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1. Albania – Albania, officially the Republic of Albania, is a country in Southeastern Europe. It has a population of 3.03 million as of 2016, Tirana is the nations capital and largest city, followed by Durrës and Vlorë. The country has a coastline on the shore of the Mediterranean Sea, the Adriatic Sea to the west. Albania is less than 72 km from Italy, across the Strait of Otranto which connects the Adriatic Sea to the Ionian Sea. In antiquity, the area of Albania was home to several Illyrian, Thracian. After the Illyrian Wars, it part of the Roman provinces of Dalmatia, Macedonia and Moesia Superior. In 1190, the first Albanian state, the Principality of Arbanon was established by archon Progon in the region of Krujë, the territory of Albania was conquered by the Ottoman Empire in the 15th century, of which it remained part of for the next five centuries. After the collapse of the Ottoman Empire in Europe, following the Balkan Wars, the Kingdom of Albania was invaded by Italy in 1939, which formed Greater Albania, before becoming a Nazi German protectorate in 1943. The following year, a socialist Peoples Republic was established under the leadership of Enver Hoxha, Albania experienced widespread social and political transformations in the communist era, as well as isolation from much of the international community. In 1991, the Socialist Republic was dissolved and the Republic of Albania was established, Albania is a democratic and developing country with an upper-middle income economy. The service sector dominates the economy, followed by the industrial. After the fall of communism in Albania, Free-market reforms have opened the country to foreign investment, especially in the development of energy, Albania has a high HDI and provides universal health care system and free primary and secondary education to its citizens. Albania is a member of the United Nations, NATO, WTO, World Bank, the Council of Europe, the OSCE and it is also an official candidate for membership in the European Union. Albania is one of the members of the Energy Community, Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation. It is home to the largest lake in Southern Europe and one of the oldest lakes in Europe, Albania is the Medieval Latin name of the country. The name may have a continuation in the name of a settlement called Albanon and Arbanon. During the Middle Ages, the Albanians called their country Arbëri or Arbëni, Albanians today call their country Shqipëri. As early as the 17th century the placename Shqipëria and the ethnic demonym Shqiptarë gradually replaced Arbëria, the two terms are popularly interpreted as Land of the Eagles and Children of the EaglesAlbania – Albanian Peasants costumes - illustration by Percy Anderson for Costume Fanciful, Historical and Theatrical, 1906
2. Andorra – Created under a charter in 988, the present principality was formed in 1278. It is known as a principality as it is a monarchy headed by two Co-Princes – the Roman Catholic Bishop of Urgell in Spain, and the President of France. Andorra is the sixth-smallest nation in Europe, having an area of 468 km2 and its capital Andorra la Vella is the highest capital city in Europe, at an elevation of 1,023 metres above sea level. The official language is Catalan, although Spanish, Portuguese, Andorras tourism services an estimated 10.2 million visitors annually. It is not a member of the European Union, but the euro is the official currency and it has been a member of the United Nations since 1993. In 2013, the people of Andorra had the highest life expectancy in the world at 81 years, the origin of the word Andorra is unknown, although several hypotheses have been formulated. The word Andosini or Andosins may derive from the Basque handia whose meaning is big or giant, the Andorran toponymy shows evidence of Basque language in the area. Another theory suggests that the word Andorra may derive from the old word Anorra that contains the Basque word ur, another theory suggests that Andorra may derive from Arabic al-durra, meaning The forest. Other theories suggest that the term derives from the Navarro-Aragonese andurrial, la Balma de la Margineda found by archaeologists at Sant Julia de Loria were the first temporal settled in 10000 BC as a passing place between the two sides of the Pyrenees. The seasonal camp was located for hunting and fishing by the groups of hunter-gatherers from Ariege. During the Neolithic Age the group of humans moved to the Valley of Madriu as a permanent camp in 6640 BC, the population of the valley grew cereals, raised domestic livestock and developed a commercial trade with people from the Segre and Occitania. Other archaeological deposits include the Tombs of Segudet and Feixa del Moro both dated in 4900-4300 BC as an example of the Urn culture in Andorra, the model of small settlements begin to evolved as an complex urbanism during the Bronze Age. We can found metallurgical items of iron, ancient coins and relicaries in the ancient sanctuaries scattered around the country, the inhabitants of the valleys were traditionally associated with the Iberians and historically located in Andorra as the Iberian tribe Andosins or Andosini during the VII and II centuries BC. Influenced by Aquitanias, Basque and Iberian languages the locals developed some current toponyms, early writings and documents relating this group of people goes back to the second century BC by the Greek writer Polybius in his Histories during the Punic Wars. Some of the most significant remains of this era are the Castle of the Roc dEnclar, lAnxiu in Les Escaldes and it is known the presence of Roman influence from the II century BC to the V century AD. The places found with more Roman presence are in Camp Vermell in Sant Julia de Loria, people continued trading, mainly with wine and cereals, with the Roman cities of Urgellet and all across Segre through the Via Romana Strata Ceretana. After the fall of the Roman Empire Andorra was under the influence of the Visigoths, not directly from the Kingdom of Toledo by distance, the Visigoths remained during 200 years in the valleys, a period in which Christianization takes place within the country. The fall of the Visigoths came from the Muslim Empire and its conquest of the Iberian Peninsula, Andorra remained away from these invasions by the FranksAndorra – Sant Joan de Caselles church, dating from the 11th century.
3. Armenia – Armenia, officially the Republic of Armenia, is a sovereign state in the South Caucasus region of Eurasia. The Republic of Armenia constitutes only one-tenth of historical Armenia, Armenia is a unitary, multi-party, democratic nation-state with an ancient cultural heritage. Urartu was established in 860 BC and by the 6th century BC it was replaced by the Satrapy of Armenia, in the 1st century BC the Kingdom of Armenia reached its height under Tigranes the Great. Armenia became the first state in the world to adopt Christianity as its official religion, in between the late 3rd century to early years of the 4th century, the state became the first Christian nation. The official date of adoption of Christianity is 301 AD. The ancient Armenian kingdom was split between the Byzantine and Sasanian Empires around the early 5th century, under the Bagratuni dynasty, the Bagratid Kingdom of Armenia was restored in the 9th century. Declining due to the wars against the Byzantines, the fell in 1045. An Armenian principality and later a kingdom Cilician Armenia was located on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea between the 11th and 14th centuries. By the 19th century, Eastern Armenia had been conquered by the Russian Empire, during World War I, Armenians living in their ancestral lands in the Ottoman Empire were systematically exterminated in the Armenian Genocide. By 1920, the state was incorporated into the Transcaucasian Socialist Federative Soviet Republic, in 1936, the Transcaucasian state was dissolved, transforming its constituent states, including the Armenian Soviet Socialist Republic, into full Union republics. The modern Republic of Armenia became independent in 1991 during the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the Republic of Armenia recognises the Armenian Apostolic Church, the worlds oldest national church, as the countrys primary religious establishment. The unique Armenian alphabet was invented by Mesrop Mashtots in 405 AD, Armenia is a member of the Eurasian Economic Union, the Council of Europe and the Collective Security Treaty Organization. Armenia supports the de facto independent Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, which was proclaimed in 1991, the native Armenian name for the country is Հայք. The name in the Middle Ages was extended to Հայաստան, by addition of the Persian suffix -stan, the further origin of the name is uncertain. It is also postulated that the name Hay comes from one of the two confederated, Hittite vassal states—the Ḫayaša-Azzi. The exonym Armenia is attested in the Old Persian Behistun Inscription as Armina, the ancient Greek terms Ἀρμενία and Ἀρμένιοι are first mentioned by Hecataeus of Miletus. Xenophon, a Greek general serving in some of the Persian expeditions, describes many aspects of Armenian village life and he relates that the people spoke a language that to his ear sounded like the language of the Persians. According to the histories of both Moses of Chorene and Michael Chamchian, Armenia derives from the name of Aram, a descendant of HaykArmenia – Reconstruction of Herodotus ' world map c. 450 BC, with Armenia shown in the center
4. Austria – Austria, officially the Republic of Austria, is a federal republic and a landlocked country of over 8.7 million people in Central Europe. It is bordered by the Czech Republic and Germany to the north, Hungary and Slovakia to the east, Slovenia and Italy to the south, the territory of Austria covers 83,879 km2. The terrain is mountainous, lying within the Alps, only 32% of the country is below 500 m. The majority of the population speaks local Bavarian dialects of German as their native language, other local official languages are Hungarian, Burgenland Croatian, and Slovene. The origins of modern-day Austria date back to the time of the Habsburg dynasty, from the time of the Reformation, many northern German princes, resenting the authority of the Emperor, used Protestantism as a flag of rebellion. Following Napoleons defeat, Prussia emerged as Austrias chief competitor for rule of a greater Germany, Austrias defeat by Prussia at the Battle of Königgrätz, during the Austro-Prussian War of 1866, cleared the way for Prussia to assert control over the rest of Germany. In 1867, the empire was reformed into Austria-Hungary, Austria was thus the first to go to war in the July Crisis, which would ultimately escalate into World War I. The First Austrian Republic was established in 1919, in 1938 Nazi Germany annexed Austria in the Anschluss. This lasted until the end of World War II in 1945, after which Germany was occupied by the Allies, 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 Second Austrian Republic would become permanently neutral, today, Austria is a parliamentary representative democracy comprising nine federal states. The capital and largest city, with a population exceeding 1.7 million, is Vienna, other major urban areas of Austria include Graz, Linz, Salzburg and Innsbruck. Austria is one of the richest countries in the world, with a nominal per capita GDP of $43,724, the country has developed a high standard of living and in 2014 was ranked 21st 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, Austria also signed the Schengen Agreement in 1995, and adopted the euro currency in 1999. The German name for Austria, Österreich, meant eastern realm in Old High German, and is cognate with the word Ostarrîchi and this word is probably a translation of Medieval Latin Marchia orientalis into a local dialect. Austria was a prefecture of Bavaria created in 976, the word Austria is a Latinisation of the German name and was first recorded in the 12th century. Accordingly, Norig would essentially mean the same as Ostarrîchi and Österreich, the Celtic name was eventually Latinised to Noricum after the Romans conquered the area that encloses most of modern-day Austria, around 15 BC. Noricum later became a Roman province in the mid-first century AD, heers hypothesis is not accepted by linguists. Settled in ancient times, the Central European land that is now Austria was occupied in pre-Roman times by various Celtic tribes, the Celtic kingdom of Noricum was later claimed by the Roman Empire and made a provinceAustria – First appearance of the word "ostarrichi", circled in red. Modern Austria honours this document, dated 996, as the founding of the nation.
