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Posts Tagged ‘CIA World Factbook’

Comparing Contemporary and Historical Public Domain Images

Posted by Laurie Frost on August 17, 2010

Judging from the search terms that land people at this blog, it seems a lot of people are looking for public domain images of structures throughout the world. Earlier this year I had a series of posts offering contemporary views from the CIA Factbook, but the problem with many of those is that they are no better composed than your average tourist shot. If you don’t require current views, you may be just as well off choosing one over a hundred years old from the Library of Congress’s [LoC] catalogue.

In this post, for current views, use Credit: CIA Factbook; old views; Credit: Library of Congress [image ID].

Here we have St.  Andre’s [St. Andrew’s] Church, Kiev, Russia (Ukraine) [LC-DIG-ppmsc-03822] between 1890 and 1900 and, next, today.

[St. Andre's Church, Kiev, Russia, (i.e., Ukraine)]

 

The church has been spiffed up quite a bit in recent years, and if you could crop out that annoying wire and don’t need the whole church, the Factbook’s view is hard to resist — the colors are lovely. I can’t figure out why in the old picture the church seems to tilt when the trees and telephone pole (?) on the left don’t.

In some cases, things have definitely changed around the structure, if not so much to it. Here’s outside the South Gate, on one of the main highways of the Hermit Capitol, Seoul, Korea in 1904  [LC-USZ62-72551]:

Outside the South Gate, on one of the main highways of the Hermit Capitol, Seoul, Korea

and today:

There’s been little change to Alexander’s Column, St. Petersburg, Russia, between 1890 and 1900 [LOT 13419, no. 115] and today, but in this case, the older picture is the better one, I think.

[Alexander's Column, St. Petersburg, Russia]

 

The contrast between these next two images is interesting. First, the Factbook’s contemporary view of  “Part of the Hangman’s Bridge (Henkersteg; built 1457) in Nuremberg. The city executioner used to live in the tower and the roofed walk above the River Pegnitz. Considered a ‘persona non grata,’ the hangman was avoided by the citizens of the city.” Next, from the LoC, an albumen print from some time between 1860 and 1890 of the same structure [#94512777]. The water level seems to have risen, and the covered part of the bridge has received some paint, but otherwise not much has changed in the past 120 to 150 years, except the tower no longer houses a hangman.

In Antwerp, Belgium, the City Hall (Stadhuis) also doesn’t seem to have changed much in the past 100-120 years (LoC dating; #2001697875) in spite of two world wars. Then again, even before the turn of the 20th century, it had seen much; the building was erected between 1561 and 1565.

 Here’s a painting of pilgrims at Lourdes, France,  published by Currier & Ives some time between 1856 and 1907 [LC-USZC2-2915]. The caption from the Factbook for the next image reads, “Pilgrims and visitors at Lourdes. The Rosary Basilica in the foreground serves as an entranceway to the larger Basilica of the Immaculate Conception behind.”

Pilgrims at the Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes

Again, depending on your purpose, you might prefer this photochrom print from the last decade of the 1800s of  the monument of Alexander II, Helsingfors, Russia [ i.e., Helsinki, Finland] [ LOT 13419, no. 023]  since the Helsinki Cathedral seems to be undergoing some repairs in this Factbook shot.

[Monument of Alexander II, Helsingfors, Russia, i.e., Helsinki, Finland]

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CIA World Factbook Photos, 14: Switzerland, Germany, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Belgium

Posted by Laurie Frost on April 1, 2010

 Here are some more public domain images from the CIA World Factbook:

Switzerland

The Matterhorn, one of the highest peaks in the Alps [4,478 m (14,688 ft)], and the rooftops of Zermatt.

Read the rest of this entry »

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CIA World Factbook Photos, 12: Russia, Estonia, Ukraine, Poland, Czech Republic

Posted by Laurie Frost on March 16, 2010

Judging by the laspes between posts, I think I’m getting bored with this world tour through the CIA Factbook , so let’s get on with it. Just have Europe left to go, but I don’t want to neglect this because it just isn’t that easy to find contemporary photos of  these countries that are unambiguously in the public domain. I suspect that those on the CIA Factbook site are submitted by employees who snapped them during their travels — they aren’t usually examples of Photography with a capital P — but that isn’t the focus of this blog. It’s public domain images, ones you can use without risk of a battle down the road.

