Government > International relations: Countries Compared

DEFINITION: Country international relations.
Albania Albania joined Nato in 2009. The EU has yet to approve Albania's application for candidate status
Algeria Tension persists between Algeria and Morocco over the Western Sahara, where nomadic Saharans are seeking self-determination
Angola China has promised substantial assistance to Angola, one of its main oil suppliers
Argentina Argentina claims sovereignty over the Falklands, a UK overseas territory
Armenia Fraught ties with Turkey over the mass killings of Armenians under the Ottomans. A fragile ceasefire is in place with Azerbaijan over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region
Australia Australia is a regional policeman; further afield, its troops have served in Iraq and Afghanistan
Austria Permanent neutrality is a cornerstone of foreign policy. Vienna is home to key international organisations
Azerbaijan Azerbaijan and Armenia fought in the 1990s over disputed Nagorno-Karabakh; a fragile ceasefire is in place. Azerbaijan is a key transit route to Afghanistan. Relations with Iran are fractious
Bahrain Bahrain is home to the US Navy's Fifth Fleet. Bahraini-Qatari ties have been strained though they settled a territorial dispute in 2001
Belarus A key oil and gas pipeline from Russia to Europe runs through Belarus; the US and European Union cold-shoulder the Lukashenko government
Belgium Brussels is the home of the EU and Nato
Belize Belize has a long-running border dispute with Guatemala; the US added it to a drugs transit blacklist in 2011
Benin Thousands of Togolese refugees have yet to return home
Bolivia Mr Morales is a strong critic of the US, which in turn is concerned about Bolivian coca cultivation; Bolivia has close ties with communist Cuba and socialist Venezuela
Botswana Botswana plays an active role in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) economic grouping and has supplied troops for intervention in other parts of Africa
Brazil Brazil wants a permanent seat at the UN Security Council; relations with Bolivia suffered in 2006 over access to Bolivian gas
Bulgaria Bulgaria joined Nato in 2004 and the EU in 2007. It is not part of the EU's passport-free Schengen zone
Burkina Faso Burkina Faso has been involved in the various conflicts of the region. Many citizens who had traditionally worked in Ivory Coast fled after recent instability there
Burma Myanmar is gradually emerging from its international isolation; China is its main ally
Burundi The conflict in neighbouring DRCongo provides emerging rebel groups with room to plan attacks
Canada Canada often cooperates closely with the US, but does go its own way sometimes. Strong historical ties to the UK remain, while Quebec looks towards France. Canada often plays a major role in UN peacekeeping missions.
Chad Chad cut ties with Sudan in 2006, accusing it of supporting rebels, but since 2009 efforts have been made to resolve the countries' differences. Chad hosts large numbers of refugees from Central African Republic and Sudan's Darfur
Chile Chile is a key regional player, but it has long-running territorial disputes with Peru and Bolivia, the latter over access to the Pacific Ocean
China China's new-found strength has made it more assertive on the global stage, but it dismisses concerns about high defence spending and its "peaceful rise" as baseless. Accusations - denied by China - that it keeps its currency cheap to boost exports have caused tension with the West, as has criticism of its human rights record. Tensions have recently risen with Japan over a group of disputed islands.