5. Azerbaijan – Azerbaijan, officially the Republic of Azerbaijan, is a country in the South Caucasus region, situated at the crossroads of Southwest Asia and Southeastern Europe. It is bound by the Caspian Sea to the east, Russia to the north, Georgia to the northwest, Armenia to the west and Iran to the south. The exclave of Nakhchivan is bound by Armenia to the north and east, Iran to the south and west, the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic proclaimed its independence in 1918 and became the first democratic state in the Muslim orient world. The country was incorporated into the Soviet Union in 1920 as the Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic, the modern Republic of Azerbaijan proclaimed its independence on 30 August 1991, prior to the official dissolution of the USSR in December 1991. In September 1991, the Armenian majority of the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region seceded to form the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, the region and seven adjacent districts outside it became de facto independent with the end of the Nagorno-Karabakh War in 1994. These regions are recognized as part of Azerbaijan pending a solution to the status of the Nagorno-Karabakh. Azerbaijan is a unitary semi-presidential republic, the country is a member state of the Council of Europe, the OSCE and the NATO Partnership for Peace program. It is one of six independent Turkic states, a member of the Turkic Council. Azerbaijan has diplomatic relations with 158 countries and holds membership in 38 international organizations and it is one of the founding members of GUAM, the Commonwealth of Independent States and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. Its term of office began on 19 June 2006, Azerbaijan is also a member state of the Non-Aligned Movement, holds observer status in World Trade Organization and is a correspondent at the International Telecommunication Union. The Constitution of Azerbaijan does not declare an official religion and all political forces in the country are secularist. However, the majority of the population are of a Shiite Muslim background, Azerbaijan has a high level of human development which ranks on par with most Eastern European countries. It has a rate of economic development and literacy, as well as a low rate of unemployment. According to the Davos World Economic Forum, Azerbaijans economy has scored 37th place within 138 countries in 2016, Global Competitiveness Index 2015 indicates that Azerbaijan scores highest in its region. ASAN services, established with Presidential Decree, are known for eliminating bribery. ASAN Service has been awarded with United Nations Public Service Award 2015, the ruling party, the New Azerbaijan Party, has been accused of authoritarianism and human rights abuses. The original etymology of name is thought to have its roots in the once-dominant Zoroastrianism. In the Avesta, Frawardin Yasht, there is a mention of âterepâtahe ashaonô fravashîm ýazamaide, the name Atropates itself is the Greek transliteration of an Old Iranian, probably Median, compounded name with the meaning Protected by the Fire or The Land of the FireAzerbaijan – Petroglyphs in Gobustan dating back to 10,000 BC indicating a thriving culture. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site considered to be of "outstanding universal value"
6. Belarus – Its capital and most populous city is Minsk. Over 40% of its 207,600 square kilometres is forested and its strongest economic sectors are service industries and manufacturing. In the aftermath of the 1917 Russian Revolution, Belarus declared independence as the Belarusian Peoples Republic, the Socialist Soviet Republic of Byelorussia became a founding constituent republic of the Soviet Union in 1922 and was renamed as the Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic. Belarus lost almost half of its territory to Poland after the Polish–Soviet War of 1919–1921, during WWII, military operations devastated Belarus, which lost about a third of its population and more than half of its economic resources. The republic was redeveloped in the post-war years, in 1945 the Byelorussian SSR became a founding member of the United Nations, along with the Soviet Union and the Ukrainian SSR. The parliament of the declared the sovereignty of Belarus on 27 July 1990. Alexander Lukashenko has served as the president since 1994. Belarus has been labeled Europes last dictatorship by some Western journalists, Lukashenko continued a number of Soviet-era policies, such as state ownership of large sections of the economy. Though not directly espousing communism like the five remaining communist countries of China, Cuba, Laos, Vietnam and North Korea, in 2000 Belarus and Russia signed a treaty for greater cooperation, with some hints of forming a Union State. Over 70% of Belaruss population of 9.49 million resides in urban areas, more than 80% of the population is ethnic Belarusian, with sizable minorities of Russians, Poles and Ukrainians. Since a referendum in 1995, the country has had two official languages, Belarusian and Russian, the Constitution of Belarus does not declare any official religion, although the primary religion in the country is Eastern Orthodox Christianity. Belarus is the only European country to retain capital punishment in both law and practice, the name Belarus is closely related with the term Belaya Rus, i. e. White Rus. There are several claims to the origin of the name White Rus, an alternate explanation for the name comments on the white clothing worn by the local Slavic population. A third theory suggests that the old Rus lands that were not conquered by the Tatars had been referred to as white, other sources claim that, before 1267, the land not conquered by the Mongols was considered White Rus. The name Rus is often conflated with its Latin forms Russia and Ruthenia, in some languages, including German and Dutch, the country is generally called White Russia to this day. The Latin term Alba Russia was used again by Pope Pius VI in 1783 to recognize the Society of Jesus there, exclaiming Approbo Societatem Jesu in Alba Russia degentem, approbo, approbo. The first known use of White Russia to refer to Belarus was in the century by Englishman Sir Jerome Horsey. During the 17th century, the Russian tsars used White Rus to describe the lands added from the Grand Duchy of LithuaniaBelarus – Stamp with the Cross of St. Euphrosyne from 1992
7. Belgium – Belgium, officially the Kingdom of Belgium, is a sovereign state in Western Europe bordered by France, the Netherlands, Germany, Luxembourg, and the North Sea. It is a small, densely populated country which covers an area of 30,528 square kilometres and has a population of about 11 million people. Additionally, there is a group of German-speakers who live in the East Cantons located around the High Fens area. Historically, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg were known as the Low Countries, the region was called Belgica in Latin, after the Roman province of Gallia Belgica. From the end of the Middle Ages until the 17th century, today, Belgium is a federal constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary system of governance. It is divided into three regions and three communities, that exist next to each other and its two largest regions are the Dutch-speaking region of Flanders in the north and the French-speaking southern region of Wallonia. The Brussels-Capital Region is a bilingual enclave within the Flemish Region. A German-speaking Community exists in eastern Wallonia, Belgiums linguistic diversity and related political conflicts are reflected in its political history and complex system of governance, made up of six different governments. Upon its independence, declared in 1830, Belgium participated in the Industrial Revolution and, during the course of the 20th century, possessed a number of colonies in Africa. This continuing antagonism has led to several far-reaching reforms, resulting in a transition from a unitary to a federal arrangement during the period from 1970 to 1993. Belgium is also a member of the Eurozone, NATO, OECD and WTO. Its capital, Brussels, hosts several of the EUs official seats as well as the headquarters of major international organizations such as NATO. Belgium is also a part of the Schengen Area, Belgium is a developed country, with an advanced high-income economy and is categorized as very high in the Human Development Index. A gradual immigration by Germanic Frankish tribes during the 5th century brought the area under the rule of the Merovingian kings, a gradual shift of power during the 8th century led the kingdom of the Franks to evolve into the Carolingian Empire. Many of these fiefdoms were united in the Burgundian Netherlands of the 14th and 15th centuries, the Eighty Years War divided the Low Countries into the northern United Provinces and the Southern Netherlands. The latter were ruled successively by the Spanish and the Austrian Habsburgs and this was the theatre of most Franco-Spanish and Franco-Austrian wars during the 17th and 18th centuries. The reunification of the Low Countries as the United Kingdom of the Netherlands occurred at the dissolution of the First French Empire in 1815, although the franchise was initially restricted, universal suffrage for men was introduced after the general strike of 1893 and for women in 1949. The main political parties of the 19th century were the Catholic Party, French was originally the single official language adopted by the nobility and the bourgeoisieBelgium – Charlemagne and Charles V
