Luxembourg officially the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg is a landlocked country in western Europe, bordered by Belgium, France, and Germany. Luxembourg has a population of over half a million people in an area of approximately 2,586 square kilometres (999 sq mi). A representative democracy with a constitutional monarch, it is ruled by a Grand Duke. It is the world’s only remaining sovereign Grand Duchy. The country has a highly developed economy, with the world’s highest GDP per capita according to the IMF and WB. Its historic and strategic importance dates back to its founding as a Roman era fortress site and Frankish count’s castle site in the Early Middle Ages. It was an important bastion along the Spanish Road when Spain was the principal European power influencing the whole western hemisphere and beyond in the 16th–17th centuries.
Luxembourg is a member of the European Union, NATO, OECD, the United Nations, Benelux, and the Western European Union, reflecting the political consensus in favour of economic, political, and military integration. The city of Luxembourg, the capital and largest city, is the seat of several institutions and agencies of the European Union.
The origin of the name “Guatemala” is unclear, but several theories exist. “Guatemala” may mean “the land of the high trees” in the Maya-Toltec language. Another theory is that it comes from the Nahuatl expression “Cuauhtitlan”, meaning “between the trees”. Cuauhtitlan was the name the Tlaxcaltecan soldiers who accompanied Pedro de Alvarado during the Spanish Conquest gave to this territory. Lastly, there is a theory that it is the Spanish corruption of a Nahoa word coactmoct-lan, meaning “land of the snake eating bird”.
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west and northward into the Arctic Ocean. It is the world’s second largest country by total area. Canada’s common border with the United States to the south and northwest is the longest in the world.
The land that is now Canada was inhabited for millennia by various groups of Aboriginal peoples. Beginning in the late 15th century, British and French expeditions explored, and later settled, along the Atlantic coast. France ceded nearly all of its colonies in North America in 1763 after the Seven Years’ War. In 1867, with the union of three British North American colonies through Confederation, Canada was formed as a federal dominion of four provinces. This began an accretion of provinces and territories and a process of increasing autonomy from the United Kingdom. This widening autonomy was highlighted by the Statute of Westminster of 1931 and culminated in the Canada Act of 1982, which severed the vestiges of legal dependence on the British parliament.
Canada is a federation that is governed as a parliamentary democracy and a constitutional monarchy with Queen Elizabeth II as its head of state. It is a bilingual nation with both English and French as official languages at the federal level. One of the world’s highly developed countries, Canada has a diversified economy that is reliant upon its abundant natural resources and upon trade—particularly with the United States, with which Canada has had a long and complex relationship. It is a member of the G7, G8, G20, NATO, OECD, WTO, Commonwealth, Francophonie, OAS, APEC, and UN. With the eighth-highest Human Development Index globally, it has one of the highest standards of living in the world.
Sweden ( listen), officially the Kingdom of Sweden (Swedish: About this sound Konungariket Sverige (help·info)), is a Nordic country on the Scandinavian Peninsula in Northern Europe. Sweden shares borders with Norway and Finland and is connected to Denmark by a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund.
At 450,295 square kilometres (173,860 sq mi), Sweden is the third largest country in the European Union by area, with a total population of about 9.4 million. Sweden has a low population density of 21 inhabitants per square kilometre (54 /sq mi) with the population mostly concentrated in the southern half of the country. About 85% of the population live in urban areas. Sweden’s capital is Stockholm, and with 1.3 million inhabitants, it is also Sweden’s largest city.
Sweden emerged as an independent and unified country during the Middle Ages. In the 17th century, the country expanded its territories to form the Swedish Empire. The empire grew to be one of the great powers of Europe in the 17th and early 18th century. Most of the conquered territories outside the Scandinavian Peninsula were lost during the 18th and 19th centuries. The eastern half of Sweden, present-day Finland, was lost to Russia in 1809. The last war in which Sweden was directly involved was in 1814, when Sweden by military means forced Norway into a personal union. Since then, Sweden has been at peace, adopting a non-aligned foreign policy in peacetime and neutrality in wartime. Sweden has been a member of the European Union since 1 January 1995 and is a member of the OECD.
