Skip to content. | Skip to navigation

 
Central Intelligence Agency
The Work of a Nation. The Center of Intelligence
World Factbook Title
navigation arrows
View Text Low Bandwidth Version Download Publication
the World Factbook :: What's New
November 03, 2011
The field "Unemployment, youth ages 15-24" has been moved from the Economy section into the People and Society section.
October 27, 2011
The United Nations estimates the world population will reach 7 billion on 31 October 2011. The US Census Bureau, which supplies the population numbers in The World Factbook, estimates the planet's population will pass 7 billion in March 2012. While the true world total population is impossible to know, the Census Bureau and the UN independently estimate the world population through similar means. Estimate differences between the two organizations are due in part to differences in the frequency and timing of demographic updates for each country. Nonetheless, the world population estimates of the Census Bureau and the UN show that we are rapidly approaching the 7 billion mark.
October 20, 2011
Many people know that Canada's national symbol is the maple leaf, but did you realize that Ukraine's is the trident or that India's is the Bengal tiger? Most countries' major national representation(s) may now be be found in the new "National symbol(s)" field in the Government category.
October 13, 2011
In the Economy category, information for "Exports - partners" and "Imports - partners" has been updated to show data for 2010.
October 06, 2011
Have you ever wanted to explore Machu Picchu, the lost city of the Incas? Check out the new photos in the Peru entry (Nos. 8-28) to get a virtual tour!
September 28, 2011
The World Factbook is expanding! The People category is now People and Society and includes eight new fields: Health expenditures (as percent of GDP), Physicians density (per 10,000 people), Hospital bed density (per 1,000 people), Maternal mortality rate (deaths per 100,000 live births), Drinking water source, Sanitation facility access, Children under the age of five underweight (%), and Obesity - adult prevalence rate. Additionally, there is a new field in the Economy category, Unemployment, youth ages 15-24. The new datasets focus on the health and welfare of a country's population, and provide information relevant to a country's internal stability.
September 21, 2011
In the Economy category, the energy fields have been updated with the most recent data available.
September 14, 2011
How many furlongs make up a mile? Check out the Weights and Measures appendix for the answer!
September 01, 2011
Canada recently renamed the three major components of its armed forces. These and other changes for Botswana, Cape Verde, the Gambia, Venezuela, and Yemen may be found under the "Military branches" entry.
August 25, 2011
Two new fields have been added in the Economy section, "Taxes and other revenues" and "Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-)".
August 18, 2011
Data for many of the Economy fields have been revised to reflect the latest estimates.
August 11, 2011
What time is it in the world's newest country, South Sudan? Take a look at the updated Time Zone map in the Regional maps section under the References tab.
August 03, 2011
What country has the highest "GDP - real growth rate"? Find out using the GDP data that has recently been revised to reflect the most recent estimates for 2008-2010.
July 20, 2011
Did you know that almost one-third of the world's countries are assigned annually to either a 'Tier 2 Watch List' or a 'Tier Three' status by the US State Department for their failure to adequately deal with their trafficking in persons problems? These countries are listed in the Transnational Issues category under the 'World' entry; detailed "Trafficking in persons" summaries - updated for 2011 - may be found under each of these countries' listings.
July 12, 2011
South Sudan became the world's 195th country following separation from Sudan on 9 July 2011. The new country entry may be accessed through the Africa regional flash map on the World map of the home page, or via the country listing under the drop down arrow.
July 07, 2011
On 9 July 2011, South Sudan is scheduled to become the world's newest country. The World Factbook plans to include this new entity in its next update. In the Transportation category, the "Railways" field has been updated. New photos entered for Austria, Germany, and the United States.
June 23, 2011
New space-based images of volcanoes and current volcanic eruptions may be viewed in the photos pages of Chile, Eritrea, Iceland, Italy, and Russia.
June 16, 2011
During Soviet times, Kazakhs made up less than 50% of the population in Kazakhstan. What is the current ethnic breakdown in that country? Find out by visiting the "Ethnic groups" field under People. A number of the entries in the People category - religions, ethnicity, languages, and literacy - have recently been updated for many countries.
June 09, 2011
The piracy plague continues unabated. The "Transportation note" entry addressing piracy has been updated for various countries bordering the Indian Ocean, as well as for Nigeria and Brazil.
June 02, 2011
A new entry "International law organization participation," has been added to the Government category; it addresses jurisdiction of the International Court of justice (ICJ) and of the International Criminal Court (ICCt). Note that the information on ICJ jurisdiction, formerly included in the "Legal system" description, has been moved to this new entry. GDP data have been revised to reflect the most recent estimates for 2008-2010.
