December 7, 2023
Updates to several of the People and Society fields have been completed using the latest 2023 data from the US Census Bureau. Among the fields updated are: "Population," "Life expectancy at birth," and "Median age."
November 30, 2023
The World Factbook contains descriptions of the population distribution for the World, countries, and territories. Globally, six of the world's seven continents are widely and permanently inhabited. Asia is easily the most-populous continent with about 60% of the world's population (China and India together comprise over 35%), while Africa comes in second with over 15% of the earth's populace. Europe accounts for about 10%, North America 8%, South America almost 6%, and Oceania less than 1%. The harsh conditions on Antarctica prevent any permanent habitation.
November 23, 2023
This country's national flag is the only one in the world that is non-quadrilateral in shape. Instead, its flag is composed of two overlapping triangular pennants. Can you name this South Asian country? Check the flag images under References>Flags of the World.
November 16, 2023
Two of The World Factbook's World and Regional Maps have been updated in PDF and in JPG formats - the Political World and Physical World maps. Please check them out!
November 9, 2023
The World Factbook has updated its particulate matter emissions subfield with 2019 data. This information can be found in the Environment category under the "Air Pollutants" field.
November 2, 2023
The World Factbook has added a new appendix on language codes that includes two- and three-character codes. Language codes are critical in place names data where a single place may have multiple names or spellings from different languages. The new appendix designation is D-3: Language Data Codes and it joins two other data code entries, D-1: Country Data Codes (formerly Appendix D) and D-2: Hydrographic Data Codes (formerly Appendix E). The Factbook now includes 12 useful appendices.
October 26, 2023
Did you know that there are 21 World entities (20 countries and 1 dependency) with multiple time zones? They are: Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ecuador, France, Greenland (part of the Danish Kingdom), Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Kiribati, Mexico, Micronesia, Mongolia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Portugal, Russia, Spain, and the United States. In some instances, the time zones pertain to portions of a country that lie overseas. To see these multiple time zones represented on a map, see the Standard Time Zones of the World map included with the World and Regional Maps.
October 19, 2023
Travel Facts, one of The World Factbook's most-popular features, is now available in printable PDF format for over 200 countries and dependencies. The new design is easier to read and continues to be a handy reference for travelers.
October 12, 2023
Two new African organizations have been added to Appendix B: International Organizations and Groups; they are: the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA).
October 5, 2023
On September 25, 2023, the United States recognized two Pacific Ocean self-governing entities in free association with New Zealand - the Cook Islands and Niue - as sovereign and independent states, bringing the total number of countries in The World Factbook to 197.
The free association status of the Cook Islands and Niue allows for a great deal of internal autonomy, but transfers responsibility for defense and foreign affairs to New Zealand. This status is similar to the free association relationship that the Marshall Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, and Palau (three other Pacific island entities) enjoy with the United States and that are also recognized as independent countries.
September 28, 2023
The World Factbook is delighted to announce the addition of a new "Wonders of the World" field under World > Geography. This entry presents information on three groups of Wonders: The Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, The New Seven Wonders of the World, and The World Factbook's Seven Natural Ultra-Wonders of the World.
The latter is the only entry in The World Factbook that has been independently compiled by the Factbook's staff and is not derived from some other source. The listing is one of 'Ultra-Wonders' because it consists of natural phenomena/spectacles that are the largest in their respective categories and thus cannot be exceeded. Check out the compilation, some of the Wonders may surprise you.
September 21, 2023
UNESCO recently inscribed 24 cultural sites and 3 natural sites representing 26 countries and entities to its World Heritage List. The 27 additions bring the total number of sites on the list to 1,184, consisting of 924 cultural, 221 natural, and 39 mixed sites. Updated entries for both the World and individual countries and entities can be found in the Government category under “National heritage.”
September 14, 2023
In the People and Society category, the "Major infectious diseases" entry has been updated with the latest information from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and from the National Center for Medical Intelligence. The major changes for the CDC were dropping a number of countries from its global polio alert.
September 7, 2023
More than 25,000 islands are estimated to lie scattered across the vast Pacific Ocean; they are frequently divided into three large cultural regions: Melanesia, Micronesia, and Polynesia. To find out what countries and territories make up each of these regions refer to Appendix F: Geographic Names.
August 31, 2023
The classic science fiction adventure novel, Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, is one of Jules Verne's most famous and popular works. The title refers to the distance, not depth, traveled under various seas. A league is a unit of measure no longer used in today's World, but how far is 20,000 leagues converted to kilometers or nautical miles? Find the answer by consulting Appendix G: Weights and Measures. (Hint: the distance is more than twice the circumference of the Earth.)
August 24, 2023
The World Factbook is undertaking its own Space launch! In light of the growing interest in - and expanded use of - outer space, the Factbook has added a new Space category as well as a new Space Programs appendix! For countries with a national space program, information on the names of their "Space agency/agencies," "Space launch sites" (where applicable), and a general "Space program overview" have been included.
The new Appendix S: Space Programs expands on the country entries and provides a chronological overview of a country’s key activities, programs, and milestones in the space sector and an estimate on government spending on space. There are currently space entries for more than 90 countries, but the list will grow as more countries develop national space programs.
August 17, 2023
What country has the largest proven crude oil reserves? Where are the wettest places on Earth? What percent of the World's population has never used the Internet? What is the most densely populated place on the Earth? The answers may surprise you. If you have not yet checked out The World Factbook's Special Products under the World entry, you are missing out. These unique compendia condense fascinating information about our World onto five special two-page summaries covering: The Human World, The Connected World, The Energy World, The Physical World, and The Economic World. Check them out, print them off, and impress your friends with this engrossing data drawn from the pages of the Factbook.
August 10, 2023
The World Factbook is delighted to recognize the ongoing Women's World Cup soccer tournament in Australia and New Zealand with eight special World Cup One-Page Country Summaries, one for each of the remaining quarterfinalists: Australia, Colombia, England (UK), France, Japan, Netherlands, Spain, and Sweden. The Summaries appear in the Factbook's World entry under the Introduction > “Women's World Cup 2023”.
August 3, 2023
The World Factbook has added additional data to a number of non-EU countries that use the euro as their domestic currency – Andorra, the Holy See, Kosovo, Monaco, Montenegro, and San Marino. Some of these countries have formal agreements with the EU (e.g., Andorra), while others merely unilaterally use it as their currency (e.g., Kosovo).
July 27, 2023
In the Environment category, the "Food insecurity" field has been updated with the latest UN Food and Agriculture Organization information. For a number of countries, the disruption of grain exports from the Black Sea region has contributed to shortfalls in available food.
July 20, 2023
In the Energy category, the "Electricity access" field has been updated with the latest available (2021) data. Overall, 91.4% of the World's population has access to electricity. The World total without access is 757 million. Sub-Saharan Africa remains the region with the most people, 583 million, without access to electricity.
July 13, 2023
Did you know that there are 12 countries whose flags have no top or bottom? Those banners may be flown with either long edge on top without any notice being taken. To find out which countries have such flags - as well as a lot of other fascinating flag information - visit the World > "Flag description" entry.
July 6, 2023
According to the latest UN estimates, India’s population recently (sometime this past spring) reached 1.425 billion people, equaling that of China. India will likely pull ahead of China by several million people by the end of the year. China’s population could drop below 1 billion people by the end of the century.
June 29, 2023
“Demographic profiles” for five European Nordic countries were recently added to the People and Society section in The World Factbook. The countries included are: Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden.
June 22, 2023
The World Factbook now includes a new field in the Energy category that describes “Nuclear energy” used for the production of electricity. The information covers all countries with operational nuclear reactors used to produce electricity; the information does not include research reactors. Subfields include the current number of operational nuclear reactors, the number of nuclear reactors under construction, the net capacity of operational nuclear reactors expressed in gigawatts (GW), the percent of total electricity production from nuclear energy, the percent of total energy produced from nuclear energy, and the number of nuclear reactors permanently shut down.
June 15, 2023
The World Factbook recently added a fourth set of larger and more detailed country maps. The new maps include: the Baltic countries of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania; the Central African Republic; the Democratic Republic of the Congo; France; Germany; Seychelles; and the Solomon Islands; as well as the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. The total number of newly enhanced maps now stands at 60.
June 8, 2023
The Geospatial Information Authority of Japan recently announced that Japan included some 100,000 islands and islets, 14,125 of which had a circumference of at least 100 m (330 ft) and were officially counted. This number was more than twice the 6,852 that were announced by the Japan Coast Guard in 1987. Advances in surveying technology and the detailed representation of topographic features through digital mapping allowed for the greater accuracy. Only about 260 of the islands are actually inhabited.
June 1, 2023
The World Factbook has added a new “World biomes” field to the Environment section of the World entry. A biome is a biogeographical designation describing a biological community of plants and animals that has formed in response to a physical environment and a shared regional climate. Biomes can extend over more than one continent. While different classification systems define different numbers of biomes, the Factbook recognizes the seven biomes used by NASA: Tundra, Coniferous Forest, Temperate Deciduous Forest, Rainforest, Grassland, Shrubland, and Desert.
The new entry includes a World Biomes map, as well as photos and detailed descriptions of each of biome.
May 25, 2023
In the Economy category, the “Budget” field – with its revenues and expenditures subfields – was recently updated with the latest available data.
May 18, 2023
May 11, 2023
The World Factbook recently updated the World “Population” entry and its four superlative subfields based on data provided by the US Census Bureau. As of 2023, the World’s population is estimated to be 7.98 billion. Its most populous country is China (1.41 billion), and its least populous is the Holy See (1,000). The World’s most densely populated country is Macau (22,856.1 people per sq km) while Greenland is the World’s least densely populated (0.003 people per sq km).
May 4, 2023
The World Factbook has launched an exciting new product, the Africa Demographic Atlas. The Atlas brings together many of our population fields for African countries, including such topics as ethnic groups, languages, and religions, as well as fertility, mortality, migration, health, education, and population distribution. The Atlas‘ maps and graphics provide geographic context and data visualization for over 50 African countries.
April 27, 2023
The World Health Organization’s “World Malaria Day” is April 25th. Globally, the World Health Organization estimates that in 2020, 241 million cases of malaria occurred, and 627,000 people, mostly children in Africa, died of malaria. The World Factbook has expanded the Major infectious disease field in the World entry to focus on the global distribution of the most serious infectious diseases and has provided maps showing the disease distribution. In addition, the “Major infectious disease” entry for all countries has been updated with the most recent risk assessments.
April 20, 2023
In the Transnational Issues category, the “Trafficking in persons” field has been updated with 2022 information from the State Department’s annual Trafficking in Persons Report. This year the State Department designated 34 countries as Tier 2 Watchlist (not meeting minimum standards to eliminate trafficking but making significant efforts to do so) and 22 as Tier 3 (not meeting minimum standards to eliminate trafficking and not making significant efforts to do so).
April 13, 2023
The World Factbook is pleased to announce the addition of two new Economy fields: “Remittances” and “Average household expenditures.” Expressed as a percent of GDP, “Remittances” are the aggregate amount of personal monies that people send from one country to people in another (often family and friends) to help with expenses. “Average household expenditures” are the average percentages of household income spent on certain goods and commodities, and this initial release features the expenditures on food and on alcohol and tobacco.
April 6, 2023
In the Military and Security section, the “Maritime threats” entry – which describes piracy threats – was recently updated with 2022 numbers. Overall, the number of incidents world-wide continues to decline – 115 in 2022 compared with 132 in 2021. This total is the lowest number since 1994. Nonetheless, certain areas remain very dangerous. The majority (64%) of the attacks occurred in the waters of five countries: Bangladesh (7), Ghana (7), Indonesia (10), Peru (12), and the Singapore Straits (38).
