A Visual Guide to Europe’s Member States
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A Visual Guide to Europe’s Member States

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Map of Europe's member states

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Who are Europe’s Member States?

With Ukraine’s recent bid to join the European Union (EU), the current status of Europe’s member states is back in the fray.

The European member states are countries mainly in Europe, and three outside, that are part of one or more of the four major treaty groups, namely the European Union (EU), NATO, Schengen, and eurozone.

Each of these institutions governs a different aspect of the region’s infrastructure.

Let’s take a look at each of them.

European Union

The European Union (EU) is a unique economic and political union between 27 European countries.

First created as the European Economic Community in the aftermath of WW2, the organization’s main focus was to foster economic cooperation. The idea was simple: countries that trade with one another and become economically interdependent are more likely to avoid conflict.

Beginning with six countries in 1958, the European Economic Community has since added 21 more countries (the UK left the EU in 2020), with a primary focus on single or internal markets.

Here are the countries that comprise the European Union:

NumberCountriesYear of Accession
1🇦🇹 Austria1995
2🇧🇪 BelgiumFounder
3🇧🇬 Bulgaria2007
4🇭🇷 Croatia2013
5🇨🇾 Cyprus2004
6🇨🇿 Czech Republic2004
7🇩🇰 Denmark1973
8🇪🇪 Estonia2004
9🇫🇮 Finland1995
10🇫🇷 FranceFounder
11🇩🇪 GermanyFounder
12🇬🇷 Greece1981
13🇭🇺 Hungary2004
14🇮🇪 Ireland1973
15🇮🇹 ItalyFounder
16🇱🇻 Latvia2004
17🇱🇹 Lithuania2004
18🇱🇺 LuxembourgFounder
19🇲🇹 Malta2004
20🇳🇱 NetherlandsFounder
21🇵🇱 Poland2004
22🇵🇹 Portugal1986
23🇷🇴 Romania2007
24🇸🇰 Slovakia2004
25🇸🇮 Slovenia2004
26🇪🇸 Spain1986
27🇸🇪 Sweden1995

What began as a purely economic union has evolved into an organization pioneering the development of many different policy areas. A name change from the European Economic Community to the European Union in 1993 reflected this.

NATO

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) exists for the sole purpose of facilitating a political and military alliance between its 30 member countries.

Established in 1949 in response to post-WW2 Soviet aggression, NATO exists for the collective defense and security of the group. Members share few laws and regulations. An attack on one constitutes an attack on all, and member states are obligated to defend one another.

The chronological timeline of NATO’s expansion since its establishment paints a fascinating picture.

Timeline of NATO expansion since establishment.

As of 2021, NATO officially recognizes three aspiring NATO members: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, and Ukraine. Ukraine has voiced its desire to join NATO since 2014 but hasn’t met its political and military criteria.

Eurozone

The eurozone is a geographic and economic region that consists of countries that have adopted the euro as their national currency. Approximately 340 million people live in the euro area.

Today, the eurozone consists of 19 countries of the European Union. Here they are:

NumberCountriesYear of Adoption
1🇦🇹 Austria1999
2🇧🇪 Belgium1999
3🇨🇾 Cyprus2008
4🇪🇪 Estonia2011
5🇫🇮 Finland1999
6🇫🇷 France1999
7🇩🇪 Germany1999
8🇬🇷 Greece2001
9🇮🇪 Ireland1999
10🇮🇹 Italy1999
11🇱🇻 Latvia2014
12🇱🇹 Lithuania2015
13🇱🇺 Luxembourg1999
14🇲🇹 Malta2008
15🇳🇱 Netherlands1999
16🇵🇹 Portugal1999
17🇸🇰 Slovakia2009
18🇸🇮 Slovenia2007
19🇪🇸 Spain1999

European Union nations that decide to participate in the eurozone must meet a multitude of financial requirements. They include price stability, sound public finances, the durability of convergence, and exchange rate stability.

Not all countries have to adopt the currency, though. For example, Denmark has a special opt-out clause to use its own currency and maintain its financial independence.

Schengen

The Schengen Area comprises 26 European countries that agreed to create common entry and exit requirements to remove the need for internal borders. This allows travellers up to 90 days of visa-free travel to any of the countries in the Schengen Area.

The border-free Schengen Area guarantees free movement to more than 400 million EU citizens, along with non-EU nationals living in the EU or visiting as tourists, exchange students, or for business purposes.

