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Neutral Countries in World War II

Nearly all of the countries involved in World War II chose to align with one of two massive international alliances: the Hitler-led Axis Powers or the Allies, which eventually evolved into the modern United Nations. However, not every country chose a side—at least not overtly. A handful of states, known as neutral powers, chose not to ally with either side during the war. These nations took a neutral position in an attempt to avoid being attacked, invaded, and/or occupied.

This strategy often failed. For example, Denmark, Belgium, Norway, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands had all established policies of neutrality prior to the start of the war. Yet, Germany ignored these intentions and invaded all five countries on April 9-10, 1940. Soon after, the Soviet Union forced the theoretically neutral nations Lithuania, Estonia, and Latvia into treaties that led to the Soviets occupying and ultimately annexing all three countries. Once occupied, many countries were forced to cede control of their trade partnerships, territory, resources, and military bases to their occupiers, even to the point of allowing their citizens to be conscripted as soldiers in their occupiers' armies.

Official neutrality often meant unofficial favoritism

Most nations that declared their neutrality still helped or rallied behind one side or the other. Portugal, Sweden, and Switzerland all helped the Allies by providing brigades of volunteer-only soldiers, and Sweden helped the Allies crack a secret German code. Spain, Sweden, Portugal, Switzerland, and Turkey all sold raw materials to the Axis powers during that same time, and Sweden allowed Nazi troops free passage through its territory. Argentina, Sweden, and Switzerland, in fact, were three of only a handful of countries that managed to support both the Axis and the Allies in various ways.

The United States also declared its neutrality at the beginning of the war, and managed to remain neutral for more than two years while also finding creative ways to funnel supplies, ammunition, and even planes and warships to Great Britain and its allies. Eventually, however, the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941 forced the United States to retract its neutrality and officially enter the war.

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Remained neutral, but traded with Axis
Remained neutral, but served as smuggling route for Axis
Remained neutral, but maintained trade relations with UK and allowed Argentinians to volunteer to se...
Remained neutral, but sent India "friendship gift" of 100,000 rupees at start of war
Remained neutral, but was occupied by both Russia, which established a puppet government and annexed...
Remained neutral, but was occupied first by the U.K. and later the U.S. and cooperated with its occu...
Remained neutral, but refused to expel German residents and was subsequently invaded and occupied by...
Remained neutral, but did send fire engines to England and share intelligence and naval repair yards...
Remained neutral, but was occupied by both Russia and Germany and eventually annexed by Russia
Remained neutral, gave asylum to both Jewish refugees and pro-Axis Russian soldiers
Remained neutral, but was occupied by and eventually annexed by Russia
Remained neutral, but was occupied by Italy and Germany, secretly warned suspects when German Gestap...
Remained neutral, but sold tungsten to Germany (but in limited amounts), allowed U.K. and U.S. to bu...
San Marino
Remained neutral, very briefly occupied when battle spilled into San Marino's territory, technically...
Saudi Arabia
Remained neutral, but sold oil to Allies and allowed U.S. to build airbase on Saudi land. Technicall...
Initially claimed neutrality, but then switced to "non-belligerent" and assisted the Axis with tungs...
Began neutral, but switched to "non-belligerent" and sold iron to Axis and reluctantly allowed Axis ...
Remained neutral, but captured any soldiers from either side who landed at Swiss airfields, shot dow...
Remained neutral, but signed friendship agreements and sold chromite to both sides. Technically decl...
Vatican City
Remained neutral as it was legally bound to do by the Lateran Treaty of 1929
Remained neutral despite pre-existing alliance with Italy

Where were the neutral countries in World War II?

Several countries remained neutral during World War II, including Afghanistan, Andorra, Argentina, Bhutan, Estonia, Iceland, Iran, Ireland, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Monaco, Portugal, San Marino, Suadi Arabia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Tibet, Turkey, and the Vatican City.

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