Members of the United Nations (Update for 2023)
The United Nations has existed since the end of the Second World War in 1945. It’s the largest intergovernmental organization in the world, and almost every sovereign county is a member.
What Is the United Nations?
The following paragraph is from the UN website and explains the nature and purpose of the United Nations.
"The United Nations is an international organization founded in 1945 after the Second World War by 51 countries committed to maintaining international peace and security, developing friendly relations among nations and promoting social progress, better living standards and human rights."
Its headquarters are in New York, where the General Assembly is held every year. This is where members can vote on matters of global significance.
How Many Countries Are Members of the United Nations?
The makeup of the UN is constantly changing to reflect global geopolitics. Many new members have joined since the UN’s formation, many of which did so after gaining independence from colonization.
The newest members to join the UN are South Sudan in 2011, Montenegro in 2006, and Switzerland and Timor-Leste in 2002.
As of 2022, there are 193 sovereign states represented at the United Nations. Some states are not full member states of the UN but are recognized by other nations and/or included in some of the UN’s specialized branches.
United Nations Members
Below is a list of all 193 members of the United Nations, with a brief description and the year they joined.
Afghanistan joined the UN in 1946. It is one of the oldest members but the UN did not recognize its leaders when the Taliban took control of the country from 1996-2001 and in 2021.
Albania - 1955
Situated in Easter Europe, Albania has had a turbulent past and underwent a revolution as recently as 1991. It became a UN member in 1955.
Algeria - 1962
This country on the north coast of Africa joined the UN in 1962
Andorra - 1993
A tiny, landlocked country in the mountains between France and Spain, it’s been a UN member since 1993.
Angola - 1976
This large country on the southwest coast of Africa joined the UN in 1976, one year after it gained independence from Portugal.
Antigua and Barbuda - 1981
Antigua and Barbuda became an independent state in 1981, and almost immediately became a member of the UN. It remained part of the Commonwealth, with the British Monarch as its head of state.
Argentina - 1945
Argentina was a founding member of the UN in 1945.
Armenia - 1991
This founding member of the Soviet Union became independent in 1991, and the following year joined the UN.
Australia - 1945
This former British colony was another founding member of the UN in 1945.
Austria - 1955
This landlocked European country is renowned for its high living standards and joined the UN in 1955
Azerbaijan - 1992
This former Soviet nation lies on the boundary between Eastern Europe and Western Asia. It became independent in 1991 and joined the UN in 1992.
Bahamas - 1973
This Commonwealth nation gained independence in 1973 and joined the UN that year.
Bahrain - 1971
Bahrain gained independence from Britain in 1971 and immediately joined the UN.
Bangladesh - 1974
Bangladesh became a republic when it gained independence from Pakistan in 1971, and became a UN member in 1974.
Barbados - 1966
This island nation became an independent member of the Commonwealth in 1966 and immediately joined the UN. in 2021 it became a republic.
Belarus - 1945
As the Byelorussian SSR, it was a founding member of the UN in 1945. It gained independence from the Soviet Union in 1991 but it has since strengthened its ties with Russia.
Belgium - 1945
This founding member of the UN (1945) has very high standards of living and is the home of the European Union.
Belize - 1981
Situated in Central America, it gained full independence from Britain in 1981 and immediately became a UN member.
Benin - 1960
Benin joined the UN when it became independent from France in 1960.
Bhutan - 1971
This small country in the Himalayas joined the UN in 1971.
Bolivia (Plurinational State of) - 1945
The largest landlocked country in the Southern Hemisphere was a UN founding member in 1945.
Bosnia and Herzegovina - 1992
Bosnia and Herzegovina was part of Yugoslavia until 1992, after which it joined the UN.
Botswana - 1966
This landlocked country in southern Africa became independent from Britain in 1966 and immediately joined the UN.
Brazil - 1945
The largest country in South America was a founding member of the UN in 1945. It has spent over 22 years in the UN Security Council, the most of any country in South America.
