1. The CIA Factbook
This offshoot of the American intelligence agency’s site gives a detailed overview of every country. It also provides information on the history, people, government, economy, geography, communications, transportation, military, and transnational issues for 266 world entities.
The website of the Biography Channel is an excellent place to gen up on historical figures and celebrities, while its “Dead Or Not” game shows that beyond a necessary obsession with factual accuracy it has a fun side, too.
Type in a word or phrase and OneLook will offer a quick definition and link to reputable online sources, such as the Cambridge and Hutchinson dictionaries. Wildcard searches, meanwhile – where you need only key in a few words from a word – make it invaluable for Scrabble players and crossword solvers.
Sorted by more than 30 categories, from astronomical units to viscosity, this converts one unit of measurement to another. Google can do something similar – type “20kg in ounces” into the search box, for example -but this site is far more comprehensive.
The full 1911 version of the Encyclopaedia-Britannica is now online. Particularly interesting are the accounts of historical figures written while they were alive.
Online access to the modern Britannica costs £49.95 a year, but that compares with £450 for the full set of 32 volumes. More comprehensive than Wikipedia, it also features thousands of audio and video clips.
About was set up in 1996 and can now call on a network of more than 750 experts to answer users’ questions. More than 60m people visit the site each month looking for help on pretty much anything.
A collection of links to lists that have appeared somewhere in the world’s press. If you need to know the planet’s most valuable 15 football teams, head there.
The Librarians’ Internet Index is a US organisation with a collection of links to ‘websites you can trust’. The history and politics ones are a little US-centric, arts and science links are more comprehensive.
This lists upcoming event from all over the world. Search by date, destination, type of event, keyword or a combination of them all, and maybe discover that your trip to Tahiti coincides with its annual Tarantino week.