CIA World Factbook

This is weird…

Really weird…

F–ing weird… (The Tango Maureen anyone?)

I’m obsessed with the CIA World Factbook. Go ahead, bookmark it. Just trust me. This wonderful resource, as the CIA explains, “provides information on the history, people, government, economy, geography, communications, transportation, military, and transnational issues for 267 world entities.”  What does that mean?

There is a HUGE amount of information about literally every corner of the globe right at your fingertips.

Do you want to know the religious breakdown of Peru? Roman Catholic 81.3%, Evangelical 12.5%, other 3.3%, unspecified or none 2.9% (2007 Census) 

The maternal mortality rates of New Zealand?

14 deaths/100,000 live births (2008) country comparison to the world: 135

The GDP per capita of Portugal? It’s there.

$23,200 (2011 est.) country comparison to the world: 58

When you search for a country, you see several types of maps and then some categories.

I did this example with Argentina, because I google image it when I feel sad and want to study abroad there. Casual.

Below the flag and map, you’ll see these categories. (People and society is my favorite).

Everything you’ve ever wanted to know about Argentina

Expand some or all of them and the fun info pours out.

The categories cover SO MUCH and the information is updated annually (if the data is old, they indicate it with parentheses).

Some facts about Argentina:

So random but it would be fun to compare.

How does this come in handy? Let me count the ways…

1. Research/Any school work. This information is reliable, totally credible to cite, and way more detailed than Wikipedia.

2. Travel. Before you go somewhere, it’s so much fun to look up the history of its flag, how government works, and main religious groups. I was recently in the Dominican Republic and was curious about education there. A few minutes looking at the factbook on my return were super helpful.

3. Reading the news. The international section of the paper can be pretty overwhelming. If you’re curious about the economy of Syria right now, head to the factbook. Ditto with the gender ratio of Afghanistan or anything else.

4. It’s fun. I know I’m a geek but seeing so much information about so many places is engrossing. Some countries are in such difficult situations while others are so secure. These disparities and the reasons behind them fascinate me, and the factbook is a great way to start exploring.

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