Intelligence Drips From Every Page of the CIA's World Factbook!

You've Got the Whole World In Your Hands!

Congratulations to Gina Haspel on becoming the first Female-American to be the head honcho (hancha?) at the Central Intelligence Agency!

Let the rickety and highly inappropriate references to Mata Hari begin!

This important news story reminds me of a rather insignificant guilty pleasure of mine: The CIA World Factbook!

It's a book! It's a website! It's both! And it's a deep, wide, no-nonsense compendium of facts and figures on every darn one of the world's 267 "international entities."

Did you know that the tiny (160 sq. mile), landlocked (between Austria and Switzerland) country (constitutional monarchy) of Lichtenstein is a leading exporter of "audio and video connectors?"

I did not know that.

Did you just ask me why I would even want to know all that stuff? You did? Well, then, we have nothing more to talk about!

Wade into the demographic data! Wallow in lengthy lists of raw materials! Whip out America’s and Canada’s literacy rates and see whose is bigger!

Did you know that Oman is the only country that begins with "O?" And that Qatar is the only country that begins with "Q?" Don't get me started on Yemen!

There's plenty of pithy stuff, too. For instance, in the listing for China, further down, under the heading of "Political pressure groups and leaders" is the somewhat ominous "no substantial political opposition groups exist." (That seems like something that might pop up on a CIA To Do List.)

China's national symbols are the dragon and the giant panda. (Ironic that a country of 1.3 billion people is symbolized by a beast that can't get pregnant without a team of highly-educated eggheads wielding turkey basters!)

It's even got info on each country's climate! International intelligence gatherers gotta know how to pack!

Did someone ask about maps? They got maps. Interactive ones that allow you to pick out a country based on its shape. This strikes me as strange and not entirely functional or useful, which makes me like it all the more.

I am delighted when I learn new facts about a country. South Africa, I am thrilled to now know, is home to some of the world’s oldest fossils. However, there is occasional disappointment. I was disheartened to learn that take-out food was not invented in Togo. Makes for a nice story, though.

Could it get any better? Yes it can! You can gaze upon the flag of every nation! And each listing for each country includes a DESCRIPTION OF EACH FLAG! That's right: Our spooks don't think it's enough to provide you with a picture of the flag. No. They describe that flag in detail!

Hey, they’re America’s intelligence agency, paid for with our tax dollars! It’s great they just slice off a giant hunk of intelligence and serve it up, complete with flags and maps and stats! It’s updated several times a week and you can even buy a hard copy!


Michael  Loftus
EditorMichael Loftus