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An R package which gets facts and data from Wikipedia and Wikidata.


You can install the released version of wikifacts from CRAN with:


And the development version from GitHub with:

# install.packages("devtools")


Examples - Query Wikidata

You can send SPARQL queries to Wikidata using wiki_query() and retrieve the results in a dataframe. If you have never queried Wikidata before, here is a good starting point to construct SPARQL queries and you can find lots of examples here.

In this example, a bar chart is created to show the top ten countries according to the number of cities with female mayors, according to data in Wikidata:


mayor_query <- 'SELECT ?countryLabel (count(*) AS ?count)
    ?city wdt:P31/wdt:P279* wd:Q515 . # find instances of subclasses of city
    ?city p:P6 ?statement .           # with a P6 (head of goverment) statement
    ?statement ps:P6 ?mayor .         # ... that has the value ?mayor
    ?mayor wdt:P21 wd:Q6581072 .      # ... where the ?mayor has P21 (sex or gender) female
    FILTER NOT EXISTS { ?statement pq:P582 ?x }  # ... but the statement has no P582 (end date) qualifier
    ?city wdt:P17 ?country .          # Also find the country of the city
    # If available, get the "ru" label of the country, use "en" as fallback:
    SERVICE wikibase:label {
        bd:serviceParam wikibase:language "en" .
GROUP BY ?countryLabel

mayors <- wiki_query(mayor_query)

ggplot(mayors, aes(x = count, y = reorder(countryLabel, count))) +
  geom_bar(stat = "identity", fill = "lightblue") +
  labs(x = "Cities with female mayors",
       y = "",
       title = "Top Ten Countries Based on Number Female Mayors",
       caption = paste("Based on Wikidata as of", format(Sys.Date(), "%d %B %Y")))

Or, a more dark topic, the top twenty countries by number of serial killers born there:

serial_killers <- 'SELECT ?countryLabel (COUNT(?human) AS ?count) WHERE { 
  SERVICE wikibase:label { bd:serviceParam wikibase:language "[AUTO_LANGUAGE],en". }
  ?human wdt:P106 wd:Q484188. # occupation: serial killer
  ?human wdt:P19 ?place_of_birth. # get place of birth
  ?place_of_birth wdt:P17 ?country . # map to country
GROUP BY ?countryLabel

serialkillers <- wiki_query(serial_killers)

ggplot(serialkillers, aes(x = count, y = reorder(countryLabel, count))) +
  geom_bar(stat = "identity", fill = "darkred") +
  labs(x = "Number of Serial Killers",
       y = "",
       title = "Top 20 Countries Based on Serial Killers Born There",
       caption = paste("Based on Wikidata as of", format(Sys.Date(), "%d %B %Y")))

Examples - Getting definitions of terms from Wikipedia

# Create animals dataframe
animals <- data.frame(
  name = c("kangaroo", "kookaburra", "wombat", "tasmanian devil", "quokka")

# get definitions from wikipedia
  animals %>% 
    dplyr::mutate(definition = wiki_define(name, sentence = 1))
name definition
kangaroo The kangaroo is a marsupial from the family Macropodidae (macropods, meaning “large foot”).
kookaburra Kookaburras are terrestrial tree kingfishers of the genus Dacelo native to Australia and New Guinea, which grow to between 28 and 42 cm (11 and 17 in) in length and weigh around 300 g (11 oz).
wombat Wombats are short-legged, muscular quadrupedal marsupials that are native to Australia.
tasmanian devil The Tasmanian devil (Sarcophilus harrisii) is a carnivorous marsupial of the family Dasyuridae.
quokka The quokka, also known as the short-tailed scrub wallaby () (Setonix brachyurus), the only member of the genus Setonix, is a small macropod about the size of a domestic cat.

Examples - Retrieving facts from Wikipedia Main Pages

#> Did you know that in 2007, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled that a sperm donor was not obligated to pay child support? (Courtesy of Wikipedia)
#> Here's some news from 29 September 2016. Nobel Peace Prize-winning former Israeli President and Prime Minister Shimon Peres (pictured) dies at the age of 93. (Courtesy of Wikipedia)

Use with cowsay:

#>  -------------- 
#> Did you know that a DV4 electric dustcart (example pictured) continued to run after being hit by a bomb during the Second World War? (Courtesy of Wikipedia) 
#>  --------------
#>     \
#>       \
#>         \
#>             |\___/|
#>           ==) ^Y^ (==
#>             \  ^  /
#>              )=*=(
#>             /     \
#>             |     |
#>            /| | | |\
#>            \| | |_|/\
#>       jgs  //_// ___/
#>                \_)

Generate multiple random facts:

wiki_randomfact(n_facts = 10, bare_fact = TRUE)
#>  [1] "1398 – The Grand Duke of Lithuania Vytautas the Great and the Grand Master of the Teutonic Knights Konrad von Jungingen signed the Treaty of Salynas, the third attempt to cede Samogitia to the Knights."
#>  [2] "... that Cabilao Island is the location of the only natural lake in the Philippine province of Bohol?"                                                                                                    
#>  [3] "... that the horseshoe shrimp Hutchinsoniella macracantha is the first example of a new class of crustaceans that was given the name Cephalocarida?"                                                      
#>  [4] "Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala becomes the first woman and the first African to be appointed Director-General of the World Trade Organization."                                                                      
#>  [5] "A shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, kills 49 people."                                                                                                                                      
#>  [6] "1840 – Prince Albert (pictured) of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha married Queen Victoria at the Chapel Royal in St James's Palace, London, becoming prince consort."                                               
#>  [7] "1849 – Abraham Lincoln was issued a patent for an invention to lift boats over obstacles in a river, making him the only U.S. President to ever hold a patent."                                           
#>  [8] "... that in 1920, Irvin S. Cobb, a writer for The Saturday Evening Post, organized a hunting trip to Oregon looking for a lava bear specimen?"                                                            
#>  [9] "... that linguist Esther T. Mookini translated many works of 19th-century native Hawaiians, including the 1838 Anatomia, the only medical textbook written in the Hawaiian language?"                     
#> [10] "1770 – British soldiers fired into a crowd in Boston, Massachusetts, killing five civilians."

Search Wikipedia (launches browser with results):

wiki_search('R (programming language)')