Russia

Saint Basil’s Cathedral, Moscow.

Cathedral of the Resurrection of Christ, Saint Petersburg.

Read the rest of this entry »

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CIA World Factbook Photos, Part 11: Greenland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark

Posted by Laurie Frost on March 3, 2010

It’s been a long time since this blog’s last batch of pictures from the  CIA World Factbook. To review, the Factbook is a great source for public domain maps and pictures of flags, as well as information for nations of the world recognized by the US. For some countries, there are a handful of photographs as well.

Accompanying each photo thumbnail is this statement:

Factbook photos – obtained from a wide variety of sources – are in the public domain and are copyright free.

We’re heading into Europe, first flying over the glaciers and fjords of Greenland (below):

and then into Iceland, looking down on a caldera, or the crater resulting from a volcano’s cone collapsing:

Gullfoss Waterfall, Iceland

Read the rest of this entry »

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CIA World Factbook Photos, 5: India, Nepal, Tibet, China

Posted by Laurie Frost on November 24, 2009

This time it’s out of Africa and into Asia on the around the world tour of public domain photos from the CIA World Factbook.

Note that while my title lists Tibet along with three other nations, it isn’t recognized as such in the Factbook. If you want to download the picture of Namco Lake near Lhasa from the Factbook site, you’ll find it in the collection of photos from China.

Taj Mahal, Agra, India

The Dhamek Stupa, Sarnath, Uttar Pradesh, India, believed to be where the enlightened Buddha first preached

River Ganges, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India

Prayer flags on the Swayambhunath Stupa, Kathmandu, Nepal

Namco Lake, Tibet

Tiger Leaping Gorge, Lijiang, Yunnan, China

Elephant Trunk Hill, Guilin City, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, China

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CIA World Factbook Photos, 3: Kuwait, UAE, Bahrain, Israel, Jordan, Egypt, Sudan

Posted by Laurie Frost on November 15, 2009

Continuing with this series of public domain photos from the CIA World Factbook, this post moves into the Middle East. There are no photos on the country pages at the Factbook website for Iran, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia, and so there are none here.

KU_003

Water towers, Kuwait.

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Restored dhow (Arab sailing vessel) on display in Kuwait City.

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The design of the Burj-al-Arab Hotel in Dubai, United Arab Emiratres, is said to be based on the dhow’s sails.

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Walls of the historic Bahrain Fortress

bahrain

The Tree of Life, Bahrain, has survived for hundreds of years in the middle of the desert.

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Jerusalem, Israel, at night viewed from the Mount of Olives.

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Petra, Jordan

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The Street of Facades in Petra, Jordan, is made up of 44 tombs.

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Wadi Rum, the largest wadi or valley in Jordan.

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Dead Sea, Jordan

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Hookah (above) and head-dress (below) shops in Amman, Jordan

JO_004

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The Sinai Monastery of St. Catherine’s, Egypt

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Feluccas (sailing boats) on the River Nile, Egypt.

The Sphinx and the Pyramid of Khafre at Giza, Egypt.

The Pyramid of Menkaure at Giza, Egypt. Smaller ones are his wives’.

Stair-step construction shown on corner of the Khafre pyramid. The Great Pyramid of Khufu appears in the distance. Giza Plateau, outside Cairo, Egypt.

The Pyramids of Khufu (left) and Khafre on the Giza Plateau, outside Cairo, Egypt.

SU_001

Pyramids of the Kushite rulers at Meroe, Sudan

untitledCIA World Factbook regional map of the Middle East

Maps  (left to right) showing the locations on the regional map above of Bahrain, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, Israel, and Jordan

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CIA World Factbook Photos, Part 2: Afghanistan, Turkey, Pakistan

Posted by Laurie Frost on November 13, 2009

AF_002

The space once occupied by the “Large Buddha,” one of two 6th century statues demolished in 2001 by the Taliban in Bamyan Province, Afghanistan.