Brunei Durasallam - 1984
This small but very prosperous country on the island of Borneo became a UN member in 1984, following its independence from Britain.
Bulgaria - 1955
Situated in southeast Europe on the coast of the Black Sea, Bulgaria became a UN member in 1955.
Burkina Faso - 1960
This highly undeveloped country has seen a lot of conflict in recent years, with civil wars and revolutions. It joined the UN under the name of Upper Volta (after the African River) in 1960 when it became independent from France. It became Burkina Faso in 1984.
Burundi - 1962
Following its independence from Belgium in 1962, this small, landlocked country near the Great Rift Valley became a UN member.
Cabo Verde (Cape Verde) -1975
This island nation off the west coast of Africa became independent in 1975 after gaining independence from Portugal.
Cambodia - 1955
Wars and instability have led to Cambodia becoming one of the least-developed nations in the world. It joined the UN in 1955, a few years after it gained independence from France.
Cameroon - 1960
The French-ruled part of Cameroon became independent and joined the UN in 1960. A year later, the British-ruled part of the country also gained independence and the country unified.
Canada - 1945
Canada was a founding UN member in 1945, and in 1982, it gained full sovereignty from the UK.
Central African Republic - 1960
This war-ravaged country has the lowest levels of human development in the world. It has been a UN member since 1960 when it became independent from France.
Chad - 1960
Similarly, Chad ranks extremely low for human development due to wars and corruption. It too joined the UN in 1960 following independence from France.
Chile - 1945
Chile is the southernmost country in the world, running along to western coast of South America to the southern tip. It joined the UN in 1945 as a founding member.
China (People’s Republic of) - 1945
The country with the largest population in the world as of 2022 joined the UN as a founding member in 1945, and is one of five permanent members of the UN Security Council.
At the UN’s founding, the Republic of China (Taiwan) held China’a seat. Both nations claim to be the sole governments of China, but since 1971, the UN has recognized the People’s Republic of China as the legitimate government.
Since then, the political status of Taiwan has remained ambiguous and is a source of tension between the nations, with fears of war a constant concern.
China contributes more personnel to global peacekeeping missions than any other member of the UN Security Council.
Colombia - 1945
This diverse country on the northwestern corner of South America was a founding member in 1945.
Comoros - 1975
This nation is a group of islands situated between southeast Africa and Madagascar. It gained independence from France in 1975 and joined the UN later that year.
Congo - 1960
In 1960, this nation also joined the UN after gaining independence from France.
Costa Rica - 1945
Costa Rica was a founding member in 1945 and has been cited by the UN for its high levels of human development relative to its income.
Cote D’Ivoire (Ivory Coast) - 1960
Another former French colony in Africa that joined the UN in 1960 when it gained independence.
Croatia - 1992
Croatia joined the UN in 1992 when it became an independent nation following the breakup of Yugoslavia.
Cuba - 1945
This island nation in the Caribbean was a founding UN member in 1945 and is one of only four officially socialist countries in the world.
Cyprus - 1960
This small island in the eastern Mediterranean Sea joined the UN in 1960 after gaining independence from British rule. The UN controls a buffer zone that splits the island between the Turkish-controlled region to the north and the Greek-controlled region to the south.
Czechia (Czech Republic) - 1945
Czechoslovakia was a founding member of the UN in 1945. When it separated into the Czech Republic and Slovakia in 1993, both countries joined the UN independently.
Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea) - 1991
Considered to have the worst human rights record in the world, North Korea and South Korea joined the UN simultaneously in 1991.
Democratic Republic of the Congo - 1960
Despite being rich in resources, this large country in central Africa has been marred by conflict and corruption. It joined the UN in 1960 when it gained independence from Belgium.
Denmark - 1945
Denmark was a founding member of the UN in 1945, and like all Scandinavian countries, it has very high living standards, equality, and civil liberties.
