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Political Handbook of the World

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The Book

For eighty years, researchers seeking government and political information on countries around the globe have turned to Political Handbook of the World for the most authoritative and complete presentation of facts and analysis.

Political Handbook of the World provides thorough and accurate information on the major aspects of each country's government and political party system. As a convenient, one-volume print source for global political information, each edition features country profiles that include:

  • Key facts: Political status, area, population, major urban centers, official language, monetary unit, heads of government, heads of state, ambassadors, and U.S. and U.N. representation.
  • Government and political history: Historical trends, regime changes, constitutional history, and regional and global policy issues of concern.
  • Current Issues: Headline-making events, trends, controversies, and challenges.
  • Political parties and organizations: Leading and minor parties, quasi-partisan and extra-systemic organizations, alliances, party histories, ideology, and leadership.
  • Legislatures and cabinets: Recent national election results, legislative leaders, cabinet ministers.
  • Communications: Names, circulation, and political affiliation of major national media; news agencies; television coverage and Internet usage.

In addition to the United Nations and its specialized agencies, the Handbook profiles a number of intergovernmental organizations, such as the African Union, OPEC, NATO, the WTO, regional banks, and the International Criminal Court.

Online Edition

The online edition of Political Handbook of the World combines the same comprehensive country and intergovernmental organization profiles from the print edition with a convenient, user-friendly database that organizes the content with a number of browses. Major political events that have occurred since the publication of the print volume have been included as notes at the beginning of affected entries. Users can quickly access content from the Handbook by navigating a virtual table of contents, performing a keyword search, or browsing for country profiles by:

  • Regime Type
  • Party System
  • Electoral System
  • System of Government
  • Region


The roots of the current Political Handbook of the World extend back to A Political Handbook of Europe: 1927, published by the Council of Foreign Relations. A year later the European volume was expanded into A Political Handbook of the World: 1928 and published for the Council by Harvard University Press and Yale University Press. At the time, the Council sought to challenge isolationist sentiments in the U.S. government and the populace as a whole, believing that a more international outlook was needed to best serve long-term U.S. interests. One goal of the original Handbook was to combat what the anti-isolationists believed was an information gap in the United States about the internal affairs of foreign countries. The 1928 Handbook quickly established its reputation as a standard reference source in government, media, and business circles by presenting strictly informational work designed to permit readers to make their own informed judgments on overseas developments. This same unbiased editorial tradition continues today under the editorial direction of CQ Press.

Note: From 1929 through 1962, the Handbook was published as A Political Handbook of the World. After the introduction of full color maps, the Handbook was published as Political Handbook and Atlas of the World from 1963 to 1970. The Handbook was then updated with annual supplements titled The World This Year in 1971, 1972, and 1973. The Handbook then returned to Political Handbook of the World.