Does anyone know if the CIA World Factbook (WF) country estimates are the CIA's own or whether they come from the World Bank (WB) or other sources?

As of today (2015-05-20), CIA WF's page on, for instance, Ethiopia, has economic estimates for 2014, whereas the WB's figures only go up to 2013. Pre-2013 data on CIA WF match with WB's ones, so I assume that WB is the source for these.

  • And if the figures do come from the World Bank, this raises the interesting question about the World Bank's sources ... May 20, 2015 at 9:23
  • Haha. Actually the WB is a bit more transparent on its sources and methodologies than the CIA May 20, 2015 at 9:50

1 Answer 1


They answer (partially) in the faq: https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/resources/the-world-factbook/docs/faqs.html

Quoting them:
What is The World Factbook’s source for a specific subject field?
The Factbook staff uses many different sources to publish what we judge are the most reliable and consistent data for any particular category. Space considerations preclude a listing of these various sources.

Why are there discrepancies between The World Factbook's demographic statistics and other sources?
Although estimates and projections start with the same basic data from censuses, surveys, and registration systems, final estimates and projections can differ as a result of factors including data availability, assessment, and methods and protocols. .... and continues.

  • 4
    ie "it's a black box" May 20, 2015 at 10:31
  • 3
    Yep. Transparency isn't really the business of intelligence services ;-) May 20, 2015 at 19:02

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