Country information: comparing web resources (so you don’t have to!)

If you need information, facts and figures on a specific country there are plenty of sources out on the web, some more reliable than others. We also have subscription resources which require a login but have reports not available for free on the web.

Taking the example of Sudan, we have compared what you get. Is it worth a few extra steps to access the subscription content? (Spoiler alert: YES! Read on and find out why…)

As a specific comparison figure, we have extracted the population figures from all resources where given. Interesting to see how widely this varies!

Resources from the open web

  • The American CIA World Factbook has long been considered a reliable source of country information – its entry on Sudan contains facts and analysis under headings Geography, People and Society, Government, Economy, Energy, Communications, Transportation, Military and Transnational Issues. Population 35,482,233 (July 2014 est.)
  • The World Health Organization has a country profile for Sudan which includes more health-focussed information and risks. It estimates the 2012 population at 37,195,000.
  • The World Bank also has a home page for Sudan which has a financial slant and links to their work with Sudan. They cite a 2012 population estimate at 37.20 million.
  • The major accountancy firm KPMG also have online reports including this one on Sudan. It has a lot of detail and dates from 2012. Population given as 34,206,710 (July 2012 est.).
  • Wikipedia: the profile of Sudan is extensive and can be a valuable starting point. However, you should not use Wikipedia as an academic source or reference – follow its footnotes to find more credible sources or verify the information elsewhere. Anyone can edit a Wikipedia page (try it yourself if you have knowledge of a particular topic!). Population is given as 30, 894, 000 citing the 2008 census and acknowledging that this has been disputed as a precise estimate.
  • The BBC has its own Sudan country profile with an overview, facts, media, leaders and a historical timeline. It is useful as it links to its own recent news stories on a country. Population is given at 45.7 million (UN estimate 2012) which seems very large in comparison with all other sources and may be unreliable in this instance – always worth checking more than one source!

Subscription Resources

In comparison with these, you can find extensive country profiles in our EBSCO Business Source Complete database. To find a country report in EBSCO, the following search is recommended:

  • Enter the country name as a search time and change “Select a field (optional)” to “TI Title”
  • Limit the search by date to most recent years
  • Limit the search by “Source Type” to “Country Reports”
  • Change the sort order of results to “Date Newest”

Screenshot of EBSCO BSC showing search filters applied

 

Is it worth the extra effort to search EBSCO? The Political Risk Yearbook report for Sudan is 39 pages long and dates from November 2013. As well as the usual facts and figures (population given for 2012: 37.20 million) it has sections on “Comment & Analysis”, 3 “Forecast Scenarios” based on political changes that could occur, 5 pages of detail on “climate for investment & trade”. So this is a much more extensive, current and researched resource than those available freely on the web – the reason why these reports are only available on subscription via the PRS Group.

Proquest Business Collection also has a series of Country reports, available only on subscription: find these by clicking on “Browse” then expand the “Country Reports” section:

Screenshot of Proquest showing Browse link to Country Reports

 

The individual collections listed here are all worth exploring for a specific country but some countries are not covered in all collections. In the case of Sudan:

  • Oxford Economics Country Economic Forecast has one from Oct 2013, 6 months ago. This is a 4 page economic forecast that looks ahead to 2016 with analysis and figures. (There is no Oxford Economics By Country Industry Forecast for Sudan – only selected countries are covered for this category).
  • The EIU reports do not include Sudan.
  • Oxford Analytica Daily Brief Service has many short items on Sudan indexed by industry and topic but these are not that current (2012 is the most recent) and are often not specifically on Sudan.
  • Oxford Analytica Country Profiles has one that is 2 months old (Jan 2014). It gives a population of 25,946,220 (July 2012).

Conclusions?

EBSCO’s Country Reports are by far the most comprehensive option for authoritative country information with additional forecast information from Proquest also proving useful. It is worth noting that not all the subscription sources cover all countries – Mintel Global Market Navigator is another resource we have for country economic data but does not include Sudan.

The web resources listed are useful but basic – the CIA World Factbook is possibly the most reliable & recognized one to cite for an assignment.

 

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