The World Bank Opens API to Key Global Data

Kevin Farnham
Sep. 08 2008, 02:11AM EDT

The World Bank, whose mission is to end world poverty by providing financial and technical assistance to developing countries around the world, is now offering an API to developers (our World Bank API profile).The bank considers the development of its API a component of this mission:

We are releasing this API because we believe this information can be mapped, visualized and mashed up in an unlimited number of ways that will help develop a better understanding of trends and patterns around key development issues.

The API offers programmable access to key World Bank data sources:

  • The Little Data Book - presents the latest available data for World Bank member countries and other economies
  • Worldwide Governance Indicators - reports aggregate and individual governance indicators for 212 countries and territories
  • Doing Business - provides objective measures of business regulations and their enforcement across 178 countries and selected cities
  • World Bank Photo Library - a collection of over 12,000 images that illustrate development

In total, the API offers 114 indicators. Jon Udell catalogs the list of indicators in his recent post "World Bank data now available through APIs" (there's also an interesting thread of discussion about REST API design and how the World Bank API could be more RESTful from Stefan Tilkov and Jon Udell).

The API is REST based with output data available in XML and JSON formats. Authentication is via API key. The API's documentation includes pages that describe the details of each of the current 11 API methods. An API tutorial that walks you through configuring and applying the API is also available. We have more details on the API in our directory.

The development of the World Bank API reflects the growing awareness that making information databases available to developers has benefits for organizations of all kinds, including organizations with global humanitarian missions, like the World Bank.

Kevin Farnham

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