March 30, 2023
The number of country photographs in The World Factbook now exceeds 5,000. All are in the public domain. These photographs may be viewed in a number of ways. After clicking on a country’s Photos section, the first 12 images will show up. In the upper right, a “Per Page:” box with a dropdown arrow allows users to view more photos at a time (24, 48, or All). Once an image is selected, it appears in a larger size along with a useful scroll bar that displays icons of the five photos before and after the selected photo in the photo sequence. Check out the new photo access system and enjoy browsing the Factbook‘s ever-growing photographic collection.
March 23, 2023
A large number of demographic entries in the People and Society category were recently updated with the latest 2023 data from the US Census Bureau. Among the fields updated are: “Population,” “Population growth rate,” “Age structure,” and “Total fertility rate.”
March 16, 2023
Are you keeping up with the Fact of the Day on the Factbook‘s home page? If you missed some recent entries, you can catch up in the newly added Daily Facts Archive that displays all the facts from the previous 30 days.
March 9, 2023
Appendix H: Strategic Materials has been further enhanced with the addition of photographs illustrating most of the minerals that serve as the sources for strategic materials. Detailed information on each image becomes visible when hovering over the photo.
March 2, 2023
The World Factbook is pleased to announce the addition of its 10th appendix, which displays Population Pyramids by Region. Population pyramids illustrate a country’s age and sex structure. By grouping the pyramids by region, the age and sex structure of neighboring countries can be compared visually. For example, the male, working-age side of Kuwait’s population pyramid bulges out more than the female side because of the large number of male labor migrants, while nearby Iraq has a triangularly shaped pyramid because the youth population (the base of the pyramid) is much larger than its elderly population (the upper part of the pyramid). The striking difference in age and sex structure may be seen in the new Appendix I, under “Middle East.”
February 23, 2023
The World Factbook has completed its review and supplementation of Appendix F: Cross-Reference List of Geographic Names. This appendix now contains some 1,600 place names and their geographic coordinates. It is particularly valuable as a source of historic (former), alternate, or local names for a variety of regions, countries, cities, islands, water bodies, and other geographic features.
February 16, 2023
The World Factbook recently uploaded almost 9,000 economic data updates, including all GDP fields, “Inflation rate,” “Industrial production growth rate,” “Labor force,” “Unemployment rate,” “Public debt,” “Taxes and other revenues,” “Current account balance,” “Exports,” “Imports,” “Reserves of foreign exchange and gold,” “External debt,” and “Exchange rates.”
February 9, 2023
“Demographic profiles” for eight Central Asian and South Caucasus countries have recently been added to the People and Society category. The countries included are: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan.
February 2, 2023
Updates to the “Ports and terminals” field include new information on liquid natural gas (LNG) terminals, container ports, and cruise ports. Germany is ramping up LNG import terminals to offset the loss of natural gas pipelines from Russia and now has three operational LNG import terminals with plans to build as many as six in total. To accelerate the availability of LNG imports, Germany is utilizing ship-based Floating Storage and Regasification Units (FSRU).
Recently released 2021 port data shows that most of the top-twenty container ports in the World in terms of “twenty-foot equivalent” (TEU) units continue to be in Asia, but in 2021 three US ports made the top twenty list. The most important cruise tourism destination in the World is the Caribbean Region, where tourism is vital to the economies of most of the island countries. The new update includes an expanded list of Caribbean cruise ports.
January 26, 2023
The World Factbook is pleased to introduce two new entries in the People and Society category. The first field is the “Gross reproduction rate,” which is the average number of daughters a woman would have if she survived all of her childbearing years. It indicates whether the next generation of women will exceed, match, or outnumber the current population of women of reproductive age. The second field is “Currently married women (ages 15-49),” which provides the percentage of married or in-union women among women of reproductive age (15-49).
January 19, 2023
Appendix H: Strategic Materials has been updated and an additional section on Alloys added. The new information supplements the existing data on Metals, Non-metals, Rare earth elements, and Compounds.
January 12, 2023
In the People and Society category, the following fields have been updated for all countries: “Education expenditures,” “School life expectancy,” ” Dependency ratios,” “Contraceptive prevalence rate,” and “HIV/AIDS – adult prevalence rate.”
January 5, 2023
In Appendix B: International Organizations and Groups, three global sport governing bodies have been added: for association football (soccer), the International Association Football Federation (FIFA); for basketball, the International Basketball Federation (FIBA); and for baseball, the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC).
December 29, 2022
Information on ocean currents in the Geography section of each of the five Oceans – Arctic, Atlantic, Indian, Pacific, and Southern – was recently transferred into its own “Major ocean currents” entry, along with a map showing the Major World Ocean Currents.
In the Transportation category, a new “Icebreaker” field has been added for the three Oceans – Arctic, Atlantic, and Pacific – where icebreaker fleets are harbored. A detailed map shows the Homeports of Major Polar Icebreakers.
December 15, 2022
For the past several years, The World Factbook team has provided an interesting daily fact to staff at the CIA. Beginning today, The World Factbook will share a new daily fact with folks visiting this site from around the World.
December 8, 2022
The World Factbook is delighted to recognize the ongoing World Cup soccer tournament in Qatar with eight special World Cup One-Page Country Summaries, one for each of the remaining quarterfinalists: Argentina, Brazil, Croatia, England (UK), France, Morocco, Netherlands, and Portugal. The Summaries appear in the Factbook‘s World entry under the Introduction > “World Cup 2022”.
December 1, 2022
The World Factbook has dramatically expanded its five Oceans entries and newly added features will be announced over the next few weeks. The first of the new components may be found in the Environment section under the “Marine fisheries” entry where illustrations of the major commercial fish and shellfish harvested in the Atlantic, Indian, and Pacific Oceans (where most commercial fishing takes place) are now included.
November 17, 2022
According to UN estimates, the World population reached 8 billion this week. This marks the third time that The World Factbook has marked a billion-person growth milestone. Previous instances occurred in 1999 (6 billion) and 2012 (7 billion). This phenomenal growth is due to the gradual increase in human longevity owing to improvements in nutrition, personal hygiene, public health, and medicine, as well as high and persistent levels of fertility in some countries. While it took the global population about 10.7 years to grow from 7 to 8 billion, it will take some 15 years – until 2037 – for it to reach 9 billion, a sign that the overall growth rate of the global population is slowing.
November 10, 2022
Acknowledging user feedback, The World Factbook recently added a “Carbon dioxide emissions” field to its Energy category. In addition to the total emissions per country (in million metric tonnes), the field includes three subfields for emissions: from coal and metallurgical coke, from petroleum and other liquids, and from consumed natural gas.
November 3, 2022
While the European Union (EU) does not have any permanent standing military forces, Europe has a variety of multinational military organizations that may be called upon to deploy through the EU, in a NATO environment, upon the mandate of the participating countries, or upon the mandate of other international organizations, such as the UN or OSCE. The World Factbook has added a listing of these organizations and their missions under the European Union entry, “Military – note” field.
October 27, 2022
Considerable numbers of new photos were recently added to the following Pacific island entities: American Samoa, Clipperton Island, French Polynesia, Guam, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, and the Northern Marianas.
October 20, 2022
The World Factbook is proud to announce the inclusion of five new Special Products under the World entry. These unique compendia condense fascinating information about our World onto five special two-page summaries covering: The Human World, The Connected World, The Energy World, The Physical World, and The Economic World. Check them out, print them off, and impress your friends with this engrossing data drawn from the pages of the Factbook.
October 13, 2022
Responding to user feedback, The World Factbook recently introduced a “Coal” field into its Energy section, with subfields of production, consumption, exports, imports, and proven reserves. The Factbook‘s coal data includes anthracite, metallurgical, bituminous, subbituminous, and lignite coal and metallurgical coke.
October 6, 2022
Kazakhstan recently changed the name of its capital city from Nur-Sultan back to Astana. This was the latest in a long list of name changes for the city. Founded in 1830 as Akmoly, it became Akmolinsk in 1832, Tselinograd in 1961, Akmola in 1992, Astana in 1998, and Nur-Sultan in 2019. The latter was to honor a former president who has now fallen out of favor, thus the reversion to the Astana designation.
September 29, 2022
The recent installation of a new monarch in the United Kingdom has prompted the question: Just how many countries in the World have royal families? The answer in 27, most are in Asia (13) and Europe (10), three in Africa, and one in Oceania. To see a list of all these countries by continent, go to World > “Executive branch” > chief of state. Note, however, that there are 14 additional Commonwealth countries that share the British monarch as their chief of state.
September 22, 2022
A third set of larger and more detailed country maps has been added to the Factbook. The new country maps include: Bangladesh, Belarus, Botswana, Burundi, Canada, The Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mauritania, Mexico, Moldova, and Poland; as well as the European Union; the tri-partite British overseas territory of Saint Helena, Ascension, and Tristan da Cunha; and the island of Taiwan. The total number of newly enhanced maps now stands at 50; of these, 15 include new high-elevation locations in order to conform with the latest data from the US Department of State.
September 15, 2022
With the recent passing of Elizabeth II, The World Factbook has updated its chief of state entries for all 15 of the Commonwealth realm countries – as well as for all of the many British, Australian, and New Zealand dependencies and areas of special sovereignty – for which she was recognized as monarch.
September 8, 2022
The World Factbook has added a new “Alcohol consumption” field to the People and Society category providing the latest estimates on alcohol consumption per capita (APC). APC is an estimate of the amount of alcohol consumed per capita by persons aged 15 years and over in a calendar year, measured in liters of alcohol. The field not only provides information on total alcohol consumption but breaks consumption down further into beer, wine, spirits, and other forms of alcohol. The Cook Islands has the highest alcohol consumption world wide at 12.97 liters per person per year.
September 1, 2022
The World Factbook‘s revised “Electricity” field now combines five former fields into a single field for reading ease. The new field reports a country’s installed generating capacity, consumption, exports, imports, and transmission/distribution losses as subfields. The only definitional shift is replacing the legacy “Electricity production” field with the new transmission/distribution losses subfield, referring to the combined difference between the electricity generated and/or imported and electricity consumed and/or exported. The previous “Electricity production” field captured these losses.
August 25, 2022
In the Geography section for all countries, the “Land boundaries” entry was recently updated with the latest country boundary lengths (terrestrial) as compiled by the US Department of State.
August 18, 2022
Passenger traffic through the World’s airports in 2021 increased 38.3% over 2020, reflecting a significant rebound in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta was the World’s busiest in 2021 with 75.7 million passengers. US airports dominated with nine out of the top 10 airports, including the top seven. Most of this recovery was due to an increase in domestic travel in the US. Air cargo volumes also increased 15.4% globally, to reach a record 125 million metric tons. Check out all the latest numbers under World > Transportation > “Airports”.
August 11, 2022
A new The World of the CIA page has been added under the About tab to let visitors learn more about the Factbook‘s home world at CIA headquarters. This portfolio of outstanding photographs also contains links to still further photos of the CIA compound. Check it out.
August 4, 2022
This month marks The World Factbook’s 60th birthday! To celebrate, a special 60th anniversary cover has been commissioned.
Although the Factbook ceased publication in 2017, new annual cover designs have continued to be made as they help brand the publication and online audiences look forward to seeing what each new cover will highlight. This year’s special design – appearing on the Gallery of Covers page – subtly shows the progression and expansion of the Factbook over time; it becomes more graphic heavy “read” from left to right. Also added to the Gallery this week are selected examples of some of the plain covers from the Factbook‘s first two decades, which further underscore the publication’s development over the past sixty years.
July 28, 2022
The World Factbook’s Energy category was recently restructured; while most data has been retained, various former fields have now been combined as subfields under the broad headings of “Electricity,” “Coal,” “Petroleum,” and “Natural gas.” Explanations of some of these revisions will appear below and in What’s New statements in coming weeks.