Colombia Colombia is a big recipient of US aid and is a staunch ally of Washington
Comoros The African Union and South Africa have been involved in helping to stabilise the Comoros politically
Croatia Croatia became the 28th member of the EU on 1 July 2013
Cuba US, EU have pressed for democratic change and criticise the state of human rights; oil-rich Venezuela is an important ally
Cyprus Cyprus joined the EU in 2004 as a divided island. The status of Northern Cyprus as a separate entity is recognised only by Turkey
Czech Republic The Czech Republic joined the EU in 2004 but is outside the eurozone. Czech soldiers have taken part in coalition operations in Afghanistan
Denmark Denmark has backed key international peacekeeping efforts. Danish soldiers are deployed in Afghanistan
East Timor UN peacekeepers bolstered the emerging security services during first decade of independence
Ecuador Free trade talks with US are frozen; Ecuador has complained of border incursions by the Colombian military
Egypt Egypt has been a key ally of the West; it has played a major role in the Israeli-Arab conflict
El Salvador El Salvador is a member of the Organisation of American States; it has recently restored ties with Cuba, ruptured after the Cuban Revolution in 1959
Equatorial Guinea Equatorial Guinea and Gabon are in dispute over islands in potentially oil-rich off-shore waters
Eritrea Eritrea and Ethiopia remain in dispute after their 1998-2000 border war; in 2009 the UN imposed sanctions on Eritrea after accusing it of backing anti-Ethiopian Islamist insurgents in Somalia
Estonia Estonia joined Nato and the EU in 2004. It has a troop contingent in Afghanistan
Ethiopia Eritrea hived off in 1993 and a border dispute escalated into full-scale war in 1999. Border tensions persist. Ethiopian troops helped oust Islamists who controlled southern Somalia in 2006. Ethiopia is seen as a key US ally
Finland Finland is one of four EU countries not in Nato. Its military is active in peacekeeping operations
France France is a key European and world player. It has a strong military. France is influential in Africa, especially in former colonies
Gabon Tension persists over three small islands in oil-rich off-shore waters claimed by Gabon and Equatorial Guinea. France has a military base in Gabon
Gambia The Gambia is seen as an important transit point for drug smugglers
Georgia Georgia has ambitions to join NATO, and its troops serve in Afghanistan. Russia drove Georgian forces from breakaway South Ossetia during a brief war in 2008
Germany Germany is a major player in Europe and a proponent of European integration. It is the third biggest troop supplier in Afghanistan
Greece Greece calls for the restoration of a unified state in Cyprus. It is involved in a naming dispute with Macedonia
Guam Important staging post, providing rapid access to potential flashpoints in the Koreas and Taiwan Strait
Guinea The US, the African Union and the European Union have imposed sanctions
Guinea-Bissau Country has become transhipment point for Latin American drugs; army clashed with Senegal's Casamance separatists in 2006
Guyana Guyana has outstanding border disputes with both Venezuela to the west and Suriname to the east. A maritime border row with Suriname was resolved through UN arbitration in 2007
Haiti The UN has deployed peacekeepers; international aid is key to recovery
Hungary Hungary joined NATO in 1999 and the EU in 2004. The EU has expressed concerns over what it sees as Hungary's failure to respect European democratic standards since 2010
Iceland Iceland applied for EU membership in 2009. The conservative government that came to power in 2013 has vowed to hold a referendum on the issue
India Ongoing dispute with Pakistan over Kashmir region; nuclear weapons state; world's most prolific film industry - Bollywood
Iran Iran's nuclear programme prompted the international community to impose increasingly tough sanctions in a bid to persuade Tehran to halt uranium enrichment. A deal to restrict uranium enrichment was struck in November 2013
Ireland Ireland is active in international peacekeeping. It pursues military neutrality and is not a member of Nato. Ireland is an EU member and eurozone country
Italy Italian forces have been active in peacekeeping in the Balkans, Africa and Middle East, and are present in Afghanistan
Jamaica Prime Minister Simpson-Miller says Jamaica should break with the British monarchy and become a republic
Japan There has been tension with China and South Korea over Japan's wartime past and territorial waters, and with North Korea over the latter's nuclear ambitions
Jordan The government's pragmatic, non-confrontational line in foreign relations is often at odds with the more militant approach of local Palestinian and Islamist groups
Kenya Kenya's military entered Somalia at the end of 2011 to fight al-Shabab Islamist militants, but has seen some violence spill back over its borders
Kuwait Kuwait was invaded and occupied by Iraq in 1990; it served as a springboard for the invasion of Iraq in 2003
Kyrgyzstan Kyrgyzstan hosts Russian and US military airbases
Laos Communist regime is backed by China and Vietnam