8. Bosnia and Herzegovina – Bosnia and Herzegovina, sometimes called Bosnia-Herzegovina, and, in short, often known informally as Bosnia, is a country in Southeastern Europe located on the Balkan Peninsula. Sarajevo is the capital and largest city, in the central and eastern interior of the country the geography is mountainous, in the northwest it is moderately hilly, and the northeast is predominantly flatland. The inland is a larger region and has a moderate continental climate, with hot summers and cold. The southern tip of the country has a Mediterranean climate and plain topography, Bosnia and Herzegovina is a region that traces permanent human settlement back to the Neolithic age, during and after which it was populated by several Illyrian and Celtic civilizations. Culturally, politically, and socially, the country has a rich history, the Ottomans brought Islam to the region, and altered much of the cultural and social outlook of the country. This was followed by annexation into the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy, which lasted up until World War I. In the interwar period, Bosnia was part of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia and after World War II, following the dissolution of Yugoslavia, the country proclaimed independence in 1992, which was followed by the Bosnian War, lasting until late 1995. The country is home to three ethnic groups or, officially, constituent peoples, as specified in the constitution. Bosniaks are the largest group of the three, with Serbs second and Croats third, a native of Bosnia and Herzegovina, regardless of ethnicity, is identified in English as a Bosnian. The terms Herzegovinian and Bosnian are maintained as a rather than ethnic distinction. Moreover, the country was simply called Bosnia until the Austro-Hungarian occupation at the end of the 19th century, Bosnia and Herzegovina has a bicameral legislature and a three-member Presidency composed of a member of each major ethnic group. The Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina is itself complex and consists of 10 cantons, additionally, the country has been a member of the Council of Europe since April 2002 and a founding member of the Mediterranean Union upon its establishment in July 2008. The name is believed to have derived from the hydronym of the river Bosna coursing through the Bosnian heartland. According to philologist Anton Mayer the name Bosna could be derived from Illyrian Bass-an-as which would be a diversion of the Proto-Indo-European root bos or bogh, meaning the running water. According to English medievalist William Miller the Slavic settlers in Bosnia adapted the Latin designation Basante, to their own idiom by calling the stream Bosna, the name Herzegovina originates from Bosnian magnate Stephen Vukčić Kosačas title, Herceg of Hum and the Coast. Hum, formerly Zahumlje, was a medieval principality that was conquered by the Bosnian Banate in the first half of the 14th century. Bosnia is located in the western Balkans, bordering Croatia to the north and west, Serbia to the east and it has a coastline about 20 kilometres long surrounding the city of Neum. It lies between latitudes 42° and 46° N, and longitudes 15° and 20° E, the countrys name comes from the two regions Bosnia and Herzegovina, which have a very vaguely defined border between themBosnia and Herzegovina – Mogorjelo, ancient Roman suburban Villa Rustica from the 4th century, near Čapljina
9. Bulgaria – Bulgaria, officially the Republic of Bulgaria, is a country in southeastern Europe. It is bordered by Romania to the north, Serbia and Macedonia to the west, Greece and Turkey to the south, with a territory of 110,994 square kilometres, Bulgaria is Europes 16th-largest country. Organised prehistoric cultures began developing on current Bulgarian lands during the Neolithic period and its ancient history saw the presence of the Thracians, Greeks, Persians, Celts, Romans, Goths, Alans and Huns. With the downfall of the Second Bulgarian Empire in 1396, its territories came under Ottoman rule for five centuries. The Russo-Turkish War of 1877–78 led to the formation of the Third Bulgarian State, the following years saw several conflicts with its neighbours, which prompted Bulgaria to align with Germany in both world wars. In 1946 it became a one-party socialist state as part of the Soviet-led Eastern Bloc, in December 1989 the ruling Communist Party allowed multi-party elections, which subsequently led to Bulgarias transition into a democracy and a market-based economy. Bulgarias population of 7.2 million people is predominantly urbanised, most commercial and cultural activities are centred on the capital and largest city, Sofia. The strongest sectors of the economy are industry, power engineering. The countrys current political structure dates to the adoption of a constitution in 1991. Bulgaria is a parliamentary republic with a high degree of political, administrative. Human activity in the lands of modern Bulgaria can be traced back to the Paleolithic, animal bones incised with man-made markings from Kozarnika cave are assumed to be the earliest examples of symbolic behaviour in humans. Organised prehistoric societies in Bulgarian lands include the Neolithic Hamangia culture, Vinča culture, the latter is credited with inventing gold working and exploitation. Some of these first gold smelters produced the coins, weapons and jewellery of the Varna Necropolis treasure and this site also offers insights for understanding the social hierarchy of the earliest European societies. Thracians, one of the three primary groups of modern Bulgarians, began appearing in the region during the Iron Age. In the late 6th century BC, the Persians conquered most of present-day Bulgaria, and kept it until 479 BC. After the division of the Roman Empire in the 5th century the area fell under Byzantine control, by this time, Christianity had already spread in the region. A small Gothic community in Nicopolis ad Istrum produced the first Germanic language book in the 4th century, the first Christian monastery in Europe was established around the same time by Saint Athanasius in central Bulgaria. From the 6th century the easternmost South Slavs gradually settled in the region, in 680 Bulgar tribes under the leadership of Asparukh moved south across the Danube and settled in the area between the lower Danube and the Balkan, establishing their capital at PliskaBulgaria – Objects from Varna necropolis, parts of the oldest golden treasure in the world.
10. Croatia – Croatia, officially the Republic of Croatia, is a sovereign state between Central Europe, Southeast Europe, and the Mediterranean. Its capital city is Zagreb, which one of the countrys primary subdivisions. Croatia covers 56,594 square kilometres and has diverse, mostly continental, Croatias Adriatic Sea coast contains more than a thousand islands. The countrys population is 4.28 million, most of whom are Croats, the Croats arrived in the area of present-day Croatia during the early part of the 7th century AD. They organised the state into two duchies by the 9th century, tomislav became the first king by 925, elevating Croatia to the status of a kingdom. The Kingdom of Croatia retained its sovereignty for nearly two centuries, reaching its peak during the rule of Kings Petar Krešimir IV and Dmitar Zvonimir, Croatia entered a personal union with Hungary in 1102. In 1527, faced with Ottoman conquest, the Croatian Parliament elected Ferdinand I of the House of Habsburg to the Croatian throne. In 1918, after World War I, Croatia was included in the unrecognized State of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs which seceded from Austria-Hungary, a fascist Croatian puppet state backed by Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany existed during World War II. After the war, Croatia became a member and a federal constituent of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. On 25 June 1991 Croatia declared independence, which came wholly into effect on 8 October of the same year, the Croatian War of Independence was fought successfully during the four years following the declaration. A unitary state, Croatia is a republic governed under a parliamentary system, the International Monetary Fund classified Croatia as an emerging and developing economy, and the World Bank identified it as a high-income economy. Croatia is a member of the European Union, United Nations, the Council of Europe, NATO, the World Trade Organization, the service sector dominates Croatias economy, followed by the industrial sector and agriculture. Tourism is a significant source of revenue during the summer, with Croatia ranked the 18th most popular tourist destination in the world, the state controls a part of the economy, with substantial government expenditure. The European Union is Croatias most important trading partner, since 2000, the Croatian government constantly invests in infrastructure, especially transport routes and facilities along the Pan-European corridors. Internal sources produce a significant portion of energy in Croatia, the rest is imported, the origin of the name is uncertain, but is thought to be a Gothic or Indo-Aryan term assigned to a Slavic tribe. The oldest preserved record of the Croatian ethnonym *xъrvatъ is of variable stem, the first attestation of the Latin term is attributed to a charter of Duke Trpimir from the year 852. The original is lost, and just a 1568 copy is preserved—leading to doubts over the authenticity of the claim, the oldest preserved stone inscription is the 9th-century Branimir Inscription, where Duke Branimir is styled as Dux Cruatorvm. The inscription is not believed to be dated accurately, but is likely to be from during the period of 879–892, the area known as Croatia today was inhabited throughout the prehistoric periodCroatia – Branimir Inscription
11. Cyprus – Cyprus, officially the Republic of Cyprus, is an island country in the Eastern Mediterranean and the third largest and third most populous island in the Mediterranean. It is located south of Turkey, west of Syria and Lebanon, northwest of Israel and Palestine, north of Egypt, the earliest known human activity on the island dates to around the 10th millennium BC. Archaeological remains from this include the well-preserved Neolithic village of Khirokitia. Cyprus was settled by Mycenaean Greeks in two waves in the 2nd millennium BC, Cyprus was placed under British administration based on Cyprus Convention in 1878 and formally annexed by Britain in 1914. While Turkish Cypriots made up 18% of the population, the partition of Cyprus and creation of a Turkish state in the north became a policy of Turkish Cypriot leaders, following nationalist violence in the 1950s, Cyprus was granted independence in 1960. On 15 July 1974, a coup détat was staged by Greek Cypriot nationalists and elements of the Greek military junta in an attempt at enosis and these events and the resulting political situation are matters of a continuing dispute. The Cyprus Republic has de jure sovereignty over the island of Cyprus, as well as its territorial sea and exclusive economic area, another nearly 4% of the islands area is covered by the UN buffer zone. The international community considers the part of the island as territory of the Republic of Cyprus occupied by Turkish forces. The occupation is viewed as illegal under law, amounting to illegal occupation of EU territory since Cyprus became a member of the European Union. Cyprus is a major tourist destination in the Mediterranean, on 1 January 2008, the Republic of Cyprus joined the eurozone. The earliest attested reference to Cyprus is the 15th century BC Mycenaean GreekCyprus – A copper mine on Cyprus. In antiquity, Cyprus was a major source of copper.
