Foreign Countries: Information Resources

For information about individual countries, consult the guides created and maintained by the Global Studies librarians.

Resources marked with this symbol are restricted to Columbia affiliates.

Online Catalogs

  • CLIO: Columbia Libraries Online Catalog
    CLIO is the online catalog for the Columbia and Barnard libraries. It includes over 4 million records for books, journal or newspaper titles (not articles), online resources, government documents, microforms, sound or video recordings, archival collections, etc.
  • Pegasus: Columbia University Law School Library Online Catalog
    Pegasus includes: U.S. federal and state law, selected Commonwealth jurisdictions, major foreign language collections and, since 1983, vernacular and Western language materials pertaining to law in Japan and the People's Rep. of China.
  • WorldCat
    An online catalog of the collections of 24,000 member libraries of the OCLC consortium, comprising more than 36 million records for books, serials, manuscript collections, audiovisual materials, computer files, and other media.
  • Borrow Direct
    A borrowing service offered by the university libraries of Columbia, Brown, Cornell, Dartmouth, Pennsylvania, Princeton, and Yale. It is designed to allow students, faculty and staff to request (and receive in four days) books directly from each other's collections.

Background Information

  • BBC News: Country Profiles
    Full profiles provide an instant guide to history, politics and economic background of countries. They also include audio and video clips from the BBC archives.
  • Countries and Their Cultures. 4 vols.
    New York : Macmillan Reference USA, 2001.
    Call Number: GN 307 .C68 2001 (Copies available in multiple locations)
  • Country Indicators for Foreign Policy
    The CIFP database includes measures of domestic armed conflict, governance and political instability, militarization, religious and ethnic diversity, demographic stress, economic performance, human development, environmental stress, and international linkages, in the form of over one hundred performance indicators for 196 countries, spanning many years for most indicators. These indicators are drawn from a variety of open sources.
  • Country Profiles of Environmental Burden of Disease
    These WHO country profiles provide an overview of summary information on selected parameters that describe the environmental health situation of a country, as well as a preliminary estimate of health impacts caused by environmental risks.
  • Country Studies/Area Handbook Series
    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. At present, 101 countries and regions are covered, published between 1988 and 1998.
     Check CLIO under "[country name] a country study" for location of print versions.
      Country Profiles
    "The profiles offer reasonably current country information independent of the existence of a recently published Country Study and are updated annually or more frequently as events warrant."
  • CountryWatch
    CountryWatch is a world leader in providing country specific geopolitical intelligence on each of the 192 countries of the world. The annual Country Reviews are typically over 100 pages long.
  • The Economist Intelligence Unit
    The Economist Intelligence Unit is a leading provider of country, industry and management analysis. Through its global network of analysts and economists, EIU continuously assesses and forecasts the political, economic and business climates of 200 countries.
  • Eldis Regional and Country Profiles
    Links to hundreds of authoritative sites for developing countries, in the areas of: agriculture, environment, poverty, education, gender, health & population, governance, trade, economics, aid, microcredit, and security.
  • The Europa World Year Book. Annual.
    London : Europa Publications Limited, c1959-
    Call Number: JN 1 .Eu74 (Copies available in multiple locations)
    The online version is Europa World Plus
        Each country's chapter includes an introductory survey with history and recent political & economic events; a statistical survey; and a directory, information about the political system, government & parties, the press, banking, industry, transport, etc.
    Europa's regional volumes have more detailed information about each country: Africa South of the Sahara; Central and South Eastern Europe; Eastern Europe, Russia, and Central Asia; The Far East and Australasia; The Middle East and North Africa; South America, Central America and the Caribbean; Western Europe.
  • EuroStat Country Profiles
    An easy way to look at all major statistical indicators for the European Union (13, 15, 25, or 27 countries) or each individual country, and to do comparisons. The data generally goes back 10 years, and can be displayed as a table, graph, or on a map.
  • FAO Country Profiles
    The Food and Agriculture Organization for the United Nations and its 183 members highlight information as one of the priority areas in fighting hunger and achieving food security. The FAO Country Profiles and Mapping Information System is a pioneering information retrieval tool which groups the organization's vast archive of information on its global activities in agriculture and development in a single area and catalogues it exclusively by country.
  • GeoHive
    GeoHive provides demographic and economic statistics for all countries, at both the national and subnational levels. The site is divided into four main parts. One dealing with the whole world and its regions, a second with the major regions, a third with all major countries separately and a fourth with rankings (the most, largest, longest, wealthiest, etc.).
  • International Crisis Group: Reports by Country
    Not all countries are represented, just those which are involved or potentially involved in conflict situations.
  • International Human Development Indicators: Country Profiles