To improve readability and address user feedback, The World Factbook has revised its natural gas data by combining the five former fields into a singular “Natural gas” field, with production, consumption, exports, imports, and proven reserves sub-fields. All data reflect only dry natural gas and exclude non-hydrocarbon gases, as well as vented, flared, and reinjected natural gas.
July 21, 2022
The 2021 edition of The World Factbook has been added to the Archives page (under About). All previous versions of The World Factbook – from 2000 to 2021 – are now available on that page.
July 14, 2022
In Appendix D: Cross-Reference List of Country Data Codes, the old two-character GEC codes in the first column have been replaced by the new standard three-character GENC codes being adopted by the US Government as the authoritative codes for countries and their subdivisions. GENC stands for Geopolitical Entities, Names, and Codes and is the authoritative set of country names and codes for use by the Federal Government for information exchange. Further details about various types of country codes may be found in the introductory paragraphs of Appendix D.
July 7, 2022
A common question asked of The World Factbook is: How many countries are there? The answer is 195. Based on the seven-continent model, and grouping islands with adjacent continents, Africa has the most countries with 54. Europe contains 49 countries and Asia 48, but these two continents share five countries: Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Russia, and Turkey. North America consists of 23 sovereign states, Oceania has 14, and South America 12.
June 30, 2022
Have you ever travelled abroad and wondered about a country’s traditional foods? Now you can turn to a country’s Travel Facts and learn about one of its popular national dishes in a new “Traditional Cuisine” entry. In Egypt, for example, ful medames is a stew of cooked fava beans with olive oil, cumin, and other herbs and spices that is served from a large metal jug.
June 23, 2022
The World Factbook has added a new “Tobacco use” field to the People and Society category providing the latest estimates of tobacco use, whether smoked or smokeless or both. According to the World Health Organization, 23% of the US population uses tobacco products, 28.4% among men and 17.5% among women. This usage rate ranks the US in 66th position among countries, below Italy but above the Philippines.
June 16, 2022
Did you know that Antarctica contains more water than any other continent? The only problem is that it is all ice! Some 99% of the land area is covered by the Antarctic ice sheet, the largest single mass of ice on earth covering an area of 14 million sq km (5.4 million sq mi) and containing 26.5 million cu km (6.4 million cu mi) of ice (this is almost 62% of all of the world’s fresh water). If all this ice were converted to liquid water, one estimate is that it would be sufficient to raise the height of the world’s ocean by 58 m (190 ft).
June 9, 2022
For the five World oceans – Arctic, Atlantic, Indian, Pacific, and Southern – a “Volume” entry was recently added that not only presents the estimated volume of each of the oceans in million cubic kilometers, but also the percent of the World Ocean total volume. For example, the Indian Ocean’s 264 million cu km volume represents 19.8% of the volume of all of the World’s oceans.
June 2, 2022
You are visiting a new country and trying to determine what would be a perfect memento of your trip. The World Factbook can help you decide. The Travel Facts page for every country now includes a Souvenirs section that lists favorite items that visitors like to procure. For example, in Nepal common souvenirs include: knotted/woven carpets and hemp items, wool pashminas, sheepskin slippers, woven caps, kukri knives, precious metal and turquoise jewelry, sacred scroll paintings, wood instruments, lokta bark paper, tea, and kitchen spices.
May 26, 2022
In the Environment category, the “Food insecurity” field was recently updated with first quarter 2022 information for 44 – mostly African and Asian – countries where access to food supplies remains a concern. While there have been no significant changes, lingering effects of COVID-19 restrictions are still apparent. More ominously, the ongoing Ukraine war is preventing grain deliveries and raising warnings of an impending global food crisis.
May 19, 2022
A second batch of larger and more detailed country maps was recently added to the Factbook. The new countries include: The Bahamas, Benin, Cameroon, Cuba, Denmark, Egypt, Gabon, Kyrgyzstan, Montenegro, and North Korea.
May 12, 2022
Several key demographic fields in the People and Society category have been updated with 2022 data. These fields are: “Life expectancy at birth,” “Total fertility rate,” “Infant mortality rate,” and “Sex ratio.”
May 5, 2022
In late March of this year, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a Travel Alert for polio in Africa, as well as for a few Middle Eastern countries. While wild or naturally occurring polio has been virtually eradicated worldwide, a vaccine-derived poliovirus (VDPV) has become a concern. VDPV is a strain of the weakened poliovirus that was initially included in oral polio vaccine and that has changed over time and behaves like the wild or naturally occurring virus. This means that it can be spread more easily to people who are unvaccinated against polio and who come into contact with the stool or respiratory secretions, such as from a sneeze, of an “infected” person who received oral polio vaccine. The CDC recommends that before any international travel, anyone unvaccinated, incompletely vaccinated, or with an unknown polio vaccination status should complete the routine polio vaccination series. The CDC recommendations may be found in the “Major infectious diseases” entry in the People and Society section of the 24 Sub-Saharan African (and miscellaneous other) countries where VDPV is a threat.
April 28, 2022
An important new field providing data on the prevalence of “Child marriage” has been added to the People and Society category. Girls who marry early tend to drop out of school and often have early, higher-risk pregnancies. Child brides are also at risk of abuse, exploitation, and separation from relatives and family.
April 21, 2022
In the Military and Security section, the “Maritime threat” entry – which describes piracy threats – was recently updated with 2021 numbers. Overall, there was a significant drop in incidents world-wide over 2020 (195) to 132 for 2021; this is the lowest number since 1994. The Gulf of Aden remained quiet and West African incidents were down considerably. Areas that showed an increase in attacks were the Singapore Straits and the Western Hemisphere.
April 14, 2022
Several population-growth-related fields in the People and Society category have been updated with 2022 data. These fields are: “Population,” “Population growth rate,” “Birth rate,” “Death rate,” and “Net migration rate.”
April 7, 2022
In the Military and Security category, the “Military equipment inventories and acquisitions” field was recently updated with the latest available information from 2021.
March 31, 2022
Appendix H: Strategic Materials, which lists all of the compounds, metals, non-metals, and rare earth elements deemed to be of critical importance to US national security, has been updated. The US is 100% import reliant for 14 of the 59 elements listed as Strategic Materials. The US gets between 19-25 commodities from China, 13-18 commodities from Canada, 10 from South Africa, 9 from Brazil, 8 from India, and 6 from Russia. The economic slowdown associated with COVID-19 affected global production of many commodities in 2020, but that slackening began to recover in 2021.
March 24, 2022
The World Factbook is delighted to announce the inclusion of 24 new country maps – the first tranche in what will be a series of cartographic updates. The new maps, larger in size and more detailed than previous versions, may be found for the following countries/territories: Afghanistan, Algeria, American Samoa, Antarctica, Australia, China, Republic of the Congo, Iceland, India, Iran, Japan, Kazakhstan, Laos, Mongolia, Morocco, Pakistan, Portugal, Spain, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, United Arab Emirates, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, and Yemen.
March 17, 2022
In the Military and Security category, the “Military expenditures” field was recently updated with the latest available information.
March 10, 2022
Information on drinking water and sanitation has been updated for 2020; both of these subjects are key indicators of social and economic development. Both the “Drinking water source” and “Sanitation facility access” fields (in the People and Society section) are categorized as ‘improved’ or ‘unimproved’ and include data for rural, urban, and total populations. Over 90% of the world’s population has access to improved drinking water sources, while almost 70% of the world’s population has access to improved sanitation facilities.
March 3, 2022
Have a look this week at the population pyramids (under People and Society > “Age structure”) all of which have recently been updated for 2022. Population pyramids illustrate the age and sex structure of a country’s population. Pyramids that are wider at the bottom and get progressively narrower toward the top are typical of youthful populations, while pyramids that are barrel-shaped characterize more mature populations. Population pyramids can provide insights about political and social stability, as well as economic development.
February 24, 2022
Substantial quantities of new photos have recently been added to the following World Factbook entries: Angola, Cuba, Djibouti, Liberia, Nepal, Rwanda, Serbia, and Taiwan.
February 17, 2022
In the People and Society category, the “Urbanization” field, which shows the estimated proportion of a country’s population living in urban areas, has been updated with 2022 data. The “Major urban areas – population” field, which provides the estimated population of up to six of a country’s largest urban centers over 750,000 people, has also been updated. For those countries with no metropolis of 750,000 or more, the estimated population of only the capital has been provided.
February 10, 2022
The World Factbook is delighted to unveil its latest field this week entitled “National heritage,” which introduces a country’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The first subfield in this new entry – found in the Government section – lists how many sites are present in a country and whether they are cultural or natural or both. The second subfield lists up to 10 or so selected sites in a country. Most countries have fewer than 10 or 12 sites, but some (mostly larger) countries contain many dozen. The United States currently has 24 inscribed sites. Where possible, links have been set up from a listed site to a photo from The World Factbook‘s photo collection.
February 3, 2022
The “Military service age and obligation” field has been expanded where possible with information on the approximate numbers or percentages of conscripts in a country’s military. Additionally, the percentages of women in the military have been added where that data is available.
January 27, 2022
There are 195 independent countries in the World; amazingly, 80 of them (41% !) have names beginning with one of only four letters (at least in the English language): B (18, Bahamas to Burundi), C (18, Cambodia to Czechia), M (18, Macedonia to Mozambique), and S (24, Saint Kitts and Nevis to Syria). All other letters except W and X begin the name of at least one country.
January 20, 2022
Last week the uninhabited island of Hunga Tonga in the Tongan archipelago began to erupt. Located 65 km (40 mi) north of Tongatapu, Tonga’s main island, it is part of the highly active Tonga–Kermadec Islands volcanic arc in the South Pacific. The eruption caused damaging tsunamis along the entire rim of the Pacific Ocean but, fortunately, loss of life has been low. The explosion is the largest of the 21st century to date.
January 13, 2022
Appendix B: International Organizations and Groups has been completely updated and includes several new entries (e.g., Forum for the Progress of South America and Wassenaar Arrangement), as well as their contact information (address, phone, fax). In addition, email and website addresses have been added for most organizations.
January 06, 2022
Appendix T: Terrorist Organizations has been updated with the latest information from the US State Department’s just-published Country Terrorism Review. All Appendix T entries are now up to at least 2020 and most are 2021. Included are two new foreign terrorist organizations: the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia-People’s Army (FARC-EP) and Segunda Marquetalia.
December 30, 2021
Have you ever heard of AOSIS? The acronym stands for the Alliance of Small Island States. Established in 1990, it is an intergovernmental organization of 39 small island and low-lying coastal countries that are particularly vulnerable to climate change. AOSIS has been very active from its inception and has played a leading role in global forums in raising awareness on climate change and in advocating for action to address climate change. To find out more about AOSIS, or about any of more than 200 other international organizations, go to References and click on Appendix B: International Organizations and Groups.
December 16, 2021
In the five Oceans entries, the “Marine fisheries” field – in the Environment category – has been updated with the latest available 2019 FAO numbers. Overall, the rankings did not change significantly. The Pacific Ocean remains the largest fishery with 57.8% of total global catch, followed by the Atlantic (26.4%), and Indian Oceans (15.3%). Herrings, sardines, and anchovies make up 24% of the global catch of marine fishes.
December 9, 2021
In the Transportation category, the “Merchant marine” entry has been updated for all countries that have a merchant fleet.
December 2, 2021
On 30 November 2021, the Caribbean island nation of Barbados became a republic, transitioning from a parliamentary constitutional monarchy to a parliamentary republic with a ceremonial elected president as head of state. The prime minister remains head of government and the country continues its membership in the Commonwealth of Nations. The date marked the 55th anniversary of Barbados achieving its independence from the UK in 1966.
November 18, 2021
Are you interested in education and youth employment trends? Please see our newly updated entries for “Education expenditures,” “Literacy,” and “Youth unemployment” in the People and Society section for all countries.
