the World Factbook :: What's New
October 20, 2017
The South Atlantic island of Saint Helena – a British Overseas Territory – is one of the most remote populated places in the world and had always previously been resupplied by a ship arriving every three weeks. Regularly scheduled commercial flights to the historic and scenic island began on 14 October 2017. Find out more about this island – the site of Napoleon’s exile – in The World Factbook’s Saint Helena, Ascension Island, and Tristan da Cunha entry.
October 13, 2017
The 2017 Atlantic hurricane season has proven to be more active and destructive than in recent years, particularly to many of the Caribbean islands and the southern US. Summaries of some of the damage inflicted may be found in the Background statements of the following Caribbean islands: British Virgin Islands, Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Cuba, Dominica, Puerto Rico, Saint Martin, Sint Maarten, Turks and Caicos, and the Virgin Islands.
October 6, 2017
Updated information on piracy – reflecting reporting from 2016 and the first half of 2017 – may now be found in a new “Maritime threats” field in the Military and Security category. (Formerly this information was included in a note in the Transportation category.) Reported incidents of piracy and robbery against ships continued to decline in 2016, decreasing 22% over reports for 2015 and dropping to levels not seen in nearly two decades. The overall threat from maritime piracy is addressed in the World “Maritime threats” entry. Separate detailed “Maritime threats” entries may be found for many of the countries bordering the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden; the Gulf of Guinea in West Africa; the Straits of Malacca and the South China and Sulu Seas in Southeast Asia; and some of the waters off South Asia and western South America.
September 29, 2017
The world’s highest waterfall, Angel Falls, is located in the Guiana Highlands of what South American country? Hint – locate the Guiana Highlands under the References tab>Regional and World Maps>Physical South America and then consult the “Geography – note” for the countries through which the Highlands extend.
September 22, 2017
The world’s longest rivers are listed in the ‘World’ entry under Transportation>Waterways. Two of the Top Ten rivers - the Nile and the Congo - are in Africa, but it is the latter that is the world’s deepest. Find out more details by checking the “Geography – note” under the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
September 18, 2017
Monday 18 September 2017 marks the 70th anniversary of the CIA. The Factbook was created as an annual summary and update to previous classified collections of world facts. The first classified Factbook was published in August 1962 and the first unclassified version was published in June 1971. The 1975 Factbook was the first to be made available to the public and the 1981 edition was renamed The World Factbook. More details about the evolution of The World Factbook may be found on the History page under the About tab.
September 8, 2017
A new set of "Population distribution" fields - describing the dispersion of the populace within a country - has been included for all of the countries of Sub-Saharan Africa under both the ‘Geography’ and 'People & Society' categories. The countries of the Western Hemisphere, Europe, North Africa, and Asia were previously introduced; additional areas of the world will be added in coming weeks.
September 1, 2017
According to the latest figures, both China and the United States have three of the world’s 10 busiest passenger airports. The US also has three of the world’s 10 largest air cargo hubs. See which airports are the leaders by passengers and by cargo in the ‘World’ entry under Transportation>Airports.
August 25, 2017
This island – the sixth largest in the world – is also the largest island that is entirely in Indonesia. Can you name it? Find the answer by checking the World entry and clicking on Geography>Area - comparative>ten largest islands. Or, just check the map in the Indonesia entry and determine which island is the largest that is not shared with any other country.
August 18, 2017
There are 195 countries listed in The World Factbook. How many of them are members of the United Nations? Locate the answer in Appendix B: International Organizations and Groups.
August 4, 2017
The “Military expenditures” (as a percent of GDP) entry has been updated to include 2016 data for most countries of the world.
July 28, 2017
This western Pacific island, a territory of the United States, lies about two thirds of the way from Hawaii to the east and the Northern Mariana Islands to the west. The island is administered by the US Air Force, which uses it as a mid-Pacific refueling stop and as an emergency landing area. Can you name this important US possession? Consult the political or physical Oceania maps (under the References tab>Regional and World Maps) to determine the answer.
July 21, 2017
If it’s 3pm in the US capital of Washington, DC, what time is it in Japan’s principal city of Tokyo? The answer can be found in two different ways. First, by going to the Government section of the Japan entry and checking out the “Capital” entry. One of the subfields lists the ‘time difference’ between the capitals. The other way of finding the answer is to consult the Standard Time Zones of the World map under the References tab>Regional and World Maps.
July 14, 2017
The present-day cities of Chennai and Mumbai are located in a country that was once considered the “Jewel in the Crown” of the British Empire. Can you name the country and the former names of the two cities? Find the answers in Appendix F: Cross-Reference List of Geographic Names.
July 7, 2017
This island was once inhabited by pirates and has gone by various names over the centuries including: Isla de Cotorras (Isle of Parrots), Isla de Tesoros (Treasure Island), Isla de Pinos (Isle of Pines), and since 1978 Isla de la Juventud (Isle of Youth). Can you name the country that owns the island and where it is located? Consult Appendix F: Cross-Reference List of Geographic Names (under the letter ‘J’) to come up with the answers.
June 30, 2017
Expansion of the “Constitution” entry under the ‘Government’ category continues with the inclusion of a summary description of the procedure for amending a country’s constitution. Expanded entries are now available for the African countries as well as the previously completed entries for the European, Middle Eastern, and South and Central Asian countries. In coming weeks, amending procedures will be added for the remaining regions of the world.
June 23, 2017
The Red Sea, which forms the western shore of the Arabian Peninsula, is one of the world’s saltiest bodies of water due to high rates of evaporation. Can you name the eight countries that border the Red Sea? Locate the answers by consulting the political map of the Middle East under the References tab>Regional and World Maps. (Note that the Gulf of Suez and the Gulf of Aqaba are both part of the Red Sea.)
June 16, 2017
Energy data have been updated for all countries with the most recent information available.
June 9, 2017
All of the Economy data and Economic Overview discussions covering the period through yearend 2016 have been updated for all countries with the most recent information available.
June 2, 2017
The "Military expenditures" (as a percent of GDP) entry was recently updated and now includes data at least up to 2015 for as many countries as possible.
May 25, 2017
A new set of "Population distribution" fields - describing the dispersion of the populace within a country - has been included for all of the countries of South and Southeast Asia under both the ‘Geography’ and 'People & Society' categories. The countries of the Western Hemisphere, Europe, North Africa, Central Asia, and Southwest Asia were previously introduced; additional areas of the world will be added in coming weeks.
May 16, 2017
The World Factbook continues to expand the “Constitution” entry under the ‘Government’ category, with the addition of a summary description of the procedure for amending a country’s constitution. This expanded entry is now available for the Middle Eastern and the South and Central Asian countries, and for the previously completed European countries. In coming weeks, amending procedures will be added for the remaining regions of the world.
May 11, 2017
About 90% of the population is located in the middle third of this South American country around its capital of Santiago (the northern third is mostly desert, while the southern third is mountainous and breaks up into a series of archipelagos). Can you name the country? Check the physical map of South America under the References tab>Regional and World Maps if you need help.
April 26, 2017
This country is considered to be the smallest on the continent of Asia. Its distinctive flag depicts a cedar tree, a national symbol dating back to Biblical times. Can you name the country?
April 20, 2017
The world's highest navigable lake lies in the central portion of the Andes mountain chain of South America and is divided between two countries. Can you name the lake - South America's largest - and the two countries that share it? Locate the answers by consulting the physical map of South America under the References tab>Regional and World Maps.
April 12, 2017
The island of Borneo - the third-largest island in the world - lies in the far western part of the Pacific Ocean and is politically divided among three countries. Can you name them? Find the answer by consulting any one of a number of maps under the References tab, including maps of Asia, Southeast Asia, or the World. Or, you can visit the World entry, Geography category, 'Area - comparative' field and find the listing of the Top Ten Largest Islands. This field also lists the countries that govern these islands, as well as the islands' size in square kilometers.
April 6, 2017
The islands that make up this Caribbean country refer to themselves as the "Gems of the Antilles." Can you name them? Hint: the distinctive tricolor flag of the country displays three diamonds (representing gems).
March 30, 2017
What country has the world's highest life expectancy at birth? Find out the surprising answer by checking the Guide to Country Comparisons page under the References tab, then clicking on People and Society>Life expectancy at birth.
March 23, 2017
An exclave is a distinct territorial unit that is politically part of a larger country but not physically attached to it because of surrounding foreign territory. Angola has an exclave that is surrounded by both the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Republic of the Congo. Can you name this distinctive northern Angolan province? Locate the answer on the map of Africa (References tab>Regional and World Maps>Political Africa PDF).
March 16, 2017
The Laccadive Sea is part of what ocean? Find the answer in Appendix F: Cross-Reference List of Geographic Names. Then go to the References tab>Regional and World Maps to locate a map showing the exact location of the sea.
March 9, 2017
The World Factbook's "World" entry contains a wealth of fascinating and useful information - including many Top Tens - not found in a typical country entry. For example, the world's ten highest mountains (measured from sea level) are all in Asia but are located in just four countries. Find out what these countries are, as well as the names of the highest mountains, by going to World>Geography>Elevation. Be sure to check out the accompanying "note" to find out how these ten mountains are dwarfed by an even greater colossus.