12. Czech Republic – The Czech Republic, also known as Czechia, is a nation state in Central Europe bordered by Germany to the west, Austria to the south, Slovakia to the east and Poland to the northeast. The Czech Republic covers an area of 78,866 square kilometres with mostly temperate continental climate and it is a unitary parliamentary republic, has 10.5 million inhabitants and the capital and largest city is Prague, with over 1.2 million residents. The Czech Republic includes the territories of Bohemia, Moravia. The Czech state was formed in the late 9th century as the Duchy of Bohemia under the Great Moravian Empire, after the fall of the Empire in 907, the centre of power transferred from Moravia to Bohemia under the Přemyslid dynasty. In 1002, the duchy was formally recognized as part of the Holy Roman Empire, becoming the Kingdom of Bohemia in 1198 and reaching its greatest territorial extent in the 14th century. Following the Battle of Mohács in 1526, the whole Crown of Bohemia was gradually integrated into the Habsburg Monarchy alongside the Archduchy of Austria, the Protestant Bohemian Revolt against the Catholic Habsburgs led to the Thirty Years War. After the Battle of the White Mountain, the Habsburgs consolidated their rule, reimposed Roman Catholicism, the Czech part of Czechoslovakia was occupied by Germany in World War II, and was liberated in 1945 by the armies of the Soviet Union and the United States. The Czech country lost the majority of its German-speaking inhabitants after they were expelled following the war, the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia won the 1946 elections. Following the 1948 coup détat, Czechoslovakia became a one-party communist state under Soviet influence, in 1968, increasing dissatisfaction with the regime culminated in a reform movement known as the Prague Spring, which ended in a Soviet-led invasion. Czechoslovakia remained occupied until the 1989 Velvet Revolution, when the communist regime collapsed, on 6 March 1990, the Czech Socialistic Republic was renamed to the Czech Republic. On 1 January 1993, Czechoslovakia peacefully dissolved, with its constituent states becoming the independent states of the Czech Republic and the Slovak Republic. The Czech Republic joined NATO in 1999 and the European Union in 2004, it is a member of the United Nations, the OECD, the OSCE, and it is a developed country with an advanced, high income economy and high living standards. The UNDP ranks the country 14th in inequality-adjusted human development, the Czech Republic also ranks as the 6th most peaceful country, while achieving strong performance in democratic governance. It has the lowest unemployment rate in the European Union, the traditional English name Bohemia derives from Latin Boiohaemum, which means home of the Boii. The current name comes from the endonym Čech, spelled Cžech until the reform in 1842. The name comes from the Slavic tribe and, according to legend, their leader Čech, the etymology of the word Čech can be traced back to the Proto-Slavic root *čel-, meaning member of the people, kinsman, thus making it cognate to the Czech word člověk. The country has traditionally divided into three lands, namely Bohemia in the west, Moravia in the southeast, and Czech Silesia in the northeast. Following the dissolution of Czechoslovakia at the end of 1992, the Czech part of the former nation found itself without a common single-word geographical name in English, the name Czechia /ˈtʃɛkiə/ was recommended by the Czech Ministry of Foreign AffairsCzech Republic – Přemysl Ottokar II, King of Bohemia (1253–1278) and Duke of Austria (1251–1278)
13. Denmark – Denmark, officially the Kingdom of Denmark, is a Scandinavian country in Europe and a sovereign state. The southernmost and smallest of the Nordic countries, it is south-west of Sweden and south of Norway, Denmark also comprises two autonomous constituent countries in the North Atlantic Ocean, the Faroe Islands and Greenland. Denmark has an area of 42,924 square kilometres. The country consists of a peninsula, Jutland, and an archipelago of 443 named islands, with the largest being Zealand, the islands are characterised by flat, arable land and sandy coasts, low elevation and a temperate climate. The unified kingdom of Denmark emerged in the 10th century as a proficient seafaring nation in the struggle for control of the Baltic Sea, Denmark, Sweden and Norway were ruled together under the Kalmar Union, established in 1397 and ending with Swedish secession in 1523. Denmark and Norway remained under the monarch until outside forces dissolved the union in 1814. The union with Norway made it possible for Denmark to inherit the Faroe Islands, Iceland, beginning in the 17th century, there were several cessions of territory to Sweden. In the 19th century there was a surge of nationalist movements, Denmark remained neutral during World War I. In April 1940, a German invasion saw brief military skirmishes while the Danish resistance movement was active from 1943 until the German surrender in May 1945, the Constitution of Denmark was signed on 5 June 1849, ending the absolute monarchy which had begun in 1660. It establishes a constitutional monarchy organised as a parliamentary democracy, the government and national parliament are seated in Copenhagen, the nations capital, largest city and main commercial centre. Denmark exercises hegemonic influence in the Danish Realm, devolving powers to handle internal affairs, Home rule was established in the Faroe Islands in 1948, in Greenland home rule was established in 1979 and further autonomy in 2009. Denmark became a member of the European Economic Community in 1973, maintaining certain opt-outs, it retains its own currency, the krone. It is among the members of NATO, the Nordic Council, the OECD, OSCE. The etymology of the word Denmark, and especially the relationship between Danes and Denmark and the unifying of Denmark as a kingdom, is a subject which attracts debate. This is centred primarily on the prefix Dan and whether it refers to the Dani or a historical person Dan and the exact meaning of the -mark ending. Most handbooks derive the first part of the word, and the name of the people, from a word meaning land, related to German Tenne threshing floor. The -mark is believed to mean woodland or borderland, with references to the border forests in south Schleswig. The first recorded use of the word Danmark within Denmark itself is found on the two Jelling stones, which are believed to have been erected by Gorm the Old and Harald BluetoothDenmark – The gilded side of the Trundholm sun chariot dating from the Nordic Bronze Age.
14. Estonia – Estonia, officially the Republic of Estonia, is a country in the Baltic region of Northern Europe. It is bordered to the north by the Gulf of Finland, to the west by the Baltic Sea, to the south by Latvia, across the Baltic Sea lies Sweden in the west and Finland in the north. The territory of Estonia consists of a mainland and 2,222 islands and islets in the Baltic Sea, covering 45,339 km2 of land and water, and is influenced by a humid continental climate. The territory of Estonia has been inhabited since at least 6500 BC, in 1988, during the Singing Revolution, the Estonian Supreme Soviet issued the Estonian Sovereignty Declaration in defiance of Soviet rule, and independence was restored on 20 August 1991. Estonia is a parliamentary republic divided into fifteen counties. Its capital and largest city is Tallinn, with a population of 1.3 million, it is one of the least-populous member states of the European Union, Eurozone, North Atlantic Treaty Organization, OECD and Schengen Area. Estonia is a country with an advanced, high-income economy that is among the fastest growing in the EU. Its Human Development Index ranks very highly, and it performs favourably in measurements of economic freedom, civil liberties, the 2015 PISA test places Estonian high school students 3rd in the world, behind Singapore and Japan. Citizens of Estonia are provided with health care, free education. Since independence the country has developed its IT sector, becoming one of the worlds most digitally advanced societies. In 2005 Estonia became the first nation to hold elections over the Internet, in the Estonian language, the oldest known endonym of the Estonians was maarahvas, meaning country people or people of the land. The land inhabited by Estonians was called Maavald meaning Country Parish or Land Parish, one hypothesis regarding the modern name of Estonia is that it originated from the Aesti, a people described by the Roman historian Tacitus in his Germania. The historic Aesti were allegedly Baltic people, whereas the modern Estonians are Finno-Ugric, the geographical areas between Aesti and Estonia do not match, with Aesti being further down south. Ancient Scandinavian sagas refer to a land called Eistland, as the country is called in Icelandic. Early Latin and other ancient versions of the name are Estia and Hestia, esthonia was a common alternative English spelling prior to 1921. Human settlement in Estonia became possible 13,000 to 11,000 years ago, the oldest known settlement in Estonia is the Pulli settlement, which was on the banks of the river Pärnu, near the town of Sindi, in south-western Estonia. According to radiocarbon dating it was settled around 11,000 years ago, the earliest human inhabitation during the Mesolithic period is connected to Kunda culture, which is named after the town of Kunda in northern Estonia. At that time the country was covered with forests, and people lived in communities near bodies of waterEstonia – Tools made by Kunda culture, Estonian History Museum
15. Finland – Finland, officially the Republic of Finland, is a sovereign state in Northern Europe. A peninsula with the Gulf of Finland to the south and the Gulf of Bothnia to the west, the country has borders with Sweden to the northwest, Norway to the north. Estonia is south of the country across the Gulf of Finland, Finland is a Nordic country situated in the geographical region of Fennoscandia, which also includes Scandinavia. Finlands population is 5.5 million, and the majority of the population is concentrated in the southern region,88. 7% of the population is Finnish people who speak Finnish, a Uralic language unrelated to the Scandinavian languages, the second major group are the Finland-Swedes. In terms of area, it is the eighth largest country in Europe, Finland is a parliamentary republic with a central government based in the capital Helsinki, local governments in 311 municipalities, and an autonomous region, the Åland Islands. Over 1.4 million people live in the Greater Helsinki metropolitan area, from the late 12th century, Finland was an integral part of Sweden, a legacy reflected in the prevalence of the Swedish language and its official status. In the spirit of the notion of Adolf Ivar Arwidsson, we are not Swedes, we do not want to become Russians, let us therefore be Finns, nevertheless, in 1809, Finland was incorporated into the Russian Empire as the autonomous Grand Duchy of Finland. In 1906, Finland became the nation in the world to give the right to vote to all adult citizens. Following the 1917 Russian Revolution, Finland declared itself independent, in 1918, the fledgling state was divided by civil war, with the Bolshevik-leaning Reds supported by the equally new Soviet Russia, fighting the Whites, supported by the German Empire. After a brief attempt to establish a kingdom, the became a republic. During World War II, the Soviet Union sought repeatedly to occupy Finland, with Finland losing parts of Karelia, Salla and Kuusamo, Petsamo and some islands, Finland joined the United Nations in 1955 and established an official policy of neutrality. The Finno-Soviet Treaty of 1948 gave the Soviet Union some leverage in Finnish domestic politics during the Cold War era, Finland was a relative latecomer to industrialization, remaining a largely agrarian country until the 1950s. It rapidly developed an advanced economy while building an extensive Nordic-style welfare state, resulting in widespread prosperity, however, Finnish GDP growth has been negative in 2012–2014, with a preceding nadir of −8% in 2009. Finland is a top performer in numerous metrics of national performance, including education, economic competitiveness, civil liberties, quality of life, a large majority of Finns are members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, though freedom of religion is guaranteed under the Finnish Constitution. The first known appearance of the name Finland is thought to be on three rune-stones. Two were found in the Swedish province of Uppland and have the inscription finlonti, the third was found in Gotland, in the Baltic Sea. It has the inscription finlandi and dates from the 13th century, the name can be assumed to be related to the tribe name Finns, which is mentioned first known time AD98. The name Suomi has uncertain origins, but a candidate for a source is the Proto-Baltic word *źemē, in addition to the close relatives of Finnish, this name is also used in the Baltic languages Latvian and LithuanianFinland – Hakkapeliitta featured on a 1940 Finnish stamp