November 11, 2021
The “Illicit drugs” entry in the Transnational Issues section was recently updated for all countries with the latest available information and data.
November 4, 2021
The World Factbook has added its latest water-related fields, “Major lakes” and “Major rivers,” which appear in both the Geography and Environment categories. “Major aquifers” and “Major watersheds” were introduced last month. The “Major lakes” entry includes natural lakes larger that 500 sq km and designates them as either fresh water or salt water. The “Major rivers” field includes rivers longer than 1,000 km – 87 of them in 84 countries. Several large countries have multiple river entries: Brazil with 7, Canada 10, China 10, India 9, Russia 9, and the US 11.
October 28, 2021
The World Factbook is pleased to announce an enhancement to its 223 One-Page Summaries, which now include a brief country/territory Introduction and an Economic Overview snapshot to accompany the latest economic data. In addition, the Government, Geography, and People and Society fields have all been updated where possible.
October 21, 2021
The US Government designates 16 countries as Major Non-NATO Allies (MNNA) with which it has strategic working relationships in the areas of defense trade and security cooperation. The countries are: Argentina, Australia, Bahrain, Brazil, Egypt, Israel, Japan, Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco, New Zealand, Pakistan, Philippines, South Korea, Thailand, and Tunisia. While MNNA status provides military and economic privileges, it does not entail any security commitments. Information on MNNA status has been added to the “Military – note” for each of these countries.
October 14, 2021
The World Factbook is introducing four new water-related fields, to appear in both the Geography and Environment categories. “Major aquifers” and “Major watersheds” are being launched this week; “Major lakes” and “Major rivers” will be added in the not-too-distant future.
October 7, 2021
The “Military expenditures” entry was recently updated for all countries with the latest available data – mostly with 2020 numbers, but a few with 2021 or 2019 figures.
September 30, 2021
In the Government category, the “Diplomatic representation in the US” and the “Diplomatic representation from the US” entries were recently updated for all countries. Additionally, email and website addresses were included for all foreign embassies in the US, as well as for US embassies abroad.
September 23, 2021
Did you know there really is a Robinson Crusoe Island? From 1704 to 1709, the island was home to a marooned sailor, Alexander Selkirk, who at least partially inspired novelist Daniel Defoe’s fictional Robinson Crusoe in his 1719 novel. Today some 850 people live on the island, which received its current name in 1966 to reflect its literary connection and to promote tourism. To find out where the island is located, what it was formerly called, and to what country it belongs, check the Factbook‘s Appendix F: Geographic Names.
September 16, 2021
The troy weight system is primarily used in the precious metals industry (e.g., the troy ounce is a traditional unit of gold weight). So, how would someone convert from troy pounds to kilograms? Find out by visiting The World Factbook‘s Weights and Measures page (Appendix G) and scrolling down to either kilograms or pounds, troy.
September 9, 2021
Rare earth elements or REEs are 17 chemical elements that are critical in many of today’s high-tech industries. Typical applications for REEs include batteries in hybrid cars, fiber optic cables, flat panel displays, and permanent magnets, as well as some defense and medical products. Appendix H: Strategic Materials includes detailed information on 16 of these elements, including facts describing the elements, their uses, import sources and import quantities, world resources, and any available substitutes. (The only REE not included is Promethium, which exists only in miniscule, economically insignificant quantities.)
September 2, 2021
In the Government category, under the “Legislative branch” entry, the descriptions for all Central and South Asian countries, as well as all South American, Mesoamerican, and Greater Antilles countries, have been reviewed and updated where necessary.
August 26, 2021
In the Transportation section, the “Ports and terminals” container port(s) throughput numbers were all recently updated with the latest-available 2019 data. These figures, which are pre-COVID, show no significant trend, but the pandemic could have an effect on 2020 and 2021 numbers. China recently closed its second-largest port (third-largest in the world) due to the COVID outbreak. Many reports indicate a down-turn in container traffic world-wide for the last 18 months.
August 19, 2021
In the Government section for all countries, the “Diplomatic representation from the US” entry has recently received a new subfield. In addition to the name of the ambassador/charge’ and the embassy address, telephone, and FAX, an email address has now been added.
August 12, 2021
Are you interested in foreign languages? Would you like to hear what Thai or Hungarian sound like? Following up on the June addition of printed ‘major-language sample’ entries to the “Languages” entry for over 130 countries, The World Factbook has now added ‘audio language samples’ for over 110 countries. Happy listening!
August 5, 2021
In the Geography category for all countries, a review and updating of “Land boundaries” (lengths measured in kilometers) was recently completed. Additionally, a new ‘World’ land boundaries total was compiled that came to 279,035.5 km. This figure is actually misleading, however, since it is impossible to accurately measure every river meander along a boundary. A number rounded slightly higher – to 280,000 km – makes more sense and has been coordinated with and approved by the US State Department.
July 29, 2021
The latest addition to our popular Travel Facts download is a second emergency phone number. The original number supplied was for US citizens while abroad. The new number (1-888-407-4747) can be used by US/Canada-based US citizens in the event of a foreign natural disaster or terrorist event to call about the status of loved ones traveling abroad in affected areas.
July 22, 2021
In the Environment category, all the “Food insecurity” entries have been updated with the latest available UN Food and Agriculture Organization data (July 2021).
July 15, 2021
Substantial quantities of new photos have recently been added for the following countries: Cyprus, France, Kenya, Malta, Saint Lucia, and the United Kingdom.
July 8, 2021
A Major Sports entry was recently added to our acclaimed Travel Facts download to highlight some of the most popular spectator and participatory sporting activities to be found in every country.
June 30, 2021
The World Factbook has expanded its “Languages” entry to include major-language samples for 130 countries where English is not the only principal language. A new ‘printed major-language sample’ entry displays a sentence in the primary language(s) and alphabet(s) for each of those countries. More language samples will be added in the future.
June 17, 2021
In the Government category, the “Constitution” entry (including the ‘history’ and ‘amendments’ sub-entries) has been reviewed and updated for all countries in Africa, East Asia, North and South America, the Caribbean, and Oceania. These latest regions join the European, Central and South Asian, and Middle Eastern countries that were completed earlier this year.
June 10, 2021
In the Transnational Issues category, the “Trafficking in persons” entry was recently updated for the roughly five dozen countries where this situation continues to be a serious problem and is not being adequately addressed.
June 3, 2021
Many World Factbook users are aware that the Government section for every country contains a “National anthem” entry as well as a musical link. Did you know that the World entry also has national anthem information? Listed in that entry are distinctive or exceptional anthems, such as the world’s oldest anthem, the world’s shortest anthem, the countries with two official anthems, etc. Visit the World entry to learn what all these remarkable anthems are.
May 27, 2021
Did you know that the oceans are divided into three zones based on depth and light level? Find out what these three levels are by going to any of the five ocean entries (Arctic, Atlantic, Indian, Pacific, Southern), then the “Elevation” field and checking out the new ‘ocean zones’ entry. A link to a helpful chart is also included.
May 20, 2021
The “Marine fisheries” field in the Environment section of the five Oceans entries was recently updated. The link found in each of these fields displays the Major Fishing Areas of the world as delineated by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization.
May 13, 2021
Trade data fields for “Imports – commodities,” “Exports – commodities,” “Imports – partners,” and “Exports – partners” have been updated for all countries and territories. This update includes trade data for smaller territories that The World Factbook had not previously reported.
May 6, 2021
In the World entry, the airport traffic numbers in the Transportation category have been updated with preliminary 2020 data and they present a dramatically different scenario due to COVID-19 restrictions. Passenger traffic through the top ten airports declined 45.7% in 2020 and for all airports globally dropped am amazing 64.6%. Atlanta, which had been the busiest passenger airport for more than 20 years, is now number two. Seven of the top ten airports for passenger traffic are in China and the other three are in the US. Most of the new rankings are due to domestic flights in China; when global traffic opens up again the old passenger patterns should reemerge.
In contrast, air cargo traffic in the top ten airports grew by 3% in 2020 and the rank order was largely unchanged. Memphis, TN surpassed Hong Kong to become the busiest cargo airport. All told, the top ten cargo airports handled 28% of global air cargo.
April 29, 2021
In the Military and Security category, the following fields have been updated with the latest 2020 or 2021 data/information: “Military and security forces,” “Military and security service personnel strengths,” “Military deployments,” and “Military equipment inventories and acquisitions.”
April 22, 2021
In honor of Earth Day, The World Factbook is introducing a new Environment category, with newly compiled entries that include information on air pollution, water supplies, revenues from natural resources, food insecurity, and waste and recycling. A few of the new category’s fields have appeared in other Factbook sections before (climate, land use, urbanization, major infectious diseases) and they are now gathered in this new section. The new category may be found after ‘People and Society’ but before ‘Government’ under every country listing.
April 15, 2021
A “Demographic profile” was recently added to the People and Society category for the eleven Southeast Asian countries: Brunei, Burma, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Timor-Leste, and Vietnam. These entries provide a short summary of each country’s key demographic trends and features. Some of the topics covered include fertility, health, education, and migration. Demographic profiles are also available for all of the African, and Central and South American countries.
April 8, 2021
In the Economy section, the “Ease of Doing Business scores” entry has been expanded and now includes four subfields: Overall score, Starting a Business score, Trading score, and an Enforcement score. These scores illustrate the business climate in a country relative to other countries, as well as that country’s entrepreneurial, trading, and contract-enforcement environment.
April 1, 2021
Appendix H: Strategic Materials, which lists all of the compounds, metals, non-metals, and rare earth elements deemed to be of critical importance to US national security, was recently reviewed and updated.
March 25, 2021
A Tourist Destinations entry was recently added to our popular Travel Facts download – to highlight some of the most popular sights and attractions to be found in every country.
March 18, 2021
In the Government category, the “Constitution” entry (including ‘history’ and ‘amendments’ sub-entries) has been reviewed and updated where needed for all European, Middle Eastern, Central and South Asian countries.
March 11, 2021
In the Military and Security category, the “Maritime threats” (piracy) field has been updated with a summary of information from the Office of Naval Intelligence and the International Maritime Bureau. With 196 attacks in 2020, piracy has increased over the 162 incidents in 2019 especially in West Africa/Gulf of Guinea, which has emerged as the new hot spot. As a result, a “Maritime threats” field now appears under the following West African countries: Benin, Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Ghana, Sao Tome, and Togo, in addition to the previous entry under Nigeria. The Horn of Africa remains quiet, but Southeast Asia is another significant problem area including the Malacca Strait, and the South China and Sulu Seas.
March 4, 2021
Appendix T: Terrorist Organizations has been updated to reflect information available as of late 2020/early 2021. Newly included is Harakat Sawa’d Misr (HASM), which was designated by the US Government as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) in January 2021. HASM operates in Egypt and is in part composed of alienated Muslim Brotherhood (MB) members who view violence rather than dialogue as a more effective means to overthrow the Egyptian Government and who operate independently of MB.
February 25, 2021
In the People and Society category, the following fields were all recently updated: “Population” (projected mid-year numbers), “Population growth rate,” “Birth rate,” “Death rate,” “Net migration rate,” “Infant mortality rate,” and “Life expectancy at birth.”
February 18, 2021
All of the world and regional maps – both physical and political – have been updated to reflect recent boundary and administrative changes. The political maps are all now in a new color scheme style.
February 8, 2021
In the Geography category, all the “Land use” entries have been updated with the latest available UN Food and Agriculture Organization data (2018).
February 4, 2021
Access to The World Factbook‘s archives, which was not included in last month’s rollout of the new website, has been reestablished and may be found in the About section. Annual World Factbook editions from 2000 onward are available.
January 28, 2021
In the Transportation category, the “Merchant marine” entry has been updated with 2020 data for all countries that have a merchant fleet.
