Encyclopedias, dictionaries, handbooks or atlases, can provide a great overview. These kinds of materials help you to:
Wikipedia is convenient, and can be a place to learn about a new topic, but don't rely on it alone; most Carnegie Mellon University instructors do not accept Wikipedia as a cited source for your assignments.
Tip: The best way to look for materials that can provide you with an over view is to use a broad term, a country's name or a region. Once you type that and the search box, click on the "CAMEO: Library Catalog" tab and select "Reference" (see screen below):
To find more reference sources, use the Advanced Search in the library catalog, and type the type of source (for example, encyclopedias, dictionaries, handbooks) then select Subject. You can also check our Reference Shelf.
Here are select examples:
Also, the following reference resources contain background information:
Often you'll find great information in works that cover larger regions. Here are some examples:
Consult General Tips for Finding Resources in Different Languages on the Modern Languages guide home page.