Djibouti - 1977
This small nation is the gateway to one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world, between the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean. It joined the Un after it became independent from France in 1977.
Dominica - 1978
This Caribbean island country gained independence from Britain in 1978 and immediately joined the UN.
Dominican Republic - 1945
Also in the Caribbean, the Dominican Republic shares the island of Hispaniola with the country of Haiti. It was a founding member of the UN in 1945.
Ecuador - 1945
Ecuador is the Spanish word for ‘Equator’, and this country sits on that line on the northwest coast of South America. It joined the UN in 1945 as a founding member.
Egypt - 1945
Situated on the northwest corner of Africa on the boundary with Asia, Egypt was a founding member in 1945.
El Salvador - 1945
This small Central American country joined the UN as a founding member in 1945.
Equatorial Guinea - 1968
This small west-African country joined the UN in 1968 when it gained independence from Spain.
Eritrea - 1993
Eritrea gained independence from Ethiopia in 1991 following a 30-year war. It joined the UN in 1993.
Estonia - 1991
This small but highly developed country on the Baltic Sea gained independence from the Soviet Union in 1991 following a peaceful revolution. It subsequently joined the UN.
Eswatini - 1968
Formerly Swaziland, this small country is almost entirely contained within South Africa, with Mozambique bordering it to the northeast. It’s the last absolute monarchy in Africa and it joined the UN in 1968 immediately after it gained independence from the UK.
Ethiopia - 1945
Considered the birthplace of modern humans, and home to some of the world’s oldest civilizations, Ethiopia has seen more than its fair share of conflict in the last century. It’s Africa’s second most-populous country and one of its fastest-growing economies. It was a founding member of the UN in 1945.
Fiji - 1970
Fiji is an archipelago of over 300 islands in the South Pacific. It joined the UN in 1970 after it became independent from the UK.
Finland - 1955
Often considered one of the happiest, freest and safest countries in the world, Finland joined the UN in 1955. It often tops global tables for educational performance.
France - 1945
France is one of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, and was a founding member in 1945.
One of its major contributions was in 1996 when France, along with the UK, became the first state to sign the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT), and then ratify it two years later. It is one of the states working hardest to enforce the ban and ensure no nuclear explosions ever occur for military or peaceful purposes.
France is a member of more international institutions than any other nation and this is a major reason why it is such a global power.
Gabon - 1960
Situated on the Equator, Gabin is more developed and wealthier than most other countries in the region. It gained independence from France in 1958 and joined the UN in 1960. At the time of writing at the end of 2022, Gabon held the presidency of the UN Security Council.
Gambia - 1965
Sometimes known as The Republic of the Gambia, it became independent from the UK in 1965 and joined the UN that year.
Georgia - 1992
This country in Eastern Europe joined the UN in 1992, one year after it became independent from the Soviet Union. It has seen conflict with Russia, which it borders, since its independence, perhaps due to its preference for Western ideals.
Germany - 1973
Both the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany) and the German Democratic Republic (East Germany) joined the UN in 1973. When the countries unified in 1990, they merged their UN membership as a single state.
There have been calls, chiefly from France and the UK, for Germany to have a permanent seat on the UN Security Council, given its status as a great global power and economy.
Ghana - 1957
Ghana became a unified nation in 1957 when several British colonies, including the Gold Coast and Ashanti, declared independence. It joined the UN that year.
Greece - 1945
Considered the cradle of Western civilization, this Mediterranean nation was a founding UN member in 1945.
Granada - 1974
This island nation just off the north coast of Venezuela joined the UN in 1974, after gaining independence from the UK.
Guatemala - 1945
The most populous nation in Central America was a founding member of the UN in 1945.
Guinea - 1958
This West African nation joined the UN in 1958 following its independence from France. It has seen much instability and conflict in that time.
Guinea-Bissau - 1974
Guinea-Bissau lies to the northwest of Guinea, and is much smaller than its neighbor. It declared independence from Portugal in 1973, and it joined the UN a year later when this was recognized.