March 2, 2017
There are no less than 21 independent countries that have coastlines on the Mediterranean Sea. Can you name them all? Consulting the 'Africa,' 'Europe,' and 'Middle East' maps under the Regional and World Maps section of the References tab will allow you to come up with the listing. Hint: Don't forget island countries.
February 23, 2017
This South Asian island country has gone by many names in its past including Serendib and Ceylon. Do you know its present designation? Check the Cross-Reference List of Geographic Names (Appendix F) if you need help.
February 13, 2017
This archipelago in the Indian Ocean - consisting of 1,190 coral islands grouped into 26 atolls - is the smallest independent country in Asia by both land and population. (Spread over 90,000 sq km of ocean, its land area is only 298 sq km.) Can you name this country? Hint: Checking the Guide to Country Comparisons>Geography>Area will lead you to the answer.
February 2, 2017
Most of the world's countries (some 97%) belong to a little-known but very important organization known as the UPU. Do you know what the initials stand for? Find the answer under Appendix B, International Organizations and Groups.
January 26, 2017
The Kingdom of Denmark, one of the smallest countries on the European continent, is also composed of two overseas island components. Can you name them? Consult the regional map of Europe (References tab>Regional and World Maps>Political Europe) to determine the answer.
January 13, 2017
The fields in both the Economy and Energy categories for all countries were recently updated with the latest available data.
January 6, 2017
One might expect Indonesia - with its 13,466 islands - to be the country with the world’s longest coastline, but it actually comes in a distant second to another country far to its north with more (and in many cases far larger) islands. Can you name this country? Consult the Political World map under the References tab to determine the answer.
December 23, 2016
The World Factbook is pleased to present the expansion of the “Constitution” entry under the Government category, with the addition of a summary description of the procedure for amending a country’s constitution. This entry, now available for the European countries, includes two subentries: history, which includes information on the previous and current constitution; and amendments, which describes the constitution-amending procedure, and the dates of the previous and latest amendments. In coming weeks, amending procedures will be added for other regions of the world.
December 16, 2016
The simplest flag types are those that consist of two horizontal bands of color — and nothing else. Four countries have such banners. Can you name them? Consult the Flags of the World under the references tab to help you determine the answer.
December 9, 2016
Do you know what the initials FAO stand for? Look under the References tab, Appendix A: Abbreviations to find out. Then go to Appendix B: International Organizations and Groups to get more information about this agency.
December 2, 2016
Not many people realize it, but nine of the world’s 25 largest countries by land area are in Africa; they are (in alphabetical order) Algeria, Angola, Chad, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Libya, Mali, Niger, South Africa, and Sudan. Can you sort these countries by decreasing size? Using the Africa map (under the References tab>Regional and World Maps) and the Guide to Country Comparisons (also under the References tab) will allow you to come up with the correct order.
November 23, 2016
A new set of “Population distribution” fields - describing the dispersion of the populace within a country - has been included for all of the countries of North Africa, Southwest Asia, and Central Asia under both the ‘Geography’ and ‘People & Society’ categories. The countries of the Western Hemisphere and the continent of Europe were previously introduced; additional areas of the world will be added in coming weeks.
November 17, 2016
GDP statistics and other economic indicators have been revised to reflect the best estimates currently available.
November 10, 2016
The data for the various Energy fields have been revised to reflect the best estimates currently available.
November 4, 2016
The Transportation section now includes two new fields related to a country’s air transport program. The lead-off entry “National air transport system” has subdivisions on the number of air carriers registered in a country and the number of aircraft they operate, as well as the number of passengers and the amount of freight they carry in a given year. The other new field, “Civil aircraft registration country code prefix,” describes the codes displayed on civil aircraft to identify nationality.
October 28, 2016
A “Population distribution” field - describing the dispersion of the populace within a country - has been introduced for all of the countries of Europe under both the ‘Geography’ and ‘People & Society’ categories. The countries of the Western Hemisphere were previously introduced; other areas of the world will be added in coming weeks.
October 21, 2016
The statistics for the "Market value of publicly traded shares" have been updated to reflect new information through 2015. Most of the macro economic data have been updated as well.
October 14, 2016
In the People and Society section, a "Demographic profile" field has been added to all 56 countries making up the African continent and its surrounding islands. This entry provides a snapshot of the demographic features and trends within a country and how they vary among regional, ethnic, and socioeconomic sub-populations. Some of the topics addressed are population age structure, fertility, health, mortality, poverty, education, and migration. Countries previously introduced were those of Central and South America. Future profiles will include other regions of the world.
October 7, 2016
There are dozens of monarchies around the world, but only one located in Polynesia in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Can you name this archipelago of 169 islands (36 inhabited) east of Fiji?
September 30, 2016
All of the “Judicial branch” entries were recently reviewed and many were updated to reflect new information including the establishment of new courts, the expansion of existing courts, and changes to court system administration and policy.
September 23, 2016
The World Factbook is delighted to present a new “Electricity access” field summarizing the extent of access to electricity for a country’s population as a whole, as well as for urban and rural populations. The new entry may be found leading off the Energy section.
September 16, 2016
Various health and education fields in the People and Society section were recently updated, including data for HIV/AIDS, “Health expenditures,” “Hospital bed density,” “Children under 5 underweight,” “Education expenditures,” and “School life expectancy.”
September 8, 2016
The World Factbook is pleased to announce a new “Population distribution” entry describing the dispersion of the populace within a country. This new field will appear in both the Geography section (after “Irrigated land”) and in the People and Society section (after “Net migration rate”). This week’s installment includes all of the countries of the Western Hemisphere. Additional areas of the world will be added in the coming weeks.
August 26, 2016
The Tuamotu islands are found in what ocean? Check Appendix F, Cross Reference List of Geographic Names, under the Appendices tab, to help you determine the answer.
August 19, 2016
In May of this year Venezuela moved its clocks forward by 30 minutes to help save on energy consumption. The World Factbook recently updated its time zone entries – found in the Government category under “Capital” - to reflect all time zone changes throughout the world.
August 12, 2016
The Mona Passage is a body of water between what two major Caribbean political entities? Find the answer on the Central America and the Caribbean map under the References tab.
August 5, 2016
Brazil, which is hosting the Summer Olympic Games for the next two weeks, is one of three South American countries that straddles the Equator. Can you name the other two?
July 29, 2016
In the Communications category, the “Telephones – fixed lines,” “Telephones – mobile cellular,” and “Internet users” entries were all recently updated with the latest available estimates.
July 22, 2016
A country modifying its name does not occur very often but it did happen recently. Following UN and US State Department notification, the Czech Republic officially changed its English short-form name to Czechia as of 1 July 2016. Where appropriate, this change has been entered into The World Factbook database.
July 15, 2016
Panama is a long, winding country at the southern end of North America that is bisected by the Panama Canal linking the Caribbean Sea, to the country’s north, with the Pacific Ocean, to its south. A recently completed nine-year expansion effort more than doubled the Canal’s capacity. Can you name the North American country that borders Panama on its west, and the South American country that lies to its east?
July 8, 2016
The Danube, Europe’s second longest river, flows through four national capitals. Can you name them? Consulting the regional map of Europe under the References tab will provide the answer.
July 1, 2016
In the Economy category, the statistics for “GDP,” “GDP per capita,” “Gross national saving,” “Inflation rate,” and “Current account balance” were recently updated to reflect the best information available.
June 24, 2016
This month’s concluding ocean-related question. The capital city of Malabo lies on the island of Bioko in what ocean? Check Appendix F, Cross-Reference List of Geographic Names under the Appendices tab to help determine the answer.
June 17, 2016
Another ocean-related quiz question. The Line Islands are found in what ocean? Check Appendix F, Cross-Reference List of Geographic Names under the Appendices tab to determine the answer.
June 10, 2016
Continuing this month’s theme of ocean-related questions. The Andaman Sea is part of what ocean? Check Appendix F, Cross-Reference List of Geographic Names under the Appendices tab to determine the answer.
June 3, 2016
The Arctic Ocean – the world’s smallest ocean – is bordered by only six countries. Can you name them? Check the Arctic Ocean entry and/or the Arctic Region map (under the References tab) to determine the answer.
May 27, 2016
Did you know that The World Factbook is a primary reference used in the National Geographic Society’s Geography Bee? This year’s final, featuring the 54 US state and territory champions – culled from about 2.5 million US students aged 10 to 14, was held this past week in Washington, DC.
May 19, 2016
Composed of 155 islands, this is Africa’s smallest country. By far the largest island is Mahe, home to about 90% of the population and the site of its capital city of Victoria. Can you identify the country on the Africa map (under the References tab)?
May 12, 2016
Did you know that three of the world’s Top Ten Largest Islands are in Canada and three are in Indonesia? To see the complete list of the ten largest islands go to the Geography section of the World listing and scroll to the “Area – comparative” entry. You will also find lots of other Top Tens scattered throughout the World description.
May 6, 2016
The US Board on Geographic Names (BGN) standardizes the spelling and usage of geographic names – foreign and domestic – throughout the US Government. (The World Factbook closely adheres to the BGN’s naming conventions.) The BGN’s geographers refer to a country’s first order (largest) administrative units as ADM1s. For the US, these would be the 50 states and 1 district. In Canada, the ADM1s are the 10 provinces and 3 territories. There is one Central European country, however, that according to the BGN has 212 ADM1s – referred to as municipalities. This total is easily the largest for any nation in the world. You can determine what country this is by checking out the “Administrative divisions” entry (under Government) for the various countries of Central Europe.
