If you're looking for single article or detailed background on current issues or events, these links will serve you well.
Map Machine
National Geographic's hugely cool interactive world atlas. http://plasma.nationalgeographic.com/mapmachine/
Washington State Maps
Nice collection of free maps of Washington, Oregon, and California. http://www.wamaps.com/
Generate custom maps and get driving instructions to just about anywhere. http://www.mapquest.com
Wild World @ National Geographic
Maps and information about the 867 terrestrial ecoregions of the world. http://www.nationalgeographic.com/wildworld/terrestrial.html
Flags of the World
Very popular database of world flags. http://www.fotw.net/flags/
Background Notes
Information about countries of the world printed by the U.S. Government Printing Office. http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/
CIA World Factbook
World fact about all countries in the world. https://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/index.html
BBC Country Profiles
Full profiles provide an instant guide to history, politics and economic background of countries. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/country_profiles/default.stm
Library Of Congress Country Studies
More factual information about countries of the world. http://lcweb2.loc.gov/frd/cs/cshome.html
Information Please
Information Please Almanac information about countries. http://www.infoplease.com/countries.html
World Conflicts Today
A great resource from ProQuest providing in-depth background and current information about major areas of world conflict. http://www.worldconflictstoday.com
Culture Grams
Goes beyond facts and figures to deliver perspective on daily life and culture, including the history, customs, and lifestyles of on 187 world cultures. http://online.culturegrams.com/index.php