Here’s a list of the 26 countries that are a part of the Schengen Area:

NumberCountriesYear of Implementation
1🇦🇹 Austria1997
2🇧🇪 Belgium1995
3🇨🇿 Czech Republic2007
4🇩🇰 Denmark2001
5🇪🇪 Estonia2007
6🇫🇮 Finland2001
7🇫🇷 France1995
8🇩🇪 Germany1995
9🇬🇷 Greece2000
10🇭🇺 Hungary2007
11🇮🇸 Iceland2001
12🇮🇹 Italy1997
13🇱🇻 Latvia2007
14🇱🇮 Liechtenstein2011
15🇱🇹 Lithuania2007
16🇱🇺 Luxembourg1995
17🇲🇹 Malta2007
18🇳🇱 Netherlands1995
19🇳🇴 Norway2001
20🇵🇱 Poland2007
21🇵🇹 Portugal1995
22🇸🇰 Slovakia2007
23🇸🇮 Slovenia2007
24🇪🇸 Spain1995
25🇸🇪 Sweden2001
26🇨🇭 Switzerland2008

Monaco, Vatican City, and San Marino also have open borders with Schengen area countries even though they aren’t part of the treaty.

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Politics

Which Countries are the Most Polarized?

This chart plots polarization for various countries based on the Edelman Trust Institute’s annual survey of 32,000+ people.

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Which Countries are the Most Polarized?

How do you measure something that’s made headlines for half a decade but is still difficult to quantify? We’re talking about polarization.

Even within the social sciences, polarization covers everything from racial segregation, to labor skill levels, to class divide, to political ideology.

How Do You Quantify Polarization?

Edelman’s data on which countries are the most polarized comes from survey results asking respondents two very simple questions:

  • How divided is their country?
  • How entrenched is the divide?

The questions help bring to light the social issues a particular country is facing and the lack of consensus on those issues.

Plotted against each other, a chart emerges. A country in the top–right corner of the chart is “severely polarized.” Countries located closer to the lower–left are considered less polarized.

In the report, Edelman identifies four metrics to watch for and measure which help quantify polarization.

Economic AnxietiesWill my family be better off in five years?
Institutional ImbalanceGovernment is viewed as unethical and incompetent.
Class DividePeople with higher incomes have a higher trust in institutions.
Battle for TruthEcho chambers, and a low trust in media.

Following Edelman’s metrics, countries with economic uncertainty and inequality as well as institutional distrust are more likely to be polarized. Below, we look at key highlights from the chart.

Severely Polarized Countries

Despite being one of the largest economies in Latin America, Argentina is the most polarized country surveyed by a large margin. Foreign loan defaults, a high fiscal deficit, and now surging inflation have created a perfect storm in the country.

43% of the Argentinian respondents said they will be better off in five years, down 17 percentage points from last year.

Along with fiscal upheaval, Argentinians are also dealing with enduring corruption in the public sector and abrupt policy reversals between governments. Only 20% of those surveyed in Argentina said they trusted the government—the least of all surveyed countries.

Here are all six of the countries considered to be severely polarized:

    🇦🇷 Argentina
    🇨🇴 Colombia
    🇺🇸 United States
    🇿🇦 South Africa
    🇪🇸 Spain
    🇸🇪 Sweden

In the U.S., heightened political upheaval between Democrats and Republicans over the last few years has led to strengthening ideological stances and to an abundance of headlines about polarization. Only 42% of respondents in the country trust the government.

And in South Africa, persistent inequality and falling trust in the African National Congress also check off Edelman’s metrics. It’s also second after Argentina with the least trust in government (22%) per the survey.

Moderately Polarized Countries

The biggest cluster of 15 countries are in moderately polarized section of the chart, with all continents represented.

    🇧🇷 Brazil
    🇰🇷 South Korea
    🇲🇽 Mexico
    🇫🇷 France
    🇬🇧 United Kingdom
    🇯🇵 Japan
    🇳🇱 Netherlands
    🇮🇹 Italy
    🇩🇪 Germany
    🇳🇬 Nigeria
    🇹🇭 Thailand
    🇰🇪 Kenya
    🇨🇦 Canada
    🇦🇺 Australia
    🇮🇪 Ireland

Some are on the cusp of being severely polarized, including economic heavyweights like Japan, the UK, France, and Germany. On the other hand, smaller economies like Thailand, Kenya, and Nigeria, are doing comparatively better on the polarization chart.

Less Polarized Countries

Countries with fair economic outlook and high trust in institutions including China, Singapore, and India are in the bottom left sector of the chart.

    🇮🇩 Indonesia
    🇨🇳 China
    🇦🇪 United Arab Emirates
    🇸🇬 Singapore
    🇸🇦 Saudi Arabia
    🇲🇾 Malaysia
    🇮🇳 India

It’s interesting to note that of the seven countries in that sector, three are not democracies. That said, there are also more developing countries on this list as well, which could also be a factor.

Looking Ahead

Edelman notes that polarization is both “cause and consequence of distrust,” creating a self-fulfilling cycle. Aside from the four metrics stated above, concerns about the erosion of civility and weakening social fabric also lead to polarization.

Edelman polarization quote

As global events unfold in 2023—including looming worries of a recession—it will be fascinating to see how countries might switch positions in the year to come.

Where does this data come from?

Source: The 2023 Edelman Trust Barometer

Data note: Survey conducted: Nov 1 – Nov 28, 2022. Survey included 32,000+ respondents in 28 countries. Russia was omitted from this year’s survey. See page 2 of the report for more details.

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