Political Science

Know it Now!

Background Notes are frequently updated publications from the U.S. State Department for virtually every country in the world. Each section includes topics such as the following:

  • Geography
  • Population and notes
  • History and political conditions
  • The economy and recent economic trends
  • Foreign relations
  • Relations with the United States
  • Travel and business information

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The Census Bureau's Subjects A-Z is a starting point for locating data collected by the Federal government. Use USA.gov or another search engine to locate up-to-date information or to find resources not listed here.

This resource replaces FedStats.gov, which was last updated in 2007.

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Major resources available through the U.S. House of Representatives web site include:

  • Currently on the House Floor
  • Access the Laws of the United States
  • Find a Bill, Amendment, or Debate
  • Find Vote Information
  • What does the House do?
  • Find your Representative

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Major resources available through the U.S. Senate web site include:

  • Session Schedule
  • Scheduled Hearings
  • Active Legislation
  • Votes
  • Floor Schedule
  • Virtual Reference Desk
  • Public Disclosure
  • Nominations
  • Statistics and Lists
  • Daily Digest, Senate Calendar, Executive Calendar
  • The Capitol Camera

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"The Congressional Directory is the official directory of the U.S. Congress, prepared by the Joint Committee on Printing (JCP). Published since 1888, the Congressional Directory presents short biographies of each member of the Senate and House, listed by state or district, and additional data, such as committee memberships, terms of service, administrative assistants and/or secretaries, and room and telephone numbers. It also lists officials of the courts, military establishments, and other Federal departments and agencies, including D.C. government officials, governors of states and territories, foreign diplomats, and members of the press, radio, and television galleries.

According to the U.S. Code (44USC721), the Congressional Directory is made available during the first session of each new Congress. In addition, the database for the current Congress is updated irregularly, as changes are provided by the JCP." from web site

The online version includes the directories back to the 104th Congress (1995-96).

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"This Web site contains the online versions of books previously published (1988-98) 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 the 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. The date of information for each country appears on the title page of each country and at the end of each section of text.

This Web site also contains brief, more up-to-date Country Profiles on select countries." from web site

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"As the official handbook of the Federal Government, the United States Government Manual provides comprehensive information on the agencies of the legislative, judicial, and executive branches. It also includes information on quasi-official agencies; international organizations in which the United States participates; and boards, commissions, and committees. The Manual begins with reprints of the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution.

A typical agency description includes:

  • A list of officials heading major operating units.
  • A summary statement of the agency's purpose and role in the Federal Government
  • A brief history of the agency, including its legislative or executive authority.
  • A description of its programs and activities.
  • Information, addresses, and phone numbers to help users locate detailed information on consumer activities, contracts and grants, employment, publications, and other matters of public interest.

The Manual is published as a special edition of the Federal Register (see 1 CFR 9.1). Its focus is on programs and activities. Persons interested in detailed organizational structure, the regulatory documents of an agency, or Presidential documents should refer to the Federal Register or one of its other special editions." from web site

This database includes the U.S. Government Manual for 1995-96 and later.

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"The U.S. Government Printing Office disseminates official information from all three branches of the Federal Government." from web site

GPO Access includes large collections of materials related to the current and recent activity of the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of the federal government.

  • The Legislative Process: Creating Laws for the Nation
  • Congressional Materials: Committees, Calendars, & Procedures
  • Legislative Resources from Congress and Legislative Agencies
  • The Regulatory Process: Implementing Laws Passed by Congress
  • Presidential Material: Remarks, Speeches, & Executive Orders
  • Executive Publications: Reports, Investigations, Findings, etc.
  • Federal Courts: Resolve Disputes over Federal Law
  • Judicial Resources: Federal Publications and Procedures

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The Index of Economic Freedom measures and ranks 161 countries across 10 specific freedoms measures like tax rates and property rights. View scores and rankings for any country, along with detailed data and background analysis.

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The Library is where electronic versions of classic books about individual liberty are stored. These texts go back some 4,000 years and cover the disciplines of economics, history, law, literature, philosophy, political theory, religion, war and peace. They are in a variety of formats - facsimile PDFs so scholars can view the original text, HTML for ease of searching and attractive layout, and text-based PDF EBooks for personal use. The Library also contains bibliographic information about the books as well as other "metadata" about the authors and editors.

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The official site of the President of the United States is a resource for information from the executive branch of the federal government. Updates include current news, press briefings, proclamations, executive orders, and radio addresses.

Biographical information on this site includes that of the previous Presidents, Vice Presidents, and First Ladies.

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THOMAS makes federal legislative information freely available to the public, beginning with the 104th Congress (1995-1996). Features and content includes:

  • Bills, Resolutions
  • Activity in Congress
  • Congressional Record
  • Schedules, Calendars
  • Committee Information
  • Presidential Nominations
  • Treaties
  • Other Government Resources

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"Once fully complete, the World Treaty Index will feature every known international agreement in the 20th Century. This includes tens of thousands agreements entered into by hundreds of countries and international organizations. We offer a variety of methods to access the underlying data. Currently, this website only contains treaties signed between 1945 and 1999." - from website

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