    The site ranks each country according to the UNDP Human Development Index. Detailed indicators for health, education, income, inequality, poverty, gender, sustainability and demography. The data can be displayed as trends and charts, and downloaded.
  • International Monetary Fund Country Information
    IMF operations — which involve surveillance, financial assistance, and technical assistance — have developed to meet the changing needs of its 184 member countries in an evolving world economy.
  • Latin American Government Documents Archive, University of Texas at Austin
    The Latin American Government Documents Archive (LAGDA) seeks to preserve and facilitate access to a wide range of ministerial and presidential documents from 18 Latin American and Caribbean countries. The Archive contains copies of the Web sites of approximately 300 government ministries and presidencies. Capture of sites began on multiple dates in 2005 and 2006, and will continue with regularly scheduled captures. Content in the Archive includes not only the full-text versions of official documents, but also original video and audio recordings of key regional leaders.
  • MSU Global Access, Michigan State University
    Provides information about the world - its regions and peoples and important international issues. You can search simultaneously by world region or country and by thematic area.
    Allows users to generate graphs based on numerical data extracted from numerous sources. All sources are documented.
  • OECD Country Reports
    Links only to documents with an individual country focus. Includes both member and non-member economies, but with more information for member countries, especially a statistical profile with over 100 indicators. For links to all OECD publications which cover all countries, see OECD iLibrary, below.
      OECD iLibrary
    Provides full text access to all publications from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.
  • The ... Political Risk Yearbook. Annual. 8 vols.
    New York : Frost & Sullivan, Political Risk Services, 2009-
    Check CLIO for call number for each volume
    Provides political and investment risk for 106 countries.
    Note: Also available online; check CLIO for links to each country profile.
  • PreventionWeb: Countries & Regions
    For each country, PreventionWeb has collected information related to the prevention of natural disasters. This can include National Platforms for Disaster Risk Reduction, other policies and plans, data and statistics, risk profiles, educational materials, disaster risk reduction organizations, maps, and other documents and publications.
  • ProQuest Statistical Insight
    The ProQuest Statistical database provides comprehensive access to statistical data. Many of the sources are linked to the full text of the data, although some state, private, and IGO sources are cited, allowing the researcher to then locate the statistical source on the internet or in the library, either in print or as part of the microfiche service which accompanies the printed index.
  • Social Security Programs Throughout the World
    Brief descriptions of programs for each country, from the U.S. Social Security Administration
    Social Security in Other Countries
    Links to each country's social security program, from the U.S. Social Security Administration
  • Social Watch
    Social Watch is an international network informed by national citizens' groups aiming at following up the fulfillment of the internationally agreed commitments on poverty eradication and equality. It produces an annual report as well as individual country reports.
  • UNESCO Institute for Statistics Country Profiles
    Country profiles feature key statistics and indicators on education, science and technology, and culture and communication on a country-by-country or regional basis.
  • UNdata
    UNdata provides a vast array of statistical data from numerous UN sources.
  • World Bank:
    The World Bank eLibrary is the World Bank’s subscription-based collection of nearly 6,000 books, reports, journals, and working papers. The World Bank public, non-subscription site provides access to much of the country-based content, including:
    Countries and Regions Country Aggregate Reports This site provides information on World Bank lending activities by country. You can find both aggregate information and individual information on World Bank loans, credits, and grants provided to various countries. World Bank Data by Country
    Links to all information regarding the World Bank mission in a country, including the Country Assistance Strategy, project reports, Country Economic Memorandum, and other in-depth analysis.
    Choose from -- Country at a Glance tables: two pages of key indicators tracing the trends in social and economic development from the last three decades; Data Profile tables: data profiles available here are drawn from the World Development Indicators database. The profiles cover the 208 countries (184 World Bank members and 24 other economies with populations of more than 30,000) and 18 country groups reported on in the World Development Indicators; EdStats: short for Education Statistics, is a comprehensive education statistics database; GenderStats: a database of gender statistics, showing summary gender indicators, basic demographic data, population dynamics, labor force structure, and education and health statistics; HNPStats: short for Health, Nutrition, and Population Statistics offers country data sheets showing summary indicators for health status, health determinants, and health finance.
  • World Health Organization Country Profiles
    Includes basic vital and health statistics, health expenditures, provision/coverage, health system organization and regulation, summary measures, country-specific conditions, and human resources.

Books, Journals, & Articles

Print publications from some foreign countries can be found in several Columbia libraries, particularly the Butler, Business, East Asian, Lehman, and Law Libraries. There are also increasing numbers of official foreign government web sites, many of which provide online access to their publications.

