How can we quickly familiarize ourselves with the Forgotten Realms?

Follow-up to my question here which was based on the wrong premise that there is a single world for the entirety of DnD. Thanks to that question I was able to boil my issue down to the Forgotten Realms – as that is what my limited experience covers (mostly the Sword Cost as seen in the Baldur’s Gate video game series) and because it seems to be the longest-standing and still supported “default” world.

The core issue, though, remains the same:

  • Apart from me no-one at our table has the slightest idea of the Forgotten Realms. And I’m not meaning having full insights into every aspect of the magical, theological, ecclesiastical, interplanary and mundane goings on – but even just a general “feel” to it, that would be necessary to create believable characters acting in front of this backdrop.
  • Our other players have raised some concerns that this lack of knowhow makes it quite difficult for them to get interested in the system and invested in new characters and a new campaign.

How can our playgroup quickly get a “feel” for the Forgotten Realms in order to kickstart a new campaign?

All of us have years and years of RPG experience, but–alas–limited time. Thus: bonus points for solutions that don’t ask us to read 500 page novels. 😉