May 19, 2011
Under the Government category, in the "Capital" field, 'daylight saving time' has been updated for 2011.
May 12, 2011
How many grams in a scruple? Check out the Weights and Measures appendix for the answer!
May 05, 2011
Which country has the highest number of airports? Check the Country Comparison page to find out!
April 28, 2011
Significant updates have been made to the "Pipelines" field in the Transportation category.
April 21, 2011
Did you know that there are more member "countries" of the International Olympic Committee than there are member countries of the UN? (The former includes a number of autonomous or semi-autonomous territories, dependencies, and areas of special sovereignty.) To find out just what countries compose each of these organizations, visit Appendix B.
April 08, 2011
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.
March 25, 2011
What country was formerly named Upper Volta? Find out by checking Appendix F (Cross-Reference List of Geographic Names).
March 18, 2011
Japan's strongest-ever earthquake, and an accompanying tsunami, recently devastated northeast Japan, killing thousands and damaging several nuclear power plants. The "Economic overview" for Japan presents a preliminary survey of the calamitous situation.
March 10, 2011
What country has the longest system of waterways - navigable rivers and canals - in the world? Go to the References tab/ Country Comparison/ Waterways to find out. In the Transportation section, both the "Waterways" and "Roadways" entries have been updated. New photos introduced for Egypt.
March 02, 2011
What country has three megacites with populations of greater than 15 million? (No, it's not China.) Now you can find out the size of a country's four largest cities, as well as its capital, in the new "Major cities - population" field, in the People section of a country entry. See the Definitions and Notes, under the References tab, to get the exact breakdown on what is included in this new field.
February 24, 2011
Did you know that the developing world increased its estimated share of worldwide mobile-cellular subscriptions from roughly 35% at the beginning of the decade to nearly 75% in 2010? All of the telephone-related fields, as well as all of the population entries, have been updated with the latest data.
February 16, 2011
The 2011 Factbook cover 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 a color cover.
February 02, 2011
What do the initials ESA stand for? Check out 'Appendix A: Abbreviations' to find out. New space-based photos have been uploaded for Australia, China, Namibia, Mexico, and the US.
January 25, 2011
What country enjoyed the lowest unemployment rate in 2010? Find out by checking "Unemployment rate" under the Country Comparison feature (in the References tab). The entire Economy category has been updated to reflect data for years 2010 and earlier.
January 14, 2011
Did you know that the highest elevation in the Netherlands is not in Europe? Where is it? Find out by checking the "Elevation extremes" field in the Geography section. New space-based photos have been added for Iran and Russia.
January 07, 2011
What country flag is only one color? To find out visit the Flags of the World page.
December 30, 2010
What airport handles the most passengers annually? Find out by going to the World entry, Transportation category, "Airports" field, and locating the top ten airports by passengers and by cargo.
December 23, 2010
If it's noon in Washington, DC, what time is it in Nairobi, Kenya? The answer may be found in the Government section, under "Capital," where the time difference is specified. New photos from Kenya have been uploaded.
December 17, 2010
How many rare earth elements (REEs) are there? Find the answer in the "Definitions and Notes" (below the References tab). These critical elements, necessary in so many of today's high-tech industries, are now listed in the "Natural resources" field, under Geography, for countries that are producing REEs or initializing mining operations (including Australia, China, Russia, South Africa, and the US).
December 10, 2010
Quick! What's the national anthem of Australia? Now you can find the name, lyricist, composer, and additional basic anthem info for every country in the world by visiting the new "National anthems" field in the Government section of the Factbook.
November 30, 2010
Since 2004, The World Factbook Web site 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.
November 19, 2010
Significant updates entered under the People, Government, and Communications categories.
November 11, 2010
In the Geography category, a new subfield, "volcanism," has been added under the "Natural hazards" field for countries with historically active volcanoes. The Economy section has been updated to reflect the most recent data for 2009 and earlier years.
November 05, 2010
In the Economy category, the "Oil - exports," "Oil - imports," "Oil - proved reserves," and "Natural gas - proved reserves" fields have been updated with the most recent estimates available.
October 29, 2010
In the People category, significant updates have been made to the "School life expectancy" and "Education expenditures" fields. In the Economy category, the "Stock of domestic credit" field has been updated to include data for 2009. In addition, the definition has been expanded to include credit provided by all financial institutions, not just banks, as had been The World Factbook practice until now. For some countries this change significantly broadens the coverage.
