"Lands and Peoples", a standard social studies reference tool for school and public libraries, has a reputation for continuously updating articles. This 1993 edition goes beyond mere revisions, however, and includes 22 new articles, 14 replacement articles, and 22 new maps. All in all, more than 60 percent of the set has been revised, reflecting the political changes that have occurred since the last edition was published in 1991
Twenty-one new countries are represented in articles that include detailed information on geography and climate, people (ethnic groups, language, religion), culture (customs, arts and literature), economy, and history. The replacement articles reflect major changes in such areas of the world as Africa, Asia, and the European Community. The editors have made major revisions--meaning more than 50 percent of the article has been rewritten--for seven entries, including "Kuwait" and "Iraq", and have provided minor revisions-- updated population figures, election results, economic developments--for an additional 171 articles. The text is accompanied by 68 new or updated maps and almost 100 new color photographs
The set retains its basic arrangement: the first volume covers Africa; the second, Asia, Australia, New Zealand, and Oceania; volumes 3 and 4 deal with Europe; volume 5, North America, and the last volume, Central and South America. This version also includes two "special editions," supplements that provide approximately 100 pages each on the developing topics of "Life after Communism" and "Crisis in the Middle East". Both sources examine the background of these issues, provide a chronology of developments, include an "Alphabetical Overview" (a topical glossary of related people, places, and events), and assess future political ramifications
Another new feature is the reformatted index. Included both in volume 6 and in a separate paperback supplement, it has been expanded to include more than 18,000 entries. Accompanying the index is a "Facts and Figures" section, with current statistical data, as well as a bibliography of additional sources that corresponds to the contents of the set. Selections appropriate for younger readers have been identified with an asterisk
Because the articles are arranged according to geographic proximity instead of in alphabetical order, it would be helpful to have a separate index in each volume (especially for those times when an entire class descends on the media center). AIDS is not mentioned in "Uganda" or in the index. However, the other positive aspects of this work, such as the up-to-date coverage, the accessibility of the information, and the attractive format, make it an extremely useful research tool. It continues to be a useful mainstay for public and school libraries, serving fifth grade and up.