The CIA World Factbook 2013
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
I just received my new CIA WORLD FACTBOOK 2013 and am happy to say it is everything prior reviewers have said about the 2012 version. An info freak's delight, this book in its 922 pages (not 960, as the Product Info. states) gives wonderfully detailed information about every nation in the world, even jurisdictions too small or politically compromised to have made it to the 2012 London Olympics. We learn not only the "World Almanac" type of basic facts like location, language and religion but also receive a brief typology of climate, how the nation came to be politically, "Political Parties and Leaders," "Political Pressure Groups and Leaders," what international organizations the country belongs to, what kind of diplomatic relations it has with the USA, an explanation of how the executive, legislative and judicial branches work, and a nearly exhaustive breakout of economics -- even where each country rates overall in terms of cell phone usage and paved airport runways.

Is there any other one-volume reference work so detailed? Not at this price, not that I know of. A couple of remarks: as prior reviewers have noted, the maps are perfunctory at best: muddy, black-and-white drawings that seem to have been photo-reduced from more useful cartography. Also, since the CIA is funded (one hopes) mainly by U.S. taxpayers, why was this volume printed in Canada?
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
The first line in the introduction tells us much about this thick volume (page viii): "The World Factbook is prepared by the Central Intelligence Agency for the use of US government officials, and the style, format, coverage, and contents are designed to meet their specific requirements." Then, the book described the history of American intelligence and the Factbook. Pages xxx-xxxi lay out the organizational format for each country considered--including geography, people, government, economy, communications, transportation, military, and transnational issues (such as drugs, trafficking, and disputes).

To illustrate, let's consider the first country in the book, Afghanistan. There is a brief introduction. Geography? We see the territorial component (652,230 square kilometers, ranking it the 41st nation in the world, in terms of land). Current geographical issues include limited natural freshwater, soil degradation, deforestation, and air and water pollution. People: the coverage notes the divided ethnic structure and the many languages spoken. Startling (and a real problem)--42% of the population is between 0-14 years of age. Transportation appears to be an issue: there are 42,150 kilometers of roadway (86th in the world), with only 12,350 kilometers of paved roads.

The book considers countries from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe. The last segment of the book is a variety of maps.

All in all, a treasure for those who want basic information about the countries of the world.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on November 4, 2012
I recently had been assigned a research paper on the Middle East from a college class I am taking. One of my first moves was to order this book. I was very pleased as this book proved to be immensely helpful and it is absolutely filled to the brim with information on every country in the world.

Highly quotable and easy to reference, I feel strongly that using this book as a source for research is highly recommended as few would find the CIA to be lacking in credibility. Furthermore, most college professors dislike when students reference Wikipedia; which is of course probably the most common source of similar info, but being as it is that Wikipedia can be edited by nearly anyone, there are some questions as to the reliability of information posted therein.

I had heard before that the CIA World Fact Book was originally intended to serve as an all-encompassing, accurate, and concise reference for various public officials such as diplomats, bureaucrats, politicians, etc. With that being said, this book will not provide you with a detailed historical background, nor will you find much fluff and explanations. Rather, it is listed with various numbers, such as national GDP, GDP per-capita, population and growth, etc, while also giving a brief outline on current political events, political parties, and so on.

This book serves its purpose remarkably well, it is a must have source for anyone conducting research within the field, and provides the reader with invaluable information from a reliable source.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on November 26, 2012
I use this book as a supplement for my research during speech competitions and I absolutely love it! It has more data and detail than anyone probably needs, but this makes it an essential tool when researching anything in the geopolitical arena. It has everything from the number of airports in a certain country, to the same country's Gross National Income.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on January 19, 2013
There's nothing 'wrong' with this product per se, its just that most of the information is availabe in the World Almanac and the latter has quite a bit more information than the CIA factbook.

I am astonished at the lack of detail made available on the armed forces of each country. Truly a minimalist job that doesn't really tell you anything. I'm not looking for secrets but detail on the order of the ISS publications would be very welcome.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on December 24, 2012
This is good as far as it goes;
But that is not very far. It could do more to characterize countries, say a little more about its "street" vitality. But perhaps I am asking too much. Perhaps that is what travelogues do. Even so, I found the entries a little terse. OK for writing a high school term paper, but not to get an idea of the nation beyond the very bare essentials.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on September 16, 2013
Be prepared for how large it is lol. I wasn't expecting it to be small, considering it has 922 pages, but it's about dictionary size. The maps are good for what they are, by giving you a general reference of where the countries are in relation to one another, but don't expect satellite imagery with topographical features. All in all, very good for the price.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on November 30, 2012
The The CIA World Factbook 2013 is a steal at this price ($12). My initial thought before purchasing it was that the book quality would be horrendous, due to how little it costs. I was pleasantly surprised that the build quality was perfectly fine. This book will last for a long time. Also, if you have used the online CIA World Factbook (which presumably you have since you searched for this Book), then you will find this equally easy to use. Just in case you are unaware, all content in this book is available online for free, simply go to [...]

There are, however several issues I've had with the book.

1. The print smudges, so the pages must be handled carefully. I can live with this for a $12 book, however the next issue cost this book a star.
2. The information in some subsections is truncated, often mid-sentence. I have only seen it once, but it may happen more than the one instance I found, which I guess is to be expected in such a huge compilation of information. I would take off 2 stars, but the issue is not common enough to warrant it.

I realize #2 might really irk some potential buyers. I will explain in detail what the issue is, so you can decide for yourself. The CIA World Factbook has some subsections that are pretty lengthy, like each country's overview of their economy. Most of these sections are complete, but for one country (I can't remember if it was Chile or Argentina), the paragraph ends halfway through. It's a downer for sure, but I've overcome the disappointment. I wish I could say which countries have it, but I have not gone through every country yet (not even close).
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on July 11, 2013
I checked a couple of places I am familiar with, and the info seems up to date. Doesn't mean that it stays that way - we'd had an unscheduled change of leader in Australia this year since the book was printed. (!!)
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on April 26, 2013
We bought this for the office and use it to play statistics games and guessing what resources countries you have never heard of are most known for. Good times all around.
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