The Netherlands is a country located in Northwestern Europe. The European portion of the Netherlands consists of twelve separate provinces that border Germany to the east, Belgium to the south, the North Sea to the northwest, with maritime borders in the North Sea with Belgium and the United Kingdom. Together with three island territories in the Caribbean Sea—Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba— it forms a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands; the official language is Dutch, but a secondary official language in the province of Friesland is West Frisian. The six largest cities in the Netherlands are Amsterdam, The Hague, Utrecht and Tilburg. Amsterdam is the country's capital, while The Hague holds the seat of the States General and Supreme Court; the Port of Rotterdam is the largest port in Europe, the largest in any country outside Asia. The country is a founding member of the EU, Eurozone, G10, NATO, OECD and WTO, as well as a part of the Schengen Area and the trilateral Benelux Union.
It hosts several intergovernmental organisations and international courts, many of which are centered in The Hague, dubbed'the world's legal capital'. Netherlands means'lower countries' in reference to its low elevation and flat topography, with only about 50% of its land exceeding 1 metre above sea level, nearly 17% falling below sea level. Most of the areas below sea level, known as polders, are the result of land reclamation that began in the 16th century. With a population of 17.30 million people, all living within a total area of 41,500 square kilometres —of which the land area is 33,700 square kilometres —the Netherlands is one of the most densely populated countries in the world. It is the world's second-largest exporter of food and agricultural products, owing to its fertile soil, mild climate, intensive agriculture; the Netherlands was the third country in the world to have representative government, it has been a parliamentary constitutional monarchy with a unitary structure since 1848.
The country has a tradition of pillarisation and a long record of social tolerance, having legalised abortion and human euthanasia, along with maintaining a progressive drug policy. The Netherlands abolished the death penalty in 1870, allowed women's suffrage in 1917, became the world's first country to legalise same-sex marriage in 2001, its mixed-market advanced economy had the thirteenth-highest per capita income globally. The Netherlands ranks among the highest in international indexes of press freedom, economic freedom, human development, quality of life, as well as happiness; the Netherlands' turbulent history and shifts of power resulted in exceptionally many and varying names in different languages. There is diversity within languages; this holds for English, where Dutch is the adjective form and the misnomer Holland a synonym for the country "Netherlands". Dutch comes from Theodiscus and in the past centuries, the hub of Dutch culture is found in its most populous region, home to the capital city of Amsterdam.
Referring to the Netherlands as Holland in the English language is similar to calling the United Kingdom "Britain" by people outside the UK. The term is so pervasive among potential investors and tourists, that the Dutch government's international websites for tourism and trade are "holland.com" and "hollandtradeandinvest.com". The region of Holland consists of North and South Holland, two of the nation's twelve provinces a single province, earlier still, the County of Holland, a remnant of the dissolved Frisian Kingdom. Following the decline of the Duchy of Brabant and the County of Flanders, Holland became the most economically and politically important county in the Low Countries region; the emphasis on Holland during the formation of the Dutch Republic, the Eighty Years' War and the Anglo-Dutch Wars in the 16th, 17th and 18th century, made Holland serve as a pars pro toto for the entire country, now considered either incorrect, informal, or, depending on context, opprobrious. Nonetheless, Holland is used in reference to the Netherlands national football team.