October 22, 2010
The dissolution of the Netherlands Antilles has resulted in two new World Factbook entries: the autonomous entities of Curacao and Sint Maarten (the remaining three islands - Bonaire, Saba, and Sint Eustatius - have joined the Netherlands as special municipalities). The number of entities in The World Factbook now stands at 267.
October 13, 2010
In the Economy category, the "Stock of money" and "Stock of quasi money" fields have been updated and renamed as "Stock of narrow money" and "Stock of broad money" in keeping with the International Monetary Fund's new presentation of monetary data. This new format provides greater standardization of reporting and permits more consistent comparisons across countries. Please see "Definitions and Notes" (under the References tab) for descriptions of the new fields.
October 08, 2010
In the Communications category, the "Internet hosts" field has been updated with 2010 data; significant updates entered in the Geography, Government, and Military categories.
October 01, 2010
In the Transportation category, the "Merchant marine" field has been updated with the latest available data; substantial updates also entered in fields of the Government and Economy categories.
September 24, 2010
In the Economy category, new data have been added for 2009 in the fields for "Central bank discount rate" and "Commercial bank prime lending rate."
September 17, 2010
In the Transportation category, the "Roadways" field has been updated with the latest available data; significant updates also entered in fields of the Government and Military categories.
September 13, 2010
In the Government category, the amplification of flag descriptions - to include explanations of colors and symbols - has been completed for all of the country entries.
September 03, 2010
In addition to various population, governmental, and military updates, new photos have been added for Burma, Canada, Poland, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
August 23, 2010
In the Communications category, the former "Radio broadcast stations" and "Television broadcast stations" entries have been replaced by a new "Broadcast media" field that provides information on the approximate number of public and private TV and radio stations in a country, as well as basic information on the availability of satellite and cable TV services. Malawi's recently unveiled new flag may be viewed either in the Flags of the World link or under the Malawi country entry. In the Economy category, GDP statistics have been updated and revised.
August 06, 2010
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.
July 29, 2010
The "International Court of Justice (ICJ)" entry listed under International Organizations and Groups in Appendix B has been expanded considerably and now includes countries adherent to jurisdiction. Several fields in the Economy category covering trade as well as oil and natural gas have been updated with the latest available annual data.
July 23, 2010
Under the References tab, in the Definitions and Notes, the entry for "Legal system" has been significantly expanded; it now includes descriptions, origins, and features of the most common legal systems.
July 01, 2010
Many fields in the Economy category have been updated with the latest available annual data, including "Labor force," "Unemployment rate," "Budget - revenues and expenditures," "Public debt," "Inflation rate," "Current account balance," "Exports," "Imports," "Reserves of foreign exchange," and "Direct foreign investment."
June 18, 2010
The fields in the Economy category for "Stock of money," "Stock of quasi-money," "and "Market value of publicly traded shares" have been updated with the latest available data.
June 04, 2010
Significant updates entered under the Government, Economy, and Military categories. The Country Comparisons function now also appears in the 'World' entry to allow users to quickly view how countries rank in 58 different Factbook fields.
May 21, 2010
Dozens of new photos uploaded for Central and Eastern European countries, most notably Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, Latvia, Poland, and Russia.
May 07, 2010
Major updates made to fields in the People, Government, and Military categories. New photos appear under China, Romania, and Ukraine.
April 23, 2010
The 'World' entry continues to accrue "top ten" rankings; recent additions in the Geography category include the world's ten highest mountains and largest islands. The Transportation category lists the top ten airports (both by passengers and cargo) and container ports, as well as the ten longest rivers.
April 09, 2010
The ongoing expansion of flag descriptions - to also include explanations of colors and symbols - is now complete for over two-thirds of the Factbook entries.
March 26, 2010
The fields in the Economy category have been updated with the latest available data. New photos introduced for the World, the Holy See (Vatican City), and the Philippines.
March 05, 2010
In the Government category, a link to the World Leaders website under the "Executive branch: cabinet" entry allows users to find a listing of a country's major officials.
February 19, 2010
Significant updates introduced in the Government, Communications, and Transportation categories. New photos appear under France and Germany.
January 26, 2010
In the Economy category, information has been updated and now covers the year 2009. New photos added for Egypt and Italy.
January 08, 2010
The introductory Background statements have been updated or revised for dozens of countries. New images introduced for Argentina, China, the Czech Republic, South Africa, Svalbard, and Turkey.
December 04, 2009
In addition to various governmental and military updates, new photos have been introduced for Germany, Greenland, Italy, Malaysia, Maldives, and the United Kingdom.