16. France – France, officially the French Republic, is a country with territory in western Europe and several overseas regions and territories. The European, or metropolitan, area of France extends from the Mediterranean Sea to the English Channel and the North Sea, Overseas France include French Guiana on the South American continent and several island territories in the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans. France spans 643,801 square kilometres and had a population of almost 67 million people as of January 2017. It is a unitary republic with the capital in Paris. Other major urban centres include Marseille, Lyon, Lille, Nice, Toulouse, during the Iron Age, what is now metropolitan France was inhabited by the Gauls, a Celtic people. The area was annexed in 51 BC by Rome, which held Gaul until 486, France emerged as a major European power in the Late Middle Ages, with its victory in the Hundred Years War strengthening state-building and political centralisation. During the Renaissance, French culture flourished and a colonial empire was established. The 16th century was dominated by civil wars between Catholics and Protestants. France became Europes dominant cultural, political, and military power under Louis XIV, in the 19th century Napoleon took power and established the First French Empire, whose subsequent Napoleonic Wars shaped the course of continental Europe. Following the collapse of the Empire, France endured a succession of governments culminating with the establishment of the French Third Republic in 1870. Following liberation in 1944, a Fourth Republic was established and later dissolved in the course of the Algerian War, the Fifth Republic, led by Charles de Gaulle, was formed in 1958 and remains to this day. Algeria and nearly all the colonies became independent in the 1960s with minimal controversy and typically retained close economic. France has long been a centre of art, science. It hosts Europes fourth-largest number of cultural UNESCO World Heritage Sites and receives around 83 million foreign tourists annually, France is a developed country with the worlds sixth-largest economy by nominal GDP and ninth-largest by purchasing power parity. In terms of household wealth, it ranks fourth in the world. France performs well in international rankings of education, health care, life expectancy, France remains a great power in the world, being one of the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council with the power to veto and an official nuclear-weapon state. It is a member state of the European Union and the Eurozone. It is also a member of the Group of 7, North Atlantic Treaty Organization, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, the World Trade Organization, originally applied to the whole Frankish Empire, the name France comes from the Latin Francia, or country of the FranksFrance – One of the Lascaux paintings: a horse – Dordogne, approximately 18,000 BC
17. Georgia (country) – Georgia is a country in the Caucasus region of Eurasia. The capital and largest city is Tbilisi, Georgia covers a territory of 69,700 square kilometres, and its 2016 population is about 3.72 million. Georgia is a unitary, semi-presidential republic, with the government elected through a representative democracy, during the classical era, several independent kingdoms became established in what is now Georgia. The kingdoms of Colchis and Iberia adopted Christianity in the early 4th century, a unified Kingdom of Georgia reached the peak of its political and economic strength during the reign of King David IV and Queen Tamar in the 12th and early 13th centuries. Thereafter the kingdom declined and eventually disintegrated under hegemony of various powers, including the Mongols, the Ottoman Empire. Russian rule over Georgia was eventually acknowledged in various treaties with Iran. Since the establishment of the modern Georgian republic in April 1991, post-communist Georgia suffered from civil, the countrys Western orientation soon led to the worsening of relations with Russia, culminating in the brief Russo-Georgian War in August 2008. Georgia is a member of the United Nations, the Council of Europe, and it contains two de facto independent regions, Abkhazia and South Ossetia, which gained limited international recognition after the 2008 Russo-Georgian War. Georgia and a part of the international community consider the regions to be part of Georgias sovereign territory under Russian military occupation. Georgia probably stems from the Persian designation of the Georgians – gurğān, in the 11th and 12th centuries adapted via Syriac gurz-ān/gurz-iyān, starting with the Persian word gurğ/gurğān, the word was later adopted in numerous other languages, including Slavic and West European languages. This term itself might have established through the ancient Iranian appellation of the near-Caspian region. The self-designation used by ethnic Georgians is Kartvelebi, the medieval Georgian Chronicles present an eponymous ancestor of the Kartvelians, Kartlos, a great-grandson of Japheth. However, scholars agree that the word is derived from the Karts, the name Sakartvelo consists of two parts. Its root, kartvel-i, specifies an inhabitant of the core central-eastern Georgian region of Kartli, ancient Greeks and Romans referred to early western Georgians as Colchians and eastern Georgians as Iberians. Today the full, official name of the country is Georgia, before the 1995 constitution came into force the countrys name was the Republic of Georgia. The territory of modern-day Georgia was inhabited by Homo erectus since the Paleolithic Era, the proto-Georgian tribes first appear in written history in the 12th century BC. The earliest evidence of wine to date has found in Georgia. In fact, early metallurgy started in Georgia during the 6th millennium BC, the classical period saw the rise of a number of early Georgian states, the principal of which was Colchis in the west and Iberia in the eastGeorgia (country) – It is said that Georgians were so named because they revered Saint George.
18. Germany – Germany, officially the Federal Republic of Germany, is a federal parliamentary republic in central-western Europe. It includes 16 constituent states, covers an area of 357,021 square kilometres, with about 82 million inhabitants, Germany is the most populous member state of the European Union. After the United States, it is the second most popular destination in the world. Germanys capital and largest metropolis is Berlin, while its largest conurbation is the Ruhr, other major cities include Hamburg, Munich, Cologne, Frankfurt, Stuttgart, Düsseldorf and Leipzig. Various Germanic tribes have inhabited the northern parts of modern Germany since classical antiquity, a region named Germania was documented before 100 AD. During the Migration Period the Germanic tribes expanded southward, beginning in the 10th century, German territories formed a central part of the Holy Roman Empire. During the 16th century, northern German regions became the centre of the Protestant Reformation, in 1871, Germany became a nation state when most of the German states unified into the Prussian-dominated German Empire. After World War I and the German Revolution of 1918–1919, the Empire was replaced by the parliamentary Weimar Republic, the establishment of the national socialist dictatorship in 1933 led to World War II and the Holocaust. After a period of Allied occupation, two German states were founded, the Federal Republic of Germany and the German Democratic Republic, in 1990, the country was reunified. In the 21st century, Germany is a power and has the worlds fourth-largest economy by nominal GDP. As a global leader in industrial and technological sectors, it is both the worlds third-largest exporter and importer of goods. Germany is a country with a very high standard of living sustained by a skilled. It upholds a social security and universal health system, environmental protection. Germany was a member of the European Economic Community in 1957. It is part of the Schengen Area, and became a co-founder of the Eurozone in 1999, Germany is a member of the United Nations, NATO, the G8, the G20, and the OECD. The national military expenditure is the 9th highest in the world, the English word Germany derives from the Latin Germania, which came into use after Julius Caesar adopted it for the peoples east of the Rhine. This in turn descends from Proto-Germanic *þiudiskaz popular, derived from *þeudō, descended from Proto-Indo-European *tewtéh₂- people, the discovery of the Mauer 1 mandible shows that ancient humans were present in Germany at least 600,000 years ago. The oldest complete hunting weapons found anywhere in the world were discovered in a mine in Schöningen where three 380, 000-year-old wooden javelins were unearthedGermany – The Nebra sky disk is dated to c. 1600 BC.
19. Greece – Greece, officially the Hellenic Republic, historically also known as Hellas, is a country in southeastern Europe, with a population of approximately 11 million as of 2015. Athens is the capital and largest city, followed by Thessaloniki. Greece is strategically located at the crossroads of Europe, Asia, situated on the southern tip of the Balkan peninsula, it shares land borders with Albania to the northwest, the Republic of Macedonia and Bulgaria to the north, and Turkey to the northeast. Greece consists of nine regions, Macedonia, Central Greece, the Peloponnese, Thessaly, Epirus, the Aegean Islands, Thrace, Crete. The Aegean Sea lies to the east of the mainland, the Ionian Sea to the west, the Cretan Sea and the Mediterranean Sea to the south. Greece has the longest coastline on the Mediterranean Basin and the 11th longest coastline in the world at 13,676 km in length, featuring a vast number of islands, eighty percent of Greece is mountainous, with Mount Olympus being the highest peak at 2,918 metres. From the eighth century BC, the Greeks were organised into various independent city-states, known as polis, which spanned the entire Mediterranean region and the Black Sea. Greece was annexed by Rome in the second century BC, becoming a part of the Roman Empire and its successor. The Greek Orthodox Church also shaped modern Greek identity and transmitted Greek traditions to the wider Orthodox World, falling under Ottoman dominion in the mid-15th century, the modern nation state of Greece emerged in 1830 following a war of independence. Greeces rich historical legacy is reflected by its 18 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, among the most in Europe, Greece is a democratic and developed country with an advanced high-income economy, a high quality of life, and a very high standard of living. A founding member of the United Nations, Greece was the member to join the European Communities and has been part of the Eurozone since 2001. Greeces unique cultural heritage, large industry, prominent shipping sector. It is the largest economy in the Balkans, where it is an important regional investor, the names for the nation of Greece and the Greek people differ from the names used in other languages, locations and cultures. The earliest evidence of the presence of human ancestors in the southern Balkans, dated to 270,000 BC, is to be found in the Petralona cave, all three stages of the stone age are represented in Greece, for example in the Franchthi Cave. Neolithic settlements in Greece, dating from the 7th millennium BC, are the oldest in Europe by several centuries and these civilizations possessed writing, the Minoans writing in an undeciphered script known as Linear A, and the Mycenaeans in Linear B, an early form of Greek. The Mycenaeans gradually absorbed the Minoans, but collapsed violently around 1200 BC and this ushered in a period known as the Greek Dark Ages, from which written records are absent. The end of the Dark Ages is traditionally dated to 776 BC, the Iliad and the Odyssey, the foundational texts of Western literature, are believed to have been composed by Homer in the 7th or 8th centuries BC. With the end of the Dark Ages, there emerged various kingdoms and city-states across the Greek peninsula, in 508 BC, Cleisthenes instituted the worlds first democratic system of government in AthensGreece – Fresco displaying the Minoan ritual of "bull leaping", found in Knossos, Crete.