The region called the Low Countries and the Country of the Netherlands. Place names with Neder, Nieder and Nedre and Bas or Inferior are in use in places all over Europe, they are sometimes used in a deictic relation to a higher ground that consecutively is indicated as Upper, Oben, Superior or Haut. In the case of the Low Countries / Netherlands the geographical location of the lower region has been more or less downstream and near the sea; the geographical location of the upper region, changed tremendously over time, depending on the location of the economic and military power governing the Low Countries area. The Romans made a distinction between the Roman provinces of downstream Germania Inferior and upstream Germania Superior; the designation'Low' to refer to the region returns again in the 10th century Duchy of Lower Lorraine, that covered much of the Low Countries. But this time the corresponding Upper region is Upper Lorraine, in nowadays Northern France; the Dukes of Burgundy, who ruled the Low Countries in the 15th century, used the term les pays de par deçà for the Low Countries as opposed to les pays de par delà for their original
Germany the Federal Republic of Germany, is a country in Central and Western Europe, lying between the Baltic and North Seas to the north, the Alps to the south. It borders Denmark to the north and the Czech Republic to the east and Switzerland to the south, France to the southwest, Luxembourg and the Netherlands to the west. Germany includes 16 constituent states, covers an area of 357,386 square kilometres, has a temperate seasonal climate. With 83 million inhabitants, it is the second most populous state of Europe after Russia, the most populous state lying in Europe, as well as the most populous member state of the European Union. Germany is a decentralized country, its capital and largest metropolis is Berlin, while Frankfurt serves as its financial capital and has the country's busiest airport. Germany's largest urban area is the Ruhr, with its main centres of Essen; the country's other major cities are Hamburg, Cologne, Stuttgart, Düsseldorf, Dresden, Bremen and Nuremberg. 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. After the collapse of the Holy Roman Empire, the German Confederation was formed in 1815; the German revolutions of 1848–49 resulted in the Frankfurt Parliament establishing major democratic rights. 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 revolution of 1918–19, the Empire was replaced by the parliamentary Weimar Republic; the Nazi seizure of power in 1933 led to the establishment of a dictatorship, the annexation of Austria, World War II, the Holocaust. After the end of World War II in Europe and a period of Allied occupation, Austria was re-established as an independent country and two new German states were founded: West Germany, formed from the American and French occupation zones, East Germany, formed from the Soviet occupation zone.
Following the Revolutions of 1989 that ended communist rule in Central and Eastern Europe, the country was reunified on 3 October 1990. Today, the sovereign state of Germany is a federal parliamentary republic led by a chancellor, it is a great power with a strong economy. As a global leader in several industrial and technological sectors, it is both the world's third-largest exporter and importer of goods; as a developed country with a high standard of living, it upholds a social security and universal health care system, environmental protection, a tuition-free university education. The Federal Republic of Germany was a founding member of the European Economic Community in 1957 and the European Union in 1993, 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 G7, the G20, the OECD. Known for its rich cultural history, Germany has been continuously the home of influential and successful artists, musicians, film people, entrepreneurs, scientists and inventors.
Germany has a large number of World Heritage sites and is among the top tourism destinations 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; the German term Deutschland diutisciu land is derived from deutsch, descended from Old High German diutisc "popular" used to distinguish the language of the common people from Latin and its Romance descendants. This in turn descends from Proto-Germanic *þiudiskaz "popular", derived from *þeudō, descended from Proto-Indo-European *tewtéh₂- "people", from which the word Teutons originates; 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 coal mine in Schöningen between 1994 and 1998 where eight 380,000-year-old wooden javelins of 1.82 to 2.25 m length were unearthed. The Neander Valley was the location where the first non-modern human fossil was discovered.
The Neanderthal 1 fossils are known to be 40,000 years old. Evidence of modern humans dated, has been found in caves in the Swabian Jura near Ulm; the finds included 42,000-year-old bird bone and mammoth ivory flutes which are the oldest musical instruments found, the 40,000-year-old Ice Age Lion Man, the oldest uncontested figurative art discovered, the 35,000-year-old Venus of Hohle Fels, the oldest uncontested human figurative art discovered. The Nebra sky disk is a bronze artefact created during the European Bronze Age attributed to a site near Nebra, Saxony-Anhalt, it is part of UNESCO's Memory of the World Programme. The Germanic tribes are thought to date from the Pre-Roman Iron Age. From southern Scandinavia and north Germany, they expanded south and west from the 1st century BC, coming into contact with the Celtic tribes of Gaul as well
European External Action Service
The European External Action Service is the diplomatic service and foreign and defence ministry of the European Union. The EEAS is led by the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, President of the Foreign Affairs Council and Vice-President of the European Commission, carries out the EU's Common Foreign and Security Policy, including the Common Security and Defence Policy; the EEAS does not propose or implement policy in its own name, but prepares acts to be adopted by the High Representative, the European Commission or the Council. The EEAS is in charge of EU diplomatic missions and intelligence and crisis management structures; the EEAS, as well as the office of the HR, was initiated following the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon on 1 December 2009. It was formally established on 1 December 2010; the EEAS was formed by merger of the external relations departments of the European Commission and of the Council, which were joined by staff seconded from national diplomatic services of the Member States.