Today, Sweden is a constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary democracy of government and a highly developed economy. In 2010, it ranked fourth in the world in The Economist’s Democracy Index and ninth in the United Nations’ Human Development Index. In 2010, Sweden had the fastest economic growth in the European Union, while the World Economic Forum ranked Sweden as the second most competitive country in the world. Sweden is recognized as an industrial and technological leader in several fields.
Australia officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans.N4 Neighbouring countries include Indonesia, East Timor and Papua New Guinea to the north, the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and New Caledonia to the northeast and New Zealand to the southeast.
For at least 40,000 years before European settlement in the late 18th century, Australia was inhabited by indigenous Australians, who belonged to one or more of roughly 250 language groups. After discovery by Dutch explorers in 1606, Australia’s eastern half was claimed by Britain in 1770 and initially settled through penal transportation to the colony of New South Wales, formally founded on 7 February 1788 (although formal possession of the land had occurred on 26 January 1788). The population grew steadily in subsequent decades; the continent was explored and an additional five self-governing Crown Colonies were established.
On 1 January 1901, the six colonies became a federation and the Commonwealth of Australia was formed. Since Federation, Australia has maintained a stable liberal democratic political system and is a Commonwealth realm. The population is 22 million, with approximately 60 per cent concentrated in and around the mainland state capitals of Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide. The nation’s capital city is Canberra, in the Australian Capital Territory. Approximately 56 per cent of Australia’s population live in either Victoria or New South Wales, and approximately 77 per cent live on the mainland’s east coast.
A prosperous developed country, Australia is the world’s thirteenth largest economy. Australia ranks highly in many international comparisons of national performance such as human development, quality of life, health care, life expectancy, public education, economic freedom and the protection of civil liberties and political rights. Australia is a member of the United Nations, G20, Commonwealth of Nations, ANZUS, OECD, APEC, Pacific Islands Forum and the World Trade Organization.
Finland, officially the Republic of Finland, is a Nordic country situated in the Fennoscandian region of Northern Europe. It is bordered by Sweden in the west, Norway in the north and Russia in the east, while Estonia lies to its south across the Gulf of Finland.
Around 5.4 million people reside in Finland, with the majority concentrated in the southern region.It is the eighth largest country in Europe in terms of area and the most sparsely populated country in the European Union. Finland is a parliamentary republic with a central government based in Helsinki and local governments in 336 municipalities. A total of about one million residents live in the Greater Helsinki area (which includes Helsinki, Espoo, Kauniainen and Vantaa), and a third of the country’s GDP is produced there. Other larger cities include Tampere, Turku, Oulu, Jyväskylä, Lahti, Kuopio and Kouvola.
Finland was historically a part of Sweden and from 1809 on, an autonomous Grand Duchy within the Russian Empire. Finnish Declaration of Independence from Russia in 1917 was followed by a civil war, wars against the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany, and a period of official neutrality during the Cold War. Finland joined the United Nations in 1955, the OECD in 1969, the European Union in 1995, and the eurozone since its inception.
Finland was a relative latecomer to industrialisation, remaining a largely agrarian country until the 1950s. Thereafter, economic development was rapid, Finland built an extensive welfare state and balanced between the East and the West in global economics and politics. The country tops continuously the international comparisons of national performance. Finland ranks the best country in the world in the 2010 Newsweek survey based on health, economic dynamism, education, political environment and quality of life. Finland has also been ranked the second most stable country in the world and the first in the 2009 Legatum Prosperity rating. In 2010, the World Economic Forum deemed Finland the 7th most competitive country in the world. Finland is currently ranked as having the 3rd highest graduation rate, percentage of graduates to the population at the typical age of graduation, in the OECD Factbook 2010
Iceland is a European island country in the North Atlantic Ocean on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. It has a population of about 320,000 and a total area of 103,000 km2 (39,769 sq mi). The capital and largest city is Reykjavík, with the surrounding areas in the southwestern region of the country being home to some two-thirds of the national population. Iceland is volcanically and geologically active. The interior mainly consists of a plateau characterised by sand fields, mountains and glaciers, while many glacial rivers flow to the sea through the lowlands. Iceland is warmed by the Gulf Stream and has a temperate climate despite a high latitude just outside the Arctic Circle.