20. Holy See – The Holy See, also referred to as the See of Rome, is the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of the Catholic Church in Rome, the episcopal see of the Pope, and an independent sovereign entity. It serves as the point of reference for the Catholic Church everywhere. Today, it is responsible for the governance of all Catholics, organised in their Particular Churches, Patriarchates, as an independent sovereign entity, holding the Vatican City enclave in Rome as sovereign territory, it maintains diplomatic relations with other states. Diplomatically, the Holy See acts and speaks for the whole church and it is also recognised by other subjects of international law as a sovereign entity, headed by the Pope, with which diplomatic relations can be maintained. The creation of the Vatican City state was meant to ensure the diplomatic, in Greek, the adjective holy or sacred is constantly applied to all such sees as a matter of course. The word see comes from the Latin word sedes, meaning seat, while Saint Peters basilica in Vatican City is perhaps the church most associated with the Papacy, the actual cathedral of the Holy See is the church of Saint John Lateran within the city of Rome. The Pope governs the Catholic Church through the Roman Curia, the Secretariat of State, under the Cardinal Secretary of State, directs and coordinates the Curia. The incumbent, Archbishop Pietro Parolin, is the Sees equivalent of a prime minister, Archbishop Paul Gallagher, Secretary of the Section for Relations with States of the Secretariat of State, acts as the Holy Sees minister of foreign affairs. Parolin was named in his role by Pope Francis On 31 August 2013, mamberti was named in his role by Pope Benedict XVI in September 2006. The Secretariat of State is the body of the Curia that is situated within Vatican City. The others are in buildings in different parts of Rome that have rights similar to those of embassies. The Roman Rota handles normal judicial appeals, the most numerous being those that concern alleged nullity of marriage and it also oversees the work of other ecclesiastical tribunals at all levels. The most important of these is the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See, the Prefecture of the Papal Household is responsible for the organization of the papal household, audiences, and ceremonies. The Holy See does not dissolve upon a Popes death or resignation and it instead operates under a different set of laws sede vacante. The government of the See, and therefore of the Catholic Church, canon law prohibits the College and the Camerlengo from introducing any innovations or novelties in the government of the Church during this period. In 2001, the Holy See had a revenue of 422.098 billion Italian lire, the Guardian newspaper described Mennini and his role in the following manner. Paolo Mennini, who is in effect the popes merchant banker, Mennini heads a special unit inside the Vatican called the extraordinary division of APSA – Amministrazione del Patrimonio della Sede Apostolica – which handles the patrimony of the Holy See. The Holy See has been recognized, both in practice and in the writing of modern legal scholars, as a subject of public international law, with rightsHoly See – The papal throne (cathedra), in the apse of Archbasilica of St. John Lateran, symbolises the Holy See.
21. Hungary – Hungary is a unitary parliamentary republic in Central Europe. With about 10 million inhabitants, Hungary is a member state of the European Union. The official language is Hungarian, which is the most widely spoken language in Europe. Hungarys capital and largest metropolis is Budapest, a significant economic hub, major urban areas include Debrecen, Szeged, Miskolc, Pécs and Győr. His great-grandson Stephen I ascended to the throne in 1000, converting the country to a Christian kingdom, by the 12th century, Hungary became a middle power within the Western world, reaching a golden age by the 15th century. Hungarys current borders were established in 1920 by the Treaty of Trianon after World War I, when the country lost 71% of its territory, 58% of its population, following the interwar period, Hungary joined the Axis Powers in World War II, suffering significant damage and casualties. Hungary became a state of the Soviet Union, which contributed to the establishment of a four-decade-long communist dictatorship. On 23 October 1989, Hungary became again a democratic parliamentary republic, in the 21st century, Hungary is a middle power and has the worlds 57th largest economy by nominal GDP, as well as the 58th largest by PPP, out of 188 countries measured by the IMF. As a substantial actor in several industrial and technological sectors, it is both the worlds 36th largest exporter and importer of goods, Hungary is a high-income economy with a very high standard of living. It keeps up a security and universal health care system. Hungary joined the European Union in 2004 and part of the Schengen Area since 2007, Hungary is a member of the United Nations, NATO, WTO, World Bank, the AIIB, the Council of Europe and Visegrád Group. Well known for its cultural history, Hungary has been contributed significantly to arts, music, literature, sports and science. Hungary is the 11th most popular country as a tourist destination in Europe and it is home to the largest thermal water cave system, the second largest thermal lake in the world, the largest lake in Central Europe, and the largest natural grasslands in Europe. The H in the name of Hungary is most likely due to historical associations with the Huns. The rest of the word comes from the Latinized form of Medieval Greek Oungroi, according to an explanation the Greek name was borrowed from Proto-Slavic Ǫgǔri, in turn borrowed from Oghur-Turkic Onogur. Onogur was the name for the tribes who later joined the Bulgar tribal confederacy that ruled the eastern parts of Hungary after the Avars. The Hungarians likely belonged to the Onogur tribal alliance and it is possible they became its ethnic majority. The Hungarian endonym is Magyarország, composed of magyar and ország, the word magyar is taken from the name of one of the seven major semi-nomadic Hungarian tribes, magyeriHungary – Italian fresco depicting a Hungarian warrior shooting backwards
22. Iceland – Iceland is a Nordic island country in the North Atlantic Ocean. It has a population of 332,529 and an area of 103,000 km2, the capital and largest city is Reykjavík. Reykjavík and the areas in the southwest of the country are home to over two-thirds of the population. Iceland is volcanically and geologically active, the interior consists of a plateau characterised by sand and lava 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 climate, despite a high latitude just outside the Arctic Circle. Its high latitude and marine influence still keeps summers chilly, with most of the archipelago having a tundra climate. According to the ancient manuscript Landnámabók, the settlement of Iceland began in the year 874 AD when the Norwegian chieftain Ingólfr Arnarson became the first permanent settler on the island. In the following centuries, Norwegians, and to a lesser extent other Scandinavians, emigrated to Iceland, the island was governed as an independent commonwealth under the Althing, one of the worlds oldest functioning legislative assemblies. Following a period of strife, Iceland acceded to Norwegian rule in the 13th century. The establishment of the Kalmar Union in 1397 united the kingdoms of Norway, Denmark, Iceland thus followed Norways integration to that Union and came under Danish rule after Swedens secession from that union in 1523. In the wake of the French revolution and the Napoleonic wars, Icelands struggle for independence took form and culminated in independence in 1918, until the 20th century, Iceland relied largely on subsistence fishing and agriculture, and was among the poorest in Europe. Industrialisation of the fisheries and Marshall Plan aid following World War II brought prosperity, in 1994, it became a part of the European Economic Area, which further diversified the economy into sectors such as finance, biotechnology, and manufacturing. Iceland has an economy with relatively low taxes compared to other OECD countries. It maintains a Nordic social welfare system that provides health care. Iceland ranks high in economic, political and social stability and equality, in 2013, it was ranked as the 13th most-developed country in the world by the United Nations Human Development Index. Iceland runs almost completely on renewable energy, some bankers were jailed, and the economy has made a significant recovery, in large part due to a surge in tourism. Icelandic culture is founded upon the nations Scandinavian heritage, most Icelanders are descendants of Germanic and Gaelic settlers. Icelandic, a North Germanic language, is descended from Old Norse and is related to FaroeseIceland – Norsemen Landing in Iceland – a 19th Century depiction by Oscar Wergeland.