  • CIAO: Columbia International Affairs Online
    Provides full text access to working papers from university research institutes, occasional papers series from NGOs, foundation-funded research projects, and proceedings from conferences, from 1991 to the present.
  • International Bibliography of the Social Sciences
    Provides access to citations and abstracts to over 2,600 scholarly journals in the social sciences, from 1951 to the present.
    Provides full-text articles from more than 1000 scholarly journals, from volume 1 but excluding the latest 3-5 years.
  • PAIS International
    Provides access to citations and abstracts to over 460,000 American and international scholarly journal articles, from 1972 to the present.
  • PARLIT Database
    An index to books and journal articles dealing with parliamentary law and practice, worldwide.
  • Rand Abstracts
    Provides citations, abstracts and full-text Rand publications, from 1946 to the present.
  • World News Connection
    An index with links to full text translations of newspaper articles, conference proceedings, radio and television broadcasts, periodicals, non-classified technical reports and local media sources from around the world. Specializes in socioeconomic, political, scientific, technical, and environmental issues and events. Covers 1994 to the present.
  • Worldwide Political Science Abstracts
    Provides access to citations and abstracts to over 1000 American and international scholarly journals, from 1975 to the present.


  • Chiefs of State and Cabinet Members of Foreign Governments, from the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency
  • Da Graça, John V.
    Heads of State and Government. 2nd ed.
    New York : St. Martin's Press ; Basingstoke : Macmillan, 2000.
    Call Number: JF 37 .D3 2000g
  • Europa World Plus
    Each country entry in Europa World Plus has current directory entries in these categories: Government and politics, Society and media, and Business and commerce.
  • Leadership Library
    A comprehensive set of directories which includes IGOs, NGOs, foreign governments and nonprofits.
  • The Statesman's Year-book. Annual.
    New York : St. Martin's Press, 1864-
    Call Number: JA 51 .St2 (Copies available in multiple locations)
        The 192 country profiles cover every important area: Political parties and leaders. Population. Economics. Climate. Natural resources. Military capabilities. Education and legal systems. Culture and communications. Health and environment. International affairs. Plus expanded coverage of world events, biographies of key figures, and special profiles of regions, states, and cities. All updated monthly, and all accessible through an interactive, map-based interface.
  • Truhart, Peter.
    Regents of Nations : Systematic Chronology of States and their Political Representatives in Past and Present : a Biographical Reference Book. 2nd rev. and enl. ed.
    Munchen : Saur, 2000-
    Call Number: JF 37 .T78 2000g
  • Worldwide Government Directory. Annual.
    Washington, D.C. : Keesings Worldwide, 1981-
    Call Number: JF 37 .L346
        Detailed directory information on the governmental leadership of all counties: official names, titles, and contact information for heads of states, top officials, state agencies, etc.

Election Information

  • ACE Electoral Knowledge Network
    The ACE Electoral Knowledge Network provides comprehensive and authoritative information on elections, promotes networking among election-related professionals and offers capacity development services.
    ACE is a joint endeavor of eight partner organizations, all long-term supporters of the Administration and Cost of Elections Project and leaders in the provision of targeted technical assistance in elections management.
  • African Elections Project
  • Elections in Africa : a Data Handbook.
    New York : Oxford University Press, 1999.
  • Elections in Asia and the Pacific : a Data Handbook. 2 vols.
    Oxford : Oxford University Press, 2001.
    Vol. 1: Middle East, Central Asia, and South Asia
    Vol. 2: South East Asia, East Asia, and the Pacific
    Call Number: JQ 38 .E6 2001g
  • Elections in the Americas : a Data Handbook. 2 vols.
    New York : Oxford University Press, c2005.
    Call Number: JF 1001 .E363 2005
  • Handbook of Electoral System Choice.
    Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire ; New York : Palgrave Macmillan, 2004.
    Call Number: JF 1001 .H26 2004
  • International Foundation for Electoral Systems
    The International Foundation for Electoral Systems provides professional advice and technical assistance in promoting democracy and serves as an information clearinghouse on democratic development. Its Election Guide provides international election dates, results, and information, from 1998 forward.
  • International IDEA Voter Turnout Website , from the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA)
    The International IDEA Voter Turnout Website contains the most comprehensive global collection of political participation statistics available. Regularly updated voter turnout figures for national presidential and parliamentary elections since 1945 are presented country by country, (click on the maps) using both the number of registered voters and voting age population as indicators. Where available, we also include the spoilt ballot rate for each election. Included also are the most recent indicators of literacy and human development, along with the type of electoral system currently used and whether voting is compulsory or not.
  • LANIC Electoral Observatory
    Provides extensive coverage of presidential and legislative elections in Latin America; from the Latin American Network Information Center (LANIC) at the University of Texas.
  • Lijphart Elections Archive, University of California, San Diego
    A research collection of district level election results for approximately 350 national legislative elections in 26 countries. The objective of the Archive is to systematically collect election statistics in as much detail as possible, including, as a minimum, the results at the level of the individual election districts in which votes are converted into seats.
  • Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights - Elections
    ODIHR publishes a number of documents for any particular election observation mission, including:
    • Needs assessment reports, which detail the type of mission to be deployed;
    • Interim reports, which provide insights into the issues a mission deals with prior to election day;
    • Preliminary statements, which are released the day after a mission and provide the ODIHR's preliminary conclusions about the conduct of an election;
    • Final reports, which are published after an in-depth analysis of the election observation and which also provide recommendations with respect to the electoral framework.

