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Traveling and Doing Business Outside the United States, Part 2

Last month I covered current business and travel resources outside the U.S. This month, I’ve included political, economic and statistical resources for non-U.S. countries as well as historical sources for travel and business information. 

Politics, Economics and Statistics
Background Notes/Country Fact Sheets  from the U.S. Department of State are a great source of information with 2012 information on countries from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe. (As of May 2012, Background Notes have been replaced by Country Fact Sheets.) Each Fact Sheet includes information about U.S relations with other countries, U.S. assistance to the country, bilateral economic relations, membership in international organizations, and bilateral representation (such as whom the U.S. Ambassador is to that country). At the bottom of each Fact Sheet are many links to information including the CIA World Fact Book on each country, history of U.S. relations with that country, travel and business information, and many more.

CIA World Fact Book  provides everything from an overview of a country to cultural information, both in narrative (e.g. an overview of the economy) and statistical format (such as its rank in birth rate in the world) that is generally up-to-date and easy to find. I would not have thought to look here for the number of cellular phones in use and how that compares to the rest of the world nor the names of all the major seaports (for a country with coastline). This is just under the About tab. The website is updated on a weekly basis and the annual print editions are available from the Government Printing Office.

Historical Information
The Library of Congress has its Country Studies Series (from Afghanistan to the former Zaire) which 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. These are online versions of hardcover books published between 1988 and 1998, but some of the information retained, such as that on the Soviet Union or East Germany may be included for historical purposes. I could not find a study for Italy and some countries do have updated information such as Iran (2008) and North Korea (2009). Information contained in the online Country Studies is not copyrighted and thus is available for free and unrestricted use by researchers.

Alas, the old U.S. Army Area Handbooks are no longer published, but one can find some of them by trolling the Web.

In December, I’ll share my experiences staying connected while traveling outside the U.S.

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