The weather outside is frightful – making it the perfect time to do some traveling, both armchair and otherwise.  It’s also a time when many students find themselves slogging away on research papers, wishing that there was a quick way to determine the name of Albania’s president or the major exports of Tunisia.  Travelers and students alike will find CultureGrams (REF 901 v.1 and v.2) to be of use.  Take a trip to the library’s reference section and see for yourself!

CultureGrams has comprehensive reports for 108 countries.  25 topics are covered, including Land and Climate, Language, Gestures, Visiting, Eating, Family, Diet, Recreation, Government, Economy, and Transportation & Communications.  At the start of Volume One there are reports on the various continents, and at the end of Volume Two, there’s an extensive Glossary of Cultural Terms.  The individual country reports provide you with the information you need to avoid making major cultural gaffes during your next trip abroad (a certain library clerk at Brooks certainly wishes she’d read the report on South Korea before journeying there!) and piques your interest about the arts, food, and culture you will experience during your visit.

This is also a great source for those who are beginning research on a social studies or history paper.  The different topics covered in each country’s report ensure that the broadest possible picture is delivered to the reader.  With the variety of information on offer, something is sure to act as a catalyst for more in-depth investigation.

If you do not fall in either the “traveler” or the “student” category, fret not!  CultureGrams can be used by anyone with an interest in the world around them.  It can be great fun to skim over the different reports, soaking up assorted interesting facts about various faraway spots.  For instance, did you know that rice is a staple dish in the United Arab Emirates?  Or that Ilobasco, El Salvador is known for its fantastic pottery?