January 21, 2021
The Economy section has relaunched the “Gini Index coefficient – distribution of family income” field and updated the “GDP (official exchange rate)” and “Agricultural products” fields. Additionally, the Economy field definitions have been updated.
January 14, 2021
In the Geography section, the “Maritime claims” entry has been reviewed for all countries and updated where necessary.
January 7, 2021
The popular Travel Facts download – available for every country – now features a Tipping Guidelines entry to assist travelers in what types of gratuity to proffer in various situations.
December 31, 2020
The One-Page Country Summaries Project is pretty much complete. A total of 220 One-Pagers are now available; one for all 195 countries in the World, as well as 25 other territories or possessions.
December 17, 2020
In the Energy category, the “Electricity access” field has been updated for all countries with the latest available data. Additionally, in the Economy category, two new fields launched: “Credit ratings” and “Ease of Doing Business Index Scores.” These fields, in addition to the newly updated fields of “Imports,” “Exports,” “Exchange rates,” and “Inflation rates” for many countries, showcase the most recent business and trade environments in the world economy.
December 10, 2020
Years of wrangling were brought to a close this week when officials from Nepal and China announced that they have agreed on the height of Mount Everest. The mountain sits on the border between Nepal and Tibet (in western China), and its height changed slightly following an earthquake in 2015. The new height of 8,848.86 meters is just under a meter higher than the old figure of 8,848 meters. The World Factbook rounds the new measurement to 8,849 meters and this new height has been entered throughout the Factbook database.
December 03, 2020
Most countries have had their macroeconomic entries updated with the latest available data. The updated fields include: “GDP (purchasing power parity),” “GDP – per capita (PPP),” “GDP – real growth rate,” “Labor force,” and “Unemployment rate.”
November 25, 2020
More One-Page Country Summaries have recently been added to the site; the current total stands at 194. Additional One-Pagers are under development.
November 19, 2020
For the 60-plus countries where a “Terrorist group(s)” entry appears, a new direct link has been set up to Appendix T: Terrorist Organizations. The appendix provides details on US State Department-designated terrorist groups’ aims, organization, tactics, weaponry, funding, etc.
November 12, 2020
In the Communications category, the entries for “Telephones – mobile cellular” and “Telephones – fixed lines” have been updated for all countries with the latest available data.
November 05, 2020
The “National Air Transport System” entry is a valuable indicator of economic and transportation activity. The quality of a country’s air transport system is important since it binds a country together internally as well as connecting it to the wider global community. Found in the Transportation category, the “National Air Transport System” field has recently been updated for each country with the latest information regarding the number of registered air carriers, the number of fixed-wing aircraft they operate, and the numbers of passengers and amount of air cargo carried. For a more detailed description of this entry, please consult the Definitions and Notes under the Reference section of The World Factbook.
October 28, 2020
A new “Terrorist group(s)” entry – under a Terrorism category – has been added to more than 60 countries in The World Factbook. Included are 65-plus terrorist groups designated by the US State Department as Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTOs), as well as an additional 12 non-designated, self-proclaimed branches and affiliates of the Islamic State of Iraq and ash-Sham (ISIS) FTO. Supplementing this basic information is a new Appendix T, focused on Terrorist Organizations, that provides details on each cited group’s history, goals, leadership, organization, areas of operation, tactics, weapons, size, and sources of support.
October 22, 2020
The World Factbook is pleased to announce the addition of charts showing urban growth rate and total population growth rate over time for all of the world’s countries – as well as more than two dozen dependencies. These new graphics utilize UN data and are a collaborative effort of The World Factbook and USAID. The charts appear in every country’s People and Society section, under the “Urbanization” entry.
October 15, 2020
Did you know that there are seven countries in the world whose populations exceed the staggering total of 200 million? You can quickly find out what those countries are – as well as locate all country population totals – by clicking on the References tab>Guide to Country Comparisons>People and Society>Population.
October 08, 2020
For each of the 55 African country entries, the “Population distribution” field that appears under both the ‘Geography’ and ‘People and Society’ categories, now has an added map link to supplement the text describing how the population is dispersed throughout the country.
September 24, 2020
Did you know that water-related rankings – the top ten longest rivers, the top ten largest lakes, as well as other interesting aquatic facts (see the World entry>Transportation>Waterways)?
September 17, 2020
Many new photos have recently been added for the following island entities: American Samoa, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, Palau, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands.
September 10, 2020
In the Communications section, the “Internet users” numbers for most countries were recently updated with the latest available data.
August 26, 2020
In the Military and Security category, the “Military and security service personnel strengths” entry was recently updated with the latest estimated numbers.
August 20, 2020
Continuing this month’s cartography spotlight: Did you know that you can find multiple maps to almost a hundred countries under the References tab>Regional and World Maps>Maps at CIA? The maps usually include two, and frequently all three, of the following country maps: Administrative, Physiographic, and Transportation – in both PDF and JPG formats.
August 13, 2020
Most of the northern third of Africa is barren desert – the massive Sahara. Did you know that much of the southern part of the continent is also desert or semidesert? This geographic situation, and the resulting population distributions, are graphically visualized on the Africa Population Density map under the References tab>Regional and World Maps>NGA Population Distribution Maps>Africa, as well as on the accompanying individual country maps.
August 06, 2020
Did you know that the 48 contiguous United States are slightly larger than Australia, the smallest of the seven continents? Check out maps showing the relative sizes of all the continents compared to the US under the World entry, Geography>”Area – comparative.”
July 30, 2020
Significant numbers of new photographs have recently been added to the following Mediterranean country entries: Greece, Italy, Morocco, Spain, and Turkey.
July 23, 2020
Dozens of new telecommunications definitions have been added under the “Telecommunications systems” entry on the Definitions and Notes page (under the References tab).
July 09, 2020
Dozens of new One-Page Country Summaries have recently been added to the site bringing the total number of Summaries to 171. Additional One-Pagers are under development and should be ready soon.
July 02, 2020
The “Marine fisheries” entry, which appears in the Economy category for the five world oceans – the Arctic, Atlantic, Indian, Pacific, and Southern Oceans – was recently updated with the latest available data.
June 26, 2020
Substantial quantities of new photos have recently been added to the following Far East country entries: Cambodia, China, Japan, South Korea, and Thailand.
June 18, 2020
In the Communications category, the “Telecommunication systems” entry – which includes communication over distance by cable, telegraph, telephone, radio, computer (including the Internet), or broadcasting system – has been updated for all countries.
June 11, 2020
The World Factbook is proud to announce a major enhancement to its military information database. Three new fields have been added to the Military and Security category of every country that should be of value to researchers across many disciplines. The new entries are: “Military and security service personnel strengths,” “Military equipment inventories and acquisitions,” and “Military deployments.” Explanations of exactly what data is included in each of these fields may be found on the Definitions and Notes page under the References tab.
June 04, 2020
The World Factbook presents a couple of geographic puzzles for budding geographers to work on while at home undertaking online learning. 1. What is the greatest distance between two capitals of countries sharing a border? (Hint: the countries are in the northern hemisphere.) 2. What is the greatest distance between one national capital and the capital closest to it? (Hint: the countries are in the southern hemisphere.) Get out your world maps or globes and start measuring. The answers will appear next week on the Did You Know? page, under the About tab.
May 28, 2020
By far the two most common forms of citizenship are by birth (where one is born) or by descent (nationality of one or both parents). The World Factbook lists both of these citizenship types and whether they are used by any particular country. The Factbook also indicates whether dual citizenship is recognized by a country and what the residency requirements are before applying for naturalization in a country. The “Citizenship” entry may be found in the Government section.
May 21, 2020
Did you know that more than three-quarters of the world’s countries have a maritime boundary of some sort. As such, they have an exclusive economic zone (EEZ), which is a sea zone – set forth by the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea – over which a country has special rights regarding the exploration and use of marine resources. An EEZ stretches from a country’s mean-low tide baseline at its coast out to 200 nautical miles. Most maps do not show EEZs, but The World Factbook’s World Oceans map does (under the References tab>Regional and World Maps>World Oceans; the PDF version is the most informative, particularly when enlarged). More than one-third of the world’s ocean area falls within an EEZ.
May 14, 2020
In the Communications category, the “Telephone systems” field name has been adjusted to “Telecommunication systems” to better reflect its many components including various types of telephone systems, cable transmission, satellite linkage, and diverse categories of radio transmission/relay.
May 07, 2020
The “Capital” entry (under Government) is where visitors to The World Factbook will find information related to time. This placement is because the Factbook indicates the time difference in a country relative to the time observed in Washington, DC. The “Capital” entry is also where information on daylight savings time and time zones may be found.
Did you know that only about a third of all countries – and only about one-fifth of the world’s inhabitants – use daylight savings time? Find more detailed information on time zones and daylight savings time under World>Government>Capital.
April 30, 2020
Did you know? In a 100-year period, a water molecule spends 98 years in the ocean, 20 months as ice, about two weeks in lakes and rivers, and less than a week in the atmosphere. Groundwater can take 50 years to just traverse 1 km (0.6 mi). Find many more fascinating geographic facts about our world and its oceans in the “Geographic overview” of the World entry.
April 23, 2020
Most US national parks have been closed in response to the COVID-19 outbreak (some outdoor spaces in certain parks, however, remain accessible to the public). Visitors to The World Factbook can safely tour dozens of famous US parks and sites – and view hundreds of photos – by visiting the United States entry and clicking on the VIEW PHOTOS icon.
April 16, 2020
The useful population pyramids that appear in the People and Society category for every country under the “Age structure” entry have been updated with the latest 2020 data. These graphics have also been modified by the US Census Bureau to make them visually more appealing and easier to comprehend.
April 09, 2020
The language and religion entries in The World Factbook‘s Travel Facts have all been recently updated. We encourage students at home participating in online learning to use Travel Facts, as well as The World Factbook, for their studies of geography and national customs.
April 02, 2020
The Department of State advises US citizens to avoid all international travel at this time due to the global impact of COVID-19. Please follow these links for more detailed information: World Health Organization http://www.who.int/ and/or US State Department https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/international-travel.html.
March 19, 2020
Appendix H: Strategic Materials has been updated with the latest import data.
March 12, 2020
In the People and Society category, the “Unemployment, youth ages 15-24” entry was recently updated with the latest available data for all countries.
March 05, 2020
Ranging from Andorra to Zimbabwe, a total of 35 new One-Page Country Summaries have been added to site, bringing the total number of Summaries to 141. Additional One-Pagers are under development and should be ready soon.
February 27, 2020
Did you know that the Philippines’ capital of Manila derives its name from the Tagalog “may-nila” meaning “where there is indigo” and refers to the presence of indigo-yielding plants growing in the area surrounding the original settlement? The World Factbook has completed the addition of capital city name etymologies (historical origins); these descriptions appear in the “Capital” entry under the Government section.
February 20, 2020
The World Factbook has completed its Travel Facts project. Nine newly added Travel Facts – from Luxembourg, New Caledonia, Norfolk Island, Saint Barthelemy, San Marino, Seychelles, Slovakia, Suriname, and Vanuatu – bring the final total to 222 (193 countries and 29 dependencies). Plans are in the works to add even more useful information to Travel Facts pages in the coming months.
February 13, 2020
In the Transportation category, “Merchant marine” data has been updated with the latest available numbers for all countries that have a merchant marine.
February 06, 2020
In the Communications category, the following fields were recently updated for all countries: “Telephones – fixed lines,” “Telephones – mobile cellular,” and “Fixed broadband.”
January 31, 2020
At 11 pm London time, midnight Central European Time, the United Kingdom completed Brexit and withdrew officially from the European Union (EU) – the first ever country to do so. The World Factbook has modified its EU entry, as well as the EU map, to reflect the changes wrought by this departure. The various People and Society updates announced last week have all been modified in the EU entry to reflect its now smaller population size.