Although it supports both the Commission and the Council, the EEAS is independent from them and has its own staff, as well as a separate section in the EU budget. The EEAS and the European Defence Agency together form the Secretariat of the Permanent Structured Cooperation, the structural integration pursued by 25 of the 28 national armed forces of the EU since 2017; the EEAS was first included in the original European Constitution, a single EU external relations department was seen as necessary to support the proposed single HR post. Following the rejection of the Constitution, the changes were revived in the Treaty of Lisbon which came into force in 2009; the mandate for the External Action Service is laid down under article 13a-III of the Treaty of Lisbon, states the following: Shortly before the treaty came into force, Catherine Ashton was named HR and tasked with drawing up the structure of the new EEAS. Following the 2010 Haiti earthquake Ashton chaired a meeting of the foreign policy actors across the Commission and member states to give a coordinated response to the disaster.
Although she refused to describe it as the first act of the external action service, Ashton did stress that it was the first time that such a co-ordination between all the various EU foreign policy actors had been accomplished before. Throughout the first half of 2010 Ashton fought for agreement between the Council and the Commission as to the future shape of the EEAS; the Commission wanted to retain as many of its existing competencies as possible while Parliament fought to gain as much oversight over the EEAS as possible by demanding scrutiny of appointments and budgets. Parliament removed the last hurdle to the plan on 8 July, when MEPs approved the service by 549 votes for and 78 against with 17 abstentions; the Council approved the transfer of departments to the EEAS on 20 July. Until the EEAS became operational, Ashton was only supported by around 30 people on a floor of the Berlaymont building; the EEAS was formally launched at the Commission headquarters in a low key event on 1 December 2010.
For organisation of the executive offices, see'senior posts' belowThe EEAS manages general foreign relations and defence policies and controls the Situation Centre. However, although the HR and the EEAS can prepare initiatives, member states make the final policy decisions and the Commission plays a part in technical implementation; the HR must report to the European Parliament. The EEAS would have desks dedicated to all the countries and regional organisations in the world, specialised units for democracy, human rights and defence; the EEAS has six geographical departments headed by a managing director. The departments divide the world into: 1) Africa, 2) Asia, 3) Americas, 4) the Middle East and Southern Neighbourhood, 5) Russia, the Eastern Neighbourhood and the Western Balkans and 6) Global and Multilateral Affairs. Geographic desks are not duplicated in the Commission; the EEAS includes departments for security, strategic policy planning, legal affairs, inter-institutional relations and public diplomacy, internal audit and inspections, personal data protection.
Parts of the following departments have been transferred from the Commission or Council to the External Action Service: the Policy Unit, Directorate-General E, Officials of the General Secretariat of the Council on secondment to European Union Special Representatives and ESDP missions Directorate-General for External Relations, External Service, Directorate-General for Development. Staff is drawn from the Commission and Council and from the member states' diplomatic services, seconded temporarily; the HR appoints her own staff directly. There were no national quotas for the initial 1,100 staff members and a minimum of 33% was to be from member states; the rest are permanent officials drawn from the European Commission and the Secretariat General of the Council of the European Union. This is in part due to the need to establish a common diplomatic culture, what has prompted calls for a European diplomatic academy. On 1 January 2011 the first staff were permanently transferred to the EEAS: 585 from the Commissions External Relations DG, 93 from the Commissions Development DG, 436 from the Commissi
The European Union is a political and economic union of 28 member states that are located in Europe. It has an area of an estimated population of about 513 million; the EU has developed an internal single market through a standardised system of laws that apply in all member states in those matters, only those matters, where members have agreed to act as one. EU policies aim to ensure the free movement of people, goods and capital within the internal market, enact legislation in justice and home affairs and maintain common policies on trade, agriculture and regional development. For travel within the Schengen Area, passport controls have been abolished. A monetary union was established in 1999 and came into full force in 2002 and is composed of 19 EU member states which use the euro currency; the EU and European citizenship were established when the Maastricht Treaty came into force in 1993. The EU traces its origins to the European Coal and Steel Community and the European Economic Community, established by the 1951 Treaty of Paris and 1957 Treaty of Rome.
