Member states of NATO

NATO (the North Atlantic Treaty Organization) is an international alliance that consists of 29 member states from North America and Europe. It was established at the signing of the North Atlantic Treaty on 4 April 1949. Article Five of the treaty states that if an armed attack occurs against one of the member states, it should be considered an attack against all members, and other members shall assist the attacked member, with armed forces if necessary.[1]

Of the 29 member countries, two are located in North America (Canada and the United States) and 27 are European countries while Turkey is in Eurasia. All members have militaries, except for Iceland which does not have a typical army (but does, however, have a coast guard and a small unit of civilian specialists for NATO operations). Three of NATO's members are nuclear weapons states: France, the United Kingdom, and the United States. NATO has 12 original founding member nation states, and from 18 February 1952 to 6 May 1955, it added three more member nations, and a fourth on 30 May 1982. After the end of the Cold War, NATO added 13 more member nations (10 former Warsaw Pact members and three former Yugoslav republics) from 12 March 1999 to 5 June 2017.

Founding and changes in membership

NATO has added new members seven times since its founding in 1949, and since 2017 NATO has had 29 members. Twelve countries were part of the founding of NATO: Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, the United Kingdom, and the United States. In 1952, Greece and Turkey became members of the Alliance, joined later by West Germany (in 1955) and Spain (in 1982). In 1990, with the reunification of Germany, NATO grew to include the former country of East Germany. Between 1994 and 1997, wider forums for regional cooperation between NATO and its neighbors were set up, including the Partnership for Peace, the Mediterranean Dialogue initiative and the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council. In 1997, three former Warsaw Pact countries, Hungary, the Czech Republic, and Poland, were invited to join NATO. After this fourth enlargement in 1999, the Vilnius group of The Baltics and seven East European countries formed in May 2000 to cooperate and lobby for further NATO membership. Seven of these countries joined in the fifth enlargement in 2004. The Adriatic States Albania and Croatia joined in the sixth enlargement in 2009, Montenegro in 2017.

United States President Donald Trump has also expressed interest in withdrawing from the organization during his 2016 presidential campaign, and only recently stated the United States would protect allies in the event that Article V is invoked.[2][3][4]

Member states by date of membership

Date[5] Country Enlargement Notes
24 August 1949  BelgiumFounders
 DenmarkDenmark's NATO membership includes the Faroe Islands and Greenland.
 FranceFrance withdrew from the integrated military command in 1966 to pursue an independent defense system but returned to full participation in 2009.
 IcelandIceland, the sole member that does not have its own standing army, joined on the condition that it would not be expected to establish one. However, its strategic geographic position in the Atlantic made it an invaluable member. It has a Coast Guard and has recently contributed a voluntary peacekeeping force, trained in Norway for NATO.
 United Kingdom
 United States
18 February 1952 GreeceFirstGreece withdrew its forces from NATO's military command structure from 1974 to 1980 as a result of Greco-Turkish tensions following the 1974 Turkish invasion of Cyprus.
6 May 1955 GermanySecondCommonly known as West Germany when it joined; it later reunited with Saarland in 1957 and with the Berlin territories and East Germany on 3 October 1990. East Germany was a member of the rival Warsaw Pact 1956–1990.
30 May 1982 SpainThird
12 March 1999 Czech RepublicFourthMember of the rival Warsaw Pact 1955–1991 as part of Czechoslovakia.
 HungaryMember of the rival Warsaw Pact 1955–1991.
 PolandMember of the rival Warsaw Pact 1955–1990.
29 March 2004 BulgariaFifthMember of the rival Warsaw Pact 1955–1991.
 EstoniaMember of the rival Warsaw Pact 1955–1991 as part of the Soviet Union.
 LatviaMember of the rival Warsaw Pact 1955–1991 as part of the Soviet Union.
 LithuaniaMember of the rival Warsaw Pact 1955–1990 as part of the Soviet Union.
 RomaniaMember of the rival Warsaw Pact 1955–1991.
 SlovakiaMember of the rival Warsaw Pact 1955–1991 as part of Czechoslovakia.
 SloveniaPreviously part of Yugoslavia 1945–1991 (Non-aligned)
1 April 2009 AlbaniaSixthMember of the rival Warsaw Pact 1955–1968.
 CroatiaPreviously part of Yugoslavia 1945–1991 (Non-aligned)
5 June 2017 MontenegroSeventhPreviously part of Yugoslavia 1945–2006 (Non-aligned)