January 28, 2020
Ranging from Albania to Vietnam, a total of 43 new One-Page Country Summaries were recently added to site, bringing the total number of Summaries to 106. Additional One-Pagers are under development and should be ready soon.
January 23, 2020
In the People and Society category, the following fields were all recently updated: “Population” (projected mid-year numbers), “Age Structure,” “Median Age,” “Population Growth Rate,” “Birth Rate,” “Death Rate,” “Net Migration Rate,” “Sex Ratio,” “Infant Mortality Rate,” “Life Expectancy,” and “Total Fertility Rate.”
January 16, 2020
Luzon – the northernmost, largest, and most populous island of the Philippines – is the site of the Taal Volcano (about 60 km south of Manila, the capital, near Batangos) that began erupting on Sunday, 12 January 2020. The Taal Volcano is one of 16 volcanoes worldwide classified as a Decade Volcano by the International Association of Volcanology and Chemistry of the Earth’s Interior, worthy of special study due to its explosive history and close proximity to human populations. Hundreds of thousands of people have so far been urged to evacuate the 17-km danger zone around the volcano.
January 09, 2020
Ten additional Travel Facts have been added to the site bringing the total number to 213. The latest lot includes seven countries (Malawi, Marshall Islands, Mauritania, Mauritius, Micronesia, Moldova, and North Macedonia) and three dependencies (Guam, Montserrat, and the Northern Mariana Islands).
December 19, 2019
The canyon under Denman Glacier in Antarctica was just recently identified as being the deepest point on that continent at -3,500 meters, which also makes it the world’s deepest point on land. Challenger Deep – in the Pacific Ocean’s Marianas Trench at -10,924 meters – is the lowest point on the earth’s surface.
December 12, 2019
Dozens more One-Page Summaries of country information are in production and will soon join the 63 that are currently available. One-Page Summaries and Travel Facts are The World Factbook‘s most popular new features.
December 05, 2019
Nine more Travel Facts have been added to the Factbook. This latest batch includes seven countries (Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kiribati, Lesotho, Liberia, Lichtenstein, Lithuania) and two dependencies (Faroe Islands, Isle of Man). The total number of Travel Facts is now 203.
November 21, 2019
Time zone maps are some of the most readily available maps in the world – found in almanacs, dictionaries, travel guides, and phone books – but they rarely agree in content. The World Factbook‘s Standard Time Zones of the World map has a reputation for accuracy that makes it one of the most widely used and reproduced time zone maps in the world. The map may be found under the References tab>Regional and World Maps>Standard Time Zones of the World.
November 14, 2019
Batches of new photos have been added to the following World Factbook entries: Canada, Faroe Islands, France, Greenland, Guernsey, Iceland, Morocco, Norway, Portugal, and the United Kingdom.
November 07, 2019
New Travel Facts have been uploaded for the following 10 countries: Kosovo, Montenegro, Mozambique, Romania, Rwanda, Samoa, Sierra Leone, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, Tajikistan. The total number of available Travel Facts is now up to 194 destinations.
October 31, 2019
In the Government category, the “Constitution” entry for all countries has recently been widely reviewed and updated where necessary.
October 24, 2019
The fields for “Military and security forces” (formerly “Military branches”) and “Military expenditures” have been updated for all countries with the latest available information.
October 17, 2019
Dozens of new photos have been added to the following country entries spanning three continents: Botswana, Bulgaria, Croatia, Hungary, Namibia, Peru, Romania, Serbia, South Africa, and Zimbabwe.
October 10, 2019
The latest group of 10 new Travel Facts has been uploaded. Included in this batch are eight countries – Saint Kitts and Nevis, Senegal, Serbia, Timor-Leste, Togo, Turkmenistan, Tuvalu, Uzbekistan – as well as the UK crown dependency of Jersey and the US territory of Puerto Rico. The total number of countries and dependencies with Travel Facts now stands at 184.
October 03, 2019
In the People and Society category, the “Major urban areas” and “Urbanization” entries were recently updated for all countries. For the ‘World’ entry, under “Major urban areas,” the “ten largest urban agglomerations, by continent” have been newly compiled. These rankings provide a fascinating comparison of how dramatically different in population size the largest continental urban areas are.
September 24, 2019
The following countries and entities recently had their maps updated: Albania, Austria, Bulgaria, Germany, Greece, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kosovo, Kuwait, Micronesia, Palau, Poland, Serbia, Slovakia, Syria, Taiwan, and the European Union.
September 19, 2019
The World Factbook continues to prepare additional country Travel Facts. The latest nine countries and one dependency that have been added are: Eswatini, Guyana, Haiti, Namibia, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Palau, Madagascar, Paraguay, and Guernsey. The total number of countries and dependencies with Travel Facts is now up to 174.
September 12, 2019
Did you know that the twin cities of Tegucigalpa and Comayaguela in Honduras, jointly, constitute the capital of the country? However, virtually all governmental institutions are on the Tegucigalpa side, which in practical terms makes Tegucigalpa the capital. Other countries with dual official national capital cities include: Benin, Bolivia, Burundi, Cote d’Ivoire, Eswatini, Sri Lanka, and Tanzania. South Africa has three capital cities.
September 03, 2019
The World Factbook Staff tries to keep up with scheduled elections in every country. However, election dates sometimes get changed unexpectedly. For example, earlier this year, the Bolivian Government moved the date of its national parliamentary elections from 27 October – the same date of elections as in Argentina and Uruguay – to 20 October to ensure that Bolivians residing in those countries are able to vote at polling locations in those countries.
August 29, 2019
In the People and Society category for all countries, the former “Health Expenditures” field has been replaced with a “Current Health Expenditures” (CHE) entry that is calculated differently. An explanation of the new CHE field appears on the Definitions and Notes page, under the References tab.
August 22, 2019
Ten new Travel Facts have been added to the website. Included are nine countries (Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Mongolia, Papua New Guinea, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Tonga, Uganda, Uruguay, Zimbabwe) and one dependency (Greenland). The total number of available Travel Facts has now reached 164!
August 15, 2019
In light of recent events in the Persian Gulf, The World Factbook has added a special statement to the “Maritime threats” entry (in the Military and Security category) for Iran, Oman, and the Indian Ocean that warns of dangers to commercial shipping in the waters off the Iranian coast and around the Arabian Peninsula.
August 08, 2019
Have you ever been stumped by one of the quiz questions that appeared in What’s New? Have you ever wondered at how many people use The World Factbook or how the Factbook‘s logo developed? Answers to all of these questions and many more may be found on the Did You Know? page – under the About tab.
August 01, 2019
New Travel Facts pages for nine countries and one overseas territory – Grenada, Honduras, Hungary, Malta, Monaco, Nicaragua, Tanzania, Ukraine, Zambia, and Gibraltar – have been added to the website. The total number of entities with Travel Facts pages is now up to 154.
July 25, 2019
All of The World Factbook‘s Travel Facts and One-Page Country Summaries can now be accessed from two new links on the lower left of the home page. Individual country Travel Facts and One-Page Summaries will continue to be accessible from country pages. More Travel Facts – in addition to the already extensive selection – will be available soon.
July 18, 2019
In the Military category, the “Maritime Threats” field, has been updated with final 2018 numbers for all countries where seagoing piracy is a problem. Overall, there was a more than 10% increase in incidents of piracy and armed robbery against ships during 2018 (201) when compared to 2017 (180). The waters off the coast of West Africa are the most dangerous in the world at present; attacks in 2018 more than doubled over 2017. Entries have been added for Benin and Ghana both of which saw significant increases in attacks when compared to recent years. Attacks off the Horn of Africa remain at very low levels, continuing the trend of the last few years. The Straits of Malacca and South China Sea remain areas of high risk of attack, as well as parts of the Sulu and Celebes Seas in the vicinity of the southern Philippines.
July 11, 2019
A fourth tranche of the ever-popular country comparison maps has been uploaded onto the site, which means that almost 85% of the world’s countries are now displayed in comparison to the United States. 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 celebrated maps.
July 03, 2019
While the availability of electricity has expanded rapidly over many parts of the world in the past few decades, there are still over 1 billion people worldwide that do not have access to electricity. The World Factbook recently updated all of its “Electricity access” entries with the latest available data from 2016 and 2017.
June 26, 2019
Four newly revised maps have been added to the site under the References tab>Regional and World Maps. The World Political map displays all the latest updates, including Kazakhstan’s new capital, while three Americas regional maps – North America Political, Central America and the Caribbean Political, and South America Political – all now conform to the Factbook’s new map style and colors.
June 21, 2019
The World Factbook is proud to unveil its new Travel Facts feature!
144 country pages – ranging from Afghanistan to Yemen – now have an embedded Travel Facts icon, which visitors can click to reveal a downloadable one-page summary of important facts to know before traveling to that country. Travel Facts include: Passport/Visa requirements, US State Dept. Travel Warnings, Vaccination Requirements, Climate, Currency, Major Languages, Religions, Time Difference, Potable Water, International Driving Permit requirement, Road Driving Side, Electricity/Voltage/Plug Type(s), Cultural Practices, Telephone Code, Local Emergency Phone Numbers, and US Embassy/Consulate Information.
Travel Facts for the remainder of the world’s countries will become available in the months to come.
June 13, 2019
The latest rankings (2017) on the top “Ports” and “Airports” have been entered into the ‘World’ entry. The ports information lists the top 20 container ports in terms of throughput numbers, while the airports data presents the top 10 airports by total passengers and by cargo traffic (in metric tons).
June 06, 2019
The 8th Women’s World Cup soccer tournament kicks off tomorrow in Paris; 24 nations will be competing in this quadrennial championship. To help familiarize visitors with the tourney participants, The World Factbook has prepared special One-Page Summaries for each of the 24 qualified finalists (Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Cameroon, Canada, Chile, China, England (United Kingdom), France, Germany, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, South Korea, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Norway, Scotland (United Kingdom), South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Thailand, United States). The One-Page Summaries may be accessed via a special link that appears in the Introduction section – at the end of the Background statement – in each of these countries. Alternatively, all 24 One-Page Summaries gathered together may be found in a link at the end of the Background statement of the ‘World’ entry.
May 30, 2019
Caves are an interesting and amazingly varied component of the earth’s crust. The World Factbook has added Ten Cave Superlatives to its ‘World’ entry (under Geography>Terrain) to help you get a feel for the diversity of caves. Check it out and enjoy.
May 23, 2019
Can you name the five countries that have one-syllable names? Hint: they begin with the initials C, F, G, L, and S.
May 16, 2019
Although The World Factbook no longer appears in a printed format, annual editions – from 2000 onward – are available online and may be accessed on this site by two pathways. Visitors can click on THE WORLD FACTBOOK ARCHIVE in the upper right portion of any page on the website. Alternatively, the ARCHIVE may be accessed by visiting the Gallery of Covers, under the References tab, and clicking on any of the years that appear highlighted in blue.
May 09, 2019
For the first time in over a decade, a new appendix has been added to The World Factbook. Appendix H: Strategic Materials lists all of the compounds, metals, non-metals, and rare earth elements deemed to be of critical importance to US national security. The appendix consolidates much of the information that already appears in individual country ‘natural resources’ and ‘economy’ entries into a convenient one-stop source. Additionally, much supplementary data is included.
May 02, 2019
Last year the CIA’s sister agency, the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA), produced a very well-received Africa Atlas. In the spirit of inter-agency cooperation, the NGA has allowed most of the maps from that Atlas to be used on The World Factbook‘s website. They were recently added and may be found under the References tab>Regional and World Maps. Click on either of the icons for NGA Africa Country Maps or NGA Africa Population Distribution Maps to view them.