The original members of what came to be known as the European Communities were the Inner Six: Belgium, Italy, the Netherlands, West Germany. The Communities and its successors have grown in size by the accession of new member states and in power by the addition of policy areas to its remit; the latest major amendment to the constitutional basis of the EU, the Treaty of Lisbon, came into force in 2009. While no member state has left the EU or its antecedent organisations, the United Kingdom signified the intention to leave after a membership referendum in June 2016 and is negotiating its withdrawal. Covering 7.3% of the world population, the EU in 2017 generated a nominal gross domestic product of 19.670 trillion US dollars, constituting 24.6% of global nominal GDP. Additionally, all 28 EU countries have a high Human Development Index, according to the United Nations Development Programme. In 2012, the EU was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Through the Common Foreign and Security Policy, the EU has developed a role in external relations and defence.
The union maintains permanent diplomatic missions throughout the world and represents itself at the United Nations, the World Trade Organization, the G7 and the G20. Because of its global influence, the European Union has been described as an emerging superpower. During the centuries following the fall of Rome in 476, several European States viewed themselves as translatio imperii of the defunct Roman Empire: the Frankish Empire and the Holy Roman Empire were thereby attempts to resurrect Rome in the West; this political philosophy of a supra-national rule over the continent, similar to the example of the ancient Roman Empire, resulted in the early Middle Ages in the concept of a renovatio imperii, either in the forms of the Reichsidee or the religiously inspired Imperium Christianum. Medieval Christendom and the political power of the Papacy are cited as conducive to European integration and unity. In the oriental parts of the continent, the Russian Tsardom, the Empire, declared Moscow to be Third Rome and inheritor of the Eastern tradition after the fall of Constantinople in 1453.
The gap between Greek East and Latin West had been widened by the political scission of the Roman Empire in the 4th century and the Great Schism of 1054. Pan-European political thought emerged during the 19th century, inspired by the liberal ideas of the French and American Revolutions after the demise of Napoléon's Empire. In the decades following the outcomes of the Congress of Vienna, ideals of European unity flourished across the continent in the writings of Wojciech Jastrzębowski, Giuseppe Mazzini or Theodore de Korwin Szymanowski; the term United States of Europe was used at that time by Victor Hugo during a speech at the International Peace Congress held in Paris in 1849: A day will come when all nations on our continent will form a European brotherhood... A day will come when we shall see... the United States of America and the United States of Europe face to face, reaching out for each other across the seas. During the interwar period, the consciousness that national markets in Europe were interdependent though confrontational, along with the observation of a larger and growing US market on the other side of the ocean, nourished the urge for the economic integration of the continent.
In 1920, advocating the creation of a European economic union, British economist John Maynard Keynes wrote that "a Free Trade Union should be established... to impose no protectionist tariffs whatever against the produce of other members of the Union." During the same decade, Richard von Coudenhove-Kalergi, one of the first to imagine of a modern political union of Europe, founded the Pan-Europa Movement. His ideas influenced his contemporaries, among which Prime Minister of France Aristide Briand. In 1929, the latter gave a speech in favour of a European Union before the assembly of the League of Nations, precursor of the United Nations. In a radio address in March 1943, with war still raging, Britain's leader Sir Winston Churchill spoke warmly of "restoring the true greatness of Europe" once victory had been achieved, mused on the post-war creation of a "Council of Europe" which would bring the European nations together to build peace. After World War II, European integration was seen as an antidote to the extreme nationalism which had devastated the continent.
In a speech delivered on 19
Luxembourg the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, is a small landlocked country in western Europe. It is bordered by Belgium to the west and north, Germany to the east, France to the south, its capital, Luxembourg City, is one of the three official capitals of the European Union and the seat of the European Court of Justice, the highest judicial authority in the EU. Its culture and languages are intertwined with its neighbours, making it a mixture of French and German cultures, as evident by the nation's three official languages: French and the national language, Luxembourgish; the repeated invasions by Germany in World War II, resulted in the country's strong will for mediation between France and Germany and, among other things, led to the foundation of the European Union. With an area of 2,586 square kilometres, it is one of the smallest sovereign states in Europe. In 2018, Luxembourg had a population of 602,005, which makes it one of the least-populous countries in Europe, but by far the one with the highest population growth rate.