Continuing viewing photos accompanying country pages in the CIA World Factbook, this post moves along to Afghanistan, Turkey.

I found one answer to my bafflement at why some countries have pictures and others don’t, which I mentioned last time. Reading the updates on the Factbook website home page, I learned that it only started providing photos in June, and the addition of pictures is continuing, albeit gradually. Something to bear in mind as you file away ideas on where to look for public domain images of places around the world.

All photos in this post courtesy of CIA World Factbook and taken from the country’s entry on the Factbook website.

AF_003

View of surrounding farmlands from within the caves at the “Large Buddha” in Bamyan Province, Afghanistan.

AF_001

Turquoise lake in Band-e-Amir, a national park in Bamyan Province, Afghanistan.

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Bamyan lakes region, Bamyan Province, Afghanistan.

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The “Red City,” Bamyan Province, Afghanistan, named for the red clay used to construct the buildings,  preserved  by the arid climate.

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Reaching heights of 130 feet, these rock formations, nicknamed “fairy chimneys,” were formed by volcanic eruptions and sculpted by wind and rain erosion. Cappadocia region, Turkey.

TU_007_large

Sultan Ahmed Mosque (the Blue Mosque), Istanbul, Turkey

TU_001

The Roman Theater in Ephesus, Turkey.

The Hunza Valley, Pakistan

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CIA World Factbook Photos, Part 1: Greece, Albania, Croatia, Slovenia, Hungary, Slovakia

Posted by Laurie Frost on November 9, 2009

As noted in the last post, there is a page for each country in the CIA World Factbook. All have maps and and cover the same categories of facts. Additionally, there are a handful of photographs on some nations’ pages.

What is good about these is this statement that you find accompanying each thumbnail photo you click on:

Factbook photos – obtained from a wide variety of sources – are in the public domain and are copyright free.

But there are several odd things about these photos. The first is the absence of any reason why some countries have them and some don’t. For example, there are 15 photos of Jordan, and none of Iran or Iraq, 10 of Libya and none of Ethiopia, 11 each of Albania and Croatia, and none of Ukraine, Romania, or Bulgaria. The other is that by and large, these are tourist brochure shots: pyramids in Egypt, lions in Kenya.

But they are in the public domain, and it can be hard to find public domain photos of places outside the US since the understanding that photos taken by Federal employees on the job belong to the public is not an opinion globally shared.

So let’s start our world tour by meandering through Central Europe and the Balkans.

GREECE

GR_008

Santorini, an island 120 miles southeast of mainland Greece.

GR_007

14th century Rousanou Monastery, Meteora region, Greece

GR_023

Poros, Greece

GR_011

Parthenon, Athens, Greece

ALBANIA, CROATIA, SLOVENIA, HUNGARY, SLOVAKIA

Petrela Castle (outside Tirana) was the home of Skanderbeg's sister and part of his defense network against the Ottomans. The central tower dates from 500 A.D. and the surrounding Byzantine fortifications date from the 11th to the 14th centuries.

The central tower of Petrela Castle outside Tirana, Albania, was erected around 500 A.D.

Tirana, Albania, and Mount Dajti, Dinaric Range

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Looking down on Dubrovnik, Croatia

HR_005

Dubrovnik, a walled port city on the Adriatic Sea.

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Predjama Castle, Slovenia, is built into a huge cave

SI_004

Slovenia: Church of the Assumption and Bled Castle on Bled Island, and the Julian Alps.

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The Danube River as seen from Buda; across the river in Pest is the Parliament Building. Buda and Pest united together are Budapest, Hungary.