April 25, 2019
The Antarctica entry has been extensively updated with information provided by the Department of State’s Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs (OES). Included are the latest available figures on deployed staff at Antarctic field stations, and information on Antarctic governance (treaty updates), economic activities (fishing and tourism), natural resources, and environmental issues.
April 18, 2019
Did you know that despite Madagascar’s close proximity to the African continent, ocean currents isolate the island (the world’s fourth largest) resulting in high rates of endemic plant and animal species. Approximately 90% of the flora and fauna on the island are found nowhere else on earth. Just recently, five new miniaturized frog species were discovered, the largest of which can sit on a thumbnail with room to spare and the smallest of which is about the size of a grain of rice.
April 16, 2019
In response to the US recognition of Israel’s claim to the Golan Heights on 25 March 2019, The World Factbook has updated all of its maps that show that portion of the Middle East.
April 11, 2019
The east central African country of Burundi recently announced that it would make Gitega the political capital of the country, while Bujumbura, the former capital, would remain its economic capital. All branches of the government are expected to have moved from Bujumbura to Gitega by 2021. Gitega had been the capital of the Kingdom of Burundi up to 1966, when the country became a republic.
April 04, 2019
In the People and Society category, “Age structure” field, the accompanying Population Pyramid has been updated for every country with the latest estimated numbers for 2018.
March 28, 2019
On 20 March 2019, Kazakhstan changed the name of its capital city from Astana to Nur-Sultan in honor of its long-serving, recently retired president, Nursultan Nazarbayev. This is not the first time the city has had its name changed. Founded in 1830 as Akmoly, it became Akmolinsk in 1832, Tselinograd in 1961, Akmola in 1992, and Astana in 1998.
March 21, 2019
In the Economy section for the five world oceans – the Arctic, Atlantic, Indian, Pacific, and Southern Oceans – a new “Marine fisheries” entry has been added that lists and describes the major fishing regions, the total tonnage caught, as well as the principal fish catches.
March 14, 2019
Where is the Kalahari Desert? You can find out by going to the Appendices tab>Appendix F: Cross-Reference List of Geographic Names. Under the ‘K’ entries you’ll discover the answer.
March 07, 2019
Have you ever wondered where the hottest, coldest, driest, or wettest places in the world were located? Look no further than the World>Geography>”Climate” entry to find out. New subfields for the earth’s ten driest, wettest, coldest, and hottest locales were recently added.
February 28, 2019
The World Factbook has added seven new continent area comparison maps to its ‘World’ entry under “Area – comparative.” Each of these interesting maps compares the United States to one of the world’s seven continents. Check them out, the relative sizes of the land areas may surprise you.
February 21, 2019
The Bosporus is one of the world’s most strategic waterways; it is the strait that separates Europe to the west from Asia to the east. Istanbul (formerly Constantinople), one of the great historic cities of the world, straddles the Bosporus; it is the only metropolis in the world located on two continents. Can you identify the two bodies of water that the Bosporus connects? Consulting the map of Turkey will reveal the answer.
February 14, 2019
Greece and its northern neighbor Macedonia recently resolved a nearly-three-decade-old naming dispute in which both countries claimed historical rights to the name “Macedonia.” The Republic of Macedonia agreed to change its name to the Republic of North Macedonia and this renaming was officially promulgated on 12 February 2019. The World Factbook will incorporate the new name throughout its database after the US State Department receives an official diplomatic notification from the Macedonian Government and after the name has been approved by the US Board on Geographic Names – all of which should take place within the next few days.
Other country name changes of the 21st century include last year’s name change of Swaziland to Eswatini, the Czech Republic adopting the short-form name of Czechia in 2016, Cape Verde formalizing the Portuguese use of its name Cabo Verde for all official purposes in 2013, and East Timor adopting the name of Timor-Leste shortly after attaining independence in 2002.
February 07, 2019
Where is Tasmania? To find out, go to the Appendices tab>Appendix F: Cross-Reference List of Geographic Names. Under the ‘T’ entries you’ll discover the answer.
January 31, 2019
The “Area – rankings” field in the World>Geography category contains many Top Ten rankings. Recently, listings for the Top Ten largest forested countries, the Top Ten most densely forested countries, and the Top Ten largest deserts were added to this field. Check it out.
January 24, 2019
Lake Victoria, the world’s largest tropical lake and the second largest fresh water lake, is shared among three countries. Can you name them? Consulting one of the Africa maps under the References tab>Regional and World Maps will provide the answer.
January 16, 2019
The Yucatan Peninsula is a huge land body extending north from Central America that divides the Gulf of Mexico from the Caribbean Sea; it is shared by three countries. Can you name them? Various maps under the References tab will help you determine the answer.
January 10, 2019
These additional six common words – pains, plane, pure, rain, regalia, serial – can also be unscrambled to form the name of a country. How did you do?
January 03, 2019
Each of following six common words – also, chain, enemy, laity, mail, moan – can be unscrambled to form the name of a country. Did you get them all?
December 31, 2018
Although the three island groups that make up the Pacific nation of Kiribati only have a land area of 811 sq km, their 32 coral reefs and one coral island are dispersed across 3.5 million sq km of ocean and fall on both sides of the Equator and the 180th meridian. Kiribati thus is the only country in the world to fall into all four hemispheres (northern, southern, eastern, and western).
December 20, 2018
Did you know that Bouvet Island in the South Atlantic Ocean is the most remote island in the world (the farthest from any other point of land)? A territory of Norway, the island is 1,639 km (1,019 mi) from Antarctica.
December 14, 2018
There are 11 countries whose names begin with an ‘A’; all but two of them also end with an ‘A’. Can you name the two ‘A’ countries that don’t end with an ‘A’?
December 06, 2018
All of the Energy numbers, including those for “Electricity,” “Crude oil,” “Refined petroleum products,” “Natural gas,” and “Carbon dioxide emissions from consumption of energy,” have been updated with the latest data available.
November 28, 2018
The number of countries by continent varies greatly. Africa has the most with 54; South America only has 12. To find out how many countries compose the other four inhabited continents (Asia, Europe, North America, and Oceania), and which countries appear on what continent, visit the ‘World’ entry and go to the Geography category>countries by continent.
November 21, 2018
While a number of countries around the world celebrate harvest festivals, several observe a special Thanksgiving holiday. Thanksgiving in the United States takes place on the fourth Thursday of November and typically includes a turkey dinner, with lots of trimmings. Liberia, an African country settled by freed American slaves beginning in 1822, adopted a number of American customs including Thanksgiving. In Liberia, Thanksgiving celebrations occur on the first Thursday of November and the repast consists of roasted chicken, accompanied by mashed cassavas and green bean casserole.
November 14, 2018
Most maritime commercial cargo is containerized, and the distribution of container ports is a useful indicator of world maritime trade. The “Ports and terminals” entry in the Transportation section of the World entry has been updated to reflect the latest statistics on world container traffic. This entry includes the 20 largest container ports in the world as measured by the throughput of “Twenty-Foot Equivalent Units” or TEUs, twenty feet being the standard measurement of a cargo container. In addition, major container ports are listed in individual country entries with their respective throughput. Of the 20 largest container ports in the world, 15 are in East Asia, 3 in Europe, 1 in North America, and 1 in the Middle East.
November 08, 2018
This Sunday, 11 November 2018, marks the centenary of the end of World War I. At 0510 on 11 November 1918 on a railroad siding in the Forest of Compiègne in northern France, the German delegation signed the terms of the armistice that ended the fighting at exactly 1100 on that day. When the United States entered the deadlocked conflict on 6 April 1917, the US Army numbered 127,151 soldiers, 19 months later, on 11 November 1918, the US military numbered 4.7 million and about 10,000 US soldiers were arriving daily in France. It was their numbers, as well as US materiel and capital, that proved crucial in enabling the final Allied victory.
November 01, 2018
In the Government section, “Legislative branch” field, the ‘election results’ entry has been expanded for all European countries with the addition of text describing ‘composition,’ which tallies the number of men and women and the percent of women in unicameral and bicameral legislatures. The total percent of women in bicameral legislatures is included as a note at the end of lower chamber composition data. In coming weeks, composition data will be added for countries in other parts of the world.
October 25, 2018
Did you know that The Sudd is a vast swamp in the north central region of South Sudan in Africa? Formed by the White Nile, its size varies but can reach some 15% of the country’s total area during the rainy season, making it is one of the world’s largest wetlands.
October 18, 2018
There are about a dozen countries in the world that have two capitals, but only one has three. Can you name this African country, a member of the Commonwealth of Nations?
October 11, 2018
The Black Sea, which lies between Europe and Asia, is bordered by six countries. Can you name them? Check your answer by consulting any one of a number of maps under the References tab.
October 04, 2018
In the Military category, the “Maritime threats” entry, which covers seagoing piracy, was recently updated for all countries where these threats exist.
September 27, 2018
In the Communications category, a new “Broadband – fixed subscriptions” field was recently added for all countries. Additionally, the data for “Telephones – fixed lines” and “Telephones – mobile cellular” has been updated.
September 20, 2018
The “Constitution” entries under the Government category for all Western Hemisphere countries have been expanded with the inclusion of a summary description of the procedure for amending a country’s constitution. Expanded “Constitution” entries are now complete for all of the world’s nations.
September 13, 2018
This island country flies the world’s only national flag that consists solely of four horizontal color bands (many countries have three bands, some have five). Can you name this Indian Ocean country?
September 06, 2018
This large island in the Indian Ocean supports a unique biota; about 90% of its plants and animals are found nowhere else on earth. Can you name this island – the world’s fourth largest – which is also a country?
August 30, 2018
Forty newly commissioned area comparison maps have been added to the website, meaning that most major countries of the world now are displayed in comparison to the United States. 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.
August 23, 2018
The Channel Islands, an archipelago in the British Channel off the coast of France, are composed of two crown dependencies. Can you name them? The answer may be found in Appendix F: Cross Reference List of Geographic names.
August 16, 2018
In the Economy category, the fields for “GDP (purchasing power parity),” “GDP (official exchange rate),” “GDP-real growth rate,” “GDP-per capita,” “Inflation rate,” “Public debt,” “Current account balance,” and “Gross national savings” were all recently updated.
August 09, 2018
Although Portugal is a small European country, it includes two prominent Atlantic archipelagos. Can you name them? Hint: Consulting any of The World Factbook’s World or Africa maps will quickly reveal the answer.
August 02, 2018
Did you know that the earth has two massive ice sheets, one in Antarctica, the other in Greenland. The former, which covers 98% of the Antarctic continent, is the largest single mass of ice on the earth covering an area of 14 million square kilometers (5.4 million square miles). Check the References tab>Regional and World Maps to peruse various maps that show the extent of the ice sheets
July 26, 2018
Did you know that there are four countries that make up the Horn of Africa, the eastern part of the continent that sticks out into the Indian Ocean? They are Somalia, Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Djibouti (the initials spell SEED). The Horn designation is derived from its shape being reminiscent of a rhinoceros horn. Check out the Africa maps under the References tab>Regional and World Maps to see for yourself.
July 19, 2018
The World Factbook Archives have been expanded and now include all the editions from 2000 to 2017. The Archives may be accessed by clicking on “Download Publication” in the upper right corner of the home page.
July 12, 2018
Newly redesigned special one-page country Summaries for the World Cup finalists – Croatia and France – may be found at the end of the introductory Background statement for those two countries. The Summaries highlight key World Cup information in addition to selected facts from The World Factbook.
July 05, 2018
Special World Cup one-page country Summaries are available for the eight countries that have reached the quarter finals of the 2018 World Cup soccer tournament – Belgium, Brazil, Croatia, England (United Kingdom), France, Russia, Sweden, Uruguay. Located at the end of the introductory Background statement for each of those countries, the Summaries highlight key World Cup information in addition to selected facts from World Factbook entries.
