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Country Information and Guides

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One of the best ways for expatriates and travelers in general to prepare for a stay abroad is to gather background information about the host country. The more travelers know about their destination, the better they will be prepared to deal with the challenges of visiting a foreign country.

In order not to reinvent the wheel, below we have listed websites—each with their own emphases—that specialize in providing updated and in-depth factual information about countries worldwide.

BBC News Country Profiles provides 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 Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade: Country Profiles, provides information and assistance for Canadians traveling abroad, including maps, facts, statistics, social, and cultural insights. There is very little information available on the Web that helps travelers understand and learn about cultural differences—the Country Insights are an important exception.

CIA World Factbook contains country profiles with important detailed information, maps, and much more. is geared towards school curriculum, and 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 provides political news by region, as well as links to articles.

Encyclopedia of the Nations 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 if a fun and interesting website that 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."

Library of Congress Country Studies 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.

Nations Online Project is a destination guide to countries of the world with useful general information.

The World Clock 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 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.

U.S. State Department: Bureau of Consular Affairs provides useful information for travelers and expatriates on all countries, with Travel Warnings, Travel Publications (general travel advice), and much more.

Wikipedia, the free online encyclopedia, provides a tons 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 include footnotes and refer to the original sources of information.

WikiTravel is a crowdsourced wiki that provides information about countries, cities, and regions of the world.


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