BBC’s country profiles provide information on the history, politics and economic background of individual countries and territories.
The Cultural Atlas aims to inform and educate the public in cross-cultural attitudes, practices, norms, behaviours, communications and business skills.
One World’s Nations Online contains links to many useful websites for each country.
Infoplease presents basic data for countries around the world.
The CIA World Factbook includes general background and statistics on the geography, people, economy, communications, transportation, military and transnational issues for all of the world’s countries.
Many countries provide country profiles on their governmental Foreign Affairs sites. Three examples are the United States (Background Notes), the United Kingdom (Country Profiles) and Canada (Country Insights, with topical links).
Online encyclopedias give good general country background, for example: Wikipedia.
The UNSD Statistical Databases page on the UN Statistics Division website gives access to UN country data for a variety of topics, and links to national statistical offices of member countries.
Gapminder presents animated statistics about social, economic and environmental development at local, national and global levels.
The Human Rights Development Reports from the United Nations Development Programme include human development indicator tables that give a global assessment of country achievements in different areas of human development, such as sanitation, health, education and income.
Human Rights Watch produces global overviews and news updates by country.
The Amnesty International Library has regular reports and news for most countries.
Transparency International is a coalition which aims to end the impact of corruption on men, women and children around the world by working with governments, businesses and citizens to stop the abuse of power, bribery and secret deals.
The World Travel Guide has guides to countries, airports, attractions, etc.
The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) is the United Nations agency responsible for the promotion of responsible, sustainable and universally accessible tourism.
Governmental travel advisory services issue travel warnings and cautions on security and risks in countries worldwide. It can be worthwhile looking at more than one of these sites as opinions do vary. Here are the links for the Australian, the United Kingdom and the United States government sites.