Database of the Week: The World Factbook

Ever wonder where you can find information on a country’s demographics or maybe you need to know just how many cellular phones are currently in use in a particular country? The fast and easy way is by consulting the CIA World Factbook. The print version of the World Factbook is compiled by the Central Intelligence Agency annually, but its website is updated every two weeks. Country information includes geography, economy, people, government, transportation, military and transnational issues.

To start your search, go to the drop down menu at the top of the homepage. From the menu, choose your country (anywhere from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe). You can also choose Taiwan, the European Union or even the World. A profile of the World turned up some pretty interesting facts. For example, did you know that both China and Russia each border 14 other countries? Or that global output rose by 5% in 2006 – led by China (10.5%) – useful data for you Economics majors out there.

The site is easy to navigate – you can scroll and browse through the country’s profile or you can select links to take you directly to the section you need. The site also includes reference maps:

and seven appendixes:

A. Abbreviations
B. International Organizations and Groups
C. Selected International Environmental Agreements
D. Cross-Reference List of Country Data Codes
E. Cross-Reference List of Hydrographic Data Codes
F. Cross-Reference List of Geographic Names
G. Weights and Measures

While you’re browsing through the site be sure to take a look at the Flags of the World. Some flags might be a little unimaginative:

And yet others truly fascinating:

(Click on the image to find out to which country the flag belongs).

Linette Neal,
Reference Librarian

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