The CIA World Factbook is a data nerd's dream and a crowning achievement in data gathering, highlighting every single country in the world, and presenting myriad facts ranging from GDP to important local industries. It's also mind-numbingly boring and not terribly useful because there's simply no way to summarize all that data.
IBM's data-visualization researchers leveled their resources at the problem, producing their own World Factbook, a sprawling online tool that lets you create thousands of charts on the fly.
There is, for example, a map where you can chart any one of nine metrics, ranging GDP to infant mortality (you can actually adjust the color-coding, by playing with the slider below the map):
Clicking on any country brings up a this handy chart:
But if you want to see even more data, there are two entirely different sets of visualization tools. The first is a data tree, which lets you pick a continent, and then chart two different data sets--one in the color, one in the size of the boxes:
And, if you want more simplicity, but even more data, there's a bar-chart generator, which lets you compare all nine metrics on the continent and country level:
For a similar--and even more ambitious--project, definitely check out our story on the World Bank's data viz effort, which contains details about health, environment, and education of every country in the world.