Latvia Latvia is a member of the European Union and Nato
Lebanon UN force in the south polices a Israeli-Hezbollah ceasefire; Syria overshadows hopes for peace
Lesotho Lesotho is surrounded by South Africa
Liberia 15,000 UN peacekeepers are in place; ex-president Charles Taylor has been convicted for war crimes in Sierra Leone; Liberian refugees are scattered across the region
Libya The West provided military backing to the uprising that toppled Col Gaddafi; Russia and China condemned the intervention
Liechtenstein Leichtenstein is in a customs union with Switzerland and is a member of the four-nation European Free Trade Association
Lithuania Lithuania joined Nato and the EU in 2004. Relations with Russia have been fraught since independence in 1990
Luxembourg Luxembourg is a proponent of European integration and home to key EU bodies
Madagascar African Union suspended Madagascar and EU froze aid after the 2009 coup
Malawi Until January 2008, Malawi was one of only six African countries to maintain diplomatic ties with Taiwan rather than China
Mali France responds to a Malian request and swiftly recaptures key cities in the north
Malta Malta pursues a policy of neutrality, while keeping close ties with Europe and the US
Mauritania Al-Qaeda militants are presenting a serious challenge and have kidnapped and killed several foreigners
Mauritius Mauritius claims the Chagos Islands, administered by Britain and home to a US military base on Diego Garcia
Mexico Traditionally close to the US, Mexico has demonstrated greater independence since the 1960s, but relations with its larger northern neighbour still loom large, especially as a result of the high volume of trade and extensive Mexican migration to the US
Moldova Moldova's government seeks closer European ties. The mainly Russian-speaking Trans-Dniester region proclaimed independence in 1990 but has not achieved international recognition
Monaco Monaco has a customs union and open border with France. It spent five years on an international blacklist of uncooperative tax havens
Mongolia Mongolia's mining wealth is attracting attention beyond its Russian and Chinese neighbours
Montenegro Candidate for EU membership - entry talks hinge on progress in fighting crime, corruption
Mozambique Mozambican UN peacekeepers have served in Burundi
Netherlands The Netherlands plays a central role in the European Union and Dutch forces have been active in UN peacekeeping efforts
New Zealand New Zealand troops have taken part in regional peacekeeping efforts and have been deployed in Afghanistan
Nicaragua The US has been vocal in its opposition to President Ortega, who has aligned Nicaragua with Russia and the anti-US bloc in Latin America
Niger Niger shares borders with seven countries. Some boundaries are disputed
Nigeria Nigeria plays a prominent role in African affairs; has withdrawn troops from oil-rich Bakassi peninsula to settle border dispute with Cameroon
North Korea The armistice of 1953 ended armed conflict on the Korean peninsular, but the two Koreas are technically still at war; tensions have been exacerbated in recent decades by North Korea's nuclear ambitions
Norway Norway is a Nato member and maintains troops in Afghanistan. Voters have rejected EU membership
Oman Oman is a long-standing US ally; there is a free trade agreement between the two countries
Palau One of few countries to recognise Taiwan
Panama Strategically important Panama maintains close diplomatic and cultural ties with the US. It is a member of the Organisation of American States.
Papua New Guinea Australia has been a major supplier of aid and has also provided peace-keeping forces
Paraguay Regional bloc Mercosur suspended Paraguay's membership for having impeached its president
Peru Peru is seen as world's top producer of coca, used to make cocaine; Peru and Chile dispute their maritime border
Philippines The Philippines maintains close ties with the United States, which has provided military aid to help combat Muslim and communist insurgencies
Poland The governing coalition seeks deeper EU integration, eventual euro membership. Poland is one of Europe's most pro-American countries
Portugal Portugal is a founding member of Nato and joined the EEC (later EU) in 1986
Qatar Qatar is gaining in regional influence. It owns the forthright satellite TV station Al-Jazeera which has attracted a growing audience as well the displeasure of some neighbouring states
Republic of Macedonia EU and Nato accession are ambitions. EU candidacy is frozen amid a dispute with Greece over use of the name Macedonia
Romania Romania joined Nato in 2004 and the EU in 2007
Russia A planned US-led missile shield for Europe is a stumbling block in ties with the US. Russia is at odds with the West over some key international issues, including Syria and Iran. Russia drove Georgian forces from breakaway South Ossetia during a brief war in 2008
Saint Lucia St Lucia has flip-flopped between diplomatic relations with China and Taiwan. Since 2006 it has maintained ties with Taiwan
Samoa Samoa continues to maintain close ties with former colonial power New Zealand, which is still its main trading partner
