Where in the world is Nepal and how does its GNP compare to that of other nations that start with an N? You can find the answer to that and to most other questions about the countries of the world at the resources listed below.
What is the capital of Albania? Which country exports the most bananas? How does the population of Australia compare to the population of Austria? Which is the poorest of NATO's member nations? What's new in Zambia? You want me to write a 10-page report on political unrest in what country? Answer those questions and many more at these sites that provide information about the countries of the world.
CIA World Factbook
The CIA's World Factbook -- one of the top research sites for grades 7-12 -- contains information on the geography, people, government, economy, communications, transportation, military, and transnational issues of every country in the world. In addition, the Factbook contains a number of reference maps for regions and nations, and a database of national flags. A unique feature of the site is the so-called field listing; users can click any field (such as climate, for example) to get a listing of the information about that field for all the nations of the world. That feature is particularly helpful when comparing one piece of data -- such as climate or mortality rate -- for several nations. Any text or graphic from the Factbook can be copied or reproduced; in addition, the entire Factbook is available for free download, making it an excellent resource for a geography or international issues class.
BBC's Country Profiles
One of the most comprehensive sites available for international data, the BBC's Country Profiles includes detailed information about every country -- and contested territory -- in the world. Organized by continent, and sometimes by region, each country's profile includes the standard political, economic, and social information. Also included are links to the country's newspaper, radio, and television outlets, links to news articles about the country, a timeline of important national events, and audio of the national anthem. The site is particularly helpful when researching developing nations in Africa and Asia, places where the BBC has a stronger presence -- and, therefore, more exhaustive data -- than other organizations.
Library of Congress Country Studies
This Library of Congress Web site provides access to some of the most comprehensive information available about nations of the world. The Country Studies series offers a description and analysis of the historical setting and the social, economic, political, and national security systems and institutions of countries throughout the world, examining the interrelationships of those systems and the ways in which they are shaped by cultural factors. Most of the studies are more than 20-30 printable pages long, making this site most appropriate for students in high school and above who are preparing an extensive report on a particular nation. Note that these studies are copyrighted, so they can be used freely, but all were authored between 1988 and 1998, making some information out-of-date. A recent update to the sites suggests, however, that new federal funding might be on the way.
What country exports more bananas than any other? Which nation has the most murders per capita? If you're trying to compare statistics, even about the most obscure information, check out NationMaster.com. Select several countries (or perhaps an organization such as the member nations of NATO), and then choose to see the top five, bottom five, and so on, in any of 30 different categories. Users can specify what statistic they're looking for and what form they'd like the information displayed in. Although part of this site is fee-based, all the information can be retrieved in a simple bar graph and map format for free. Be sure to check out the "Top Graphs" link to see what statistics other users are comparing. This easy-to-use site is best for grades 7-12/
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Article by Lorrie Jackson
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