Guyana - 1966
Formerly British Guiana, this small and sparsely populated nation joined the UN as Guyana following its independence from Britain.
Haiti - 1945
Haiti takes up half of the Caribbean island of Hispaniola, the other half being the Dominican Republic. It was a founding member of the UN in 1945.
Honduras - 1945
This Central American country joined the UN in 1945 as a founding member.
Hungary - 1955
Hungary was a satellite state of the Soviet Union. It joined the UN in 1955, and in the time since then, it has transitioned away from Communism.
Iceland - 1946
This island nation straddling the North Atlantic and Arctic Oceans did not become a founding member of the United Nations since it did not declare war on the Axis, a prerequisite for membership at the time. It is often considered the most peaceful country in the world and is one of the world’s most developed countries.
India - 1945
At the time of writing, India had effectively drawn level with China as the world’s most populous country. It was a founding member of the UN in 1945 and has spent 16 years on the UN Security Council overall.
India is a member of G4 along with Japan, Germany and Brazil. Each of these nations supports each other to become permanent members of the UN Security Council on the basis that their economies and power are comparable to those of the permanent members.
Indonesia - 1950
Indonesia is a huge archipelago of over 17,000 islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It’s the fourth-most populous country in the world and joined the UN in 1950, shortly after its independence from the Netherlands was recognized.
In 1966, it became the first nation to attempt a withdrawal from the UN after Malaysia, which was in conflict with Indonesia, was elected to the UN Security Council.
Islamic Republic of Iran - 1945
Iran was a founding member of the UN in 1945. It has seen conflict with other nations due to religious differences and the fact it is situated in a geopolitically strategic position. In the 1980s, the UN-mediated a treaty in the war between Iran and Iraq. The UN also imposed sanctions on Iran due to its development of a nuclear weapons program.
Iraq - 1945
Mesopotamia, one of the world’s earliest civilizations, was located in modern-day Iraq. Iraq was also a founding member of the UN.
Ireland - 1955
The Republic of Ireland joined the UN in 1955, having initially been denied membership by the Soviet Union due to its neutrality and lack of diplomatic relations with the bloc. It’s since played an active role, spending seven years on the UN Security Council.
Israel - 1949
Israel joined the UN in 1949, one year after it gained independence from British Palestine. Israel has been in an almost-constant state of conflict since then, mostly with Arab countries. In 2016, the UN Security Council voted unanimously (with the US abstaining) that Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories including East Jerusalem was a violation of international law.
Italy - 1955
Outside of the UK and France, which are permanent members, Italy has spent more years on the UN Security Council than any other European nation, with 13. It was the first member of the Axis powers to join the UN in 1955 and has been a consistent supporter of the UN’s peace efforts.
Jamaica - 1962
This island nation in the Caribbean became an independent Commonwealth nation in 1962 and joined the UN that year.
Japan - 1956
Another former Axis power to join the UN, Japan has played an extremely prominent role in promoting the UN’s peacekeeping efforts since it joined in 1956.
As Japan’s global economic power grew, it became one of the UN’s largest donors, and calls for it to become a permanent member of the UN Security Council grew. It has served more years on the Council than any other non-permanent nation. It is a member of the G4 along with Germany, India and Brazil.
Jordan - 1955
Jordan joined the UN in 1955 and plays an active role in UN peacekeeping. It has served six years on the UN Security Council and with over 50,000 peacekeeping troops, it ranks third for peacekeeping involvement around the world.
Kazakhstan - 1992
Kazakhstan became the last Soviet nation to declare independence in 1991, and it joined the UN the following year.
Kenya - 1963
This country in eastern Africa joined the UN in 1963, the year it gained independence from Britain.
Kiribati - 1999
This remote nation consists of over 30 islands spread across the central Pacific Ocean. It joined the UN in 1999.
