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How NATO Works


What is NATO?
NATO flag-raising ceremony at Place des Invalides, Paris, France, 1953
NATO flag-raising ceremony at Place des Invalides, Paris, France, 1953
Photo courtesy NATO

NATO (pronounced NAY'-TOE) is an acronym for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. It is an alliance of countries that work together to implement the North Atlantic Treaty.

The original signers of the North Atlantic Treaty in 1949, and therefore the original members of NATO, were:

  • Belgium
  • Canada
  • Denmark
  • France
  • Iceland
  • Italy
  • Luxembourg
  • Netherlands
  • Norway
  • Portugal
  • United Kingdom
  • United States
NATO Headquarters, Brussels, Belgium
NATO Headquarters, Brussels, Belgium
Photo courtesy NATO

Greece and Turkey joined NATO in 1952. West Germany joined in 1955 (spawning the Warsaw Pact). Spain joined in 1982. In 1999, Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary were invited into NATO as well. There are currently 19 member nations.