Written by a distinguished group of comparativists, this innovative and accessible introductory text surveys 12 key countries organized according to their level of political development: established democracies, transitional democracies, and non-democracies. The country studies illuminate four comparative themes in a global context: the world of states, examining the interaction of states within the international order; governing the economy, covering the role of the state in economic management; the democratic idea, discussing the pressure for more democracy and the challenges of democratization; and the politics of collective identities, studying the political impact of diverse attachments and sources of group identity. The theoretical framework developed in an expanded introduction provides a rich context for each country study, and clear prose makes the book accessible to students with little or no background in political science. Students will also benefit from the data sheet at the beginning of each chapter that includes basic demographic, socioeconomic, and political information, to aid in country comparisons. In addition, they can use the Geographic Setting sections in each chapter, as well as maps, tables, charts, photographs, and political cartoons to further their understanding of each country studied.