Kuwait - 1963
Situated at the tip of the Gulf of Persia, Kuwait has played an active role in promoting international relations since it joined the UN in 1963.
Kyrgyzstan - 1992
This landlocked country in Central Asia joined the UN in 1992, a year after it gained full independence from the USSR.
Lao People’s Democratic Republic - 1955
Commonly known as Laos, the country joined the UN in 1955, after gaining independence from France in 1953. A long civil war ravaged the country from 1959 to 1975.
Latvia - 1991
Following a peaceful revolution, Latvia became independent from the Soviet Union in 1991 and joined the UN.
Lebanon - 1945
Lebanon became a founding member of the United Nations in 1945, just after it had gained independence from France.
Lesotho - 1966
Lesotho is an enclave, with the nation entirely surrounded by South Africa. It joined the UN in 1966 after gaining independence from Britain.
Liberia - 1945
Situated on the west coast of Africa, Liberia was a founding member of the Un, but the country has suffered in this time due to conflicts and outbreaks of diseases.
Libya - 1955
Libya joined the UN in 1955. In 1969, Muammar Gadaffi initiated a military coup and ruled the country for the next 42 years.
Liechtenstein - 1990
This small German-speaking nation in the Alps joined the UN in 1990.
Lithuania - 1991
In 1990, Lithuania became the first Soviet nation to declare independence from the bloc and joined the UN the following year.
Luxembourg - 1945
This small landlocked country in Europe was a founding member of the UN in 1945.
Madagascar - 1960
This island nation off the east coast of Africa declared independence from France in 1960 and joined the UN that year.
Malawi - 1964
This small landlocked country in southern Africa declared independence from the UK in 1964 and joined the UN the same year.
Malaysia - 1957
In 1957, the Federation of Malaysia became independent from the UK and joined the UN. In 1963, the country changed its name to Malaysia. Most of the country is split into two main territories - the Peninsula of Malaysia and Eastern Malaysia, which occupies part of the northern section of the island of Borneo.
Maldives - 1965
This island nation is a chain of atolls in the Indian Ocean, southwest of Sri Lanka. It joined the UN in 1965 after gaining independence from the UK.
Mali - 1960
Mali is a large, landlocked country in western Africa. It gained independence from France in 1960 and joined the UN that year.
Malta - 1964
This small island south of Italy became independent from the UK in 1964 and subsequently joined the UN.
Marshall Islands - 1999
This group of islands in the Pacific Ocean became independent from the US in 1979, though it retains very close ties. It joined the UN in 1999.
Mauritania - 1961
Officially the Islamic Republic of Mauritania, this nation in northwest Africa joined the UN in 1961, one year after it gained independence from France.
Mauritius - 1968
This former British colony lies to the east of Madagascar and joined the UN in 1968 when it became independent.
Mexico - 1945
Mexico was a founding member of the UN and was a member of the first UN Security Council. It's played an active role since, serving a total of nine years.
Federal States of Micronesia - 1979
Comprising over 600 islands in the western Pacific Ocean, Micronesia joined the UN in 1979 following independence from the US.
Monaco - 1993
Moncao is the second-smallest sovereign state in the world, after the Vatican. Officially the Principality of Monaco, it sits on the southeast coast of France and is one the wealthiest places in the world.
Mongolia - 1961
The world’s second-largest landlocked country sits between China and Russia. It joined the UN in 1961 as a way to strengthen and safeguard its independent status.
Montenegro - 2006
One of the most recent additions to the UN, this small nation on the Adriatic coast joined after it became independent from Serbia in 2006.
Morocco - 1956
Following revolts against French and Spanish colonial rule, this North African nation gained independence and joined the UN in 1956.
Mozambique - 1975
Situated in southwest Africa, Mozambique gained independence from Portugal in 1975 and joined the UN that year.
Myanmar - 1948
Sometimes known as Burma, this nation in southeast Asia joined the UN following independence from the UK in 1948.