23. Republic of Ireland – Ireland, also known as the Republic of Ireland, is a sovereign state in north-western Europe occupying about five-sixths of the island of Ireland. The capital and largest city is Dublin, which is located on the part of the island. The state shares its land border with Northern Ireland, a part of the United Kingdom. It is otherwise surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, with the Celtic Sea to the south, Saint Georges Channel to the south-east, and it is a unitary, parliamentary republic. The head of government is the Taoiseach, who is elected by the Dáil and appointed by the President, the state was created as the Irish Free State in 1922 as a result of the Anglo-Irish Treaty. It was officially declared a republic in 1949, following the Republic of Ireland Act 1948, Ireland became a member of the United Nations in December 1955. It joined the European Economic Community, the predecessor of the European Union, after joining the EEC, Ireland enacted a series of liberal economic policies that resulted in rapid economic growth. The country achieved considerable prosperity between the years of 1995 and 2007, which known as the Celtic Tiger period. This was halted by a financial crisis that began in 2008. However, as the Irish economy was the fastest growing in the EU in 2015, Ireland is again quickly ascending league tables comparing wealth and prosperity internationally. For example, in 2015, Ireland was ranked as the joint sixth most developed country in the world by the United Nations Human Development Index and it also performs well in several national performance metrics, including freedom of the press, economic freedom and civil liberties. Ireland is a member of the European Union and is a member of the Council of Europe. The 1922 state, comprising 26 of the 32 counties of Ireland, was styled, the Constitution of Ireland, adopted in 1937, provides that the name of the State is Éire, or, in the English language, Ireland. Section 2 of the Republic of Ireland Act 1948 states, It is hereby declared that the description of the State shall be the Republic of Ireland. The 1948 Act does not name the state as Republic of Ireland, because to have done so would have put it in conflict with the Constitution. The government of the United Kingdom used the name Eire, and, from 1949, Republic of Ireland, for the state, as well as Ireland, Éire or the Republic of Ireland, the state is also referred to as the Republic, Southern Ireland or the South. In an Irish republican context it is referred to as the Free State or the 26 Counties. From the Act of Union on 1 January 1801, until 6 December 1922, during the Great Famine, from 1845 to 1849, the islands population of over 8 million fell by 30%Republic of Ireland – The Irish Parliamentary Party was formed in 1882 by Charles Stewart Parnell (1846–1891).
24. Italy – Italy, officially the Italian Republic, is a unitary parliamentary republic in Europe. Located in the heart of the Mediterranean Sea, Italy shares open land borders with France, Switzerland, Austria, Slovenia, San Marino, Italy covers an area of 301,338 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal and Mediterranean climate. Due to its shape, it is referred to in Italy as lo Stivale. With 61 million inhabitants, it is the fourth most populous EU member state, the Italic tribe known as the Latins formed the Roman Kingdom, which eventually became a republic that conquered and assimilated other nearby civilisations. The legacy of the Roman Empire is widespread and can be observed in the distribution of civilian law, republican governments, Christianity. The Renaissance began in Italy and spread to the rest of Europe, bringing a renewed interest in humanism, science, exploration, Italian culture flourished at this time, producing famous scholars, artists and polymaths such as Leonardo da Vinci, Galileo, Michelangelo and Machiavelli. The weakened sovereigns soon fell victim to conquest by European powers such as France, Spain and Austria. Despite being one of the victors in World War I, Italy entered a period of economic crisis and social turmoil. The subsequent participation in World War II on the Axis side ended in defeat, economic destruction. Today, Italy has the third largest economy in the Eurozone and it has a very high level of human development and is ranked sixth in the world for life expectancy. The country plays a prominent role in regional and global economic, military, cultural and diplomatic affairs, as a reflection of its cultural wealth, Italy is home to 51 World Heritage Sites, the most in the world, and is the fifth most visited country. The assumptions on the etymology of the name Italia are very numerous, according to one of the more common explanations, the term Italia, from Latin, Italia, was borrowed through Greek from the Oscan Víteliú, meaning land of young cattle. The bull was a symbol of the southern Italic tribes and was often depicted goring the Roman wolf as a defiant symbol of free Italy during the Social War. Greek historian Dionysius of Halicarnassus states this account together with the legend that Italy was named after Italus, mentioned also by Aristotle and Thucydides. The name Italia originally applied only to a part of what is now Southern Italy – according to Antiochus of Syracuse, but by his time Oenotria and Italy had become synonymous, and the name also applied to most of Lucania as well. The Greeks gradually came to apply the name Italia to a larger region, excavations throughout Italy revealed a Neanderthal presence dating back to the Palaeolithic period, some 200,000 years ago, modern Humans arrived about 40,000 years ago. Other ancient Italian peoples of undetermined language families but of possible origins include the Rhaetian people and Cammuni. Also the Phoenicians established colonies on the coasts of Sardinia and Sicily, the Roman legacy has deeply influenced the Western civilisation, shaping most of the modern worldItaly – The Colosseum in Rome, built c. 70 – 80 AD, is considered one of the greatest works of architecture and engineering of ancient history.
25. Kazakhstan – Kazakhstan, officially the Republic of Kazakhstan, is a transcontinental country in northern Central Asia and Eastern Europe. Kazakhstan is the worlds largest landlocked country, and the ninth largest in the world, Kazakhstan is the dominant nation of Central Asia economically, generating 60% of the regions GDP, primarily through its oil/gas industry. It also has vast mineral resources, Kazakhstan is officially a democratic, secular, unitary, constitutional republic with a diverse cultural heritage. Kazakhstan shares borders with Russia, China, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan, the terrain of Kazakhstan includes flatlands, steppe, taiga, rock canyons, hills, deltas, snow-capped mountains, and deserts. Kazakhstan has an estimated 18 million people as of 2014, Given its large area, its population density is among the lowest. The capital is Astana, where it was moved in 1997 from Almaty, the territory of Kazakhstan has historically been inhabited by nomadic tribes. This changed in the 13th century, when Genghis Khan occupied the country as part of the Mongolian Empire, following internal struggles among the conquerors, power eventually reverted to the nomads. By the 16th century, the Kazakh emerged as a distinct group, the Russians began advancing into the Kazakh steppe in the 18th century, and by the mid-19th century, they nominally ruled all of Kazakhstan as part of the Russian Empire. Following the 1917 Russian Revolution, and subsequent civil war, the territory of Kazakhstan was reorganised several times, in 1936, it was made the Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic, part of the Soviet Union. Kazakhstan was the last of the Soviet republics to declare independence during the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, Kazakhstan has worked to develop its economy, especially its dominant hydrocarbon industry. Kazakhstans 131 ethnicities include Kazakhs, Russians, Uzbeks, Ukrainians, Germans, Tatars, the Kazakh language is the state language, and Russian has equal official status for all levels of administrative and institutional purposes. The name Kazakh comes from the ancient Turkic word qaz, to wander, the name Cossack is of the same origin. The Persian suffix -stan means land or place of, so Kazakhstan can be translated as land of the wanderers. Kazakhstan has been inhabited since the Neolithic Age, the regions climate, archaeologists believe that humans first domesticated the horse in the regions vast steppes. Central Asia was originally inhabited by the Scythians, the Cuman entered the steppes of modern-day Kazakhstan around the early 11th century, where they later joined with the Kipchak and established the vast Cuman-Kipchak confederation. Under the Mongol Empire, the largest in history, administrative districts were established. These eventually came under the rule of the emergent Kazakh Khanate, throughout this period, traditional nomadic life and a livestock-based economy continued to dominate the steppe. Nevertheless, the region was the focus of ever-increasing disputes between the native Kazakh emirs and the neighbouring Persian-speaking peoples to the south, at its height the Khanate would rule parts of Central Asia and control CumaniaKazakhstan – Artistic depiction of medieval Taraz situated along the Silk Road
26. Kyrgyzstan – Kyrgyzstan, officially the Kyrgyz Republic, is a country in Central Asia. Landlocked and mountainous, Kyrgyzstan is bordered by Kazakhstan to the north, Uzbekistan to the west and southwest, Tajikistan to the southwest and its capital and largest city is Bishkek. Kyrgyzstans recorded history spans over 2,000 years, encompassing a variety of cultures and empires, ethnic Kyrgyz make up the majority of the countrys 5.7 million people, followed by significant minorities of Uzbeks and Russians. Kyrgyz is closely related to other Turkic languages, although Russian remains widely spoken and is the official language, the majority of the population are non-denominational Muslims. In addition to its Turkic origins, Kyrgyz culture bears elements of Persian, Mongolian and Russian influence. Kyrgyz is believed to have derived from the Turkic word for forty, in reference to the forty clans of Manas. Literally, Kyrgyz means We are forty, at the time, in the early 9th century AD, the Uyghurs dominated much of Central Asia, Mongolia, and parts of Russia and China. King, Scythians were early settlers in present-day Kyrgyzstan, the Kyrgyz state reached its greatest expansion after defeating the Uyghur Khaganate in 840 A. D. From the 10th century the Kyrgyz migrated as far as the Tian Shan range, in the twelfth century the Kyrgyz dominion had shrunk to the Altay Range and Sayan Mountains as a result of the Mongol expansion. With the rise of the Mongol Empire in the thirteenth century, the Kyrgyz peacefully became a part of the Mongol Empire in 1207. The descent of the Kyrgyz from the autochthonous Siberian population is confirmed on the hand by the recent genetic studies. Issyk Kul Lake was a stopover on the Silk Road, a route for traders, merchants. Kyrgyz tribes were overrun in the 17th century by the Mongols, in the century by the Manchurian Qing Dynasty. In the late century, the majority part of what is today Kyrgyzstan was ceded to Russia through two treaties between China and Russia. The territory, then known in Russian as Kirghizia, was incorporated into the Russian Empire in 1876. The Russian takeover was met with numerous revolts against Tsarist authority, in addition, the suppression of the 1916 rebellion against Russian rule in Central Asia caused many Kyrgyz later to migrate to China. Soviet power was established in the region in 1919. On 5 December 1936, the Kirghiz Soviet Socialist Republic was established as a republic of the Soviet UnionKyrgyzstan – Silk road caravansary utilized during the Islamic Golden Age
27. Latvia – Latvia, officially the Republic of Latvia, is a country in the Baltic region of Northern Europe, one of the three Baltic states. It is bordered by Estonia to the north, Lithuania to the south, Russia to the east, Latvia has 1,957,200 inhabitants and a territory of 64,589 km2. The country has a seasonal climate. Latvia is a parliamentary republic established in 1918. The capital city is Riga, the European Capital of Culture 2014, Latvia is a unitary state, divided into 119 administrative divisions, of which 110 are municipalities and 9 are cities. Latvians and Livs are the people of Latvia. Latvian and Lithuanian are the two surviving Baltic languages. Despite foreign rule from the 13th to 20th centuries, the Latvian nation maintained its identity throughout the generations via the language, Latvia and Estonia share a long common history. Until World War II, Latvia also had significant minorities of ethnic Germans, Latvia is historically predominantly Protestant Lutheran, except for the Latgale region in the southeast, which has historically been predominantly Roman Catholic. The Russian population has brought a significant portion of Eastern Orthodox Christians. The Republic of Latvia was founded on 18 November 1918, however, its de facto independence was interrupted at the outset of World War II. The peaceful Singing Revolution, starting in 1987, called for Baltic emancipation of Soviet rule and it ended with the Declaration on the Restoration of Independence of the Republic of Latvia on 4 May 1990, and restoring de facto independence on 21 August 1991. Latvia is a democratic and developed country and member of the European Union, NATO, the Council of Europe, the United Nations, CBSS, the IMF, NB8, NIB, OECD, OSCE, and WTO. For 2014, Latvia was listed 46th on the Human Development Index and it used the Latvian lats as its currency until it was replaced by the euro on 1 January 2014. The name Latvija is derived from the name of the ancient Latgalians, one of four Indo-European Baltic tribes, henry of Latvia coined the Latinisations of the countrys name, Lettigallia and Lethia, both derived from the Latgalians. The terms inspired the variations on the name in Romance languages from Letonia. Around 3000 BC, the ancestors of the Latvian people settled on the eastern coast of the Baltic Sea. The Balts established trade routes to Rome and Byzantium, trading local amber for precious metals, by 900 AD, four distinct Baltic tribes inhabited Latvia, Curonians, Latgalians, Selonians, Semigallians, as well as the Livonians speaking a Finnic languageLatvia – Turaida Castle near Sigulda, built in 1214 under Albert of Riga.
