Website of the Week (The World Factbook)


The World Factbook provides information about 267 countries that includes history, people, government, economy, geography, communications, transportation, military, and transnational issues. That's an accurate description but it doesn't convey the enormous amount of information on the site.

image view of countries around the world with continents in varying colors

The World Factbook is produced by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) of the United States. For many years it was produced as a book - the CIA has stopped producing it in book form and it's now available as a web site. The paper edition is still produced but not by the CIA.
I appreciate the accessibility features; you can download the whole site, view the site as text, or use the low bandwidth version.
There are seven RSS feeds you can subscribe to including what's new, kids page updates, featured stories and more.

Most of the reference material is easily accessed using the tabs toward the top of the page and the drop down menu where you can easily select a country or location. The Reference tab contains regional maps, flags of the world, definitions, notes and profiles for the countries and the site.
The Appendices have useful guides to abbreviations used on the site, weights and measures, country profiles and country comparisons.

The Kids' Page features sections for K-5th Grade, 6-12th Grade, Parents and Teachers, Games and Related Links. The Games page has a good assortment of activities - there are puzzles, word find and concentration pages along with sections in Aerial and Photo Analysis, World Exploration and Break the Code. Where possible text versions of the pages are provided. You'll need a Flash enabled browser to use some features on the Kids page.
As a side note, the Kids page makes a loud clanking type of noise followed by the sound of a phone ringing right after the page opens. If you're working with several tabs open the noise can be a little startling.

There are many areas of the site and it's more fun and interesting to go there and look around than it is to write or read about it. =)|
The World Factbook is in the public domain and can be modified and redistributed without permission. The CIA asks that the site be referenced or linked to when the Factbook is used. The official CIA seal may not be copied without obtaining permission.
Wikipedia has an interesting entry about The World Factbook if you'd like to learn more.

The World Factbook

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