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 see 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.
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.
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.
|Burma||partial, update only||1970|
|Chile||partial, update only||1970|
|Costa Rica||partial, update only||1972|
|Ecuador||partial, update only||1972|
|El Salvador||partial, update only||1972|
|Mexico||partial, update only||1971|
|Peru||partial, update only||1971|
|People’s Republic of China||1972|
|– Economic Indicators||1975|
|– International Trade||1975|
|– Trade Handbook||1975|
|Somali Republic||Special Operations||1966|
|South Africa’s Black Homelands||1983|
|South Korea||partial, update only||1970|
|Sub-Saharan Africa||Port & Air Facilities||1986|
|Tanzania||partial, update only||1972|
|Zaire, Regions of||1983|
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.