Best Country Information Websites
One of the best ways for travelers to prepare for their trip is to gather background information about the country they are about to visit. The more independent travelers know about their destination the better they will be prepared to deal with the challenges of visiting a foreign country. Below I have listed my favorite websites that provide updated and in-depth information about most countries worldwide. —Travel and Living Abroad Contributing Editor Volker Poelzl
BBC News, news.bbc.co.uk, 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.
Canadian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, www.dfait-maeci.gc.ca/index.aspx, also hosts the website of the Centre for Intercultural Learning. This website features the Country Insights, with lots of interesting cultural information for most countries worldwide. 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.
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, such as Travel Warnings, Travel Publications (general travel advice), Consular Information Sheets, 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.
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 are $4.75 per month or $14.00 per year.
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.
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.
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.
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.