April 29, 2016
The Kalahari Desert covers a considerable part of this southern African country formerly known as Bechuanaland. Can you name the country? The physical map of Africa under the References tab shows the location of the Kalahari Desert; looking up Bechuanaland under Appendix F: Cross-Reference List of Geographic Names will reveal the country’s current name.
April 22, 2016
Did you know that the name of Canada derives from the Iroquoian word "kanata" meaning village or settlement, while Mexico’s name derives from the Mexica, the largest and most powerful branch of the Aztecs? The World Factbook has added country name etymologies (historical origins); these descriptions appear in the “Country name” entry under the Government section.
April 15, 2016
Milwaukee Deep, the deepest part of the Atlantic Ocean (-8,605 meters; -28,230 feet), lies due north of a major Caribbean island. Can you name it? Check the References tab>Regional and World Maps>Central America and the Caribbean map to find the island.
April 8, 2016
The four white, five-pointed stars on this Pacific island nation’s flag represent its four island groups of Chuuk, Kosrae, Pohnpei, and Yap. All the islands used to be referred to as the Caroline Islands. Can you come up with the country’s current name? The answer may be found by either referencing the regional map of Oceania under the References tab or by locating Caroline Islands under Appendix F: Cross-Reference List of Geographic Names.
April 1, 2016
Only one country’s flag depicts an actual existing building. Can you name it? Check the References tab>Flags of the World to find the answer. Hint: The country lies in Southeast Asia.
March 17, 2016
Can you name the country that is currently thought to hold the largest proved reserves of crude oil in the world? (The answer may surprise you.) To find out, go to the References tab>Guide to Country Comparisons> Energy>Crude oil – proved reserves.
March 10, 2016
Do you know what country is the least populous on earth? Check the “Population” field under World entry to find out. Hint: It is also the world’s smallest country by size.
February 25, 2016
In the Geography section for all countries, the “Elevation” entry has been expanded to now include subfields for ‘mean elevation’ and ‘elevation extremes’ (including ‘lowest point’ and ‘highest point’).
February 19, 2016
The fields in the Energy category for all countries have been rolled forward one year to include data through 2015.
February 12, 2016
The fields in the Economy section for all countries have been rolled forward one year to include numerical and textual information through 2015.
February 5, 2016
Do you know where the Norman Isles are? Check Appendix F: Cross-Reference List of Geographic Names to find the more common name for the isles, the names of the two main islands, as well as their latitude and longitude.
January 29, 2016
The WHO is a specialized UN agency. Do you know what the initials stand for? When the agency was formed? And what its present membership is? Find the answers in Appendix B.
January 21, 2016
The most common symbols appearing on flags around the world are stars and stripes (horizontal or vertical). Crosses, crescent moons, and triangles are also fairly common. There are only two countries, however, that display the shape of a diamond (also called a rhombus; with all four sides having the same length) on their flag. Can you name these Western Hemisphere countries? Check the References tab>Flags of the World to help you determine the answer.
January 15, 2016
A new “Citizenship” field has been added to the Government section of all countries describing policies related to the acquisition of citizenship and recognition of dual citizenship. The definition for this field (under the References tab>Definitions and Notes) provides additional information regarding the ways citizenship is acquired. Note that for most countries of the world, citizenship is acquired through descent, known as the principal of Jus sanguinis, where parents must be citizens of a country for their children to acquire citizenship in that country.
January 8, 2016
How many countries have laid claim to portions of Antarctica? The answer may be found in the Antarctica entry (under Government>Government type). The regional map of Antarctica (under the References tab>Regional and World Maps>Political Antarctic Region) shows the extent of these claims, which are not recognized by the US and many other countries.
December 30, 2015
Can you name the African country that is more than 96% desert yet supports a population of over 88 million people – the second highest total on the continent? The answer may be ascertained by going to the References tab, clicking on Guide to Country Comparisons>People and Society>Population.
December 17, 2015
In the People and Society section, the “Unemployment – youth ages 15-24” entry has been updated.
December 10, 2015
How many fathoms make up a cable (length)? Check Appendix G: Weights and Measures for the answer!
November 20, 2015
Where applicable, all of the “Constitution” entries were recently updated throughout the Factbook.
November 13, 2015
Under the Transnational Issues > “Refugees and internally displaced persons” field for Croatia, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Macedonia, Serbia, and Slovenia, estimates have been added for the total number of recently arrived refugees and migrants. While it is impossible to specify how many of these people are refugees or what their country of origins are, these numbers at least present a rough estimate. People will, naturally, continue to keep moving around within Europe and new numbers will arrive, so the totals will be constantly changing. We will update our estimates on at least a monthly basis.
November 6, 2015
All of the entries in the Energy section were recently updated with the latest available data.
October 30, 2015
A link to a special Middle East and North Africa Religious Affiliation chart has been set up in the “Religions” entry for 20 countries ranging from Algeria to Yemen. Check it out.
October 22, 2015
Maritime piracy continues to be a concern in certain areas of the world. While successful pirate attacks have decreased off the East African coast, they have become more widespread off West Africa. Attacks in the Straits of Malacca and the South China Sea also persist. Further details addressing piracy may be found in the "Transportation note" under the World entry, as well as under various countries bordering the Indian Ocean, and entries for Indonesia, Malaysia, Nigeria, Venezuela, and Vietnam.
October 16, 2015
Can you name the Polynesian island nation that owns the Internet top level domain extension of “.tv”? Consult Appendix D: Cross-Reference List of Country Data Codes and check under the “T” countries for the answer.
October 9, 2015
The Standard Time Zones of the World map was recently updated. Check it out by going to the Regional and World Maps page and scrolling down, or click here to pull up a PDF (3534KB) version.
October 2, 2015
There is a unique large body of water in northern South America that is connected to the Gulf of Venezuela (Golfo de Venezuela) and ultimately the Caribbean Sea by the 5.5 km- (3.4 mi-) wide Tablazo Strait. Although its water is brackish and it is often thought of as a bay, this feature is frequently referred to as a lake. If so considered, it becomes South America’s largest lake (or lago in Spanish). Can you name it? The “lake” can easily be spotted on The World Factbook’s Central America and the Caribbean regional reference map.
September 25, 2015
Area comparison maps are now available for about half of the countries in The World Factbook! To see the relative size of a country shown superimposed over part of the US, go to the Geography section and check under “Area – comparative” (the fifth geography entry). Eventually, all country descriptions will include these useful and popular maps.
September 18, 2015
This month marks the 125th anniversary of the US Board on Geographic Names (BGN), an interagency body that standardizes and approves geographic names of domestic, foreign, Antarctic, and undersea features for Federal Government use. The place name spellings used throughout The World Factbook are those approved by the BGN.
September 11, 2015
In the People and Society category, the fields for "HIV/AIDS," "Drinking water source," and "Sanitation facility access" were recently updated with the latest available data.
September 2, 2015
The “Executive branch” entries for all countries were recently expanded. The subentry ‘elections’ has been replaced with ‘elections/appointments,’ and now includes more detailed information on the selection process for the ‘chief of state’ and ‘head of government’ subentries. The subentry ‘election results’ now includes the name or abbreviation of each candidate’s political party affiliation.
August 27, 2015
On 15 August 2015, North Korea changed its time zone by half an hour to the same time as it used over a century ago. To find out how the change relates to South Korean time, go to the Government section for each of the countries and check the “Capital” entry. Here you can find the time difference in the capital cities compared to Coordinated Universal Time (UTC).
August 20, 2015
In the Transportation category, the “Railways” entry has been updated where possible with the latest available figures from 2014. In addition to the total lengths for trackways, lengths for the different types of rail gauges (broad, standard, and narrow) are also presented.
August 13, 2015
In the People and Society section, the fields for “Urbanization” and “Major urban areas – population” were recently updated with data for 2015.
August 7, 2015
In the Communications category, the entries for “Telephones – mobile cellular”, “Telephones – fixed lines”, and “Internet users” have been updated with the latest available estimates.
July 31, 2015
The US dollar is the official currency not only for the United States, but for several other countries around the world including three Pacific Island nations. Can you name them? Hint: all three were part of the UN Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands under US administration after World War II and attained independence between 1986 and 1994.
July 24, 2015
The European Free Trade Association (EFTA) is a group of four countries that form a common market but which do not belong to the 28-nation European Union (EU). Nonetheless, all four members operate closely with the EU and participate in its single market. Can you name the four member states? The answer may be found in Appendix B: International Organizations and Groups.
July 17, 2015
Several important demographic indicators, including “Total population,” “Population growth rate,” “Life expectancy,” “Total fertility rate,” “Birth rate,” “Death rate,” and “Net migration rate,” have been updated with 2015 estimates.
July 10, 2015
How many emirates make up the United Arab Emirates (UAE)? Find the answer in the United Arab Emirates entry under Government>Administrative divisions.
July 2, 2015
What is the northernmost country in the world: Denmark, Canada, Russia, or Norway? Check the Regional and World Maps page > Political Arctic Region map to see which of these four countries comes closest to the North Pole.
