By Jessica Merritt
For a number of years, the CIA has maintained a factbook with information about all of the countries of the world and has made some of this information available to the public in published books. The Fact Book has also been made available online, and there are plenty of cool things you can find in it. Read on to see what you can learn from this government reference.
Geography, Topography, and Cartography
These resources offer information about the area, elevation, and more in a country.
- Google Earth: Google Earth now offers integration with the CIA Factbook, so you can look up information on the map.
- Elevation extremes: Here you’ll learn about the highest and lowest points of a country.
- Area: Here you’ll be able to find out about the sqare kilometers of each country, by total, land, and water.
- Comparative Area: Use this reference to learn about the size of a country in relation to a US state.
- Natural hazards: Find out about all of the different potential natural disasters a country faces.
- Terrain: Learn about the topography of a country through this reference.
- Capital: Here you’ll be able to identify the seat of a country’s government, with information about geographic coordinates, time zones, and more.
- Geography notes: Find miscellaneous notes about a country’s geography here.
- Reference Maps: The CIA Factbook offers downloadable JPG and PDF reference maps for all of the regions of the world.
- Flags of the World: In the Factbook, you can find images of the flags of each of the countries in the world.
- Climate: In this entry, you’ll learn about the different weather experienced throughout the world.
- Current environment issues: Learn about the variety of environmental issues affecting countries around the world.
Using these resources, you can learn more about the different governments around the world.
- Constitution: Get information about the legislative documents of different countries.
- Political parties and leaders: In this entry, you’ll learn about significant political organizations and their leaders.
- Government type: Check out this reference to learn what type of government a country operates under.
- Political pressure groups and leaders: Read this entry to learn about a country’s political pressure groups.
Make use of these reference resources, which include codes and abbreviations.
- Abbreviations: If you’re wondering what an abbreviation stands for, check out this appendix to see if it’s there. The reference offers abbreviations for a number of economic, social, and regional groups and beyond.
- International Organizations and Groups: Get detailed information about many groups and organizations in the world through this appendix.
- International Agreements: The Factbook offers objectives, participating parties, and other information about international agreements, such as treaties and protocols.
- FIPS 10 Codes: Reference the FIPS 10 codes for different countries for use with sovereignty, dependencies, administrative divisions, and more.
- ISO 3166 Codes: These codes offer a standardized representation of the names of countries.
- STANAG 1059: These NATO codes identify countries, territories, and possessions.
- Internet Domain Codes: This reference will let you know about the top-level domain for each country.
- Hydrographic Data Codes: Get codes for the limits of oceans and seas, geopolitical data elements, and more through this reference.
- Geographic Names: Get the entry name, latitude and longitude for a number of cities, capitals, regions, and other areas here.
- Weights and Measures: Get conversion rates and more for measurements used around the world.
Education & Language
Find out more about the literacy and language of a country.
- Language: This entry lists the different languages spoken within a country.
- Literacy: Here you can learn about the levels of literacy around the world.
With these resources, you’ll get information about the technological advancements around the world.
- Internet hosts: Find out how many different internet hosts a country has available.
- Television broadcast stations: This entry offers information about the total number of broadcast and repeater TV stations in a country.
- Internet users: Here you’ll learn about the number of users in a country that have access to the Internet.
- Telephones: Find out the numbers for both main telephone lines and mobile cellular telephone subscribers in this reference.
Learn about the transportation available around the world, as well as embassy and consulate locations.
- World Airports: Find out how many different airports a country has, available in downloadable ranked order.
- US Diplomatic representation: This reference offers useful information for embassies and consulates around the world.
- Railways: Here you’ll find information about the total route length of the railway network, as well as the different types of rails in the country.
- Heliports: In this reference, you’ll find information about the total number of heliports in a country.
- Paved and unpaved airport runways: Learn a bit about the quality of air travel in different countries from these resources.
Here you can learn more about the people around the world.
- Age structure: Learn how many people are in different age groups in individual countries and in the world overall.
- Religion: This reference offers information about the different religions practiced within a country.
- Death Rate: Study the rate of mortality around the world, affected by age disribution.
- Birth rate: Find out just how fast a country’s population is growing by checking out these estimated birth rates per country, available in ranked order.
- Sex ratio: In this reference, you’ll see the number of males for each female in different age groups around the world.
- Infant mortality rate: Here you’ll learn about the death rate for infants one year and younger in world countries. This rate is often used as an indicator for the overall health of a country.
These resources report facts on what is happening in the world today.
- International disputes: This reference offers information about situations between different countries.
- Refugees and internationally displaced persons: Here you’ll find information that highlights refugees and internationally displaced persons throughout a country, and where they came from.
- Trafficking in persons: This reference provides numbers and information about modern day slavery and human trafficking.
- Illicit drugs: This entry provides information about drugs produced in countries, both legal and illegal.
Business & Economy
Research the financial strength and situation of a country through these resources.
- Agriculture Products: This reference lists the major agriculture products of each country.
- Budget: Learn about the revenues and expenditures of countries around the world, and see special notes on their economic situation.
- Industries: Find out the major industries of a country with this reference.
- External debt: This entry explains how much public and private debt is owed to other countries.
- Account Balance: Here you can take a look at the richest countries in the world, ranked by account balance.
- Purchasing power parity: Find out the GDP at purchasing power parity for countries around the world here.
- Unemployment rate: Here you’ll learn about the percent of the labor force without jobs, with notations for substantial underemployment.
- Proved oil reserves: Here you can find out where all of the oil in the world is hiding.
- Exchange rates: This reference supplies information about the official value for a country’s currency.