The World Factbook website as it appeared in January 2010
Because the Factbook is in the public domain, people are free under United States law to redistribute and modify it in any way that they like, without permission of the CIA. However, the CIA requests that it be cited when the Factbook is used. The official seal of the CIA, however, under US law may not be copied without permission as required by the Central Intelligence Agency Act of 1949 (50 U.S.C.§ 403m).
Before November 2001 The World Factbook website was updated yearly; from 2004 to 2010 it was updated every two weeks; since 2010 it has been updated weekly. Generally, information currently available as of January 1 of the current year is used in preparing the Factbook.
Many Internet sites use information and images from the CIA World Factbook. Several publishers, including Grand River Books, Potomac Books (formerly known as Brassey's Inc.), and Skyhorse Publishing have re-published the Factbook in recent years.
Northern Cyprus, which the U.S. considers part of the Republic of Cyprus, is not given a separate entry because "territorial occupations/annexations not recognized by the United States Government are not shown on U.S. Government maps."
The Paracel Islands and Spratly Islands, subjects of territorial disputes, have entries in the Factbook where they are not listed as the territory of any one nation. The disputed claims to the islands are discussed in the entries.
The U.S. does not recognize the renaming of Burma by its ruling military junta to Myanmar and thus keeps its entry for the country under "Burma". This is done because the name change "was not approved by any sitting legislature in Burma". As a result, the US government has never adopted the name Myanmar.
FYROM/Republic of Macedonia
The Republic of Macedonia is entered as Macedonia, the name used in its first entry in the Factbook upon independence in 1992. In the 1994 edition, the name of the entry was changed to the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, as it is officially recognised by the United Nations (awaiting for the resolution of the Macedonia naming dispute). For the next decade, this was the name the nation was listed under. Finally, in the 2004 edition of the Factbook, the name of the entry was changed back to Macedonia, following a November 2004 US decision to refer to the country using this name, even though the official appellation of the republic within the UN remains FYROM.
On December 16, 2004, the CIA added an entry for the European Union (EU). (Before this date, the EU was excluded from the Factbook.) According to the CIA, the European Union was added because the EU "continues to accrue more nation-like characteristics for itself".
United States Pacific Island Wildlife Refuges and Iles Eparses
The Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRY) broke apart in 1991. The following year, it was replaced in the Factbook with entries for each of its former constituent republics. In doing this, the CIA listed the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY), proclaimed in 1992, as Serbia and Montenegro, as the U.S. did not recognize the union between the two republics. This was done in accordance with a May 21, 1992, decision by the U.S. not to recognize any of the former Yugoslav republics as successor states to the recently dissolved SFRY.
A map of Serbia and Montenegro from the 2000 edition of The World Factbook. Notice how the disclaimer is printed in the upper right hand corner. One can see how the capital cities of both republics are individually labeled on the map.
These views were made clear in a disclaimer printed in the Factbook: "Serbia and Montenegro have asserted the formation of a joint independent state, but this entity has not been recognized as a state by the United States." Montenegro and Serbia were treated separately in the Factbook data, as can be seen on the map. In October 2000, Slobodan Milošević was forced out of office after a disputed election. This event led to democratic elections and US diplomatic recognition. The 2001 edition of the Factbook thus referred to the state as Yugoslavia. On March 14, 2002, an agreement was signed to transform the FRY into a loose state union called Serbia and Montenegro; it took effect on February 4, 2003. The name of the Yugoslavia entity was altered in the Factbook the month after the change.
In June 2009, the National Public Radio (NPR), relying on information obtained from the CIA World Factbook, put the number of Israeli Jews living in settlements in the West Bank and Israeli-annexed East Jerusalem at 250,000. However, a better estimate, based on State Department and Israeli sources put the figure at about 500,000. NPR then issued a correction. Chuck Holmes, foreign editor for NPR Digital, said, “I’m surprised and displeased, and it makes me wonder what other information is out-of-date or incorrect in the CIA World Factbook.”
Geographical information about countries in the CIA Factbook may not quite tally with information from government sources in those countries. For example, the Factbook gives the land area of Australia as 7,682,300 km2 while Geoscience Australia gives the area as 7,692,024 km2, a difference of 9,724 km2. A Fiji government website gives the land area of the Fiji Islands as 18,333 km2 while the CIA Factbook gives the area as 18,274 km2, a difference of 59 km2.
Various demographic information is full of usually minor errors, inaccuracies, and out-of-date information, which are often repeated elsewhere due to the Factbook's widespread use as a reference. For example, Albania is described in the Factbook as 70% Muslim, 20% Eastern Orthodox, and 10% Roman Catholic, which was based on a survey conducted in 1939, before World War II; numerous surveys conducted since the fall of the Communist regime since 1990 have given quite different figures. Another example is Singapore, which the Factbook states has a total fertility rate of 0.78 children per woman, despite figures in Statistics Singapore which state that the rate has been about 1.2–1.3 children per woman for at least the past several years, and it is unclear when, or even whether, it ever dropped as low as 0.78. This extremely low and inaccurate value then gets cited in news articles which state that Singapore has the world's lowest fertility, or at least use the figure for its shock value.
Before 1998, the United Kingdom profile contained a sentence that asserted the UK had gained independence on 1 January 1801. This description in reference to the Act of Union 1801 which expanded the United Kingdom of Great Britain to include Ireland, has since been greatly expanded, although the primary date of UK Independence is now given as 1927. This has been argued by some as misleading, and refers to the date the entity adopted its current name under the Royal and Parliamentary Titles Act, of that year. Indeed it can be argued the country has no one year in which independence was achieved, since there is an arguable legitimate succession of states, systems and entities from the Norman Conquest, 1066.