June 26, 2015
Can you name the seven Western Hemisphere countries – collectively referred to as Central America – that fall between Mexico to the north and Colombia to the south? Check your answer by going to the Regional and World Maps page > Political Central America map. Note that five of these countries border both the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea.
June 19, 2015
In the People and Society category, several health- and education-related fields have recently been updated, including “Health expenditures,” “Obesity,” “Literacy,” and “School life expectancy.”
June 12, 2015
Under the Geography category, the “Land use” field has been expanded to include agricultural land, forest land, and ‘other’ land uses. The revised entry also breaks agricultural land into its constituent parts of arable land, land under permanent crops, and land that is in permanent pastures and meadows. The ‘other’ land use grouping includes urban areas, wetlands, and barren land where the climate and soils do not support vegetation.
May 29, 2015
There are dozens of countries whose flags consist of only two colors. Three countries beginning with a ‘T’ have flags with a red-white color combination. Can you name them?
May 22, 2015
Many of the fields in the Economy and Energy categories have been updated with the latest available data. In 2014, based on a comparison of GDP measured at Purchasing Power Parity conversion rates, the US economy, having stood as the largest in the world for more than a century, slipped into second place behind China. China’s growth rate has more than tripled that of the US for each year of the past four decades.
May 15, 2015
In the Government category, the entry for “National symbol(s)” has been expanded to include information on national colors. In most cases these are colors found on the national flag, but this is not always the case. Exceptions include the national colors of Australia, Ireland, Netherlands, and New Zealand.
May 8, 2015
The World Factbook’s “Refugees and internally displaced persons” field has been substantially updated, including the latest developments from Syria and Ukraine. Stay tuned for data, as it becomes available, on displacement stemming from Nepal’s recent earthquake.
April 30, 2015
In the Government category, the first part of the "Legislative branch" field was thoroughly revised, expanded, and updated for all countries under a new "description" heading. This subentry includes the legislative structure, the formal name(s), the number of legislative seats, the types of voting constituencies and voting systems, and the member term of office. A vastly expanded “Legislative branch” description may be found on the Definitions and Notes page under the References tab.
April 21, 2015
Last week’s World Factbook's relaunch included the new World Factbook logo in the announcement. The logo features prominently on the 2014-15 World Factbook cover, which may be viewed under the References tab > Gallery of Covers. The artwork incorporates an eagle - echoing the Agency's seal - but one with a monocle to provide a scholarly appearance, as well as a stylized globe.
April 13, 2015
The World Factbook has been updated with several new entries and sections reflecting the latest information gathered over the past several months. Some of these additions will be described below and in What's New statements in the coming weeks.
In the Geography section, the "Land boundaries" entry was revised for all countries, including the total country border length as well as the border lengths for all neighboring countries.
Lengths were calculated from the digital international boundary depictions currently used for all detailed United States Government (USG) products. These digital lines, constructed from 1999 to the present, have been reviewed and edited by the US Department of State's Office of the Geographer and were constructed by either that office or the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency's Political Geography Division's boundary team. This international boundary dataset is believed to be the most accurate worldwide international boundary vector line file available. The lines reflect USG policy and thus not necessarily de facto control. The boundary delineations are based on modern imagery, elevation data, relevant maps, treaties, international arbitration and court rulings, data from national mapping agencies and boundary commissions if available, and other sources. In a few instances, official boundary length numbers supplied by national governments have been substituted for digital line dataset numbers.
August 15, 2014
What country has the highest life expectancy in the world? Under the References tab go to the Guide to Country Comparisons and click on the People and Society category and find the "Life expectancy at birth" entry. One more click will give you the answer.
July 10, 2014
Can you name the largest country in Central America - which also contains the largest freshwater lake in Central America? Check the Regional and World Maps under the References tab to find the answer.
June 26, 2014
There are dozens of monarchies scattered about the globe, but only one of them falls in the Pacific region (Oceania). Can you name this archipelagic country? Hint: It lies in western Polynesia and was formerly referred to as the Friendly Islands. Its capital is Nuku'alofa, which translates as "the abode of love."
June 19, 2014
Many people don't realize it, but the International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol) has been around for more than nine decades (founded 1923). How many countries are members? Check Appendix B – International Organizations and Groups to find out.
June 12, 2014
Did you know that the South African national anthem employs the lyrics of five different languages? Check out the "National anthem" entry under South Africa's Government category to find out more details.
June 5, 2014
In the People and Society section, the “Urbanization,” “Major urban areas – population,” and “Mother’s mean age at first birth” fields were recently updated.
May 29, 2014
In the People and Society section, the "Dependency ratios" entries - including the youth dependency ratio, the elderly dependency ratio, and the total dependency ratio - have been updated with 2014 estimated data for all countries.
May 15, 2014
Did you know that there are freshwater lakes in the Sahara? Check out the "Geography - note" in the Chad entry to get more info.
May 8, 2014
Ceylon, Dahomey, and French Somaliland are former names for what countries? Answers may be found in Appendix F: Cross-Reference List of Geographic Names, under the Appendices tab.
April 30, 2014
Do you know what country is the largest electricity producer in the world? Click on the References tab, Guide to Country Comparisons - then go to Energy> "Electricity - production" to find out.
April 17, 2014
Can you name the world's largest country composed solely of islands? Hint: 17,508 islands make up this Asian archipelago; some 6,000 are inhabited.
April 10, 2014
The equator passes through seven African countries, can you name them? Hint: check the various World Factbook maps that show Africa to come up with the answer.
April 3, 2014
Dozens of new photos have been uploaded for various Central American and Caribbean nations, most notably Anguilla, Belize, the Cayman Islands, Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Mexico.
March 27, 2014
In the Ukraine and Russia entries the following statement has been added to the Government section, "Administrative divisions" field: The United States does not recognize Russia's annexation of Ukraine's Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the municipality of Sevastopol, nor their redesignation as the Republic of Crimea and the Federal City of Sevastopol.
March 20, 2014
Much of the People and Society section has been updated with the latest data from the US Census Bureau, including the Demography fields of "Population," "Age structure," "Median age," "Population growth rate," "Birth rate," "Death rate," "Net migration rate," "Sex ratio," "Infant mortality rate," "Life expectancy at birth," and "Total fertility rate."
March 13, 2014
In the People and Society section, the ethnicity, language, and religion entries have been updated for dozens of countries.
March 6, 2014
The Black Sea is one of the largest seas in Europe. Can you name the six countries that border it? Additionally, can you name the peninsula that extends almost halfway into it and is the site of the strategic naval base of Sevastopol? Refer to any of The World Factbook's maps showing eastern Europe to find the answers.
February 27, 2014
In both the Economy and Energy categories, all of the fields have been updated to include information through 2013.
February 20, 2014
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) announced in early January that their office would no longer provide death toll estimates for the nearly three-year-old civil war in Syria because of a lack of verifiable statistics from human rights organizations and OHCHR's lack of access within Syria. Their last estimate of mid-2013 was approximately 100,000. Estimates by various media sources by the end of January ranged from 96,000 to over 140,000 deaths. As of February, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees estimated there were 6.5 million displaced persons and almost 2.5 million Syrian refugees that had fled to Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey. Check the Syria "Refugees and internally displaced persons" entry in the Transnational Issues section regularly to keep updated on this human tragedy.
February 13, 2014
The Population Pyramids found in the People and Society section, "Age structure" field have been updated with 2014 estimated data for all countries.
February 6, 2014
Of the following six Caribbean islands - Aruba, Barbados, Cuba, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, Trinidad - which is the northernmost, the easternmost, and the southernmost? Check the Regional and World Maps under the References tab to find the answer.
January 30, 2014
The fighting and near civil war that broke out in South Sudan in mid-December 2013 was brought to a halt by a 23 January 2014 cease fire. To a great degree, the hostilities took place between the country's two largest ethnic groups. Can you name them? Check under South Sudan>People and Society>Ethnic groups to find the answer.
January 16, 2014
The expansion of the "Ports and terminals" entry was recently completed in the Transportation section for all countries. Where applicable, the following types are now identified: major seaports, river and lake ports, oil/gas terminals, dry bulk cargo ports, container ports, and cruise/ferry ports. Check "Ports and terminals" under the Definitions and Notes page (References tab) for further details.
January 9, 2014
The United Kingdom's famous Union Jack flag is an amalgamation of three simpler flags featuring crosses: the red Cross of Saint George, the diagonal red Cross (saltire) of Saint Patrick, and the diagonal white Cross of Saint Andrew. There is, however, a national flag that features FIVE crosses. Can you name it? Check the Flags of the World page under the References tab to find the answer - and to get complete flag descriptions.
December 19, 2013
In the Government category, the "Constitution" entry was recently thoroughly revised, expanded, and updated for all countries and now includes dates of previous constitutions, dates of constitution development and enactment, and amendment dates.
December 10, 2013
The World Factbook has changed the country name Cape Verde to Cabo Verde throughout its the database following a request from the Government of Cape Verde to change the name of the country to Cabo Verde and agreement by the US Department of State.
December 5, 2013
In the Economy sections of most countries the macroeconomic numbers have been updated with the most recent data available.
November 21, 2013
Only one country straddles all four of the world's hemispheres (the northern and southern, and the eastern and western). Can you name it? Hint: it lies in the Pacific Ocean and can be found on several of The World Factbook's maps including those of the World, Oceans, and Oceania.