Namibia - 1990
Namibia, located in Southern Africa, gained independence from South Africa in 1990 and joined the UN that same year.
Nauru - 1999
Nauru is an island nation located in Oceania, to the northeast of Australia. It is the third-smallest sovereign country in the world. It gained independence from Australia in 1968 and joined the UN in 1999
Nepal - 1955
This mountainous nation between India and China is mostly in the Himalayas. It joined the UN in 1955 and gained independence from the UK in 1947.
Netherlands - 1945
The Netherlands was a founding member of the UN in 1945. It’s played a very active role, serving ten years on the UN Security Council and playing a key role in developing international human rights laws.
New Zealand - 1945
New Zealand was also a founding member. It’s been a strong advocate for environmental change and has served seven years on the UN Security Council.
Nicaragua - 1945
Nicaragua, located in Central America, joined the UN in 1945 as a founding member.
Niger - 1960
Niger, located in West Africa, gained independence from France in 1960 and joined the UN that same year. Since independence, it has gone through several periods of military rule.
Nigeria - 1960
Nigeria borders Niger and is the most populous country in Africa. It joined the UN after it gained independence from the UK in 1960. It has served on the UN Security Council ten times, more than any other African nation.
North Macedonia - 1993
Situated north of Greece, it joined the UN in 1993 as the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, having gained independence in 1991. It adopted its current name in 2018.
Norway - 1945
Norway, like all Scandinavian countries, is known for its high standard of living, peace and freedom. A founding member, it has contributed highly to environmental and humanitarian causes.
Oman - 1971
Oman, located in the Middle East, joined the UN in 1971 when it gained independence from the UK.
Pakistan - 1947
Pakistan borders India to the northwest. It joined the UN in 1947 after it gained independence from the UK. Most recently, it has been condemned by the UN along with India due to the nations’ development of nuclear weapons.
Palau - 1994
This island nation in the western Pacific joined the UN in 1994 when it became independent from the US.
Panama - 1945
Panama is the southernmost country in Central America and was a founding member of the UN in 1945.
Papua New Guinea - 1975
Papua New Guinea is an island nation, with its mainland on the island of New Guinea, which it shares with Indonesia. It also contains several outlying islands. It gained independence from Australia in 1975 and joined the UN that year.
Paraguay - 1945
One of two landlocked countries in South America, Paraguay was a founding member of the UN in 1945.
Peru - 1945
Peru, located on the west coast of South America, was also a founding member of the UN in 1945. It has been more involved in the organization, serving ten years on the UN Security Council.
Philippines - 1945
The Philippines consists of over 7,500 islands to the southeast of China. Following Japanese occupation during the war, while it was a US territory, it joined the UN in 1945 and gained full independence in 1946.
Poland - 1945
A founding member of the UN, the nation East of Germany has served on the UN Security Council six times.
Portugal - 1955
Portugal is one of Europe’s oldest nations and joined the UN in 1955. Relations were initially strained due to Portugal’s colonial interests.
Qatar - 1971
Qatar, located in the Middle East, is a small but very wealthy nation thanks to its large reserves of oil and natural gas. It gained independence from the UK and joined the UN in 1971.
Republic of Korea (South Korea) - 1991
Occupying the southern part of the Korean Peninsula, South Korea has emerged as a highly developed society and a strong economy. The country was ravaged by a war with North Korea in the 1950s, in which the UN intervened to support the South. It joined the UN in 1991, shortly after becoming a democracy.
Republic of Moldova - 1992
This small landlocked country between Romania and Ukraine was a member of the Soviet Union. It joined the UN in 1992, a year after the Union dissolved and Moldova became independent.
Romania - 1955
This Eastern European nation joined the UN in 1955 as the Romanian People’s Republic.
Russian Federation - 1945
The Soviet Union was a founding member of the UN in 1945. Following its dissolution in 1991, Russia became its successor as it was by far the biggest member of the Union in terms of size, population and influence. It also took the USSR’s role as a permanent member of the UN Security Council.