The Columbia Law Library has an International, Foreign and Comparative Law collection. Its print holdings may be more extensive than what can be found online, and reference librarians can assist in finding legal information.

  • Derbyshire, J. Denis.
    Encyclopedia of World Political Systems. 2 vols.
    Armonk, N.Y. : Sharpe Reference, c2000.
    Call Number: JF 51 .D465 2000
  • Global Legal Information Network
    The Global Legal Information Network (GLIN), provided by the Library of Congress, is a public database of official texts of laws, regulations, judicial decisions, and other complementary legal sources contributed by governmental agencies and international organizations. These GLIN members contribute the full texts of their published documents to the database in their original languages. Each document is accompanied by a summary in English and, in many cases in additional languages, plus subject terms selected from the multilingual index to GLIN. All summaries are available to the public, and public access to full texts is also available for most jurisdictions.
  • Governments of the World : a Global Guide to Citizens' Rights and Responsibilities. 4 vols.
    Detroit : Macmillan Reference USA/Thomson Gale, c2006.
    Call Number: JA 61 .G645 2006
  • Guide to Law Online
    The Guide to Law Online is an annotated compendium of Internet links from Law Library of Congress. Emphasis wherever possible has been on sites offering the full texts of laws, regulations, and court decisions.
  • International Constitutional Law
    A service of the University of Würzburg; it provides the full text of the constitutions for over 80 countries, in English translation, with brief constitutional, political, and electoral history. For other countries, it provides brief information.
    Legislationline was created in 2002 to assist OSCE participating States in bringing their legislation into line with relevant international human-rights standards. As a reference tool for a variety of users, it is the most comprehensive database on legislation related to issues such as human trafficking, elections, and citizenship. It also includes the full text of constitutions of OSCE countries, both in English and the vernacular.
  • Maddex, Robert L.
    Constitutions of the World. 2nd ed.
    Washington, D.C. : CQ Press, c2001.
    Call Number: K 3165 .M33 2001 (Copies available in multiple locations)
  • PARLINE Database on National Parliaments, from the Inter-Parliamentary Union
    Contains information about parliaments in over 190 countries, including structure, leader, percentage of women, term, sex, political group, and elections.
  • Political Parties of the World. 6th ed.
    London : John Harper, 2005.
    Call Number: JF 2051 .D39 2005g
  • Political Resources on the Net
    Listings of political sites available on the Internet sorted by country, with links to Parties, Organizations, Governments, Media and more from all around the world.
  • World Encyclopedia of Parliaments and Legislatures. 2 vols.
    Washington, D.C. : Congressional Quarterly, c1998.
    Call Number: JF 511 .W67 1998
        The entry for each country gives information about its political system and background, elections and parties, legislative process, selection of the executive branch, budget, etc. Includes a short bibliography.
  • World Encyclopedia of Political systems & parties. 3rd ed. 3 vols.
    New York : Facts On File, 1999-
    Call Number: JF 2011 .W67 1999
  • World Factbook of Criminal Justice Systems
    This factbook provides narrative descriptions of the criminal justice systems of 45 countries around the world.
  • World Legal Information Institute
    Free, independent and non-profit access to worldwide law.
  • Sources for International Statistics guide
    For more sources of statistical information about foreign countries
  • Guide to Country Information in International Governmental Organization Publications.
    Washington, DC : CIS, c1996.
    Call Number: Z 7164 .G7 G829 1996g
        A detailed annotated bibliography of IGO publications which contain country-specific information. It contains a title index and the country members for the IGOs.
  • Guide to Official Publications of Foreign Countries. 2nd ed.
    Bethesda, Md. : CIS, 1997.
    Call Number: Z 7164. G7 G83 1997g
    Call Number: R328 G9411
        A country-by-country annotated bibliography of official publications in 19 categories: guides; bibliographies & catalogs; sources of general information; government directories & organization manuals; statistical yearbooks; laws, regulations, and constitutions; legislative proceedings; statements of the head of government; economic affairs; central bank publications; development plans budget; census; health; labor; education; court reports; environment; human rights & status of women.
  • Morrison, Andrea.
    International Government Information and Country Information : a Subject Guide.
    Westport, Conn. : Greenwood Press, 2004.
    Call Number: ZA 5050 .M67 2004
    An authoritative guide that offers a subject approach to the plentiful resources provided by international government organizations, national governments, and other foreign information sources. In addition to an overview section, 21 chapters cover rich resources of topical, statistical, and analytical information on agriculture and food; crime; health; human rights; laws and treaties; transportation; women and children; and more.