November 14, 2013
Brazil is bordered by ten countries, the most of any nation in the Southern Hemisphere. Can you name Brazil's ten neighbors? Check the Brazil > Geography > Land boundaries entry or view one of the many World Factbook maps on which Brazil appears.
November 6, 2013
Spain is divided into 17 administrative units referred to as autonomous communities. However, it also includes two autonomous cities and three small islands that are NOT in Europe. Can you name them? See the "Administrative divisions" entry under Spain > Government to check your answer.
October 31, 2013
Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, and the United States are all roughly the same size in area. Can you rank them from largest to smallest? Hint: check the Country Comparison feature and go to Geography and then Area.
October 24, 2013
Spanish is generally thought to be the predominant language of Latin America, but on the South American continent four countries use other languages as their primary language. Can you name them? Check the "Languages" entry under People and Society for the various South American countries to determine the answer.
September 26, 2013
The tallest mountain in the former Soviet Union was named Communism Peak (7,495 m; 24,590 ft). It is now called Qullai Ismoili Somoni. Can you identify in which of the five Central Asian countries (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, or Uzbekistan) it is located? Hint: check the "Elevation extremes" entry in the Geography sections of these countries to find out.
September 12, 2013
In the Transnational Issues section, the "Refugees and internally displaced persons" entry has a new 'stateless persons' subfield. Statelessness is the condition whereby an individual is not considered a national by any country. Stateless people are denied many basic rights such as access to employment, housing, education, healthcare, and pensions. The UN estimates there may be 12 million stateless people worldwide. See the Definitions and Notes section - under the References tab - for a complete description of this new subfield.
August 29, 2013
In the People and Society category, several important new demographic fields have been included: "Mother's mean age at first birth," "Contraceptive prevalence rate," and "Child labor - children ages 5-14." "Dependency ratios" - which are a measure of the age structure of a population and which relate the number of individuals that are likely to be economically "dependent" on the support of others - have also been added - after the "Age structure" entry.
August 22, 2013
The Economy category has two new fields. "GDP - composition, by end use" shows who does the spending in an economy: consumers, businesses, government, and foreigners. "Gross national saving" shows how much an economy saves on its own, and how much it could invest, in the absence of any foreign investment. Please see the Definitions and Notes section for a full explanation of each of these new fields.
August 15, 2013
New photos from various Southeast Asian locales - including Cambodia, Hong Kong, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam - were recently added.
August 8, 2013
In the Transnational Issues category, the "Trafficking in persons" entry was recently updated with information gleaned from the US State Department's annual trafficking report.
August 1, 2013
In the Transportation category, several fields have been updated with the latest available data including "Airports," "Airports - with paved runways," "Airports - with unpaved runways," "Heliports," and "Pipelines."
July 18, 2013
In the Geography section, the "Freshwater withdrawal" entry has been updated with the latest available data. For many countries, the use and consumption of freshwater is difficult to quantify yet it is a vital resource often under stress. Withdrawal data are compiled by USDA/FAO from national statistical bureaus and independent research projects, and are updated in the Factbook as they become available.
July 11, 2013
In the Government category, the "Judicial branch" entry was recently thoroughly revised, expanded, and updated for all countries and now includes three subfields: "highest court(s)," "judge selection and term of office," and "subordinate courts." Under the References tab, Definitions and Notes, the "Judicial branch" entry has also been updated.
July 3, 2013
In the People and Society category, the "School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education)" entry was recently updated for all countries.
June 27, 2013
In the Economy section, the fields for "GDP," "GDP - real growth rate," "GDP - per capita (PPP)," "Taxes and other revenues," "Budget surplus or deficit," "Debt - external," "Exports - partners," and "Imports - partners" have recently been updated.
June 20, 2013
The "Military service age and obligation" entry was recently updated for all countries.
June 13, 2013
Refugee numbers - listed in the Transnational Issues section - were recently updated for many of the world's hot spot countries.
June 6, 2013
The data on government expenditures, revenues, and money supply that appears in the spreadsheet Fiscal and Monetary Data, 2008-2012 has been updated. The spreadsheet collates information from past issues of The World Factbook and may be accessed by a link from the World "Economy - overview" entry.
May 23, 2013
Although eagles are a common symbol depicted on national flags, a few countries depict other birds. Can you name the Central American nation whose banner carries an image of the distinctive, long-tailed quetzal? Check the Flags of the World page under the References tab to locate the answer.
May 16, 2013
The name Benelux refers to a geographic, economic, and cultural grouping of three European countries. Can you name them? The answer may be found in Appendix B.
May 9, 2013
Appendix D provides a cross-listing of data codes used to identify countries. This list now includes the new Geopolitical Entities and Codes (GEC) document, which is the US Government's implementation of ISO 3166 and is designated as the replacement standard for FIPS PUB 10-4. The GEC document provides a list of the basic geopolitical entities in the world, together with the principal divisions that comprise each entity. The names of the political entities are derived from official meeting records of the Foreign Names Committee of the US Board on Geographic Names (US BGN).
May 2, 2013
Population Pyramids have been updated with 2013 estimated data in the People and Society section, "Age structure" field for all countries.
April 25, 2013
The "Transportation - note" has been updated for various West African, East African, South Asian, and Southeast Asian countries to reflect 2012 information on piracy incidents. The new information reflects a general decrease in the number of pirate attacks worldwide, especially in the waters off East Africa. The decrease in successful pirate attacks is due, in part, to more aggressive anti-piracy operations by international naval forces as well as the increased use of armed security teams aboard merchant ships. The only exception to this trend was in the Gulf of Guinea, in West Africa, where attacks increased over a wider area in 2012.
April 18, 2013
Several Military fields have been updated including "Military branches," "Military service age and obligation," and "Military expenditures."
April 11, 2013
Can you name the five nations with emerging economies whose initials make up the "BRICS countries"? The answer may be found in Appendices A or B.
April 4, 2013
What are polar mesospheric clouds (also known as noctilucent or "night shining" clouds)? Check out the photos in the World entry to find out.
March 28, 2013
Various health fields in the People and Society section - including "Hospital bed density," "Physician density," "Health expenditures," "Drinking water source," "Sanitation facility access," and "Children under 5 underweight" - have recently been updated for all countries.
March 21, 2013
In 2012, fiscal and monetary policies shifted towards greater austerity for many countries. In the World entry, the "Economy - Overview" highlights these changes and their impact on global economic performance. The "Overview" now contains a link to a spreadsheet detailing changes in the level of government expenditures, revenues, and national money supplies (M1) for about 200 countries for the period 2008-2012.
March 14, 2013
What Asian nation uses the mythical merlion (a half lion-half fish creature) as one of its major emblems? The answer may be found in a country's "National symbols" entry, under the Government category.
February 28, 2013
Space-based photographs have recently been uploaded for a number of island entries in The World Factbook including the Cook Islands, the Dominican Republic, Fiji, Micronesia, Saint Helena, Tonga, and Vanuatu.
February 21, 2013
Can you name the country that has Dutch and French as its major official languages? Note, it is in Europe but it is not the Netherlands.
February 14, 2013
The World Factbook's new 2013-14 cover - unveiled in the Gallery of Covers under the References tab - features a retro Art Deco style. Some Art Deco elements may also be found in a previous Factbook cover from 1996. Enjoy exploring and comparing the many Factbook cover designs that have appeared over the decades.
February 7, 2013
The "Refugees and internally displaced persons" field (in the Transnational Issues category) has been revised to reflect the latest available figures for each country. Please note that numbers may increase rapidly for countries currently experiencing crises, such as Syria and Mali.
January 31, 2013
In the Economy and Energy categories, the information and data for most of the fields have been updated through year 2012.
January 24, 2013
A new "Demographic profile" field is being introduced incrementally to The World Factbook; the entry provides a snapshot of the demographic features and trends within a country and how they vary among regional, ethnic, and socioeconomic sub-populations. Some of the topics addressed are population age structure, fertility, health, mortality, poverty, education, and migration. Countries introduced this week are those of Central and South America.
January 17, 2013
Can you name the Southeast Asian nation that is linguistically the most diverse country on earth with some 836 languages spoken (roughly 12% of the world's total)? Hint: it lies north of Australia.
January 10, 2013
Several small nations and dependencies - including Gibraltar, the Holy See (Vatican), Hong Kong, Monaco, and Singapore - do not include agriculture as a component of their economies (i.e., all their food has to be imported). Which is the largest of these entities and thus bearer of the title "Largest Country With No Farms"? Hint: use the "Country Comparison" feature to find out.
January 3, 2013
Did you know that Canada has more lakes than all the other countries of the world combined? Check out the "Geography - note" in the Canada entry to get more info.
December 20, 2012
As part of its 50th Anniversary celebrations, The World Factbook is proud to unveil a new online graphic capability. In the People and Society section, the "Age structure" field now includes a "population pyramid" feature. Clicking on a population pyramid icon reveals a graphic illustrating a country's 2012 age and sex structure. The population pyramids are constructed from US Census Bureau data and will be updated annually. Population pyramids can yield valuable insights about political and social stability, as well as economic development. The shape of a country's population pyramid changes over time as a result of fertility, mortality, and international migration trends, progressing from a youthful distribution to a transitional distribution to a mature distribution.
