We're looking for some datasets (preferably time-series) on the percentage of people in different countries who adhere to different religions (like here), speak different languages (like here) or belong to different ethnic groups (like here - oops I can only post two links...).

I have heard that there are parsers for the CIA World Factbook (WFB). But does anybody know whether those also work on 'old' versions of the WFB, and if so - how far back? So if we were to run them on older versions of WFB on Wayback Machine - would they work? Or better yet: is there anybody who's already done that?

I'd be very grateful for any hints.


  • Commenting so I can follow this because I've wanted WFB data in something other than a PDF.
    – pndfam05
    Commented Apr 6, 2016 at 13:31

1 Answer 1



If you are happy with a single value per country, the world bank got you covered with the dataset World Development Report 2011. It contains time series from 1960 to 2009 for all countries of high-level indicators, summarising statistics from various public sources. Among them is the CIA World Factbook.

The accompanying codebook on the field DominantReligion_EB_CIA:

If 50% or more of the population adhere to a particular religion, that country is deemed to contain a dominant religion. The various denominations of a particular religion are added together. The coding is as follows: 0= No dominant religion; 1= Christianity; 2= Islam; 3= Buddhism; 4= Hinduism; 5= Judaism; 6= Shintoism.

There are other fields related to religion in that dataset as well, like Freedom_religion_CIRI (indicator to freedom of practising one's religion), Relipol_Montalvo_Querol (religious polarization score), Relifra_Montalvo_Querol (religious fractionalization).


Here the dataset only has one numeric field OfficialLanguages_EB_CIA, measuring the number of official language per country, and four boolean columns indicating whether English, French, Spanish, Arabic are among these official languages.

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