations, Serbia continues to claim Kosovo as part of its Autonomous Province of Kosovo and Metohija, own sovereign territory. Kosovo's independence has been out of United Nations Member states of the United Nations, member states, including the United States.

East Timor/Timor-Leste

On July 19, 2007, the entry for East Timor was renamed ''Timor-Leste'' following a decision of the United States Board on Geographic Names (BGN).


The Factbook contains some errors (usually of a minor nature), inaccuracies, and out-of-date information, which are often repeated elsewhere due to the ''Factbook''s widespread use as a reference. For example, Albania was until recently, described in the ''Factbook'' as Muslim 56.7%, Roman Catholic 10%, Orthodox Church of Albania, 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 United States Department of State, 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.

See also

* ''World Leaders'', another regular publication of the CIA * National Security Agency academic publications Alternative publications * ''Europa World Year Book'' * ''The New York Times Almanac'' * ''The World Almanac and Book of Facts'' * ''TIME Almanac with Information Please'' * ''Whitaker's Almanack''





External links

''CIA World Factbook'' as XML

The ''World Factbook'' for Google Earth
– The ''Factbook'' as Google Earth placemarks
On stephansmap.org
– 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.
The current ''CIA World Factbook'' in Excel spreadsheet format

Mobile versions of the ''Factbook''

last updated February 2019

– Optimized ''CIA World Factbook'' version for Android Devices

The ''Factbook'' by year

Countries of the World – 36 years of the ''CIA World Factbook''
(1982–2019) * Previous editions of ''The World Factbook'' from the University of Missouri–St. Louis archive:

1991 ''CIA World Factbook''

1990 ''CIA World Factbook''

1989 ''CIA World Factbook''

1987 ''CIA World Factbook''

1986 ''CIA World Factbook''

1985 ''CIA World Factbook''

1984 ''CIA World Factbook''

1982 ''CIA World Factbook''
{{DEFAULTSORT:World Factbook, The Wikipedia articles incorporating text from the World Factbook, Academic works about intelligence analysis Almanacs Central Intelligence Agency publications, Factbook Publications established in 1962 Reference works in the public domain 1962 establishments in the United States