December 13, 2012
Bechuanaland, East Pakistan, and Kampuchea are former names for what countries? Answers may be found in Appendix F: Cross-Reference List of Geographic Names, under the Appendices tab.
December 6, 2012
The Horn of Africa on the continent's eastern coast contains the highest and lowest points in Africa - 5,895 meters (19,341 ft) above sea level (Kilimanjaro) and 155 meters (509 ft) below sea level (Lac Assal), respectively. Can you name the countries in which these two features are found?
November 29, 2012
The well-known Alps in Europe extend across seven countries from France in the west to Austria and Slovenia in the east. Can you name the other four Alpine countries? Find the answer by consulting the Europe physical map.
November 21, 2012
The newest estimates for adherents to the world's major religions - as of 2010 - may be found in the World entry under the People and Society category, "Religions" field.
November 15, 2012
In the Economy category, the data for all of the fields have been revised and/or updated.
November 8, 2012
Recent election results from Curacao, the Czech Republic, Georgia, Lithuania, Montenegro, Somalia, Ukraine, and Venezuela have been entered in the Government sections of those countries.
October 26, 2012
The International Association of Volcanology and Chemistry of the Earth's Interior has created a list of 16 volcanoes - termed Decade Volcanoes - worthy of special study because of their great potential for destructive eruptions and proximity to populated areas. Three countries, one of which is the United States, contain two such volcanoes. Check the "Natural hazards" field under the World entry to learn what the other two countries are and to see the entire list of these dangerous volcanoes.
October 18, 2012
New photos for Bermuda, Greece, Italy, Spain, Turkey, and the United Kingdom have recently been added.
October 11, 2012
For the first time since 1997, The World Factbook (WFB) is adding a major new category. In light of the importance of the energy sector to the world's economy, the WFB has created a new Energy category. Some of the fields are based on the same entries used previously in the Economy category, but several contain entirely new data and definitions that have not previously appeared in the WFB. The fields for Electricity Flows (production, consumption, exports, and imports) remain the same as before, but there are now five new stock measures for Installed Electricity Generating Capacity, including total installed capacity (measured in kilowatts) and a percentage breakdown of the four main sources of that capacity: fossil fuel plants, nuclear plants, hydroelectric plants, and renewable fuel sources, such as solar and wind. In the oil sector, former fields have been disaggregated to show separate numbers for crude oil (production, exports, imports, and proven reserves) and refined petroleum products (production, consumption, exports, and imports). The definitions for each of the five natural gas fields are identical to what had previously appeared in the Economy category. Finally, a new field for "Carbon dioxide emissions from consumption of energy" measures the total output of carbon dioxide from the consumption of all fuels. In total, the new category consists of 23 energy-related fields. The WFB now has 10 broad categories for each of its country entries: Introduction, Geography, People and Society, Government, Economy, Energy, Communications, Transportation, Military, and Transnational Issues.
October 4, 2012
The People's Republic of China has two Special Administrative Regions, created in 1997 and 1999. Can you name them? Hint: they have separate entries in The World Factbook.
September 27, 2012
Covering more than 70% of the Earth's surface, the oceans of the world are the largest single feature on the planet and serve as the highway connecting the continental landmasses. The World Factbook proudly announces a new and distinctive Map of the World Oceans that depicts the relationships among states across the great oceanic basins of the Atlantic, Pacific, Indian, Southern, and Arctic Oceans. The map also depicts the maritime claims of the littoral states - represented by the buffer line of the 200 nautical mile exclusive economic zones. Finally, recognizing that around 90% of world trade moves by sea, the map shows a generalization of global shipping lanes and the major cargo and container ports that constitute this vital trading network. In addition to the World Oceans map, The World Factbook recently added 10 new regional political maps to its reference repertoire. To view or use any of the above-described maps, click on the Regional and World Maps link on the Factbook homepage or go to the References tab on the Factbook site and click on Regional and World Maps.
September 20, 2012
In the Transnational Issues category, the entry for "Refugees and Internally displaced persons" has recently been updated.
September 13, 2012
The Economy section includes updated data for "Population below poverty line," "Household income or consumption by percentage share," "Commercial bank prime lending rate," "Stock of narrow money," "Stock of broad money," and "Exchange rates."
September 6, 2012
What does FAO stand for? Find out in Appendix A: Abbreviations. Then go to Appendix B: International Organizations and Groups to get details.
August 30, 2012
An update on international maritime piracy appears in the World entry, under "Transportation - note."
August 23, 2012
The Economy section includes updated data through 2011 for the "Market Value of Publicly Traded Shares."
August 9, 2012
The World Factbook is celebrating its Golden Anniversary! Exactly 50 years ago - in August of 1962 - the Agency came up with the contracted name Factbook to describe its annual National Intelligence Survey summary. The first unclassified version came out nine years later (June 1971), and it acquired its present name of The World Factbook with the 1981 edition. Annual printing of the Factbook continues, albeit in far smaller quantities than originally; its online presence - begun June 1997 - continues to grow with some 3 million visitors monthly.
August 2, 2012
In the People and Society section, the "Languages" entry has been updated for dozens of countries.
July 26, 2012
New photos have recently been added for Australia, Iceland, and Kyrgyzstan.
July 19, 2012
Data have been updated with the latest estimates for several fields in the Economy section, including "GDP (purchasing power parity)," "GDP (official exchange rate)," "GDP - real growth rate," "GDP - per capita (PPP)," "Taxes and other revenues," "Budget surplus or deficit," "Exports - partners," and "Imports - partners."
July 5, 2012
What European country has the largest number of first order administrative units (i.e., country subdivisions such as provinces, states, or municipalities) of any nation on earth (211 of them)? Hint: its name begins with an 'S'.
June 28, 2012
Starting with Sri Lanka and ending at Indonesia, there are seven countries that border the Bay of Bengal. Can you name the middle five countries? Hint: check out the Asia regional map.
June 22, 2012
In the Transportation category, the "Airports," "Airports - with paved runways," "Airports - with unpaved runways," and "Heliports" fields have all been updated with the latest available data.
June 14, 2012
The tune of God Save the Queen is used as the national anthem for a number of countries that comprise the Commonwealth of Nations. In addition to the United Kingdom, what other European country uses this tune in its national anthem? Note: a country's "National anthem" entry and its audio file may be found in its Government category.
May 31, 2012
Name the archipelagic country in the Indian Ocean composed of some 1,200 coral islands, only 200 of which are inhabited, and about 80 of which contain tourist facilities. Check out the Asia regional map, under the References tab, for the answer.
May 24, 2012
Can you name the Pacific island country that in the 1970s had the world's highest GDP per capita - supported by exports of its rich phosphate deposits - and that currently is the world's smallest independent republic?
May 17, 2012
To help you quickly find the information you need, the Factbook now offers a helpful Users Guide. This feature may be accessed through the Users Guide button on the left or through the References tab.
May 10, 2012
What two Caribbean islands are shared by two countries? Find the answer under the References tab, Regional Maps heading, Central America and the Caribbean map. Hint: one island is the second largest in the Caribbean, the other is one of the tiniest.
May 3, 2012
The "Fiscal year" entry has been reintroduced in the Economy category.
April 18, 2012
The "Military branches" and "Military service age and obligation" fields have been updated for all countries.
April 12, 2012
An update on international maritime piracy may be found in the "Transportation - note" under the World entry.
April 5, 2012
Recent election results from Belize, The Gambia, Germany, Moldova, Russia, Senegal, and Slovakia have been entered in the Government sections of those countries.
March 22, 2012
The new 2012-13 World Factbook cover - prominently featuring some of the photos from the Factbook's website - has been unveiled in the Gallery of Covers under the References tab. While you are there, find out what year The World Factbook first featured photography in its cover design.
March 15, 2012
How many inches in a micron? Check Appendix G: Weights and Measures to find out!
March 8, 2012
There are 23 World Factbook entities that border the Mediterranean Sea, can you name them all? Consult some of the maps under the References tab if you get stuck
March 1, 2012
Abyssinia is the former name for what African country? To find out, check Appendix F: Cross-Reference List of Geographic Names, under the Appendices tab.
February 16, 2012
Researching the demographics of a country? Check out the updated information in the People and Society category.
February 9, 2012
The Atacama Desert is generally agreed to be the driest desert in the world. In what South American country is it? Check the Regional Maps under the References tab to find out.
January 27, 2012
The World Factbook is pleased to present a new audio function on our website. In conjunction with the United States Navy Band, the Factbook now allows users to listen to most of the world's national anthems. Go to the Government category for any country and in the "National anthems" field click play to listen.
January 19, 2012
In order to align their time zones more closely with their main trading partners, the Pacific island nations of Samoa and Tokelau late last year moved from east to west of the International Date Line. Their new time status may be found in the Government section under the "Capital" entry.
December 22, 2011
What countries extend into the Arctic Circle? Check out "Regional maps" to find out. The next website update will be in January.
December 15, 2011
The most common symbols found on flags are crosses, heavenly bodies (the sun, stars, or crescent moon), or birds (mostly eagles). One country's flag, however, prominently displays hands. Can you identify this Asian country?