28. Liechtenstein – Liechtenstein, officially the Principality of Liechtenstein, is a doubly landlocked German-speaking microstate in Central Europe. It is a monarchy with the rank of principality, headed by the Prince of Liechtenstein. Liechtenstein is bordered by Switzerland to the west and south and Austria to the east and it has an area of just over 160 square kilometres and an estimated population of 37,000. Divided into 11 municipalities, its capital is Vaduz and its largest municipality is Schaan, the unemployment rate is one of the lowest in the world at 1. 5%. Liechtenstein has been known in the past as a tax haven, however. An alpine country, Liechtenstein is mainly mountainous, making it a winter sport destination, many cultivated fields and small farms are found both in the south and north. The country has a financial sector centered in Vaduz. Liechtenstein is a member of the European Free Trade Association, and while not being a member of the European Union and it also has a customs union and a monetary union with Switzerland. The oldest traces of human existence in Liechtenstein date back to the Middle Paleolithic era, neolithic farming settlements were founded in the valleys around 5300 BC. Hallstatt and La Tène cultures flourished during the late Iron Age from around 450 BC possibly under influence from the Greek. One of the most important tribal groups in the Alpine region were the Helvetii, in 58 BC, at the Battle of Bibracte, Julius Caesar defeated the Alpine tribes, bringing the region under closer control of the Roman Empire. By 15 BC, Tiberius, who was destined to be the second Roman emperor, Liechtenstein was integrated into the Roman province of Raetia. The area was maintained by the Roman military, which maintained a large legionary camp called Brigantium near Lake Constance, a Roman road ran through the territory. In 259/60 Brigantium was destroyed by the Alemanni, a Germanic people who settled in the area in around 450. In the Early Middle Ages, the Alemanni had settled the eastern Swiss plateau by the 5th century, Liechtenstein was at the eastern edge of Alemannia. In the 6th century, the region became part of the Frankish Empire following Clovis Is victory over the Alemanni at Tolbiac in 504. The area that later became Liechtenstein remained under Frankish hegemony until the empire was divided by the Treaty of Verdun in 843 AD following the death of Charlemagne. The territory of present-day Liechtenstein belonged to East Francia until it was reunified with Middle Francia under the Holy Roman Empire around 1000 ADLiechtenstein – Gutenberg Castle, Balzers, Liechtenstein.
29. Lithuania – Lithuania, officially the Republic of Lithuania, is a country in Northern Europe. One of the three Baltic states, it is situated along the shore of the Baltic Sea, to the east of Sweden. It is bordered by Latvia to the north, Belarus to the east and south, Poland to the south, Lithuania has an estimated population of 2.9 million people as of 2015, and its capital and largest city is Vilnius. The official language, Lithuanian, along with Latvian, is one of two living languages in the Baltic branch of the Indo-European language family. For centuries, the shores of the Baltic Sea were inhabited by various Baltic tribes. In the 1230s, the Lithuanian lands were united by Mindaugas, the King of Lithuania, and the first unified Lithuanian state, with the Lublin Union of 1569, Lithuania and Poland formed a voluntary two-state union, the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth. The Commonwealth lasted more than two centuries, until neighboring countries systematically dismantled it from 1772–95, with the Russian Empire annexing most of Lithuanias territory. As World War I neared its end, Lithuanias Act of Independence was signed on 16 February 1918, in the midst of the Second World War, Lithuania was first occupied by the Soviet Union and then by Nazi Germany. As World War II neared its end and the Germans retreated, Lithuania is a member of the European Union, the Council of Europe, a full member of the Eurozone, Schengen Agreement and NATO. It is also a member of the Nordic Investment Bank, the United Nations Human Development Index lists Lithuania as a very high human development country. Lithuania has been among the fastest growing economies in the European Union and is ranked 21st in the world in the Ease of Doing Business Index, the first people settled in the territory of Lithuania after the last glacial period in the 10th millennium BC. Over a millennium, the Indo-Europeans, who arrived in the 3rd – 2nd millennium BC, mixed with the local population, the first written mention of Lithuania is found in a medieval German manuscript, the Annals of Quedlinburg, in an entry dated 9 March 1009. Initially inhabited by fragmented Baltic tribes, in the 1230s the Lithuanian lands were united by Mindaugas, after his assassination in 1263, pagan Lithuania was a target of the Christian crusades of the Teutonic Knights and the Livonian Order. Despite the devastating century-long struggle with the Orders, the Grand Duchy of Lithuania expanded rapidly, by the end of the 14th century, Lithuania was one of the largest countries in Europe and included present-day Belarus, Ukraine, and parts of Poland and Russia. The geopolitical situation between the west and the east determined the multicultural and multi-confessional character of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, the ruling elite practised religious tolerance and Chancery Slavonic language was used as an auxiliary language to the Latin for official documents. In 1385, the Grand Duke Jogaila accepted Polands offer to become its king, Jogaila embarked on gradual Christianization of Lithuania and established a personal union between Poland and Lithuania. It implied that Lithuania, the fiercely independent land, was one of the last pagan areas of Europe to adopt Christianity, after two civil wars, Vytautas the Great became the Grand Duke of Lithuania in 1392. During his reign, Lithuania reached the peak of its expansion, centralization of the state beganLithuania – Trakai Island Castle
30. Luxembourg – Luxembourg /ˈlʌksəmbɜːrɡ/, officially the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, is a landlocked country in western Europe. It is bordered by Belgium to the west and north, Germany to the east and its culture, people and languages are highly intertwined with its neighbours, making it essentially a mixture of French and Germanic cultures. It comprises two regions, the Oesling in the north as part of the Ardennes massif. With an area of 2,586 square kilometres, it is one of the smallest sovereign states in Europe, Luxembourg had a population of 524,853 in October 2012, ranking it the 8th least-populous country in Europe. As a representative democracy with a monarch, it is headed by a Grand Duke, Henri, Grand Duke of Luxembourg. Luxembourg is a country, with an advanced economy and the worlds highest GDP per capita. Luxembourg is a member of the European Union, OECD, United Nations, NATO, and Benelux, reflecting its political consensus in favour of economic, political. The city of Luxembourg, which is the capital and largest city, is the seat of several institutions. Luxembourg served on the United Nations Security Council for the years 2013 and 2014, around this fort, a town gradually developed, which became the centre of a state of great strategic value. In the 14th and early 15th centuries, three members of the House of Luxembourg reigned as Holy Roman Emperors, in the following centuries, Luxembourgs fortress was steadily enlarged and strengthened by its successive occupants, the Bourbons, Habsburgs, Hohenzollerns and the French. After the defeat of Napoleon in 1815, Luxembourg was disputed between Prussia and the Netherlands and this arrangement was revised by the 1839 First Treaty of London, from which date Luxembourgs full independence is reckoned. In 1842 Luxembourg joined the German Customs Union, the King of the Netherlands remained Head of State as Grand Duke of Luxembourg, maintaining a personal union between the two countries until 1890. At the death of William III, the throne of the Netherlands passed to his daughter Wilhelmina and this allowed Germany the military advantage of controlling and expanding the railways there. In August 1914, Imperial Germany violated Luxembourgs neutrality in the war by invading it in the war against France and this allowed Germany to use the railway lines, while at the same time denying them to France. Nevertheless, despite the German occupation, Luxembourg was allowed to maintain much of its independence, in 1940, after the outbreak of World War II, Luxembourgs neutrality was again violated when the Wehrmacht of Nazi Germany entered the country, entirely without justification. A government in exile based in London supported the Allies, sending a group of volunteers who participated in the Normandy invasion. Luxembourg was liberated in September 1944, and became a member of the United Nations in 1945. Luxembourgs neutral status under the constitution formally ended in 1948, in 2005, a referendum on the EU treaty establishing a constitution for Europe was heldLuxembourg – Historic map (undated) of Luxembourg city's fortifications