General Information

Do you need to do a school report on Finland? Are you looking for information about countries in Latin America? This guide is designed to help you find print and Internet based resources about nations and regions around the world. You may have to consult a variety of sources before you find all the information that you need.

Print Sources

You can probably find many resources about countries in your public library. Most public libraries use the Dewey Decimal Classification system. The Dewey number that you might find useful is the 900’s. You can look for information about individual countries by looking for the region or specific country in this section. For example, Russia can be found at 947. Search the catalog for the call number of the region or specific country in which you are interested. If you have trouble locating information, ask the library staff for help.

For quick reference information, try looking in an encyclopedia like World Book or Encyclopedia Britannica. Look for an entry on the country that you are researching. These encyclopedias are good starting points for your research. They have detailed information about many aspects of the country, and entries often include illustrations and maps.

Another excellent reference book is the Europa World Year Book 1998 two-volume edition (Europa Publications Limited, London, 1998). Updated annually, this reference book provides an alphabetical list of the countries of the world as well as information about the United Nations and its organizations. An individual chapter for each country covers topics such as recent history, economic affairs, public holidays, statistics on population and agriculture and other important facts about the country.

Your library may also have Countries of the World and their Leaders (Gale Research, Detroit, Michigan, 1996). This two-volume set is updated annually. Often shelved in both the children’s and the adult departments, this resource gives general information about countries including details about government, climate, and industries.

IPL Resources

The IPL has indexed many sites that provide information about nations and regions of the world. You can find these sites in the reference, teen and youth departments. The following list includes general information about countries such as geography, statistical data, maps, flags, and more. Many of these sites provide links to other websites that may offer more detailed information. You may also wish to look in other collections of the IPL to find the kind of specific information you are seeking. For example, if you want to know more about the language of the country, you may look at the IPL’s

Arts and Humanities—Language and Linguistics section and view some of the resources in the collection.

Encyclopedias and Almanacs

  • The World Factbook (https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/index.html): Developed by the C.I.A., this online version of The World Factbook is a quick reference guide for obtaining basic information about all the countries of the world. You can find out about each country’s geography, population, government, economy, communications, transportation, and more. Regional and country maps are also included on this site, as is information about Internet use and access in many countries.
  • NationMaster (http://www.nationmaster.com/index.php) provides “World Statistics, Country Comparisons”. If you need statistics on any country, this is a great place to start. Data is drawn from authoritative sources such as the CIA World Factbook and the UN. Provides graphical comparisons of countries and of statistics.
  • Altapedia (http://www.atlapedia.com/): This online encyclopedia provides facts, figures and statistical information about such topics as the history, people, geography, language, and religion of countries around the world. The site also offers political and physical maps of regions of the world.
  • Country Reports (http://www.countryreports.org/): Geared especially to young people, this site includes general information about the nations of the world. It also allows you to listen to national anthems and look at flags of various countries.
  • Global Statistics (http://www.xist.org/): This almanac gives brief factual information on nations and regions of the world. Here you can find a list of all the countries of the world and their capitals, surface area and population.

Other General Sites

  • U.S. Department of State Background Notes (http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/): Published by the U.S. Government, this source profiles countries and regions around the world. It gives facts about a country’s population, government, economy and so forth.
  • Library of Congress Country Studies (http://lcweb2.loc.gov/frd/cs/cshome.html): In addition to the basic facts about countries, this site gives a more in-depth view of the people of each country: their religion, values, and views on issues. Currently, the site offers profiles of 85 countries, so you may have to check other sources if you do not find here the country that you are researching.
  • World Wise Schools (http://www.peacecorps.gov/wws/): This site profiles 80 countries that are served by the Peace Corps. You can find facts as well as information about a country’s culture. If you are looking for information about an undeveloped country, you might find it at this site.
  • Progress of Nations (http://www.unicef.org/pon99/): Look here for information about a country’s ranking according to its achievements in child health, nutrition, education, family planning and progress for women.
  • Governments on the WWW (http://www.gksoft.com/govt/): From this site, you can access the embassies of foreign nations. The pages include the addresses of the embassies as well as information about the countries. If you have time, you may wish to write or e-mail the embassy of a particular country and ask for information. This is a good way to get print materials that you can often use in reports and projects.


  • Map Machine (http://www.nationalgeographic.com/resources/ngo/maps/): This National Geographic site offers physical and political maps of the countries of the world. It also has facts and profiles of the different nations.
  • Maps and Geography of the World (http://geography.about.com/library/maps/blindex.htm): Search an alphabetical index to find maps for a specific region or country. Detailed factual information is provided for each country, although much of this information comes from sources mentioned above.


  • World Flag Database (http://www.flags.ndirect.co.uk/): In addition to basic information about countries, you will find flags including national and state flags, ensigns, and sub-national flags. A glossary explains common flag terms.
  • Flags of the World (http://www.crwflags.com/fotw/flags/): This site focuses on the flags of the different countries. There is very little general information about the country itself, although you will find background information about each flag, for example, the meaning behind the flag’s colors and the history of the flag.

Other Places to Look on the Internet

Remember: Just because the information is on the Internet doesn’t mean that it is accurate or even up-to-date. Evaluate your sources!

You may try searching for information about a country by using your favorite search engine. Or, you could try Yahoo’s Regional—Countries category and look for a specific country in its alphabetical index. Yahoo! Kids World Factbook can be used by students to search for sites about countries they are researching. Most of the Yahoo! Kids World Factbook’s information comes from the CIA World Factbook, but it offers some slightly different features.

The Argus Clearinghouse

also provides links to sites about countries. It rates pages in terms of various features such as design, resource information, and organization, so you can go to the best pages on your subject.

This pathfinder created by Ann Hoey