NATO Countries

map placeholder

What does NATO stand for?

NATO is the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. NATO is an intergovernmental military alliance between countries in North America and Europe.

When was NATO formed?

NATO was formed following World War II. Its founding treaty was signed in Washington, D.C., in 1949 by a dozen European and North American countries.

Why was NATO formed?

The NATO alliance was formed to respond to the threat posed after the Second World War by the Soviet Union. NATO's purpose was to protect democratic nations against the spread of communism in Europe. NATO’s website states "It commits the Allies to democracy, individual liberty and the rule of law, as well as to peaceful resolution of disputes. Importantly, the treaty sets out the idea of collective defense, meaning that an attack against one Ally is considered an attack against all Allies."

NATO Founders

The 12 founding member countries of NATO are:

  • Belgium
  • Canada
  • Denmark
  • France
  • Iceland
  • Italy
  • Luxembourg
  • Netherlands
  • Norway
  • Portugal
  • United Kingdom
  • United States

NATO Members

Members of NATO have agreed to a system of collective defense for its members. This means that member states will step in and offer mutual defense when an outside party attacks one of the member states.

NATO also has what it calls aspiring members, who one day may join other states within NATO. This includes Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, Macedonia, and Ukraine. Twenty-one countries are members of NATO's Partnership for Peace program. This program is designed to build trust between the organization and states in Europe and the former Soviet Union. Members of this program include former republics of the Soviet Union: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan. Members of Yugoslavia's former republics are Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Republic of Macedonia, and Serbia. European Union members of the program include Austria, Finland, Ireland, Malta, and Sweden. Finally, the European Free Trade Association member Switzerland is also part of the Partnership for Peace program.

Is Ukraine part of NATO? Ukraine is not part of NATO, but it is an aspiring member. Ukraine and NATO's relations started in 1994 and applied to begin a NATO Membership Action Plan (MAP) in 2008. The 2010 presidential election of Viktor Yanukovych, who wanted to keep the country non-aligned, delayed Ukraine's M.A. After Russia invaded Ukraine in 2014, Ukraine's new government made joining NATO a priority. Ukraine became a NATO aspiring member in 2018. On February 7, 2019, the Ukrainian parliament voted to change its constitution to join NATO and the European Union.

Is Russia part of NATO? Russia is not part of NATO. The Russia-NATO Council was established in 2002 to handle security issues and joint projects. NATO decided to suspended cooperation with Russia in 2014 following Russia's Ukraine invasion, not including the NATO-Russia Council. Russia and NATO have held several meetings since 2016, and NATO states that an improvement in their relationship with Russia is dependent on Russia's compliance with international law and their commitments.

Is Turkey part of NATO? Yes, Turkey joined NATO in 1952.

NATO Countries

Country Year Joined NATO 2021 Population
Czech Republic199910,724,555
United Kingdom194968,207,116
United States1949332,915,073

NATO Countries