December 8, 2011
Results of recent legislative elections have been entered in the Government sections for Croatia, Guyana, Morocco, New Zealand, Russia, Slovenia, Spain, and St. Lucia.
December 1, 2011
What is Animism? Check out the newly expanded "Religions" definition in the Definitions and Notes (under the References tab).
November 17, 2011
New photos have recently been added for Anguilla, Ireland, Peru, and Ecuador. The images from the latter country provide a virtual tour of the Galapagos Islands.
November 10, 2011
In the Economy section, various macroeconomic and finance fields have been updated with the latest available data.
November 3, 2011
The field "Unemployment, youth ages 15-24" has been moved from the Economy section into the People and Society section.
October 27, 2011
The United Nations estimates the world population will reach 7 billion on 31 October 2011. The US Census Bureau, which supplies the population numbers in The World Factbook, estimates the planet's population will pass 7 billion in March 2012. While the true world total population is impossible to know, the Census Bureau and the UN independently estimate the world population through similar means. Estimate differences between the two organizations are due in part to differences in the frequency and timing of demographic updates for each country. Nonetheless, the world population estimates of the Census Bureau and the UN show that we are rapidly approaching the 7 billion mark.
October 20, 2011
Many people know that Canada's national symbol is the maple leaf, but did you realize that Ukraine's is the trident or that India's is the Bengal tiger? Most countries' major national representation(s) may now be be found in the new "National symbol(s)" field in the Government category.
October 13, 2011
In the Economy category, information for "Exports - partners" and "Imports - partners" has been updated to show data for 2010.
October 6, 2011
Have you ever wanted to explore Machu Picchu, the lost city of the Incas? Check out the new photos in the Peru entry (Nos. 8-41) to get a virtual tour!
September 28, 2011
The World Factbook is expanding! The People category is now People and Society and includes eight new fields: Health expenditures (as percent of GDP), Physicians density (per 10,000 people), Hospital bed density (per 1,000 people), Maternal mortality rate (deaths per 100,000 live births), Drinking water source, Sanitation facility access, Children under the age of five underweight (%), and Obesity - adult prevalence rate. Additionally, there is a new field in the Economy category, Unemployment, youth ages 15-24. The new datasets focus on the health and welfare of a country's population, and provide information relevant to a country's internal stability.
September 21, 2011
In the Economy category, the energy fields have been updated with the most recent data available.
September 14, 2011
How many furlongs make up a mile? Check out the Weights and Measures appendix for the answer!
September 1, 2011
Canada recently renamed the three major components of its armed forces. These and other changes for Botswana, Cape Verde, the Gambia, Venezuela, and Yemen may be found under the "Military branches" entry.
August 25, 2011
Two new fields have been added in the Economy section, "Taxes and other revenues" and "Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-)".
August 18, 2011
Data for many of the Economy fields have been revised to reflect the latest estimates.
August 11, 2011
What time is it in the world's newest country, South Sudan? Take a look at the updated Time Zone map in the Regional maps section under the References tab.
August 3, 2011
What country has the highest "GDP - real growth rate"? Find out using the GDP data that has recently been revised to reflect the most recent estimates for 2008-2010.
July 20, 2011
Did you know that almost one-third of the world's countries are assigned annually to either a 'Tier 2 Watch List' or a 'Tier Three' status by the US State Department for their failure to adequately deal with their trafficking in persons problems? These countries are listed in the Transnational Issues category under the 'World' entry; detailed "Trafficking in persons" summaries - updated for 2011 - may be found under each of these countries' listings.
July 12, 2011
South Sudan became the world's 195th country following separation from Sudan on 9 July 2011. The new country entry may be accessed through the Africa regional flash map on the World map of the home page, or via the country listing under the drop down arrow.
July 7, 2011
On 9 July 2011, South Sudan is scheduled to become the world's newest country. The World Factbook plans to include this new entity in its next update. In the Transportation category, the "Railways" field has been updated. New photos entered for Austria, Germany, and the United States.
June 23, 2011
New space-based images of volcanoes and current volcanic eruptions may be viewed in the photos pages of Chile, Eritrea, Iceland, Italy, and Russia.
June 16, 2011
During Soviet times, Kazakhs made up less than 50% of the population in Kazakhstan. What is the current ethnic breakdown in that country? Find out by visiting the "Ethnic groups" field under People. A number of the entries in the People category - religions, ethnicity, languages, and literacy - have recently been updated for many countries.
June 9, 2011
The piracy plague continues unabated. The "Transportation note" entry addressing piracy has been updated for various countries bordering the Indian Ocean, as well as for Nigeria and Brazil.
June 2, 2011
A new entry "International law organization participation," has been added to the Government category; it addresses jurisdiction of the International Court of justice (ICJ) and of the International Criminal Court (ICCt). Note that the information on ICJ jurisdiction, formerly included in the "Legal system" description, has been moved to this new entry. GDP data have been revised to reflect the most recent estimates for 2008-2010.
May 19, 2011
Under the Government category, in the "Capital" field, 'daylight saving time' has been updated for 2011.
May 12, 2011
How many grams in a scruple? Check out the Weights and Measures appendix for the answer!
May 5, 2011
Which country has the highest number of airports? Check the Country Comparison page to find out!
April 28, 2011
Significant updates have been made to the "Pipelines" field in the Transportation category.
April 21, 2011
Did you know that there are more member "countries" of the International Olympic Committee than there are member countries of the UN? (The former includes a number of autonomous or semi-autonomous territories, dependencies, and areas of special sovereignty.) To find out just what countries compose each of these organizations, visit Appendix B.
April 8, 2011
The Indian Ocean island entity of Mayotte became an overseas department of France on 31 March. The change in status makes it an integral part of France and so its description is now included in the France country profile.
March 25, 2011
What country was formerly named Upper Volta? Find out by checking Appendix F (Cross-Reference List of Geographic Names).
March 18, 2011
Japan's strongest-ever earthquake, and an accompanying tsunami, recently devastated northeast Japan, killing thousands and damaging several nuclear power plants. The "Economic overview" for Japan presents a preliminary survey of the calamitous situation.
March 10, 2011
What country has the longest system of waterways - navigable rivers and canals - in the world? Go to the References tab/ Country Comparison/ Waterways to find out. In the Transportation section, both the "Waterways" and "Roadways" entries have been updated. New photos introduced for Egypt.
March 2, 2011
What country has three megacites with populations of greater than 15 million? (No, it's not China.) Now you can find out the size of a country's four largest cities, as well as its capital, in the new "Major cities - population" field, in the People section of a country entry. See the Definitions and Notes, under the References tab, to get the exact breakdown on what is included in this new field.
February 24, 2011
Did you know that the developing world increased its estimated share of worldwide mobile-cellular subscriptions from roughly 35% at the beginning of the decade to nearly 75% in 2010? All of the telephone-related fields, as well as all of the population entries, have been updated with the latest data.
February 16, 2011
The 2011 Factbook cover has been unveiled in the Gallery of Covers under the References tab! While you are there, find out what year The World Factbook first featured a color cover.
February 2, 2011
What do the initials ESA stand for? Check out 'Appendix A: Abbreviations' to find out. New space-based photos have been uploaded for Australia, China, Namibia, Mexico, and the US.
January 25, 2011
What country enjoyed the lowest unemployment rate in 2010? Find out by checking "Unemployment rate" under the Country Comparison feature (in the References tab). The entire Economy category has been updated to reflect data for years 2010 and earlier.
January 14, 2011
Did you know that the highest elevation in the Netherlands is not in Europe? Where is it? Find out by checking the "Elevation extremes" field in the Geography section. New space-based photos have been added for Iran and Russia.
January 7, 2011
What country flag is only one color? To find out visit the Flags of the World page.
December 30, 2010
What airport handles the most passengers annually? Find out by going to the World entry, Transportation category, "Airports" field, and locating the top ten airports by passengers and by cargo.
December 23, 2010
If it's noon in Washington, DC, what time is it in Nairobi, Kenya? The answer may be found in the Government section, under "Capital," where the time difference is specified. New photos from Kenya have been uploaded.
December 17, 2010
How many rare earth elements (REEs) are there? Find the answer in the "Definitions and Notes" (below the References tab). These critical elements, necessary in so many of today's high-tech industries, are now listed in the "Natural resources" field, under Geography, for countries that are producing REEs or initializing mining operations (including Australia, China, Russia, South Africa, and the US).
December 10, 2010
Quick! What's the national anthem of Australia? Now you can find the name, lyricist, composer, and additional basic anthem info for every country in the world by visiting the new "National anthems" field in the Government section of the Factbook.
November 30, 2010
Since 2004, The World Factbook Web site has been updated on a bi-weekly schedule. Culminating a three-month trial effort, we are pleased to announce that the Factbook will now be updated on a weekly basis.
November 19, 2010
Significant updates entered under the People, Government, and Communications categories.
November 11, 2010
In the Geography category, a new subfield, "volcanism," has been added under the "Natural hazards" field for countries with historically active volcanoes. The Economy section has been updated to reflect the most recent data for 2009 and earlier years.
November 5, 2010
In the Economy category, the "Oil - exports," "Oil - imports," "Oil - proved reserves," and "Natural gas - proved reserves" fields have been updated with the most recent estimates available.
