History & Geography

Students frequently come to the library seeking information about various countries. There are, of course, numerous print sources available in the library. This "webliography" provides links to Internet resources that students will find helpful.

General Information

  • CIA World Fact Book - The Central Intelligence Agency gathers a multitude of facts about countries throughout the world, and publishes the information in its World Fact Book. The web page includes a map and small flag of each country, as well as statistical data, description of the government, list of political and pressure group leaders, economic information, military status, membership in international organizations, and territories currently in dispute. Users of this site should check the date of publication, and consider other sources if more current data are required.
  • Chiefs of State and Cabinet Members of Foreign Governments - The Central Intelligence Agency publishes and updates the online directory of Chiefs of State and Cabinet Members of Foreign Governments weekly. The directory is intended to be used primarily as a reference aid and includes as many governments of the world as is considered practical, some of them not officially recognized by the United States. Regimes with which the United States has no diplomatic exchanges are indicated by the initials "NDE."

    Governments are listed in alphabetical order according to the most commonly used version of each country's name. The spelling of the personal names in this directory follows transliteration systems generally agreed upon by Government agencies, except in the cases in which officials have stated a preference for alternate spellings of their names.

    Note - Although the head of the central bank is listed for each country, in most cases he or she is not a Cabinet member. Ambassadors to the United States and Permanent Representatives to the UN, New York, have also been included.
  • Background Notes - Background Notes are updated/revised as they are received from regional bureaus and are added to the database of the Department of State website. They no longer provide information on international organizations in a Background Notes format. This information is released as fact sheets which now reside in relevant bureaus. For example, the Organization for American States resides under the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs.

    To see Background Notes, maps and more for a particular geographical region, please visit the Country Information section in each of these areas on the Department's website: Africa, East Asia and Pacific, Europe and Eurasia (including the New Independent States of the former U.S.S.R.), Near East, South Asia, and the Western Hemisphere.

    Although the historical information is always useful, check other websites for current information. Leaders and ambassadors change.
  • The Library of Congress Country Studies - This website contains the online versions of books previously published in hard copy by the Federal Research Division of the Library of Congress under the Country Studies/Area Handbook Program sponsored by the U.S. Department of Army. Because the original intent of the Series' sponsor was to focus primarily on lesser known areas of the world or regions in which U.S. forces might be deployed, the series is not all-inclusive. At present, 101 countries and regions are covered. Notable omissions include Canada, France, the United Kingdom, and other Western nations, as well as a number of African nations. The date of information for each country appears on the title page of each country and at the end of each section of text.

    The Country Studies Series presents a description and analysis of the historical setting and the social, economic, political, and national security systems and institutions of countries throughout the world and examines the interrelationships of those systems and the ways they are shaped by cultural factors.

    The books represent the analysis of the authors and should not be construed as an expression of an official United States Government position, policy, or decision. The authors have sought to adhere to accepted standards of scholarly objectivity.

International Organizations

  • United Nations - The United Nations is an organization of sovereign nations. It provides the machinery to help find solutions to international problems or disputes, and to deal with pressing concerns that face people everywhere. Its page includes information about the organization and its member states.
  • Organization of American States - The Organization of American States (OAS) is the world's oldest regional organization, dating back to the First International Conference of American States, held in Washington, DC, from October 1889 to April, 1890. This meeting approved the establishment of the International Union of American Republics. The Charter of the OAS was signed in Bogota in 1948 and entered into force in December 1951. Its basic purposes are: to strengthen the peace and security of the continent; to promote and consolidate representative democracy, with due respect for the principle of nonintervention; to prevent possible causes of difficulties and to ensure the pacific settlement of disputes that may arise among the members; to provide for common action on the part of those States in the event of aggression; to seek the solution of political, juridical and economic problems that may arise among them; to promote, by cooperative action, their economic, social and cultural development, and to achieve an effective limitation of conventional weapons that will make it possible to devote the largest amount of resources to the economic and social development of the members.
  • NATO - The North Atlantic Treaty was signed in Washington on April 4 1949, creating an alliance of 12 independent nations committed to each other's defense. Four more European nations later agreed to the Treaty between 1952 and 1982. The North Atlantic Treaty has continued to guarantee the security of its member countries ever since. Today, following the end of the Cold War and of the division of Europe, the Alliance has been restructured to enable it to participate in the development of cooperative security structures for the whole of Europe. It has also transformed its political and military structures in order to adapt them to peacekeeping and crisis management tasks undertaken in cooperation with countries which are not members of the Alliance and with other international organizations.
  • OPEC (Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries) - OPEC is an intergovernmental organization dedicated to the stability and prosperity of the petroleum market, as enshrined in the OPEC Statute. OPEC Membership is open to any country which is a substantial net exporter of oil and which shares the ideals of the organization. OPEC has 11 Countries as Members. The OPEC Member Countries (MCs) currently supply more than 40 per cent of the world's oil and they possess about 78 per cent of the world's total proven crude oil reserves.

Other Country Information

  • Flags of the World (FOTW) - More than 1600 images and 2700 pages on flags, official and unofficial. (Flags of independence movements and sketches of flags for new countries are included.) An excellent site for the student needing a picture of a country's flag.
  • AnthemWorld.com - Extensive collection anthem sound files in MIDI format. Text of the national anthem, when available, is in either the country's language or English or both. Other extensive sites include National Anthems (Lengua), with links to a variety of websites that offer the music of the anthem as well as the text in either the native language or English or both, and Modern National Anthems, which also gives composer, lyricist, and date anthem was adopted.