CIA Intelligence Handbooks 1963-1986

One of the better known CIA’s basic intelligence products is the World Factbook, which has been available online for over 20 years. (I’ll do a separate post later about the Factbook series.)

In addition to the basic information on the countries, the Agency archive contains several ‘intelligence handbooks’ for specific areas and countries. I haven’t dug deeper into the history of the series, but just by looking at the contents we can┬ásee they vary in scope.

The older handbooks for special operations go into a fair amount of detail about practicalities relevant to detailed operational planning, such as survival factors, diseases carried by local insects and usable airfields.

Handbook for Special Operations, Borneo (1964) – details of usable airfields

The more recent guides are more like reference guides in nature, usable as a general reference for analysts. They cover subjects such as historical considerations (e.g. territorial disputes), geography, economics, politics and security aspects.

In the case of a few countries, there are additional guides on specific aspects of the countries. For North Vietnam, there are separate guides for economy and governance. For China, there are also separate handbooks on economy and trade.

The Canadian Arctic: A Handbook (1983) – Map of mineral resources

Some of the documents are partials, as it appears in the 1970s the reference guide binders were updated only for those sections which had notable changes over time.

The list below covers the area guides I’ve found so far.

Area Scope note Year
Afghanistan 1972
Angola 1984
Bahamas 1971
Bangladesh 1982
Barbados 1971
Bolivia 1972
Borneo Special Operations 1964
Brazil 1968
Burma partial, update only 1970
Cambodia Special Operations 1970
Canadian Arctic 1983
Chile partial, update only 1970
Congo (Brazzaville) 1972
Costa Rica partial, update only 1972
Cuba Foreign Trade 1975
Czechoslovakia 1972
Dominican Republic 1972
Eastern Indonesia 1966
Ecuador 1970
Ecuador partial, update only 1972
El Salvador partial, update only 1972
Guatemala Special Operations 1967
Iran 1982
Iraq 1982
Lebanon 1971
Malawi 1971
Malaysia 1972
Mexico partial, update only 1971
Namibia 1982
Nigeria 1966
North Vietnam 1972
– Economy 1972
Norway 1972
Oman 1981
Peru partial, update only 1971
Portugal 1972
Portuguese Guinea 1972
People’s Republic of China 1972
– Economic Indicators 1975
– International Trade 1975
– Trade Handbook 1975
Rhodesia 1970
Saudi Arabia 1972
Senegal 1971
Sierra Leone 1972
Somali Republic Special Operations 1966
South Africa’s Black Homelands 1983
South Korea partial, update only 1970
Sri Lanka 1984
Sub-Saharan Africa Port & Air Facilities 1986
Sudan Special Operations 1963
Sumatra Special Operations 1965
Tanzania partial, update only 1972
Uruguay 1970
USSR 1972
West Bank 1982
Yemens, The 1984
Zaire, Regions of 1983
Zambia 1972

The data has been copied from this spreadsheet I used for sorting the finds. Will update the sheet and this page if any new related notable documents pop up.

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