Which countries are in Nato? Full list as Sweden and Finland poised to join alliance

Dutch Marines stand in front of a jet, during the visit of NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at a base, as part of a military exercise called
A military exercise called Cold Response 2022 gathered about 30,000 troops from Nato member countries, plus Finland and Sweden. (Reuters)

Finland and Sweden are on the brink of joining Nato in a historic policy shift prompted by Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Finland's parliament on Tuesday overwhelmingly approved a proposal to apply for membership to the military alliance.

Of the 200 lawmakers, 188 voted in favour and eight against the application, speaker Matti Vanhanen said.

Sweden will formally apply for Nato membership in the next few days, prime minister Magdalena Andersson confirmed on Monday.

The two countries are set to end policies of military non-alignment that had defined their defence strategies since the start of the Cold War.

Watch: Sweden to request Nato membership

The UK has welcomed the decision by Finland and Sweden to join the alliance after signing mutual security declarations with both countries last week.

Foreign secretary Liz Truss said: “The UK strongly supports applications for Nato membership from Finland and Sweden.

“They should be integrated into the alliance as soon as possible; their accession will strengthen the collective security of Europe.”

On Monday, president Vladimir Putin said Russia had no issue with Finland and Sweden, but that the expansion of military infrastructure on their territory would demand a reaction from Moscow.

Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov later added both countries joining Nato would probably make "not much difference" as they had long participated in the alliance's military drills.

Read more: Russian defence expert admits on state TV: 'The entire world is against us'

Service members of pro-Russian troops wait before the expected evacuation of wounded Ukrainian soldiers from the besieged Azovstal steel mill in the course of Ukraine-Russia conflict in Mariupol, Ukraine May 16, 2022. REUTERS/Alexander Ermochenko
Pro-Russian troops at the Azovstal steel mill in Mariupol, Ukraine. (Reuters)
This picture taken on March 9, 2022 shows reservists of the Karelia Brigade at a shooting practice during the Etelä-Karjala 22 (South Karelia 22) local defence exercise in Taipalsaari near Lappeenranta and close to the border with Russia, south-eastern Finland. - Finnish President Sauli Niinisto and Prime Minister Sanna Marin on May 12, 2022 expressed their support for NATO membership.
The Finnish army during shooting practice close to the border with Russia. (Getty)

Turkey surprised its Nato allies last week by saying it would not view Finland and Sweden's applications positively, mainly citing their history of hosting members of groups Ankara deems terrorists.

Turkish president Tayyip Erdogan said the counties' delegations should not bother coming to Ankara to convince it to approve their bid.

But Finland's president has said they should be able to reach an agreement with Turkey over its objections.

If Sweden and Finland’s applications are accepted, they would join 30 countries already in the alliance.

Read more: 'Ukraine Can Win This War' Nato Chief Predicts Putin's Defeat As Battle Drags On

Map of Nato deployments in Europe. (Reuters)
Map of Nato deployments in Europe. (Reuters)

What is Nato?

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization is a political and military alliance of 30 countries.

Nato was set up in 1949 to protect members against the Soviet Union, with 12 nations initially signing up to the North Atlantic Treaty in Washington DC.

These countries were the US, Canada, the UK, Belgium, Denmark, France, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway and Portugal.

The collective defence clause of Nato's founding treaty – Article 5 of the Washington Treaty – is a provision that means an attack against one member is considered an attack against all of them.

This is a fundamental part of Nato and why it says it is a defensive alliance.

Nato says military operations are carried out under Article 5 or a United Nations mandate, alone or in cooperation with other countries and international organisations.

National flags of members of the NATO are seen, on the day of a foreign ministers meeting amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine, at the Alliance's headquarters in Brussels, Belgium March 4, 2022. REUTERS/Yves Herman
Nato is a political and military alliance of 30 countries. (Reuters)

Which countries are in Nato, and what date did they join?

1949: Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, the UK, the US.

1952: Greece, Turkey

1955: Germany

1982: Spain

1999: Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland

2004: Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia

2009: Albania, Croatia

2017: Montenegro

2020: North Macedonia