Foreigners account for nearly half of Luxembourg's population. As a representative democracy with a constitutional monarch, it is headed by Grand Duke Henri and is the world's only remaining grand duchy. Luxembourg is a developed country, with an advanced economy and one of the world's highest GDP per capita; the City of Luxembourg with its old quarters and fortifications was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994 due to the exceptional preservation of the vast fortifications and the old city. The history of Luxembourg is considered to begin in 963, when count Siegfried I acquired a rocky promontory and its Roman-era fortifications known as Lucilinburhuc, ′little castle′, the surrounding area from the Imperial Abbey of St. Maximin in nearby Trier. Siegfried's descendants increased their territory through marriage and vassal relations. At the end of the 13th century, the Counts of Luxembourg reigned over a considerable territory. In 1308, Henry VII, Count of Luxembourg became King of the Germans and Holy Roman Emperor.
The House of Luxembourg produced four Holy Roman Emperors during the high Middle Ages. In 1354, Charles IV elevated the County to the Duchy of Luxembourg. Since Sigismund had no male heir, the Duchy became part of the Burgundian Circle and one of the Seventeen Provinces of the Habsburg Netherlands. Over the centuries, the City and Fortress of Luxembourg, of great strategic importance situated between the Kingdom of France and the Habsburg territories, was built up to be one of the most reputed fortifications in Europe. After belonging to both the France of Louis XIV and the Austria of Maria Theresia, Luxembourg became part of the First French Republic and Empire under Napoleon; the present-day state of Luxembourg first emerged at the Congress of Vienna in 1815. The Grand-Duchy, with its powerful fortress, became an independent state under the personal possession of William I of the Netherlands with a Prussian garrison to guard the city against another invasion from France. In 1839, following the turmoil of the Belgian Revolution, the purely French-speaking part of Luxembourg was ceded to Belgium and the Luxembourgish-speaking part became what is the present state of Luxembourg.
Luxembourg is a founding member of the European Union, OECD, United Nations, NATO, Benelux. The city of Luxembourg, the country's capital and largest city, is the seat of several institutions and agencies of the EU. Luxembourg served on the United Nations Security Council for the years 2013 and 2014, a first in the country's history; as of 2018, Luxembourgish citizens had visa-free or visa-on-arrival access to 186 countries and territories, ranking the Luxembourgish passport 5th in the world, tied with Austria, the Netherlands, Portugal, the United Kingdom and the United States. The recorded history of Luxembourg begins with the acquisition of Lucilinburhuc situated on the Bock rock by Siegfried, Count of Ardennes, in 963 through an exchange act with St. Maximin's Abbey, Trier. Around this fort, a town 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 1437, the House of Luxembourg suffered a succession crisis, precipitated by the lack of a male heir to assume the throne, which led to the territories being sold by Duchess Elisabeth to Philip the Good of Burgundy.
In the following centuries, Luxembourg's fortress was enlarged and strengthened by its successive occupants, the Bourbons, Habsburgs and the French. After the defeat of Napoleon in 1815, Luxembourg was disputed between Prussia and the Netherlands; the Congress of Vienna formed Luxembourg as a Grand Duchy within the German Confederation. The Dutch king became, in the grand duke. Although he was supposed to rule the grand duchy as an independent country with an administration of its own, in reality he treated it to a Dutch province; the Fortress of Luxembourg was manned by Prussian troops for the German Confederation. This arrangement was revised by the 1839 First Treaty of London, from which date Luxembourg's full independence is reckoned. At the time of the Belgian Revolution of 1830–1839, by the 1839 Treaty establishing full independence, Luxembourg's territory was reduced by more than half, as the predominantly francophone western part of the country was transferred to Belgium. In 1842 Luxembourg joined the German Customs Union (Zoll
Western European Union
The Western European Union was the international organisation and military alliance that succeeded the Western Union after the 1954 amendment of the 1948 Treaty of Brussels. The WEU implemented the Modified Brussels Treaty; the WEU member states were allies of the United States during the Cold War through the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. At the turn of the 21st century, after the end of the Cold War, WEU tasks and institutions were transferred to the European Union, providing central parts of the EU's new military component, the European Common Security and Defence Policy; this process was completed in 2009 when a solidarity clause between the member states of the European Union, similar to the WEU's mutual defence clause, entered into force with the Treaty of Lisbon. The states party to the Modified Treaty of Brussels decided to terminate that treaty on 31 March 2010, with all the WEU's remaining activities to be ceased within 15 months. On 30 June 2011, the WEU was declared defunct.
