Recently there’s been a bit of debate over whether all of the country specific entries from the CIA World Factbook had any merit here at E2. After all, the original entries were posted back when E2 was in its infancy and they consisted mostly of facts and statistics that were outdated, never updated and were supposedly available at other websites. For better or for worse, those entries now reside in the users node heaven.
This is not an attempt to resurrect the debate or those entries. What’s done is done. These are just some tidbits of information about the factbook itself that I’ve culled (I might add at the risk of great personal danger to myself and my loved ones) from the CIA themselves.
Can you provide additional information for a specific country?
Hmm, that depends on what country you’re talking about and what “additional information” you require. As you know, we here at the CIA are a secretive bunch and for good reason. Before disclosing any information we’d require your name, social security number, date of birth, present address, a DNA sample and your willingness to swear an oath of allegiance. We then pass that on to the good folks at the Department of Homeland Security and they’d be in contact with you shortly.
How often is The World Factbook updated?
We reserve the right to update the factbook based on world events. This is especially true of the ones we control. After all, who knows what dictators will be overthrown, or when wars will break out? We’ll let you in on a little secret though, we’ve currently got our eyes focused on Iran. Please keep that to yourself.
Can I use some or all of The World Factbook for my Web site (book, research project, homework, etc.)?
We refer you back to your first question. While the information contained in the factbook is in the so called “public domain” we have certain internal controls in place to ensure that it is not being used against the interests of our national security.
Is it possible to access older editions of The World Factbook to do comparative research and trend analysis?
Funny you should ask, previous versions of the Factbook, beginning with the 2000 edition, are available for downloading - but not browsing - on the CIA Web site. Hardcopy editions for earlier years are available from libraries. (Folks, that part is true). The 2000 edition used to be posted at a website called Everything2.com but was recently deleted for reasons that are still under investigation.
Would it be possible to set up a partnership or collaboration between the producers of The World Factbook and other organizations or individuals?
In case you haven’t caught on, we’re the CIA. We don’t form “partnerships” with organizations or individuals unless there’s something in it for us. Give us Bin Laden, maybe we’ll talk.
I can’t find a geographic name for a particular country. Why not?
The world these days is an ocean of change. Borders are shifting on almost every continent. We’re still trying to sort out the break up of the Soviet Union.
Why are Taiwan and the European Union listed out of alphabetical order at the end of the Factbook entries?
For starters, when it comes to the Taiwan issue we don’t want to antagonize the People’s Republic of China. We thought by hiding it in the back of the book they wouldn’t notice. As far as the European Union goes, it’s not a country.
Why is Palestine not listed in The World Factbook?
That region of the world is still under construction. Besides, our printer is of the Jewish persuasion and the mention of a Palestinian state would cause our rates to go through the roof.
Why is the area of the United States described as “slightly larger than China” in the Factbook , while other sources list China as larger in area than the United States?
What are you some kind of commie pinko fag? The United States is number one in any category we decide it should be number one in . Case close, next question.
Why has The World Factbook dropped the four French departments of Guadeloupe, Martinique, Reunion, and French Guiana?
We’re still a bit miffed about the French and their non participation in the struggle for democracy in Iraq. Beside, nobody except the people living in those places cares about them anyway.
Why doesn’t The World Factbook include pronunciations of country or leader names?
We’ve debated that very question over the years. The consensus was that many countries and their leaders, especially those of Arabic origin are just too difficult for the average reader to understand let alone pronounce.
Why is the name of the Labour party misspelled?
When American and British spellings of common English words differ, we default to the good Ole’ USA.
What is The World Factbook’s source for a specific subject field?
Yeah, like we’re gonna tell you. We’re still stinging a bit from the whole Valerie Plame Iraq uranium from Africa fiasco.
Why is most of the statistical information in the Factbook given in metric units, rather than the units standard to US measure?
Because we’re the only ones in America that pay attention to the Metric Conversion Act of 1975.
Why don’t you include information on minimum and maximum temperature extremes?
Due to the myth of global warming we didn’t feel it was relevant to include such constants. What’s a degree here or there matter anyway?
I am using the Factbook online and it is not working. What is wrong?
There’s probably a coup or some other sort of violent overthrow going on somewhere and we’re in the process of updating the site. Please visit us at www.cia.gov once things settle down. While there are hundreds of “Factbook” look-alikes that exist on the Internet, that’s the only official source.
When I attempt to download a PDF (Portable Document Format) map file (or some other map) the file has no image. Can you fix this?
We’re a little too busy working on matters of national security right now.
When I open a map on The World Factbook site, it is fuzzy or granular, or too big or too small. Why?
That’s intentional on our part. We practically invented the art of disinformation and this just helps us keep honing our skills.
So there you have it folks, that’s the whole skinny on the CIA World Factbook. If, for some reason this is my last w/u here for awhile, it’s probably because I’m undergoing some extraordinary rendition in a far off land. Please keep me in your thoughts and your prayers. I tried to do my best.