frequently asked questions(by category)
Answers to many frequently asked questions (FAQs) are explained in the Definitions and Notes section in The World Factbook. Please review this section to see if your question is already answered there. In addition, we have compiled the following list of FAQs to answer other common questions.
  • General ::

  • Can you provide additional information for a specific country?
    The staff cannot provide data beyond what appears in The World Factbook. The format and information in the Factbook are tailored to the specific requirements of US Government officials and content is focused on their current and anticipated needs. The staff welcomes suggestions for new entries.
    How often is The World Factbook updated?
    Formerly our Web site and the published Factbook were only updated annually. In November 2001, we began more frequent online updating and for many years bi-weekly updates were the norm. In late 2010 we began to update the online Factbook on a weekly schedule. The CIA discontinued publishing the printed Factbook after the 2007 edition; subsequent annual editions have been published by the US Government Printing Office.
    Can I use some or all of The World Factbook for my Web site (book, research project, homework, etc.)?
    The World Factbook is in the public domain and may be used freely by anyone at anytime without seeking permission. However, US Code (Section 403m) prohibits use of the CIA seal in a manner which implies that the CIA approved, endorsed, or authorized such use. For any questions about your intended use, you should consult with legal counsel. Further information on use of The World Factbook is described on the Contributors and Copyright Information page. As a courtesy, please cite The World Factbook when used.
    Why are there discrepancies between The World Factbook's demographic statistics and other sources?

    Although estimates and projections start with the same basic data from censuses, surveys, and registration systems, final estimates and projections can differ as a result of factors including data availability, assessment, and methods and protocols.

    Data availability  Researchers may obtain specific country data at different times. Estimates or projections developed before the results of a census have been released will not be as accurate as those that take into account new census results.

    Assessment  Researchers can differ in their assessment of data quality and in their estimates based on the available country data. They often need to adjust their estimates due to such factors as undercounting in a census or underregistration of births or deaths.

    Methods and protocols  Differences in methods and protocols can shape the way estimates and projections are made of fertility, mortality, and international migration, and how these data are integrated with the population data. For example, the US Census Bureau uses a model that projects the population ahead by single years of age, a single year at a time (population statistics used in the Factbook are based on this model), whereas the United Nations model projects five-year age groups forward, five years at a time.

    When I do the arithmetic using your information I get a different answer for some fields. For example, the per capita GDP that I calculated using World Factbook GDP and population numbers differs substantially for some countries from the GDP - per capita numbers provided in the Economy section of the Factbook.
    World Factbook data may be based on different dates of information. In the above example, the GDP - per capita numbers are for past years where each year's GDP is the population number divided by the relevant year. The population numbers shown in the People category are estimates for the current year and should not be used to calculate per capita income for earlier years.
    Why doesn't The World Factbook include information on states, departments, provinces, etc., for each country?
    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.
    Would it be possible to set up a partnership or collaboration between the producers of The World Factbook and other organizations or individuals?
    The World Factbook does not partner with other organizations or individuals, but we do welcome comments and suggestions that such groups or persons choose to provide.
    Is it possible to access older editions of The World Factbook to do comparative research and trend analysis?
    Previous editions of the Factbook , beginning with 2000, are available for downloading - but not browsing - on the CIA Web site. Rehosted versions of earlier editions of the Factbook are available for browsing, as well as for downloading, at other Internet web sites. We urge caution, however, in attempting to create time series by stringing together economic data - especially dollar values - from previous editions of the Factbook . Over time, data sources, definitions, and economic accounting methods have changed. We occasionally have made these changes ourselves in order to provide our readers with the best information available. Also, in the case of dollar values, changes in relative exchange rates and prices may make trends difficult to comprehend. Therefore, individuals should consult additional resources when doing comparative research or trend analysis.
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  • Technical ::