HU_009

Fortress outside Eger, Hungary

LO_001

Bratislava Castle, Bratislava, Slovakia

LO_003

Tatra mountains seen from rural Slovakia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Slovakia

Slovenia

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CIA World Factbook: Maps

Posted by Laurie Frost on November 5, 2009

The CIA World Factbook is a great source for public domain maps. On the opening page under Reference: Regional Maps, you can choose from 16 maps of continents, world regions, or the world at large, and from the drop-down menu on this page, you can access several hundred national or regional maps. That these maps are in the public domain is explained by this notice:

CIA Factbook Copyright Notice

Unless a copyright is indicated, information on the Central Intelligence Agency Web site is in the public domain and may be reproduced, published or otherwise used without the Central Intelligence Agency’s permission. We request only that the Central Intelligence Agency be cited as the source of the information and that any photo credits or bylines be similarly credited to the photographer or author or Central Intelligence Agency, as appropriate.

If a copyright is indicated on a photo, graphic, or any other material, permission to copy these materials must be obtained from the original source.

This copyright notice does not pertain to information at Web sites other than the Central Intelligence Agency Web site.

Regional maps, for example of the Arctic [Arctic pdf], are available as jpegs and pdfs. What I can show you here are the jpegs, but I’m also giving you the pdf links. The pdfs are, as you’d expect, much crisper.

Oceania [pdf]:

and the Middle East [pdf]:

Once you choose a country from the drop-down menu, you’ll discover a useful feature. The relative location of nations and territories on their continent is provided as a secondary map. In other words, let’s say you need a map of Andorra.

Andorra

While the country map gives you some notion of where the nation is since you can see that it borders Spain and France, the secondary map gives a better idea of where the Spanish-French border is interrupted by this small country, its area just 2.5 times the size of Washington DC.

Andorra

For each nation, the maps are accompanied by a drop-down menu for 9 items ranging from a general introduction to descriptions of its people, government, geography, economy, military, communications, transportation, and transnational issues.

For example, on Andorra’s page, under Background, we learn

For 715 years, from 1278 to 1993, Andorrans lived under a unique co-principality, ruled by French and Spanish leaders (from 1607 onward, the French chief of state and the Spanish bishop of Urgel). In 1993, this feudal system was modified with the titular heads of state retained, but the government transformed into a parliamentary democracy. Long isolated and impoverished, mountainous Andorra achieved considerable prosperity since World War II through its tourist industry. Many immigrants (legal and illegal) are attracted to the thriving economy with its lack of income taxes.

By the way, at seven-tenths the size of Washington DC’s Mall [or .44 sq km]  the world’s smallest sovereign state (and third smallest in population) recognized in the CIA World Factbook is the Holy See (Vatican City).

Maps of the Gaza Strip and West Bank are included:

Gaza Strip

You would need to know what area of the world the Gaza Strip is in for the map above to make much sense, but compare it to the regional map in the first part of the post, and you’ll see that the white area here represent water.

Territories are also mapped. Here are South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands, UK territories, also claimed by Argentina.

Location of South Georgia and Sandwich Islands relative to South America.

These islands aren’t the only territorial disputes that the UK is handling; according to the CIA World Factbook:

in 2002, Gibraltar residents voted overwhelmingly by referendum to reject any “shared sovereignty” arrangement between the UK and Spain;… Spain disapproves of UK plans to grant Gibraltar greater autonomy; Mauritius and Seychelles claim the Chagos Archipelago (British Indian Ocean Territory), and its former inhabitants since their eviction in 1965;…in May 2006, the High Court of London reversed the UK Government’s 2004 orders of council that banned habitation on the islands; UK rejects sovereignty talks requested by Argentina, which still claims the Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas) and South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands;… Iceland, the UK, and Ireland dispute Denmark’s claim that the Faroe Islands’ continental shelf extends beyond 200 nm.

