BBC News provides Country Profiles with concise information about history, politics and economic background, as well as recent news on most countries.The profiles, although short, provide an updated introduction to the country, covering the basics such as ecosystem, geography, politics, and economy. Each country profile has links to recent relevant recent news from the BBC, as well as other helpful links.
The Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, in its Consular Affairs section, travel.gc.ca, provides information and assistance for Canadians traveling abroad, including Country Profiles that provide resources, including maps, facts, statistics and social and cultural insights. There is very little information available on the worldwide web that helps travelers understand and learn about cultural differences—the Country Insights are an important exception.
CIA World Factbook, www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/index.html, compiled by the CIA, contains country profiles with basic information.
The Consular Information Sheets, travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/cis_pa_tw_1168.html, compiled by the Bureau of Consular Affairs, part of the U.S. Department of State, provide useful information for travelers and expatriates on all countries, with Travel Warnings, Travel Publications (general travel advice), and much more. The U.S. State Department, www.state.gov, also publishes Country Background Notes, with facts about the land, people, history, government, political conditions, economy, and foreign relations. The site includes extensive safety and health information for travelers. Beware that the information is presented in a very factual and dry manner.
Library of Congress Country Studies, lcweb2.loc.gov/frd/cs/cshome.html, provide detailed economic, historical, social, and political information for 101 countries. Although the data are from 1993, the country studies still provide useful insights into politics, history, the natural environment, society and culture. The country studies certainly have the most comprehensive free online information about the history of the countries covered in the series.The project was carried out in 1993 and information is no longer updated. The information is difficult to copy and paste, since no complete country files or chapter files are available for download.
CountryReports.org, www.countryreports.org, provides extensive historical, cultural, and statistical information for countries worldwide. This is a great source for reliable and updated information. The country reports are available only by subscription. Individual subscriptions required.
The Economist is a British weekly news magazine reporting on the global economy, politics, etc and has compiled what it calls Country Briefings for over 60 countries, featuring extensive economic and political data, as well as links to articles.
Encyclopedia of the Nations, www.nationsencyclopedia.com, is a complete source for detailed information about one hundred ninety three countries in the world. One of the best free websites for updated country information. The information is not intended for travelers, but travelers will find current information about transportation, economy, politics, history, ethnic groups, social conditions, geography, the natural environment, health, culture, tourism and more.
The Happy Planet Index amalgamates data in their three main categories of "Experiencing Well-Being," "Life Expectancy," and "Ecological Footprint" in order to arrive at a country score, while supplying other related data. "The HPI measures what matters: the extent to which countries deliver long, happy, sustainable lives for the people that live in them."
Nations Online Project, www.nationsonline.org, is a destination guide to countries of the world with useful general information.
The World Clock, www.timeanddate.com/worldclock, provides the current time in cities around the world as well as other tools useful for travelers and expats alike.
U. K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office, www.fco.gov.uk, provides brief Country Profiles with basic information and links for most countries worldwide. The profiles also include Travel Advice, including information about health and safety, which are very useful.
The U.S. Department of State publishes Country Background Notes, which includes facts about the land, people, history, government, political conditions, economy, and foreign relations.
Wikipedia, en.wikipedia.org, the free online encyclopedia, provides a lot of useful information about countries worldwide, including geography, history, culture, politics, the economy, food, environment, etc. Since this is an open-source encyclopedia, the information sources are often unknown, and may not always be entirely accurate. However, there is an increasing number of articles that have footnotes and refer to the original sources of information.
WikiTravel, wikitravel.org, is a growing online commercial wiki which provides information about countries, cities, and regions of the world.