Neutral Countries 2022

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Neutrality is an important term in international warfare. A neutral country does not take sides with belligerents during times of war. In contrast to many countries which are currently at war, many neutral countries managed to remain so even during World War II. The general guidelines to neutrality were outlined in the Hague Convention of 1907, Articles V and XIII. While there are several intricacies to what neutral countries must do to retain their neutrality, the guidelines can be essentially be summed up as: Neutral countries must remain impartial and neither assist nor attack either side, and the belligerents—countries that are actively participating in the war—must respect this stance, lest they forfeit any troops, prisoners, or supplies that enter a neutral country's territory. However, not every country that declares itself neutral follows the Hague guidelines.

While most countries declare their neutrality one war at a time, other countries are permanently neutral by either constitutional decree or as part of a previous treaty or peace agreement. In fact, many permanently neutral nations have no military at all. Neutral countries that do maintain a military usually have the right, according to international law, to set aside their neutrality and join a conflict if they so choose. The United States did so when it entered World War II after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Neutral countries differ from “non-belligerent” countries in that the latter does not fight directly, but may offer non-combative support to one side or the other—for example, by supplying a certain belligerent with food and ammunition or allowing passage through territory that is off-limits to opposing forces.

Neutral Countries 2022:

Country Neutral since Country Neutral since
Austria 1955 Panama 1989
Costa Rica 1949 Rwanda 2009
Finland 1956 San Marino 1945
Ireland 1939 Serbia 2007
Japan 1947 Singapore 1965
Liechtenstein 1868 Sweden 1919
Malta 1980 Switzerland 1815
Mexico 1945 Turkmenistan 1995
Monaco 1945 Uzbekistan 2012
Mongolia 2015 Vatican City 1929
Moldova 1994

Formerly Neutral Countries:

In addition to the above, several nations have attempted to remain neutral, but ultimately been drawn into conflict—particularly World War I and World War II—despite their neutral intentions: Afghanistan, Albania, Argentina, Belgium, Bhutan, Cambodia, Denmark, Estonia, Ethiopia, Hungary, Iceland, Iran, Italy, Laos, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, the Philippines, Portugal, Spain, Tibet, Tonga, Turkey, the United States, Ukraine, and Yugoslavia.

Profiles of neutral countries:

Switzerland and Finland

Perhaps the best-known permanently neutral country, Switzerland has been neutral since 1815, including during World War II. Today, Switzerland maintains a sizable military to deter aggression, holding to a policy of “armed neutrality,” but forbids foreign deployment of its forces, with one exception: The Swiss Guard, which protects the pope and much of Vatican City.

Finland gained its independence from Russia in 1917. It signed a friendship treaty with the Soviet Union in 1948, which kicked off its history of neutrality. This friendship treaty was rendered “null and void” by the collapse of the Soviet Union; however, Finland still maintains friendly relations with Russia despite being a part of the European Union.

Ireland and Japan

Ireland’s neutrality is arguably questionable, given that Northern Ireland is a part of the United Kingdom, not a neutral country. Although Ireland is not obligated to aid England in a time of war, the countries of the EU would protect Ireland in a conflict with Russia or another imperialist state. Japan’s constitution states its neutrality, reading “the Japanese people forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as means of settling international disputes.” Japan has a Self Defense Force that helps the country rebuild from disasters such as the 2010 tsunami.

Liechtenstein and Sweden

Tiny Liechtenstein is located between Austria and Switzerland, two other neutral countries, and has not had a standing military of its own since 1868. The country remained neutral in World War II and continues to do so today. Sweden declared itself a neutral state in 1834. During World War II, Sweden's neutral status was controversial, as the country both allowed Nazi troops to cross its borders to Finland and sheltered people who fled from Nazi persecution. In 2016, Sweden allowed NATO forces to use its land for military operations.

Turkmenistan and Vatican City

Turkmenistan has been neutral since December 12, 1995, a date celebrated every year with fireworks and concerts. Its neutrality came as a result of a United Nations resolution that guaranteed its status. Vatican City was recognized as an independent and sovereign state in the Lateran Treaty in 1929. In exchange for Italian President Benito Mussolini signing the treaty—which granted Vatican City's independence—the city-state (which is located entirely inside of Rome, Italy) agreed to remain neutral in all international matters.

Neutral Countries 2022

Country Neutral Since Notes 2022 Population
Mexico1945Neutrality questioned, has been ignored at times since 2000131,562,772
Japan1947Post-WWII constitutional amendment forbids country from participating in war125,584,838
Uzbekistan2012Neutrality coded into law34,382,084
Rwanda2009Neutrality announced upon membership in Commonwealth of Nations13,600,464
Sweden1919First declared neutrality in 1814 (first in world) but lost it to Finnish civil war in 1918. Has been flexible at times.10,218,971
Austria1955Neutrality written into constitution9,066,710
Switzerland1815Neutrality is self-imposed, permanent, and guaranteed by Austria, France, U.K., Russia, & more. However, levied sanctions on Russia during 2022 Ukraine invasion8,773,637
Serbia2007Adopted armed neutrality. Serbia is only former Yugoslavia state not attempting to join NATO8,653,016
Turkmenistan1995Neutrality written into constitution6,201,943
Singapore1965Joined Non-Aligned Movement in 19705,943,546
Finland1956Historically neutral, but not coded into law5,554,960
Costa Rica1949Neutrality made national law in 20145,182,354
Ireland1939Complicated. Neutral, but not coded into law and country is more flexible than most neutral states5,020,199
Panama1989Neutrality adopted as part of treaty 4,446,964
Moldova1994Neutrality written into constitution4,013,171
Mongolia2015Neutrality announced abruptly during United Nations speech3,378,078
Malta1980Neutrality adopted after 1980 treaty with Italy, added to constitution in 1987444,033
Monaco1945Neutrality not coded into law, but attempted to remain neutral in WWII39,783
Liechtenstein1868No military since 186838,387
San Marino1945Neutral since 1815 except for WWII, when it declared war on occupier Germany34,085
Vatican City1929Neutrality established in treaty that defined relation with Italy799

Neutral Countries 2022