CIA adds Ararat to map of Turkey
January 12, 2004 by Stuart Udall

The CIA World Factbook is a compendium of information on each country of the world. A lot of information is provided, broken down into sections such as geography, politics, economics, and so on. But until quite recently, it was missing one very important detail.

Sometime between October 1, 2002 and February 7, 2003, the CIA placed the World Factbook 2002 online, in the process, removing the World Factbook 2001. The World Factbook now includes Mt Ararat on the map of Turkey. It also includes the following new text: "Mount Ararat, the legendary landing place of Noah's Ark, is in the far eastern portion of the country".

It's good to see the book has been updated. But I'm having a few problems believing that one of the world's most developed *intelligence* agencies was *dumb* enough to leave the highest peak in the country off the map. Not only the highest peak, but one with global cultural significance. That's about the same as providing a map of Nepal, and failing to show Mt Everest.

Let me ask you this: what else is left off the map?

We can see the CIA adding the mountain to the map by using the Wayback machine. Here's the link to an archive of the CIA's Turkey page:*/

If you click the entry for February 7, 2003, or any links after that date, you'll see the new map with Ararat included.

If you click the entry for October 1, 2002, or any links before that date, you'll see the old map with Ararat excluded.

technote: Not so strangely, I have problems accessing these files ( is edited!). So I have placed copies of the maps from those two pages on this website (click the words "old map" and "new map" in the above paragraph to view them). (In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. I have no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of these maps nor am I endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)

Superimposing the old map on top of the new one, and flicking backwards and forwards between the two, lets us visually compare the two maps. From the animation you can see below, it's quite clear there was only one substantial change to the map. Mt Ararat suddenly appeared.

Other notes when comparing the two maps: the 2002 edition is much lower in quality, although no loss of resolution is evident (for example, there's no pixellation on the text). This suggests that both the old and new versions of the map were produced from a higher-quality version, which is not published. Also, the new version drops two old placenames, leaving their contemporary versions only (the previous maps listed both, with the old name in parentheses). Lastly, the new version of the map has improved detail of coastlines and water systems, suggesting the integration of higher-resolution imagery. Fine... none of this explains that little black flashing triangle on the animation above.

The MD5 hash of the version of the map showing Mr Ararat is 1E35E11895E431FE7C29F751106FDCEF. This same map (with that same MD5 hash) is also used in the World Factbook 2003, which is the version currently online as of this writing.

The maps for Turkey in the World Factbook 2000 and 2001 are identical. The MD5 hash of the map of the country for those years, as found on the archive website, is 59C94F397C796AC59E1A1C41B862D902 - the fact that the hash does not change between those two editions proves mathematically that no changes were made to the image.

Finally: note that language. When a sailing ship loosens its moorings and is awash at sea, it is usually said to come to rest when it finally runs aground. When people speak of Noah's Ark, they usually say, it came to rest on Mr Ararat, or, Mr Ararat was the final resting place of the Ark. But the CIA doesn't use that language. Instead they say it "landed". Sailing ships don't land. That's the wrong word.... they might anchor, dock, or moor, or in inclement weather, might collide with, run afoul of, or run aground upon - but generally, things that fly are said to land (such as spaceships, for example). A Freudian slip? Or just another strange coincidence?

You decide.