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Washington and Lee University

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Reference Resources: Country Profiles

BBC Country Profiles

The BBC prepares these overviews, designed to "provide an instant guide to history, politics and economic background of countries," including facts, leaders, and the media.
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Background Notes

Frequently-updated overviews of countries, from the U.S. State Department.
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CIA World Fact Book

Annual publications profiles the geography, people, government, economy, communications, transportation, military, and transnational issues of countries around the world.
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Chiefs Of State And Cabinet Members Of Foreign Governments

Updated weekly, this directory lists major officials from "as many governments of the world as is considered practical, some of them not officially recognized by the United States."
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Corruption And Governance Resources

Each of these sites offers international coverage of corruption as a political/social/economic issue, including descriptions and even ratings of corruption in individual countries.
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Countries At The Crossroads

Subtitled A Survey of Democratic Governance, is an annual evaluation of government performance in 60 "strategically important countries." Very useful as an overview of contemporary government and politics in each country, with a focus on areas such as accountability, civil liberties, and corruption.
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Country Analysis Briefs

Specialized database on countries' energy production and consumption, including oil, natural gas, electricity, and more.
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Country Commercial Guides

Reports on foreign countries' commercial environments, provided through the Federal Government's U.S. Commercial Service.
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Country Profiles (LC)

The U.S. Library of Congress provides these brief summaries (about 20 pages) of countries' historical background, geography, society, economy, transportation and telecommunications, government and politics, and national security. In progress.
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Country Profiles (U.K.)

Prepared by FCO desk officers, with information on a country's recent history, recent political developments, relations with the international community and bilateral political and commercial relations with the UK.
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Country Specific Information

U.S. State Department advice on traveling to various countries, including travel warnings, embassy locations, etc.
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Country And Territory Guides

Extensive collection of links to country information in government sites, think tanks and NGO's, statistical compilations, etc.
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Food Cultures Of The World Encyclopedia

Four-volume set (2011) provides introductions to food cultures from more than 150 countries and cultures around the world. You may preview the contents.
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Geo-Data; The World Geographical Encyclopedia

Detailed articles on the physical geography on 192 countries of the world, plus a number of islands and dependencies. Each article includes the following components: basic geography and geology; mountains and hills; inland waterways; cartoast and islands; climate and vegetation; human population; natural resources; further readings.
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GlobalEdge

Mostly focused on international business information, this handy portal also contains information on countries' governmental systems, history, economies, and more. Most data comes from publicly-available sources, such as the CIA World Factbook and the State Department's Background Notes.
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Governments Of The World; A Global Guide To Citizens' Rights And Responsibilities

This four-volume set, published in 2006, include biographies and historical surveys on types of political systems (constitutional monarchies, presidential systems, democracies, dictatorships, etc.), as well as entries on the governments of particular countries and on supra-national entities, including the European Union.
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Guide To Countries Of The World

Third edition (2010) provides "a brief history and outlines contemporary social, economic, political and religious issues" for each country of the world," as well as information on selected international organizations.
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Human Rights Resources

Each of these sites offers overviews of human rights-related issues, including press freedoms, in individual countries. The most significant overviews often are annual reports, but other materials on a country also may be available.
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Index Of Economic Freedom

Evaluates about 160 countries against a list of 50 independent variables divided into 10 broad factors of "economic freedom," although the narrative summaries probably are more useful than the numerical ratings.
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International Crisis Group

Independent mulitnational organization which researches and provides reports on conflicts and political conditions in countries of the world.
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Nations In Transit

Annual comparative studies on 29 former Communist states of Europe and Eurasia. As of February 2012, only the most recent volume (2011) is available online, although Freedom House is planning to add older volumes to a new Web site. The W&L library also has printed volumes.
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OECD Economic Surveys

Economic Surveys provide in-depth reviews of OECD Member countries' economies and selected non-Member countries. (Paper copies are available in Leyburn Library. Check Annie for holdings and availability.)
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Oxford Guide To Countries Of The World

Published in 2007 (second edition). Separate entries on each of the world's countries, with maps and vital statistics, overviews of the social, economic, and political issues, tables of social and economic indicators such as GNP, life expectancy, and population.
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PRS Group International Country Risk Guide

Analyses of factors that could affect business, trade or investments in 130+ countries around the world. Each report covers politics, economic policy, extensive analysis of economic trends and an assessment of the country's financial condition. "Provides a detailed country-by-country breakdown of the comparative risks of operating in, investing or lending to particular countries..." LexisNexis also offers access to the related PRS Group Political Risk Service.
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Passport To Success: The Essential Guide To Business Culture And Customs In America's Largest Trading Partners

This 2008 guide provides an overview of the "business environment and culture in the top twenty trading partners of the United States." You may view a list of the countries.
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Political Handbook Of The World

Respected country-by-country guide to government and politics around the world, covering recent history, current issues, political parties and institutions, and more. Also provides information on about 50 international governmental organizations. W&L has access to the current 2012 edition.
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Political Parties Of The World

Seventh edition (2009) provides coverage of approximately 2,500 political parties in countries and territory of the world. Entries include recent political history, constitutional framework, recent election results, discussion of the party's history, performance, and influence. The entry on Poland was contributed by Krzysztof Jasiewicz, William P. Ames, Jr. Professor of Sociology and Anthropology at W&L.
The library also provides access to the sixth edition (2005).
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Press Freedoms Around The World

A collection of resources which provide country-by-country analyses of press/journalism conditions around the world.
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Statesman's Yearbook

Online access to the most recent annual edition of this venerable (1864-date), highly-respected compilation of information on the world's countries and institutions. (W&L Law School subscription)
Leyburn Library also has older printed editions.
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Strategic Survey

Annual overview of strategic developments throughout the world. It has long been the essential one-volume analytical encapsulation of the year's key events in international relations for government policy-makers, journalists, business leaders and other leading think-tanks
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