June 28, 2018
Which of these countries – Belgium, Costa Rica, Croatia, Denmark, Serbia, or Switzerland – is the smallest participating in the World Cup tournament (by area)? Find the answer by going to the References tab and clicking on the Guide to Country Comparisons>Geography>Area.
June 21, 2018
The five African nations competing at the ongoing soccer World Cup tournament in Russia – Egypt, Morocco, Nigeria, Senegal, and Tunisia – include two of the world’s most populous countries and three others with residents in excess of 11 million. You can rank these countries by population (along with all of the world’s nations) by going to the References tab and clicking on the Guide to Country Comparisons>People and Society>Population.
June 14, 2018
The World Factbook is pleased to announce the addition of one-page country Summaries to its site. Links to 10 selected country Summaries – those of Afghanistan, Canada, China, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, North Korea, the United Kingdom, and the United States – may be found at the end of the introductory Background statement for each of those countries. The Summaries highlight key information from lengthier World Factbook entries and should be of use to teachers, students, travelers, researchers, news reporters, or anyone with an interest in geography. Summaries will be periodically updated and new country Summaries will be forthcoming in coming weeks – initially focusing on some of the countries participating in the soccer World Cup.
June 07, 2018
In the People and Society category, “Urbanization” field, both of the subfields – for ‘urban population’ and ‘rate of urbanization’ – were recently updated for all countries.
May 31, 2018
On 18 April 2018, the king of Swaziland announced his intention to change the internationally used name of his country to more closely reflect the Swazi-language form of the name. The decision came into force the following day. On 11 May 2018, the Government of Swaziland published a gazette officially changing the name from Kingdom of Swaziland to Kingdom of Eswatini (long form) or just Eswatini (short form). On 25 May 2018, the US Board on Geographic Names – Foreign Names Committee voted to approve the changes and they have now been incorporated into The World Factbook.
May 16, 2018
Many national flags exhibit either numerous stars or merely one star in their design. There are only four countries that prominently display just two stars on their flag. Can you identify them? Consult the References tab>Flags of the World to determine the answer. Hint: Three of the four countries all begin with the same letter of the alphabet.
May 10, 2018
On Friday 4 May 2018 at 11:30 pm (23:30 hours), North Korea turned its clocks forward one-half hour to Saturday 5 May 12:00 midnight to align its time zone with that in South Korea. This time difference is 9 hours ahead of Coordinated Universal Time (UTC; formerly Greenwich Mean Time) and 14 hours ahead of Washington, DC. Time differences for every country in The World Factbook may be found in the Government category, “Capital” entry.
May 03, 2018
Although most of the length of the Amazon River passes through Brazil, that country is not the ultimate source of that river. Can you name the country where the Amazon originates? Hint: You can determine the answer by consulting either of the South America maps under the References tab>Regional and World Maps.
April 26, 2018
After almost six decades of rule by the Castro brothers – first Fidel and then Raul – Cuba on April 19th installed a new president, Miguel Diaz-Canel. Check the Government section, “Executive branch” entry to see other recently inaugurated or newly elected presidents including those of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Botswana, Costa Rica, Montenegro, Paraguay, and Sierra Leone.
April 19, 2018
Sunday April 22 will mark Earth Day, which was “born” in the United States in 1970 and is now observed in virtually every country on earth (192 of 195 countries by last count). Planet earth was “born” a very long time ago, see the “Geography – note” in the World entry to find out just how old the earth is. While in the World entry, check out the “Geographic overview” to learn a lot of additional fun facts about the earth.
April 11, 2018
This week is National Library Week. One of the largest and most famous libraries in the ancient world was the Great Library of Alexandria in Egypt (founded about 295 B.C., it may have survived in some form into the 5th century A.D.). The Bibliotheca Alexandrina, an Egyptian National Library established in 2002 on the site of the original Great Library, commemorates the original archive and cultural center. Consult the map of Egypt to find the location of Alexandria. Note that it is not on the Nile River as many other major Egyptian cities are. Can you think why the ancients may have wanted to set up the library where they did?
April 05, 2018
The ongoing National Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, DC commemorates Japan’s friendship gift of 3,020 cherry trees to the US in 1912 – and provides an opportunity for a Japan-related query. Japan is composed of four main Home Islands and 6,848 smaller islands and islets. Can you name the Home Islands? The answer may be found in the Japan entry by checking the Japan map or the Geography – note.
March 29, 2018
The Gulf of Tonkin in Southeast Asia borders what countries? A. Cambodia, B. China, C. Vietnam, D. Both A & C, or E. Both B & C. Find the answer by checking the References tab>Regional and World Maps>Southeast Asia map(s).
March 22, 2018
The Baltic Sea, an extension of the Atlantic Ocean in northern Europe, is bordered by nine countries. Can you name them? Consult the References tab>Regional and World Maps>Europe to identify them.
March 15, 2018
South America only has two landlocked countries. Can you name them? Check the References tab>Regional and World Maps>South America to come up with the answer.
March 09, 2018
Africa has the most countries (54) of any continent; 16 of these countries (30%) are landlocked. Can you name them? Refer to the References tab>Regional and World Maps>Africa to see if you can find them all.
March 05, 2018
There is an amazing diversity of “fascinating facts at your fingertips” available in The World Factbook, here are some examples. The height of a horse is measured in hands. How wide is a hand – in either centimeters or inches? Find the answer in Appendix G: Weights and Measures. Which country produces more electricity, India or Russia? Locate the answer under the References tab>Guide to Country Comparisons>Energy>Electricity Production. Where are the next Summer Olympics to be held? See Appendix B: International Organizations and Groups>International Olympic Committee.
February 23, 2018
The Arabian Peninsula is composed of seven countries entirely and parts of two others; it occupies about 3.2 million square kilometers and is often cited as the world’s largest peninsula. Can you name its seven constituent parts? (Note that one of the seven countries is an offshore archipelago linked to the peninsula by a causeway.) The Middle East maps – under the References tab>Regional and World Maps – will provide the answer.
February 16, 2018
The Southern Cross constellation (also known as Crux) is a group of four bright stars in the southern sky; it is distinctly displayed on the national flags of five Southern Hemisphere countries. In the flag of Brazil, it appears centered within a spray of stars and can be overlooked. However, on the flags of the other four countries the constellation makes up a conspicuous part of the design. Can you name the four additional countries that carry the Southern Cross? Check the Flags of the World page under the References tab to find the answers. Hint: The countries all fall within, or border on, the South Pacific Ocean.
February 09, 2018
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 countries in East Asia and the Pacific region as well as the previously completed entries for African, European, Middle Eastern, and South and Central Asian countries. In coming weeks, amending procedures will be added for Western Hemisphere countries.
February 01, 2018
If the temperature in the West African city of Dakar is 98 degrees Fahrenheit, what is this in degrees Celsius? See Appendix G: Weights and Measures to find out how to convert from degrees Fahrenheit to degrees Celsius or vice versa. Then check out one of the Africa maps (under the References tab>Regional and World Maps) to find out what country Dakar is the capital of.
January 26, 2018
In the economy and energy categories, all of the data have been updated through 2017, or through the most recent year for which data are available
January 19, 2018
This landlocked country – one of two in South America – holds the record for the most official languages. According to its 2009 constitution, it has 37 official languages (Spanish plus 36 indigenous languages). Check the appropriate “Language” entries to determine the name of the country.
January 11, 2018
Lake Victoria is Africa’s largest lake and the world’s second-largest freshwater lake, after North America’s Lake Superior. It is also one of the sources of the Nile River. The lake is divided among three countries. Can you name them? Check any of the Africa maps under the References tab to come up with the answer.
January 05, 2018
No less than five African countries have at least two national capitals (usually one serves as an administrative capital while the other seats the legislature). The countries are: Benin, Cote d’Ivoire, South Africa, Swaziland, and Tanzania. Check the “Capital” entry (under Government) for each of these countries to learn the names of the dual (and in one case triple) capital cities.
December 22, 2017
This country – the world’s only grand duchy – was the smallest of six European states that in 1957 signed the Treaty of Rome creating the European Economic Community (EEC), the forerunner to the current European Union (EU). Can you name it? Check the European Union entry to determine the answer
December 15, 2017
In the Transportation section, the “Merchant marine” entries have been revamped and are current through 2017. The entries for each country now list the total number of ships and the major types: bulk carrier, container, general cargo, oil tanker, and other.
December 08, 2017
A new and final set of “Population distribution” fields – describing the dispersion of the populace within a country – has been included for all of the countries of the Pacific Realm under both the ‘Geography’ and ‘People & Society’ categories.
December 01, 2017
Kolonia is the former capital of what country? Find the answer by going to the References > Appendix F: Cross-Reference List of Geographic Names and clicking on “K”.
November 17, 2017
In the People and Society section, the following health and development fields were recently updated: “Children under the age of 5 years underweight”, “Contraceptive prevalence rate”, “Obesity – adult prevalence rate”, and “Unemployment, youth ages 15-24”.
November 09, 2017
Only two countries have as many as six main colors in their flags (red, white, black, yellow, green, and blue). Can you name them? Check the flag images under References>Flags of the World. Hint – they are both African countries.
November 03, 2017
In the Economy category, data for GDP, inflation, unemployment, and current account balance were updated with the most recent data available.
October 27, 2017
The island state of Dominica in the eastern Caribbean lies in the middle of the volcanic island arc of the Lesser Antilles. Sixteen volcanoes make up this arc and five are located on Dominica alone, more than any other island in the Caribbean. The volcanic features of Dominica include the geo-thermally active areas of the Valley of Desolation and Boiling Lake that are popular tourist destinations. The fertile volcanic soils of Dominica support the most extensive tropical rainforests in the Caribbean and an abundant agricultural sector. In September 2017, Hurricane Maria passed over Dominica and the high winds and rain severely damaged vegetation and crops. For more information on volcanism in the Lesser Antilles, see the “Natural hazards” entry for Dominica and the other islands of the Lesser Antilles including: Montserrat, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and Grenada.
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 06, 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 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 08, 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 01, 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 04, 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 07, 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 09, 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 02, 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 06, 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 09, 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 02, 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 02, 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 06, 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 09, 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 02, 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 04, 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 07, 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 08, 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 05, 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 08, 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 01, 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 03, 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 06, 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 08, 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 01, 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 05, 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 08, 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 06, 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 09, 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 02, 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 02, 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 07, 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 02, 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 08, 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 2014-2015 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 05, 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 08, 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 03, 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 06, 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 06, 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 09, 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 05, 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 06, 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 5-2014.” “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 08, 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 01, 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 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 03, 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 06, 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 09, 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 02, 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 that make up the BRICS countries? Find the answer under Appendix B: International Organizations and Groups.
April 04, 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 2013-2014 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 07, 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 03, 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 06, 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 08, 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 04, 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 05, 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 29, 2012
An update on international maritime piracy appears in the World entry, under “Transportation – note.”
August 22, 2012
The Economy section includes updated data through 2011 for the “Market Value of Publicly Traded Shares.”
August 08, 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 01, 2012
In the People and Society section, the “Languages” entry has been updated for dozens of countries.
July 25, 2012
New photos have recently been added for Australia, Iceland, and Kyrgyzstan.
July 18, 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 04, 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 27, 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 21, 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 13, 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 30, 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 23, 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 16, 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 09, 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 02, 2012
The “Fiscal year” entry has been reintroduced in the Economy category.
April 17, 2012
The “Military branches” and “Military service age and obligation” fields have been updated for all countries.
April 11, 2012
An update on international maritime piracy may be found in the “Transportation – note” under the World entry.
April 04, 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 21, 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 14, 2012
How many inches in a micron? Check Appendix G: Weights and Measures to find out!
March 07, 2012
There are 25 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.
February 29, 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 15, 2012
Researching the demographics of a country? Check out the updated information in the People and Society category.
February 08, 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 26, 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 18, 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.