Military personnel

CountryActive personnelReserve personnelTotal
 Czech Republic21,0572,35923,416
 United Kingdom205,851181,720387,571
 United States1,469,532990,0002,459,532

a Iceland has no armed forces.
b 2015 data.

Military expenditures

The United States has a larger defense expenditure than all other members combined.[6] Criticism of the organization by then newly elected US President Donald Trump caused various reactions from American and European political figures, ranging from ridicule to panic.[7][8][9] Pew Research Center's 2016 survey among its member states showed that while most countries viewed NATO positively, most NATO members preferred keeping their military spending the same. The response to whether their country should militarily aid another NATO country if it were to get into a serious military conflict with Russia was also mixed. Only in the US and Canada did more than 50% of the people answer that they should.[10][11]


(2016 est.)
GDP (nominal)
(2015, US$ millions)
Military expenditures
(2017, US$ millions)[12]
Military expenditures
(2017, % of GDP)[12]
Defence expenditures,
(2014, US$ per capita)
Deployable military
 Czech Republic10,644,842181,8582,2491.0518924,000
 United Kingdom64,430,4282,849,34555,2372.12952161,000
 United States327,465,00020,365,875685,9573.571,8911,306,000

Population data from CIA World Factbook
GDP data from IMF[13]
Expenditure data (except Iceland) from SIPRI Military Expenditure Database,[14] Icelandic data (2013) from Statistics Iceland[15]
Military personnel data from NATO[16]
a Iceland has no armed forces.
b 2015 data.


  1. "The North Atlantic Treaty". North Atlantic Treaty Organization. 1949-04-04. Retrieved 2008-06-16.
  2. "Trump threatens to quit NATO: White House official - France 24". France 24. 2017-05-18. Retrieved 2017-05-31.
  3. Landler, Michael D. Shear, Mark; Kanter, James (2017-05-25). "In NATO Speech, Trump Is Vague About Mutual Defense Pledge". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-05-31.
  4. Lauter, David (2017-05-26). "A glowing orb and a not-so-glowing review of the GOP healthcare bill: Trump's week was filled with events he didn't control". Los Angeles Times. ISSN 0458-3035. Retrieved 2017-05-31.
  5. "North Atlantic Treaty" (PDF). United States Department of State. 2009-04-01. Retrieved 2015-09-02.
  6. Where Does The Relationship Between NATO And The U.S. Go From Here?, Huffington Post
  7. NATO allies boost defense spending in the wake of Trump criticism, The Washington Post
  8. Former US ambassador to Nato in withering criticism of Donald Trump, The Independent
  9. Shaken by Trump’s Criticism of NATO, Europe Mulls Building Own Military Force, Voice Of America
  10. Support for NATO is widespread among member nations, Pew Research
  11. U.S. would defend NATO despite Trump's criticism, Europeans believe: study, Reuters
  12. 1 2 3 The Secretary General's Annual Report 2017. NATO. Published in 2018. See pages 108 - 112.
  13. "World Economic Outlook Database April 2016". International Monetary Fund. International Monetary Fund. April 2015. Retrieved 2016-10-23.
  14. "SIPRI Military Expenditure Database 2015" (XLS). Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. 2016. Retrieved 2016-10-23.
  15. "Central government total expenditure by function 1998-2013". Statistics Iceland. Statistics Iceland. 2014-09-23. Retrieved 2015-06-08.
  16. "Financial and Economic Data Relating to NATO Defence" (PDF). NATO. NATO. 24 February 2014. Retrieved 8 June 2015.
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