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on 14 June 2006
This is an amazing book. If you are interested in seeing people and their ordinary but colourful lives across the world then this is the book for you. Its format is especially clever in that it is an A-Z rather than grouping countries by region, which means that every time you turn over a page a completely different part of the world comes alive.

As a previous reviewer found, if you want cliched picture-postcard views of physical stuff eg landscapes etc or loads of stats about different places, then you will be disappointed. Of course you could find photograghs of landscapes etc and tonnes of stats on the internet so needn't buy a book at all!

If you are interested in getting a feel for a place, for its people, its culture and its intrigue then this is definitely the book for you. It is written by travellers for travellers, not for someone doing a geography project.

It does what no other book has managed to do for me - it exactly captures the mood of places I have been to and that gives me faith that the moods of other places have been captured accurately. As I turn the pages I can't help but get excited, immersing myself in the mood that seeps off the page.

It's easy to read and still fascinates me. I love reading it especially when feeling bored of life or when its raining outside. It is a wonderful source of inspiration as well. After reading it, my list of must-go-to-places has tripled! This book deserves to be treasured by anyone interested in travelling the world, seeing its sights and meeting its people.

A fantastic buy!
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on 17 March 2006
I am a big fan of Lonely Planet, I love their travel guides and I have found them immensely helpful in my travels around the globe. When I spotted this on display in Waterstones I was very excited and I was thrilled to receive it for Christmas.
This book contains information on ALL of the countries in the world in alphabetical order, 230 entries in total. This list of countries comes from the United Nations list of defined countries and does not generally include the foreign dependencies of these countries, whether self-governing or Crown colony. However as they wanted to include some of the more popular and beautiful travellers destinations they have included some dependencies for example Bermuda, New Caledonia, the Cayman Islands and French Polynesia. They also include fine distinctions such as England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales as separate entries as they do with Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan for example and they include Antarctica and Greenland even though strictly speaking these are not countries per se.
Each country features a double page spread which is primarily composed of big, bold and vivid pictures providing an insight into the people and places of the country in question. The pictures will make you want to visit pretty much every country in the world, regardless of that countries woes or wars. The book truly proves that there is some good and some beauty in every corner of the globe.
A small section of written information and a map of each country is found on each page along the right hand side. Basics such as the Capital, population, religions and languages spoken are all includes as well as the best time of year to visit. These basics are followed firstly by the ‘essential experiences’. For example in the England entry the must dos are:
Climbing St Pauls Cathedral; eating fish and chips on pebbled beaches and willing the sun to shine; climbing Scarfell Pike in the Peak District and marvelling at the view, the regency town of Bath; exploring the coastline of Cornwall and Stongehenge.
Some pretty good choices there if you ask me.
Next there is a section entitled ‘getting under the skin’. This is broken down into six sections: listen to, read, watch, drink, eat and ‘in a word’, which again provides a fascinating insight into the country in question. Using England as an example again here are their suggestions:
Watch: Sense and Sensibility; Listen: The Kinks, Waterloo Sunset or anything by the Beatles; Eat: Sunday Roast with all the trimmings followed by apple crumble and custard; Drink: Real Ales; Read: The English by Jeremy Paxman; In a word: ‘Oright?
There are two final sections, firstly ‘surprises’ and secondly ‘trademarks. According to the book the ‘surprises re England are…..
“it doesn’t actually rain that much, the English drink more tea than you ever thought they did, most of the best things on offer in England are free”
……and the trademarks are……..
“The Royal Family; Lords and Ladies and big hats at Ascot; Cockney Rhyming Slang; Britpop; Jellied eels; Warm beer; Page three girls; Fry-ups; Football.”
At the end there’s also a general extract from the lonely planet guide book with some general information. In the England entry they discuss the number and variety of pubs and drinking establishments…. (says a lot I think….!!!).
12 'bonus' destinations are featured at the end, that I guess they just couldn’t bear to not include. These are much shorter versions than the other entries including just one picture each. The places featured include Montserrat, Gibralter, St Helena (an island belonging to the UK) and Niue (an island belonging to New Zealand).
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This book is physically a heavyweight - both in weight and size. It is lavishly illustrated and devotes two pages to each country on earth regardless of size or economic standing. The photography is wonderful and it is a classic coffee table book. However, I have marked it down slightly as it is inclined to be in my (minority) opinion a slight "triumph of form over content" - it's comprehensive coverage inevitably means that the information is inclined to be a bit superficial for my taste. Overall, though it is a lovely gift and most people eulogise about it.
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on 2 April 2007
Lonely Planet are famous for being in every backpackers back pocket, this book should be on every travellers coffee table! It gives a really brief but informative overview of each and every country, providing you with facts, best time to visit, some history, languages, phrases and all the other best bits, for example the cuisine on offer and some amazing photographs!

get it get it get it!
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on 22 January 2005
This is the perfect book to spend a rainy Sunday afternoon with. You will need a couple of pillows to prop it up with as it's huge.
I was even more excited about many of the further reading recommendations listed. The only problem is that 5 of the 6 books being recommended are out of print. So don't get too excited about the books listed in this publication you wont be able to find them.
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on 11 November 2005
An absolutely fantastic book. It's may be a touch short on the reading but the eye candy is higher than first rate. Although the written word is lacking what is written is very interesting and informatative and sometimes funny. My only complaint is that it would be great for toilet reading (true male) but it's a bit heavy for that.
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on 5 November 2006
I browsed through this book in a shop and was about to add it to my Christmas wish list. I went to the entry of my country of birth - Ukraine and was disappointed to see that the main picture (taking over 50% of a page) was taken in Leningrad (St Petersburg), which is in Russia. It made me doubt about all other information this book presents. Still, it's a nice idea for a book.
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on 14 August 2006
This is nothing more than a coffee table book - albeit a nice one. It contains some very nice photos and a quick snapshot of each country. You can't expect much more from a book featuring every country in the world though really.

This book is of no use if you want to plan anything travel wise, but it's a nice book to own to get a quick snapshot of a country or just to flick through and gain some inspiration from the photos - which aren't your usual postcard shots, which is refreshing to see.
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on 10 February 2008
This is a great book to get the juices flowing when planning a round the world trip. It highlights some countries you may never have thought of and has fantastic pictures to represent each of them. It makes you wish you were going on holiday the next day!
The downfall of this book is its lack of information that is given. It is something nice to browse through a few times for a bit of daydreaming but is nothing too helpful on the information front.
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on 24 October 2004
the lonely planet have done a great job of producing this extensive book which somehow manages to capture 230 countries.
the photos are worth the money alone. a perfect "dip-in and escape" book.
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