The function of the intelligence handbooks, which were compiled by the British Foreign Office, was to inform British officials engaged on diplomatic duties in foreign countries about every aspect of the country in which they were resident. They provide a full, splendidly illustrated, geographic encyclopaedia of the culture and civilisation of each country, including over 1200 photographs. Each volume describes the history, administration and public life of the country concerned: Iraq and the Persian Gulf; Western Arabia and the Red Sea; Palestine and Transjordan; Syria; Persia. Economic geography, agriculture, trade and communications are dealt with in detail. In volumes also designed for naval and military intelligence, particular attention is accorded to the coasts and topography, but there are also street plans and photographs of every significant town as well as of the archaeological sites.