November 13, 2009
Recent elections and governmental changes recorded for Afghanistan, Aruba, Fiji, Germany, Haiti, Marshall Islands, Mongolia, Tunisia, and Uruguay. In the Economy category, some 20 macro-economic fields have been updated with the latest data. New NASA space photos added for the Atlantic, Indian, and Pacific Oceans, as well as for Montserrat and the World; new ground photos added for Cambodia, France, and Luxembourg.
October 30, 2009
In the Economy category, all the energy-related fields have been updated with the latest data; new photos added for Norway and Poland.
October 14, 2009
In addition to regular informational updates, new photos have been added for Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Russia, and Sweden.
October 02, 2009
In the Transportation category, updates have been made to the "Airports" and "Heliports" fields; new photos added for Libya, Turkey, and the United Kingdom.
September 17, 2009
NASA images taken from space have been introduced to enhance various country photo presentations. Significant numbers of high altitude photos appear under China, Egypt, Spain, Australia, and New Zealand, but can also be found scattered among other country entries. In the Economy category, statistics for "Distribution of family income - Gini index," "Public debt," and "Debt - external" now include two year's worth of data.
September 03, 2009
In the Economy category, statistics for "Current Account Balance," "Exports," "Imports," "Reserves of foreign exchange and gold," "Stock of direct foreign investment - at home," and "Stock of direct foreign investment - abroad" now include two year's worth of data; statistics for "Market value of publicly traded shares" now include three year's worth of data. New photos added for Austria, France, Monaco, Netherlands, and Netherlands Antilles.
August 17, 2009
Various rail gauge line lengths have been updated for all countries in the Railways entry; selected economic and political entries also updated.
July 31, 2009
In the Economy category, statistics for "Central bank discount rate," "Commercial bank prime lending rate," "Stock of money," "Stock of quasi money," and "Stock of domestic credit" now include two year's worth of data.
July 20, 2009
Latest updates include changes to the chief of state or head of government in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Lithuania, and Panama. New photographs have been added for Spain, Portugal, Gibraltar, and South Africa.
July 01, 2009
With the launch of the new Web site, the former "Rank Order" function was renamed "Country Comparisons." The link to Country Comparisons may be found under the References tab. In addition, many of the regional reference maps now incorporate both elevation and vegetation on landmasses, and bathymetry for ocean areas. Statistics for "Unemployment rate" and "Inflation rate (consumer prices)" now include two year's worth of data.
June 08, 2009
Completely redesigned website - presenting a cleaner look, improved navigation, and a host of added features - launched on the World Wide Web. Among the major enhancements are downloadable and printable photos for nearly 100 countries, a "Did You Know?" section explaining the impact of the Factbook around the world, and built-in world rankings for many of the Factbook information fields. Government sections reflect the results of recent parliamentary elections in Kuwait - where women were elected for the first time - and India, as well as presidential elections in Lithuania, Mongolia, Panama, and South Africa.
April 27, 2009
Significant updates made to the People and Economy categories; statistics for "GDP - real growth rate" and "GDP - per capita" (at purchasing power parity) now include three year's worth of data, in 2008 dollars. The Urbanization entry under People expanded to include all countries.
April 03, 2009
In addition to regular country updates, statistics for "GDP (purchasing power parity)" now include three year's worth of data, in 2008 dollars.
March 20, 2009
Recent major leadership changes in Guinea-Bissau, Latvia, and Madagascar included in the Government sections of those countries.
March 02, 2009
Latest US Census Bureau figures - updating basic demographic data for all countries - entered into the database. Entries on religions, languages, ethnic groups, and literacy also updated.
February 06, 2009
Country information updated across all categories. Economic data now includes 2008 estimates where available.
November 05, 2008
In order to provide more information on the nature and global dimensions of the current financial crisis, five additional fields appended to the Economy category: "Central bank discount rate," "Commercial bank prime lending rate," "Stock of money," "Stock of quasi money," and "Stock of domestic credit."
August 06, 2008
In the People category, two new fields provide information on education in terms of opportunity and resources: "School Life Expectancy" and "Education expenditures."
November 06, 2007
In the Geography category, two new fields focus on the vital resource of water: "Total renewable water resources" and "Freshwater withdrawal."
October 31, 2007
Three new fields added to the Economy category: "Stock of direct foreign investment - abroad," "Stock of direct foreign investment - at home," "Market value of publicly traded shares."
Ongoing
Revision of some individual country maps, first introduced in the 2001 edition, continues. Several regional maps have been updated to reflect boundary changes and place name spelling changes.
  The online Factbook is updated weekly. ISSN 1553-8133
For additional information on government leaders in selected foreign countries, go to World Leaders.