The Treaty of Brussels was signed by the United Kingdom, Belgium and the Netherlands on 17 March 1948, establishing the Western Union - an intergovernmental defence alliance that promoted economic and social collaboration. The need to back up the commitments of the North Atlantic Treaty with appropriate political and military structures led to the creation of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation. In December 1950 the parties to the Treaty of Brussels decided to transfer the headquarters and plans of the Western Union Military Organisation to NATO, whose Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe took over responsibility for the defence of Western Europe; the establishment of NATO, along with the signing of a succession of treaties establishing the Organisation for European Economic Cooperation, the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, the Council of Europe and the European Coal and Steel Community, left the Treaty of Brussels and its Western Union devoid of authority. The Western Union's founding Treaty of Brussels was amended at the 1954 Paris Conference as a result of the failure of the Treaty establishing the European Defence Community to gain French ratification: The General Treaty of 1952 formally named the EDC as a prerequisite of the end of Allied occupation of Germany, there was a desire to include Germany in the Western defence architecture.
The Modified Brussels Treaty transformed the Western Union into the Western European Union, at which point Italy and West Germany were admitted. Although the WEU established by the Modified Brussels Treaty was less powerful and ambitious than the original Western Union, German membership of the WEU was considered sufficient for the occupation of the country to end in accordance with the General Treaty; the signatories of the Paris Agreements stated their three main objectives in the preamble to the Modified Brussels Treaty: To create in Western Europe a firm basis for European economic recovery. The social and cultural aspects of the Treaty of Brussels were handed to the Council of Europe to avoid duplication of responsibilities. This, in addition to the existence of NATO, marginalised the WEU, caused it to be defunct. On 1 January 1960 in accordance with the decision taken on 21 October 1959 by the Council of Western European Union and with Resolution23 adopted on 16 November 1959 by the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, the WEU activities in social and cultural areas were transferred to the Council of Europe, running programmes in these fields.
The European Universities Committee was transferred to the Council of Europe separately from the rest of WEU cultural activities. From the late 1970s onwards, efforts were made to add a security dimension to the European Communities' European Political Cooperation. Opposition to these efforts from Denmark and Ireland led the remaining EC countries - all WEU members - to reactivate the WEU in 1984. Prior to this point there had been minimal use of the provisions of the Modified Brussels Treaty. In 1992, the WEU adopted the Petersberg Declaration, defining the so-called Petersberg tasks designed to cope with the possible destabilising of Eastern Europe; the WEU itself depended on cooperation between its members. Its tasks ranged from the most modest to the most robust, included humanitarian and peacekeeping tasks as well as tasks for combat forces in crisis management, including peacemaking. At the 1996 NATO ministerial meeting in Berlin, it was agreed that the Western European Union would oversee the creation of a European Security and Defence Identity within NATO structures.
