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October 23, 2011

The CIA World Factbook - The United States Version of the History of Everywhere

"The World Factbook provides information on the history, people, government, economy, geography, communications, transportation, military, and transnational issues for 267 world entities."

If you want to know how the United States government views any particular country, check out the Central Intelligence Agency "World Factbook." The CIA World Factbook is a reference resource produced by the Central Intelligence Agency of the United States with almanac-style information about the countries of the world.  It provides a two- to three-page summary of the demographics, geography, communications, government, economy, and military of 267 entities including U.S.-recognized countries, dependencies, and other areas in the world.  If you want to check and compare older versions of the Factbook, they can be viewed at Countries of the World website.

The World Factbook actually evolved from the National Basic Intelligence Factbook that was produced semiannually from 1975 until 1980. This predecessor only included country entries that consisted of sections on Land, Water, People, Government, Economy, Communications, and Defense Forces. The first, classified, edition of Factbook was published in August 1962, and the first unclassified version in June 1971.  The World Factbook was first available to the public in print in 1975.

In 1981, the publication became an annual product and is renamed The World Factbook. The 1981 overhaul of the document also included many more sections, such as Transnational Issues and Transportation. The World Factbook was introduced onto the Internet in 1997 and at present time is updated every two weeks. It contains all types of "facts" and statistics on nearly every country on earth.  And in case you were wondering, YES, now there's an app for that

Gaddafi and Obama shaking hands in 2009
In addition to the World Factbook, the CIA also has "World Leaders," where the Agency "publishes and updates the online directory of Chiefs of State and Cabinet Members of Foreign Governments regularly."   World Leaders is a directory published by the CIA that lists four types of state officials: the head of state and/or head of government, the chief of the local central bank, the UN and American ambassadors from the country listed, and the foreign minister.

"Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past." ~George Orwell