Here we also learn that the long form of what we abbreviate as UK is the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (Great Britain includes England, Scotland, and Wales) and that its dependencies include

Anguilla, Bermuda, British Indian Ocean Territory, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Falkland Islands, Gibraltar, Montserrat, Pitcairn Islands, Saint Helena, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, Turks and Caicos Islands.

location of Gibraltar

location of Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas)

location of British Indian Ocean Territory

location of Faroe Islands

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The United States has its own share of dependencies:

American Samoa, Baker Island, Guam, Howland Island, Jarvis Island, Johnston Atoll, Kingman Reef, Midway Islands, Navassa Island, Northern Mariana Islands, Palmyra Atoll, Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands, Wake Island

note: from 18 July 1947 until 1 October 1994, the US administered the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands; it entered into a political relationship with all four political units: the Northern Mariana Islands is a commonwealth in political union with the US (effective 3 November 1986); the Republic of the Marshall Islands signed a Compact of Free Association with the US (effective 21 October 1986); the Federated States of Micronesia signed a Compact of Free Association with the US (effective 3 November 1986); Palau concluded a Compact of Free Association with the US (effective 1 October 1994)

Where are the Northern Mariana Islands, a commonwealth of the US?  Back to the drop-down menu, and on to these maps and facts:

location of the Northern Mariana Islands, a US commonwealth in the Northern Pacific Ocean

Northern Mariana Islands

Not far away are the Federated States of Micronesi, Palau,  and the Marshall Islands.

Federated States of Micronesia

Marshall Islands

 

Palau

location of Federated States of Micronesia location of Marshall Islands

location of Palau

The US  connection to these islands began in WWII. In the Marshall Islands,

Compensation claims continue as a result of US nuclear testing on some of the atolls between 1947 and 1962. The Marshall Islands hosts the US Army Kwajalein Atoll (USAKA) Reagan Missile Test Site, a key installation in the US missile defense network.

And what about Baker Island, Howland Island, Jarvis Island, Johnston Atoll, Kingman Reef, Midway Islands, and Palmyra Atoll?

location of the United States Pacific Island Wildlife Refuges

United States Pacific Island Wildlife Refuges

Collectively designated  the United States Pacific Island Wildlife Refuges,

“These remote refuges are the most widespread collection of marine- and terrestrial-life protected areas on the planet under a single country’s jurisdiction. They sustain many endemic species including corals, fish, shellfish, marine mammals, seabirds, water birds, land birds, insects, and vegetation not found elsewhere.”

There are

“no indigenous inhabitants” and “public entry is by special-use permit from US Fish and Wildlife Service only and generally restricted to scientists and educators.”

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CIA World Factbook: Flags, Part 4.

Posted by Laurie Frost on November 1, 2009

Our last look at flags from the CIA World Factbook is a hodgepodge.

I like the flag of the British Indian Ocean Territory because of its wavy stripes:

The stylized boat on the flag for French Polynesia is quite nice, and I like the hat on Lesotho’s:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So are the shields on Swaziland’s and Kenya’s:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I find the design of the flag for the Northern Mariana Islands not entirely successful, even after the explanation that what the wreath surrounds is “a latte stone (a traditional foundation stone used in building).”  Why is the stone obscured by a star? And as much as I like the sailing ship,  Saint Pierre and Miquelon’s  just has too much going  on.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Can’t make the same complaint about Libya’s:

Just plain green.

And now, my very favorite of all. It is tempting not to look for an explanation of why it is as it is, but instead simply to enjoy the flag of the Isle of Man:

But I couldn’t resist visiting the Isle of Man website, where I learned, in essence, that the meaning of the legs is anyone’s guess:

National symbol

The National Symbol is the Three Legs of Man, first officially used in the early fourteenth century on the Manx Sword of State. The legs, clad in armour and bearing spurs, run in a clockwise direction and bear the Latin motto ‘Quocunque Jeceris Stabit’ or ‘Whichever way you throw it, it will stand’ – a testament to islanders’ independence and resilience. The Three Legs also appear on the Manx Coat of Arms, flanked by a Peregrine Falcon and a Raven.

The source of the legs emblem is subject to many theories including the legend of the Island God Manannan, who is said to have set fire to the Legs in a fit of rage and hurled them down the hill in a burning wheel. The Legs are also related to Sicily’s emblem of three naked legs surrounding the head of Medusa, and the swastika, both of which can be traced back to pagan symbols representing the Sun.

 

Credits for all images of flags: The CIA World Factbook

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