Russia’s position on the UN Security Council is a controversial one, and it has used its veto powers aggressively to maintain its interests.
It has faced widespread condemnation within the UN due to its invasion of Ukraine in 2022.
Rwanda - 1962
Rwanda is a small and densely populated country in Central Africa. After gaining independence from Belgium in 1962, it joined the UN.
Saint Kitts and Nevis - 1983
This pair of islands in the Caribbean is one of the world’s smallest sovereign states and joined the UN in 1983 following independence from the UK.
Saint Lucia - 1979
Also in the Caribbean, Saint Lucia joined the UN in 1979 after it gained independence from the UK.
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines - 1980
Yet another Caribbean island nation, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines joined the UN in 1980, after it too had become independent from the UK in 1979.
Samoa - 1976
Formerly known as Western Samoa, it gained independence from New Zealand in 1962. Officially part of Oceania, it consists of several islands in the Pacific Ocean.
San Marino - 1992
San Marino joined the UN in 1992. It’s one of the world’s smallest countries and is completely surrounded by Italy.
São Tomé and Príncipe - 1975
São Tomé and Príncipe is an island nation off the west coast of Africa. It gained independence from Portugal in 1975.
Saudi Arabia - 1945
Saudi Arabia is a wealthy nation in the Middle East, with huge reserves of oil. It was a founding member of the UN in 1945. While it has been a significant contributor to many projects, it has drawn criticism for several reasons.
It was one of the few countries not to sign the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and its use of execution and treatment of women, among other things, has been heavily criticized. Most recently, the Saudi-imposed famine in Yemen has been described by the UN as the worst humanitarian crisis in the world, with millions of people on the brink of famine.
Senegal - 1963
Senegal, located in West Africa, joined the UN in 1963. It gained independence from France in 1960.
Serbia - 1992
Serbia joined the UN in 1992 in union with Montenegro, following the dissolution of Yugoslavia. In 2006, Serbia and Montenegro became independent countries.
Seychelles - 1976
An archipelago of over 100 islands off the east coast of Africa, Seychelles became a UN member in 1976 after it gained independence from the UK.
Sierra Leone - 1961
Sierra Leone, situated on the coast of West Africa, gained independence from the UK in 1961 and joined the UN. However, it has been ravaged by civil war during that time.
Singapore - 1965
This city-state at the southern tip of the Malaysian Peninsula is very wealthy and well-developed, with citizens enjoying one of the longest life expectancies in the world. It joined the UN in 1965 following its independence from Malaysia.
Slovakia - 1993
Slovakia, located in Eastern Europe, was previously a part of Czechoslovakia, which dissolved in 1993. Following this, Slovakia became independent and joined the UN.
Slovenia - 1992
Slovenia joined the UN in 1992. It became the first state to break away from Yugoslavia and become independent in 1991.
Solomon Islands - 1978
The Solomon Islands are part of Oceania and lie east of Papua New Guinea in the Pacific Ocean. It joined the UN in 1978 after becoming independent from the UK.
Somalia - 1960
Somalia, situated on the East African coast, is one of the least developed countries in the world and has seen civil war since its independence from Italy in 1960. It joined the UN that year.
South Africa - 1945
South Africa was a founding member of the UN. However, it was suspended from the UN from 1974 to 1994 due to its policies of apartheid. Since then, it has been an active member of the UN, sitting on the Security Council for six years.
South Sudan - 2011
South Sudan is the newest member of the United Nations, joining as recently as 2011 after it became independent from Sudan.
Spain - 1955
Spain joined the UN in 1955. Due to their alignment with Axis powers during the war, Spain was prevented from joining the UN in its foundation.
Sri Lanka - 1955
Sri Lanka, also known as Ceylon, is an island south of India. It gained independence from the UK in 1948 and joined the UN in 1955.
