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Library Research Guides

Cultural Competence

Increase intercultural awareness and competencies for traveling abroad and living among culturally diverse populations.

Basic Facts

World Factbook (website)

The CIA's basic statistical and factual reviews of countries' geography, society, government, economy, energy, communication, transportation, military and transnational issues.

Europa World Plus (database)

Regularly updated profiles, statistics and economic and political essays of regions and countries. 

GlobalEdge (website)

Business-oriented insight to states, countries, trade blocs, markets and industries. Country short facts and statistics cover social sciences. Includes external links to cultural resources. 

NativePlanet Indigenous  Mapping (website)

Demographic overview of indigenous communities in Africa, Asia and Latin America. Includes resource links for each group.

News Sources

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Global Road Warrior (database)

This database provides basic country facts and lengthier articles on business, security, health, utilities, communication and entertainment. Addresses some stereotypes and demonstrates popular phrases in foreign languages. eBook versions available in Library Catalog Search.

CultureGrams (database)

Simple and easy to read overviews of over 200 countries, focusing on different populations’ customs, lifestyles and societies from an American perspective. Includes a Kids, USA, Canada and World Edition.


Global Affairs Canada Country Insights (website)

The Canadian government's country profiles and guides to national cultures from Canadian and local perspectives. Includes resource links for additional information on culture, history, geography, etc.

Commisceo Country Guides (website)

Country guides discuss language, culture, customs and etiquette. This website also features additional blog posts regarding cultural awareness.

Countries and Their Cultures (2001 ebook)

National entries include information on history, ethnic relations, urbanism, government, society, economy, religion, health, arts, food, etc.

Native Peoples of the World (2013 ebook)

Introductory entries of native groups, countries and some related concepts.

Worldmark Encyclopedia of Cultures and Daily Life (2009 ebook)

Volumes organized by continent, entries by ethnic or national group. Covers history, language, politics, customs, religion, social issues, daily life, relations, etc.


eHRAF World Cultures (database)

This ethnographic database covers multiple aspects of cultural and social life and can be browsed alphabetically by group name, or by region or country. Includes document collection. Text may include anthropological terminology.

Encyclopedia of World Cultures (1991 ebook)

Volumes organized by continent, entries by ethnic group. Includes introduction, history, economy, social relations and organization, religion, etc. This encyclopedia builds onto eHRAF information but may be dated in comparison.

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Music Online: Garland Encyclopedia of World Music (database)

Volumes by continent. Regional entries discuss instruments and styles of ethnic subclusters. Includes audio samples.

Music Online: Smithsonian Global Sound (database)

An audio track library of the world's musical and aural traditions. Browsable by places, cultural groups, genres, etc.

World Digital Library (database)

The Library of Congress and UNESCO's digital collection of primary materials in timelines, images and descriptions. Browsable by place, time period, topic, language, etc.

Metropolitan Museum of Art Timeline of Art History (database)

View essays and images of artworks by theme, region and/or time period.

World Religion Database (database)

Extensive religious statistics and trends since 1900, and other data for countries, peoples and languages.

Association of Religious Data Archive National Profiles (website)

This database contains a variety of religious statistics for each country/territory surveyed.

Pew Research Center Global Religious Landscape (website)

Demographic study on religions includes maps and graphs.

Encyclopedia of Religion (2005 ebook)

Entries include regional religions, religious concepts and figures. 

Norton Anthology of World Religions (2015 book)

Volumes organized by religion, subdivided by regions. Entries related to religious teachings and movement.

Oxford Handbook of Global Religions (2006 ebook)

Book sorted by religious cultural region, with entries on societies and communities in contemporary context.

Religion & Everyday life and Culture (2010 book)

Vol. 1: Practice in history, entries by regions. Vol. 2 & 3: Practice in public and in private, entries by theme.

Encyclopedia Mythica (website)

Concise mythological, folkloric, bestiary and heroic entries. 

Giants, Monsters and Dragons: An Encyclopedia of Folklore, Legend, and Myth (2001 book)

Entries of mythical creatures.

How The World Dresses: Clothing and Global Culture (2005 video)

Video online uses examples to demonstrate that the clothing people around the world wear may be similar or different from an "American," and how fashion and tradition affects the way we all dress.

Holiday Symbols and Customs (2009 book)

Entries of ancient and modern world holidays, describing origins, symbols and customs.

The Folklore of World Holidays (1999 book)

Entries of holidays by date and region, describing customs and beliefs.

They Eat That? (2012 ebook)

Encyclopedia of weird and exotic foods from around the world.

Food Cultures of the World Encyclopedia (2011 ebook)

Volumes organized by region, entries by country. Covers major foodstuffs, cooking, typical meals, eating out, special occasions, etc.

Encyclopedia of Food and Culture (2003 ebook)

Entries by concept. Includes regional entries that relate historical influences, variations, daily meals and food for special occasions.

Oxford Companion to Food (2014 ebook)

Entries by concept. Includes descriptions of food and regional or national cuisine.

Encyclopedia of Sex and Gender: Men and Women in the World's Cultures (2004 book)

Encyclopedia begins with gender concept, differences, roles and institutions discourse, followed by ethnic group entries that include a cultural overview and gender-related information.

Ethnologue: Languages of the World (database)

Linguistic data and classifications browsable by country or language.

U-M's Language Resource Center

Resources for learning, teaching or translating a foreign language. Watch international TV channels, find a conversation partner, browse through foreign language books and movies, etc.

Culture Shock series

Travel guide titles by country. Covers land and history, society, customs, local views, lifestyle, food, touristic activities, language, work and fast facts. Commentary can be blunt and colloquial.

Cultures and Customs series

Introduces region's territory and history, then covers religion, customs, media, cinema, literature, and arts in more depth. 

Culture Smart series

Travel guide titles by country. Covers country overview, various ethnic groups, values and attitudes, customs and traditions, etiquette, local lifestyle, entertainment, transportation, business and communication.

Popular Culture in the Contemporary World series

Overview of contemporary regional popular culture. Covers music, social movements, sports, performances, tourism, literature, icons, language, media, cinema, religion and arts.

Historical Dictionaries

Encyclopedia titles by country. Brief entries on concepts, major historical and recent events, places and people. 

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Images, Videos & Graphs

CalPhotos: People & Culture (website)

Photo bank of people and places.

Ethnographic Video Online (database)

Videos of family, cultural identity, gender roles, arts, religion, etc.

Hofstede Country Cultural Dimensions Ratings (website)

Graphical representation of countries' ratings of power distance, individualism, masculinity, uncertainty avoidance, long term orientation & indulgence.