According to Landnámabók, the settlement of Iceland began in AD 874 when the Norwegian chieftain Ingólfur Arnarson became the first permanent Norwegian settler on the island.Others had visited the island earlier and stayed over winter. Over the following centuries, people of Norse and Gaelic origin settled in Iceland. From 1262 to 1918 it was part of the Norwegian and later the Danish monarchies. Until the 20th century, the Icelandic population relied largely on fisheries and agriculture. In 1994, the nation became party to an agreement that established the European Economic Area, thus allowing it to diversify from fishing to economic and financial services.
Iceland has a free market economy with relatively low taxes compared to other OECD countries, while maintaining a Nordic welfare system providing universal health care and tertiary education for its citizens. In recent years, Iceland has been one of the wealthiest and most developed nations in the world. In 2010, it was ranked as the 17th most developed country in the world by the United Nations’ Human Development Index, and the fourth most productive country per capita. In 2008, the nation’s banking system systematically failed, causing significant economic contraction and political unrest.
Iceland is a developed and technologically advanced society. According to Freedom of the Press, Iceland has the most free press in the world. Icelandic culture is founded upon the nation’s Norse heritage. Most Icelanders are descendants of Norse (particularly from Western Norway) and Gaelic settlers. Icelandic, a North Germanic language, is closely related to Faroese and some West Norwegian dialects. The country’s cultural heritage includes traditional cuisine, poetry, and the medieval Icelanders’ sagas. Currently, Iceland has the smallest population among NATO members and is the only one with no standing army.
Austria, officially the Republic of Austria (German: About this sound Republik Österreich; Austro-Bavarian: Republik Ésterreich; Slovene: Republika Avstrija; Croatian: Republika Austrija; Hungarian: Osztrák Köztársaság), is a landlocked country of roughly 8.3 million people in Central Europe. It is bordered by Germany and the Czech Republic to the north, Slovakia and Hungary to the east, Slovenia and Italy to the south, and Switzerland and Liechtenstein to the west. The territory of Austria covers 83,855 square kilometres (32,377 sq mi) and has a temperate and alpine climate. Austria’s terrain is highly mountainous due to the presence of the Alps; only 32% of the country is below 500 metres (1,640 ft), and its highest point is 3,797 metres (12,457 ft). The majority of the population speaks German,which is also the country’s official language. Other local official languages are Croatian, Hungarian and Slovene.
The origins of Austria date back to the time of the Roman Empire when a Celtic kingdom was conquered by the Romans in approximately 15 BC and later became Noricum, a Roman province, in the mid 1st century AD—an area which mostly encloses today’s Austria. In 788 AD, the Frankish king Charlemagne conquered the area and introduced Christianity. Under the native Habsburg dynasty, Austria became one of the great powers of Europe. In 1867, the Austrian Empire was reformed into Austria-Hungary.
The Austro-Hungarian Empire collapsed in 1918 with the end of World War I. The First Austrian Republic was established in 1919. In the 1938 Anschluss, Austria was occupied and annexed by Nazi Germany. This lasted until the end of World War II in 1945, after which Austria was occupied by the Allies and its former democratic constitution was restored. In 1955, the Austrian State Treaty re-established Austria as a sovereign state, ending the occupation. In the same year, the Austrian Parliament created the Declaration of Neutrality which declared that the country would become permanently neutral.
