You may not know a lot about every part of the world you'll be studying this semester. Here are some sources to get a quick summary of a country's or region's history and culture.
Depending on your topic, you might need to find out what is happening right now in the country of your text. Newspapers are a great way to do this.
OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) -- The OECD collects and analyses data and makes recommendations to improve the economic and social well-being of people around the world. Use the "Countries" drop down menu. Many articles about Spanish speaking countries come in a Spanish version.
United Nations Statistics Division -- The UN collects statistics for every nation, with particular focus on health, gender, and economic development indicators. Put the name of a country in the data search box at the top right and click "go".
UNESCO -- UNESCO is the United Nation's Education, Scientific, and Cultural group. The webpage is also available in Spanish if you click at the top left. Search your country under the "Countries" dropdown menu. Check out the section on Communication and Information.
NCES -- The National Center for Education Statistics in the U.S. also publishes comparative reports with other nations. Includes access to the PISA data (Programme for International Student Assessment, conducted by the OECD.)
Pew Research Center Global Attitudes & Trends -- Pew not only does excellent reporting on statistics and public opinion in the US (check out their great research on Hispanics) but they also survey people from all over the world about global issues. Search your country in the box.
Latinobarometro -- Based in Chile, this company does annual public opinion polls of 18 Latin American countries. In Spanish!
CEPR -- Center for Economic and Policy Research has op-eds as well as reports and data about economic and social issues.