Sao Tome and Principe Sao Tome and Nigeria share offshore oil fields which have yet to be exploited. Nigeria intervened to prevent a coup in 2003
Saudi Arabia Saudi Arabia is one of the main players in the Arab and Muslim worlds; its stature is built on its geographic size, its prestige as the custodian of the birthplace of Islam and status as major oil producer
Senegal Senegal has mediated between Sudan and Chad over Darfur tensions; many African illegal migrants use Senegal as a departure point for Europe
Serbia Serbia refuses to recognise the independence of its former province Kosovo, but the two sides normalised ties in 2013 in an EU-brokered deal
Singapore Several long-running disputes with Malaysia have been settled since 2001
Slovakia Slovakia joined the EU in 2004 and the eurozone in 2009. Its forces have taken part in the Nato-led operation in Afghanistan, and in peacekeeping duties in Kosovo
Slovenia Slovenia joined the EU and Nato in 2004, and the eurozone in 2007. There is a dispute with Croatia over an area of land and sea in the northern Adriatic
Solomon Islands Australia leads a mission which aims to ensure security; the force arrived in 2003 when violence between ethnic militias threatened to spiral into anarchy
South Africa Plays a leading role in diplomatic and anti-poverty initiatives in Africa. Emerged from international isolation in 1994 at the end of the apartheid era
Spain Spanish forces have taken part in multilateral missions and peacekeeping, including in Afghanistan. Spain claims sovereignty over the British overseas territory of Gibraltar
Sudan President Omar Bashir faces war crimes charges over Darfur
Swaziland Swaziland has diplomatic ties with Taiwan rather than China
Sweden Sweden joined the EU in 1995. Though a famously neutral country, a security doctrine has allowed for the deployment of Swedish forces overseas
Switzerland Formally-neutral Switzerland joined the UN in 2002. It remains outside the EU, but is in the passport-free Schengen zone. Immigration has become an area of dispute with the EU
Syria Syria has become a battleground for competing interests in the Middle East, in particular between the Gulf monarchies and pro-government Iran
Taiwan Taiwan has few formal diplomatic ties; relations with China have improved since President Ma Ying-jeou took office, but tensions remain
Tajikistan Russia helps Tajikistan with security and economic problems and has a military base in Dushanbe
Tanzania Tanzania hosts thousands of refugees from conflict in the neighbouring Great Lakes region
Thailand There have been clashes between Thai and Cambodian troops over disputed border regions since 2009
Togo Togo faces international pressure to hold credible parliamentary elections and improve its human rights record. Togo has become a transit point for the illegal export of ivory
Tonga It relies on food imports from New Zealand, which is also home to many Tongan ex-pats
Tunisia Tunisia has strong ties with the European Union; its peacekeepers have served in several conflict areas
Turkey EU accession negotiations have been tortuous, bedevilled by disputes with Greece over Cyprus. Former close ties with Israel have deteriorated, while liberal reformers throughout the Arab region have looked to Turkey's system of government as a potential model
Turkmenistan Turkmenistan exports most of its gas to Russia, but has been expanding export routes to China and Iran since 2009
Tuvalu Tuvalu campaigns against global warming as it is low-lying and vulnerable to rising sea levels
Uganda Uganda has been actively involved in the DR Congo conflict. LRA leaders are wanted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes
Ukraine Ukraine has struggled to balance forging closer ties with the EU with the need to avoid antagonising Russia, on which it is heavily dependent for energy supplies
United Arab Emirates There has been tension between the UAE and Iran over disputed Gulf islands; the US treats the UAE as an ally in its fight against militants
United Kingdom The UK is a key global player diplomatically and militarily. It plays leading roles in the EU, UN and Nato
United States The US has a leading role on the world stage, militarily and diplomatically. Its combat troops are set to leave Afghanistan by late 2014
Uruguay Relations with Argentina have been strained over a Uruguayan paper mill on the banks of a border river
Uzbekistan Despite frequent criticism of its poor human rights record, Uzbekistan's energy resources and strategic location have led both Russia and the West to seek closer ties.
Vanuatu Australia is a key donor and has encouraged reforms
Venezuela President Chavez was a strident critic of Washington; the US portrayed him as a security threat. Critics said he used fuel sales under preferential terms to extend political influence in the region
Vietnam Long running territorial dispute with China over parts of South China Sea, rich in oil and fish
Yemen Yemen's al-Qaeda insurgency is causing concern in the region
Zambia Thousands of refugees from the Angolan civil war have yet to return home
Zimbabwe Several countries shun Zimbabwe in the hope of promoting democratic reform


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