Today, Austria is a parliamentary representative democracy comprising nine federal states. The capital and largest city, with a population exceeding 1.6 million, is Vienna.Austria is one of the richest countries in the world, with a nominal per capita GDP of $43,723 (2010 est.). The country has developed a high standard of living and in 2010 was ranked 25th in the world for its Human Development Index. Austria has been a member of the United Nations since 1955,joined the European Union in 1995, and is a founder of the OECD. Austria also signed the Schengen Agreement in 1995, and adopted the European currency, the euro, in 1999.
Denmark is a Scandinavian country in Northern Europe. The country of Denmark, together with Greenland and the Faroe Islands, comprises the Kingdom of Denmark (Danish: About this sound Kongeriget Danmark (help·info); Faroese: Kongsríki Danmarkar; German: Königreich Dänemark). It is the southernmost of the Nordic countries, southwest of Sweden and south of Norway, and bordered to the south by Germany. Denmark borders both the Baltic and the North Sea. The country consists of a large peninsula, Jutland (Jylland) and many islands, most notably Zealand (Sjælland), Funen (Fyn), Vendsyssel-Thy (commonly considered a part of Jutland), Lolland, Falster and Bornholm, as well as hundreds of minor islands often referred to as the Danish Archipelago. Denmark has long controlled the approach to the Baltic Sea; before the digging of the Kiel Canal, water passage to the Baltic Sea was possible only through the three channels known as the “Danish straits”.
Denmark is a constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary system of government. Denmark has a state-level government and local governments in 98 municipalities. Denmark has been a member of the European Union since 1973, although it has not joined the Eurozone. Denmark is a founding member of NATO and the OECD. Denmark is also a member of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).
Denmark, with a mixed market capitalist economy and a large welfare state,ranks as having the world’s highest level of income equality Denmark has the best business climate in the world, according to the U.S. business magazine Forbes. From 2006 to 2008, surveys ranked Denmark as “the happiest place in the world”, based on standards of health, welfare and education. The 2009 Global Peace Index survey ranks Denmark as the second most peaceful country in the world, after New Zealand.In 2009, Denmark was ranked as one of the least corrupt countries in the world according to the Corruption Perceptions Index, ranking second only to New Zealand. In 2010, Transparency International ranked it as the least corrupt country in the world, in a three-way tie with New Zealand and Singapore.
The national language, Danish, is closely related to Swedish and Norwegian, with which it shares strong cultural and historical ties. 80.9% of the inhabitants of Denmark are members of the Lutheran state church. As of 2010, 548,000 persons (9.9% of the Danish population) were either immigrants or descendants of recent immigrants. Most of these (54%) have their origins in Scandinavia or elsewhere in Europe, while the remainder originate mainly from Middle Eastern and African countries.
Switzerland , officially the Swiss Confederation (Latin: Confoederatio Helvetica, hence its abbreviation CH), is a federal republic consisting of 26 cantons, with Bern as the seat of the federal authorities. The country is situated in Western Europe[note 4] where it is bordered by Germany to the north, France to the west, Italy to the south, and Austria and Liechtenstein to the east.
Switzerland is a landlocked country geographically divided between the Alps, the Central Plateau and the Jura, spanning an area of 41,285 km2 (15,940 sq mi). While the Alps occupy the greater part of the territory, the Swiss population of approximately 7.8 million people concentrates mostly on the Plateau, where the largest cities are to be found. Among them are the two global cities and economic centres of Zurich and Geneva.
The Swiss Confederation has a long history of neutrality—it has not been in a state of war internationally since 1815—and did not join the United Nations until 2002. Switzerland is home to many international organizations, including the second largest UN office, the Red Cross, the World Trade Organization, the International Labour Organization and sports federations such as the International Olympic Committee and FIFA. On the European level it was a founder of the European Free Trade Association and is part of the Schengen Agreement – although it is notably not a member of the European Union, nor the European Economic Area.