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The NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) is a mutual defense treaty established after World War II by ten European countries and the U.S. and Canada. The 1949 treaty established a military alliance in response to an attack by any external party. The headquarters of NATO are in Brussels, Belgium. Since its establishment, an additional 19 countries joined, and Sweden is likely to join shortly, bringing the total to 32. The NATO alliance is also known by its French acronym, OTAN.

During the 1990s, NATO took on a peacekeeping role. NATO forces, composed of troops volunteered by member states, operated as peacekeepers in Bosnia in the 1990s and bombed Serbia in 1999 to protect Kosovo. The NATO alliance still has troops in Kosovo.

While NATO had long held concerns about possible attacks by Russia, the actual first invocation of the common defense article was in response to the 9/11 attack. NATO supported the immediate attack on Afghanistan, but did not endorse the Iraq War; the refusal to do so offended American neoconservatives.

In 2023, as a result of Russia's invasion of the Ukraine, Finland (with its 800-mile border with Russia) abandoned longstanding policies of neutrality and joined NATO. As a result of the same war, Sweden is also seeking membership but is currently being blocked mainly by Turkey (a unanimous vote is required to admit new member states).[1] On July 11, it was announced as the NATO summit takes place that Turkey would allow Sweden to join NATO after all.

Since 2014, Jens Stoltenberg has been the secretary general of NATO; he is a former Norwegian prime minister and agreed in 2023 to extend his mandate until October 2024.

NATO Allies

NATO has 31 member countries, called NATO Allies, in 2023. Each country is a sovereign state, and through NATO, they discuss political and security issues and make collective decisions by consensus. A map of NATO countries can be viewed on the New York Times website.[2]

Click on a column header to sort the table by that item.

1ISO 3166 ALPHA-3 code

No  Name  Short1  Year  Capital 
1 Albania ALB 2009 Tirana
2 Belgium BEL 1949 Brussels
3 Bulgaria BGR 2004 Sofia
4 Canada CAN 1949 Ottowa
5 Croatia HRV 2009 Zagreb
6 Czechia CZE 1999 Prague
7 Denmark DNK 1949 Copenhagen
8 Estonia EST 2004 Tallinn
9 Finland FIN 2023 Helsinki
10 France FRA 1949 Paris, France
11 Germany DEU 1955 Berlin
12 Greece GRC 1951 Athens
13 Hungary HUN 1999 Budapest
14 Iceland ISL 1949 Reykjavik
15 Italy ITA 1949 Rome
16 Latvia LVA 2004 Riga
17 Lithuania LTU 2004 Vilnius
18 Luxembourg LUX 1949 ?
19 Montenegro MNE 2017 Podgorica
20 Netherlands NLD 1949 ?
21 North Macedonia ? 2020 Skopje
22 Norway NOR 1949 Oslo
23 Poland POL 1999 Warsaw
24 Portugal PRT 1949 Lisbon
25 Romania ROU 2004 Bucharest
26 Slovakia SVK 2004 Bratislava
27 Slovenia SVN 2004 Ljubljana
28 Spain ESP 1982 Madrid
29 Türkiye TUR 1952 Ankara
30 United Kingdom GBR 1949 London, United Kingdom
31 United States USA 1949 Washington, D.C.

NOTE: Contents of the above table is from this template.


After WWII, both Germanies were demilitarized. Wiederbewaffnung was the political goal of West German rearmament and integration with NATO.


  1. Biden Makes What May Be a Legacy Defining Push Expanding NATO, Washington Post, 7/3/2023.
  2. What Is NATO, and How Has the War in Ukraine Changed It? on the New York Times website shows a map of NATO countries as of June 2023, 7/10/2023.