^ abDirectorate of Intelligence (2011-07-12). "CIA – World Factbook". Retrieved 2011-07-14. "The World Factbook provides information on the history, people, government, economy, geography, communications, transportation, military, and transnational issues for 267 world entities."
^ abcDirectorate of Intelligence. "The World Factbook – Contributors and Copyright Information". Retrieved 2006-09-23. "The World Factbook is prepared by the Central Intelligence Agency for the use of US Government officials, and the style, format, coverage, and content are designed to meet their specific requirements. Information is provided by ... other public and private sources. The Factbook is in the public domain. Accordingly, it may be copied freely without permission of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)."
^ abc"CIA World Factbook 2006 Now Available" (Press release). Central Intelligence Agency. 2006-04-05. Retrieved 2007-01-11. "The World Factbook remains the CIA's most widely disseminated and most popular product, now averaging almost 6 million visits each month. In addition, tens of thousands of government, commercial, academic, and other Web sites link to or replicate the online version of the Factbook. * * * Included among the 271 geographic entries is one for the "World," which incorporates data and other information summarized where possible from the other 270 country listings."
^Directorate of Intelligence (2010-11-24). "World Factbook Updates – October 22, 2010". Retrieved 2010-12-01. "Since 2004, The World Factbook website has been updated on a bi-weekly schedule. Culminating a three-month trial effort, we are pleased to announce that the Factbook will now be updated on a weekly basis."
^ abDirectorate of Intelligence. "The World Factbook – History". Retrieved 2007-03-03. "The first classified Factbook was published in August 1962, and the first unclassified version was published in June 1971."
^Directorate of Intelligence (2008). CIA – The World Factbook 2008: Purchasing Information. Retrieved 2010-12-01. "The Government Printing Office hass assumed production of The World Factbook print edition. The CIA has decided to focus Factbook resources on the World Wide Web online edition..."
^Miller, Jill Young. "CIA puts data on the internet." Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel 12 December 1994.
^Directorate of Intelligence. "The World Factbook – Purchasing Information". Retrieved 2006-09-23. "Other users may obtain sales information about printed copies from the following: Superintendent of Documents...National Technical Information Service"
^ abDirectorate of Intelligence. "The World Factbook – Notes and Definitions: Entities". Retrieved 2011-07-12. ""Independent state" refers to a people politically organized into a sovereign state with a definite territory. * * * There are a total of 266 separate geographic entities in The World Factbook that may be categorized as follows..."
^ abDirectorate of Intelligence (2011-04-08). "World Factbook Updates – April 8, 2011". Retrieved 2011-04-11. "The Indian Ocean island entity of Mayotte became an overseas department of France on 31 March. The change in status makes it an integral part of France and so its description is now included in the France country profile of The World Factbook." (Archived by WebCite at http://www.webcitation.org/5xpDpGjbr)
^Directorate of Intelligence (2006-09-19). "The World Factbook – Burma". Retrieved 2006-09-23. "since 1989 the military authorities in Burma have promoted the name Myanmar as a conventional name for their state; this decision was not approved by any sitting legislature in Burma, and the US Government did not adopt the name, which is a derivative of the Burmese short-form name Myanma Naingngandaw"
^Staff reporter (2004-11-04). "US snubs Greece over Macedonia". BBC News. Retrieved 2006-09-23. "Greece has protested strongly at a decision by the US to refer to the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) simply as "Macedonia"."
^For an example of a redirect, see what happens with the profile for Juan de Nova Island (mirror).
^Directorate of Intelligence (2007-07-19). "CIA – The World Factbook 2007: What's New". Retrieved 2007-07-20. "The five former entities of Bassas da India, Europa Island, Glorioso Islands, Juan de Nova Island, and Tromelin Island, previously grouped as Iles Eparses (Scattered Islands), now constitute a district of the French Southern and Antarctic Lands."
^Department of State (August 1999). "Serbia and Montenegro (08/99) (See Yugoslavia)". Archived from the original on January 14, 2007. Retrieved 2007-02-03. "(Serbia and Montenegro have asserted the formation of a joint independent state, but this entity has not been recognized as a state by the United States.)"
^Department of State. "Chiefs of Mission by Country, 1778–2005: Serbia and Montenegro". Retrieved 2006-10-30. "On May 21, 1992, the United States announced that it did not recognize the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, which was composed of the Republics of Serbia and Montenegro, as a successor state of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia."
^Directorate of Intelligence (1999). "CIA – The World Factbook 1999 – Serbia and Montenegro". Archived from the original on 1999-11-09. Retrieved 2010-10-17. "Serbia and Montenegro have asserted the formation of a joint independent state, but this entity has not been formally recognized as a state by the US. The US view is that the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRY) has dissolved and that none of the successor republics represents its continuation."
^Staff reporter (2002-03-14). "Yugoslav partners sign historic deal". BBC News. Retrieved 2006-10-30. "Serbia and Montenegro have signed an accord which will consign the name Yugoslavia to history and shelve any immediate plans for Montenegrin independence."
^Staff reporter (2003-02-04). "Yugoslavia consigned to history". BBC News. Retrieved 2006-11-17. "From now on it will be called just Serbia and Montenegro—the two remaining republics joined in a loose union."
^Directorate of Intelligence (2007-07-19). "CIA – The World Factbook 2007: What's New". Retrieved 2007-07-20. "The US Board on Geographic Names (BGN) now recognizes Timor-Leste as the short form name for East Timor* * *"