October 29, 2010
In the People category, significant updates have been made to the "School life expectancy" and "Education expenditures" fields. In the Economy category, the "Stock of domestic credit" field has been updated to include data for 2009. In addition, the definition has been expanded to include credit provided by all financial institutions, not just banks, as had been The World Factbook practice until now. For some countries this change significantly broadens the coverage.
October 22, 2010
The dissolution of the Netherlands Antilles has resulted in two new World Factbook entries: the autonomous entities of Curacao and Sint Maarten (the remaining three islands - Bonaire, Saba, and Sint Eustatius - have joined the Netherlands as special municipalities). The number of entities in The World Factbook now stands at 267.
October 13, 2010
In the Economy category, the "Stock of money" and "Stock of quasi money" fields have been updated and renamed as "Stock of narrow money" and "Stock of broad money" in keeping with the International Monetary Fund's new presentation of monetary data. This new format provides greater standardization of reporting and permits more consistent comparisons across countries. Please see "Definitions and Notes" (under the References tab) for descriptions of the new fields.
October 8, 2010
In the Communications category, the "Internet hosts" field has been updated with 2010 data; significant updates entered in the Geography, Government, and Military categories.
October 1, 2010
In the Transportation category, the "Merchant marine" field has been updated with the latest available data; substantial updates also entered in fields of the Government and Economy categories.
September 24, 2010
In the Economy category, new data have been added for 2009 in the fields for "Central bank discount rate" and "Commercial bank prime lending rate."
September 17, 2010
In the Transportation category, the "Roadways" field has been updated with the latest available data; significant updates also entered in fields of the Government and Military categories.
September 13, 2010
In the Government category, the amplification of flag descriptions - to include explanations of colors and symbols - has been completed for all of the country entries.
September 3, 2010
In addition to various population, governmental, and military updates, new photos have been added for Burma, Canada, Poland, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
August 23, 2010
In the Communications category, the former "Radio broadcast stations" and "Television broadcast stations" entries have been replaced by a new "Broadcast media" field that provides information on the approximate number of public and private TV and radio stations in a country, as well as basic information on the availability of satellite and cable TV services. Malawi's recently unveiled new flag may be viewed either in the Flags of the World link or under the Malawi country entry. In the Economy category, GDP statistics have been updated and revised.
August 6, 2010
In the Transportation category, the "Airports," "Airports - with paved runways," "Airports - with unpaved runways," and "Heliports" fields have all been updated with the latest available data.
July 29, 2010
The "International Court of Justice (ICJ)" entry listed under International Organizations and Groups in Appendix B has been expanded considerably and now includes countries adherent to jurisdiction. Several fields in the Economy category covering trade as well as oil and natural gas have been updated with the latest available annual data.
July 23, 2010
Under the References tab, in the Definitions and Notes, the entry for "Legal system" has been significantly expanded; it now includes descriptions, origins, and features of the most common legal systems.
July 1, 2010
Many fields in the Economy category have been updated with the latest available annual data, including "Labor force," "Unemployment rate," "Budget - revenues and expenditures," "Public debt," "Inflation rate," "Current account balance," "Exports," "Imports," "Reserves of foreign exchange," and "Direct foreign investment."
June 18, 2010
The fields in the Economy category for "Stock of money," "Stock of quasi-money," "and "Market value of publicly traded shares" have been updated with the latest available data.
June 4, 2010
Significant updates entered under the Government, Economy, and Military categories. The Country Comparisons function now also appears in the 'World' entry to allow users to quickly view how countries rank in 58 different Factbook fields.
May 21, 2010
Dozens of new photos uploaded for Central and Eastern European countries, most notably Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, Latvia, Poland, and Russia.
May 7, 2010
Major updates made to fields in the People, Government, and Military categories. New photos appear under China, Romania, and Ukraine.
April 23, 2010
The 'World' entry continues to accrue "top ten" rankings; recent additions in the Geography category include the world's ten highest mountains and largest islands. The Transportation category lists the top ten airports (both by passengers and cargo) and container ports, as well as the ten longest rivers.
April 9, 2010
The ongoing expansion of flag descriptions - to also include explanations of colors and symbols - is now complete for over two-thirds of the Factbook entries.
March 26, 2010
The fields in the Economy category have been updated with the latest available data. New photos introduced for the World, the Holy See (Vatican City), and the Philippines.
March 5, 2010
In the Government category, a link to the World Leaders website under the "Executive branch: cabinet" entry allows users to find a listing of a country's major officials.
February 19, 2010
Significant updates introduced in the Government, Communications, and Transportation categories. New photos appear under France and Germany.
January 26, 2010
In the Economy category, information has been updated and now covers the year 2009. New photos added for Egypt and Italy.
January 8, 2010
The introductory Background statements have been updated or revised for dozens of countries. New images introduced for Argentina, China, the Czech Republic, South Africa, Svalbard, and Turkey.
December 4, 2009
In addition to various governmental and military updates, new photos have been introduced for Germany, Greenland, Italy, Malaysia, Maldives, and the United Kingdom.
November 13, 2009
Recent elections and governmental changes recorded for Afghanistan, Aruba, Fiji, Germany, Haiti, Marshall Islands, Mongolia, Tunisia, and Uruguay. In the Economy category, some 20 macro-economic fields have been updated with the latest data. New NASA space photos added for the Atlantic, Indian, and Pacific Oceans, as well as for Montserrat and the World; new ground photos added for Cambodia, France, and Luxembourg.
October 30, 2009
In the Economy category, all the energy-related fields have been updated with the latest data; new photos added for Norway and Poland.
October 14, 2009
In addition to regular informational updates, new photos have been added for Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Russia, and Sweden.
October 2, 2009
In the Transportation category, updates have been made to the "Airports" and "Heliports" fields; new photos added for Libya, Turkey, and the United Kingdom.
September 17, 2009
NASA images taken from space have been introduced to enhance various country photo presentations. Significant numbers of high altitude photos appear under China, Egypt, Spain, Australia, and New Zealand, but can also be found scattered among other country entries. In the Economy category, statistics for "Distribution of family income - Gini index," "Public debt," and "Debt - external" now include two year's worth of data.
September 3, 2009
In the Economy category, statistics for "Current Account Balance," "Exports," "Imports," "Reserves of foreign exchange and gold," "Stock of direct foreign investment - at home," and "Stock of direct foreign investment - abroad" now include two year's worth of data; statistics for "Market value of publicly traded shares" now include three year's worth of data. New photos added for Austria, France, Monaco, Netherlands, and Netherlands Antilles.
August 17, 2009
Various rail gauge line lengths have been updated for all countries in the Railways entry; selected economic and political entries also updated.
July 31, 2009
In the Economy category, statistics for "Central bank discount rate," "Commercial bank prime lending rate," "Stock of money," "Stock of quasi money," and "Stock of domestic credit" now include two year's worth of data.
July 20, 2009
Latest updates include changes to the chief of state or head of government in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Lithuania, and Panama. New photographs have been added for Spain, Portugal, Gibraltar, and South Africa.
July 1, 2009
With the launch of the new Web site, the former "Rank Order" function was renamed "Country Comparisons." The link to Country Comparisons may be found under the References tab. In addition, many of the regional reference maps now incorporate both elevation and vegetation on landmasses, and bathymetry for ocean areas. Statistics for "Unemployment rate" and "Inflation rate (consumer prices)" now include two year's worth of data.
June 8, 2009
Completely redesigned website - presenting a cleaner look, improved navigation, and a host of added features - launched on the World Wide Web. Among the major enhancements are downloadable and printable photos for nearly 100 countries, a "Did You Know?" section explaining the impact of the Factbook around the world, and built-in world rankings for many of the Factbook information fields. Government sections reflect the results of recent parliamentary elections in Kuwait - where women were elected for the first time - and India, as well as presidential elections in Lithuania, Mongolia, Panama, and South Africa.
April 27, 2009
Significant updates made to the People and Economy categories; statistics for "GDP - real growth rate" and "GDP - per capita" (at purchasing power parity) now include three year's worth of data, in 2008 dollars. The Urbanization entry under People expanded to include all countries.
April 3, 2009
In addition to regular country updates, statistics for "GDP (purchasing power parity)" now include three year's worth of data, in 2008 dollars.
March 20, 2009
Recent major leadership changes in Guinea-Bissau, Latvia, and Madagascar included in the Government sections of those countries.
March 2, 2009
Latest US Census Bureau figures - updating basic demographic data for all countries - entered into the database. Entries on religions, languages, ethnic groups, and literacy also updated.
February 6, 2009
Country information updated across all categories. Economic data now includes 2008 estimates where available.
November 5, 2008
In order to provide more information on the nature and global dimensions of the current financial crisis, five additional fields appended to the Economy category: "Central bank discount rate," "Commercial bank prime lending rate," "Stock of money," "Stock of quasi money," and "Stock of domestic credit."
August 6, 2008
In the People category, two new fields provide information on education in terms of opportunity and resources: "School Life Expectancy" and "Education expenditures."
November 6, 2007
In the Geography category, two new fields focus on the vital resource of water: "Total renewable water resources" and "Freshwater withdrawal."
October 31, 2007
Three new fields added to the Economy category: "Stock of direct foreign investment - abroad," "Stock of direct foreign investment - at home," "Market value of publicly traded shares."