The ESDI was intended as a European'pillar' within NATO to allow European countries to act militarily where NATO wished not to, to alleviate the United States' financial burden of maintaining military bases in Europe, which it had done since the Cold War. The Berlin agreement allowed European countries to use NATO assets. In 1998 the United Kingdom, which had traditionally opposed the introduction of European autonomous defence capacities, signed the Saint-Malo declaration; this marked a turning point as the declaration endorsed the creation of a European s
World War II
World War II known as the Second World War, was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. The vast majority of the world's countries—including all the great powers—eventually formed two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. A state of total war emerged, directly involving more than 100 million people from over 30 countries; the major participants threw their entire economic and scientific capabilities behind the war effort, blurring the distinction between civilian and military resources. World War II was the deadliest conflict in human history, marked by 50 to 85 million fatalities, most of whom were civilians in the Soviet Union and China, it included massacres, the genocide of the Holocaust, strategic bombing, premeditated death from starvation and disease, the only use of nuclear weapons in war. Japan, which aimed to dominate Asia and the Pacific, was at war with China by 1937, though neither side had declared war on the other. World War II is said to have begun on 1 September 1939, with the invasion of Poland by Germany and subsequent declarations of war on Germany by France and the United Kingdom.
From late 1939 to early 1941, in a series of campaigns and treaties, Germany conquered or controlled much of continental Europe, formed the Axis alliance with Italy and Japan. Under the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact of August 1939, Germany and the Soviet Union partitioned and annexed territories of their European neighbours, Finland and the Baltic states. Following the onset of campaigns in North Africa and East Africa, the fall of France in mid 1940, the war continued between the European Axis powers and the British Empire. War in the Balkans, the aerial Battle of Britain, the Blitz, the long Battle of the Atlantic followed. On 22 June 1941, the European Axis powers launched an invasion of the Soviet Union, opening the largest land theatre of war in history; this Eastern Front trapped most crucially the German Wehrmacht, into a war of attrition. In December 1941, Japan launched a surprise attack on the United States as well as European colonies in the Pacific. Following an immediate U. S. declaration of war against Japan, supported by one from Great Britain, the European Axis powers declared war on the U.
S. in solidarity with their Japanese ally. Rapid Japanese conquests over much of the Western Pacific ensued, perceived by many in Asia as liberation from Western dominance and resulting in the support of several armies from defeated territories; the Axis advance in the Pacific halted in 1942. Key setbacks in 1943, which included a series of German defeats on the Eastern Front, the Allied invasions of Sicily and Italy, Allied victories in the Pacific, cost the Axis its initiative and forced it into strategic retreat on all fronts. In 1944, the Western Allies invaded German-occupied France, while the Soviet Union regained its territorial losses and turned toward Germany and its allies. During 1944 and 1945 the Japanese suffered major reverses in mainland Asia in Central China, South China and Burma, while the Allies crippled the Japanese Navy and captured key Western Pacific islands; the war in Europe concluded with an invasion of Germany by the Western Allies and the Soviet Union, culminating in the capture of Berlin by Soviet troops, the suicide of Adolf Hitler and the German unconditional surrender on 8 May 1945.
Following the Potsdam Declaration by the Allies on 26 July 1945 and the refusal of Japan to surrender under its terms, the United States dropped atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on 6 and 9 August respectively. With an invasion of the Japanese archipelago imminent, the possibility of additional atomic bombings, the Soviet entry into the war against Japan and its invasion of Manchuria, Japan announced its intention to surrender on 15 August 1945, cementing total victory in Asia for the Allies. Tribunals were set up by fiat by the Allies and war crimes trials were conducted in the wake of the war both against the Germans and the Japanese. World War II changed the political social structure of the globe; the United Nations was established to foster international co-operation and prevent future conflicts. The Soviet Union and United States emerged as rival superpowers, setting the stage for the nearly half-century long Cold War. In the wake of European devastation, the influence of its great powers waned, triggering the decolonisation of Africa and Asia.
Most countries whose industries had been damaged moved towards economic expansion. Political integration in Europe, emerged as an effort to end pre-war enmities and create a common identity; the start of the war in Europe is held to be 1 September 1939, beginning with the German invasion of Poland. The dates for the beginning of war in the Pacific include the start of the Second Sino-Japanese War on 7 July 1937, or the Japanese invasion of Manchuria on 19 September 1931. Others follow the British historian A. J. P. Taylor, who held that the Sino-Japanese War and war in Europe and its colonies occurred and the two wars merged in 1941; this article uses the conventional dating. Other starting dates sometimes used for World War II include the Italian invasion of Abyssinia on 3 October 1935; the British historian Antony Beevor views the beginning of World War II as the Battles of Khalkhin Gol fought between Japan and the fo