Global experiences

Friday Fun Fact: Neutral countries

neutral country: Switzerland Flag

Pranavian/Via Flickr

 

Most people know that Switzerland is a neutral country, but may not realize that the Swiss are not alone in their neutrality. There are a total of eight neutral countries: Austria, Costa Rica, Finland, Ireland, Liechtenstein, Sweden, Switzerland and Turkmenistan.

Broadly, neutrality means not taking sides in armed conflict between warring countries, but it has a range of real-world manifestations: For instance, Switzerland and Sweden are famous for their large armies (and those armies, in turn, are famous for pocketknives and bicycles, respectively), while other countries keep very small fighting forces. Likewise, Ireland allows foreign military forces inside its borders—specifically, military aircraft can land at Shannon Airport—while other neutral countries don’t.

Neutral countries in Europe (Austria, Sweden, Ireland and Finland, but not Switzerland) also find themselves in the conundrum of belonging to—and being bound by the policies of—the European Union, which is not neutral.

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