Sudan - 1956
Until South Sudan separated and became independent, Sudan was the largest country in Africa. It became a member of the UN in 1956 following independence from the UK.
Suriname - 1975
Situated on the north coast of South America, Suriname gained independence from the Netherlands in 1975 and joined the UN that year.
Sweden - 1946
Sweden enjoys extremely high standards of living and has been at peace for over 200 years. Since it joined the UN in 1946 Sweden has pushed for the support of developing nations.
Switzerland - 2002
Switzerland is a wealthy and peaceful country, ranking first on the Human Development Index. This neutral country has also enjoyed over 22 years of peace. It joined the UN following a referendum in 2002, having previously been granted an observer role.
Syria - 1945
Syria, located in the Middle East, joined the UN in 1945. It gained independence from the French Mandate in 1946.
Tajikistan - 1992
Tajikistan is a mountainous country in Central Asia that joined the UN in 1992. It gained independence following the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991.
Thailand - 1946
Thailand, located in Southeast Asia, joined the UN in 1946. Initial attempts to join the UN as a founding member were impeded by the UK, France, and the Soviet Union due to its role in World War II. It paid a heavy price for UN entry to secure its sovereignty.
Timor-Leste - 2002
Timor-Leste, also known as East Timor, shares the southeast Asian island of Timor with Indonesia. The former Portuguese colony gained independence in 1975 but was subsequently invaded and annexed by Indonesia.
In 1999, the UN backed a referendum that voted for independence and then helped the country to organize its first elections as a sovereign nation. It is one of the newest members of the UN, joining in 2002.
Togo - 1960
Togo occupies a narrow strip of land between Ghana and Benin in western Africa. I joined the UN in 1960 following its independence from France.
Tonga - 1999
This island nation northeast of New Zealand gained independence from the UK in 1970. Part of Oceania, it joined the UN in 1999.
Trinidad and Tobago - 1962
The southernmost Caribbean nation lies just a few miles off the north coast of Venezuela. It joined the UN in 1962 when it gained independence from the UK.
Tunisia - 1956
The northernmost nation in Africa gained independence from France in 1956 and immediately joined the UN.
Türkiye (Previously Turkey) - 1945
Türkiye straddles western Asia and southeast Europe, and in May 2022, it changed its name from Turkey. It was a founding member of the UN in 1945, and due to its important location, it has been a key figure in peacekeeping missions in both Europe and Asia.
It assisted the UN in resisting Soviet expansion into the Mediterranean region, and more recently assisted in peacekeeping operations in the Middle East.
Turkmenistan - 1992
This sparsely populated country in Central Asia, joined the UN in 1992, after becoming independent from the Soviet Union in 1991.
Tuvalu - 2000
One of the least-populated sovereign states in the world, Tuvalu is a small group of islands and atolls located in Oceania, north of New Zealand. It gained independence from the UK in 1978 and joined the UN in 2000.
Uganda - 1962
This landlocked country in east Africa sits on Lake Victoria. It gained independence from the UK in 1962 and joined the UN. However, the country has suffered from civil war and war with the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Ukraine - 1945
Ukraine joined the UN in 1945 as part of the Soviet Union, which dissolved in 1991. It has been a member as a sovereign nation since then. However, in 2022, Russia invaded Ukraine following escalations in the war that had been ongoing since 2014 over regions that Russia laid claim to.
United Arab Emirates - 1971
The United Arab Emirates is a wealthy country in the Middle East and is home to the world’s largest expatriate population by percentage. It joined the UN following its independence from the UK in 1971.
United Kingdom - 1945
The United Kingdom, also known as Britain, was a founding member of the UN and is one of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council. It is one of the biggest donors to the UN and has played an active role in global peacekeeping and security.
The UK has campaigned for the reform and expansion of the UN, advocating the permanent status of other nations, including permanent representation for Africa.
The UK hosted the very first meetings of the UN General Assembly and the UN Security Council.
United Republic of Tanzania - 1961
Tanzania, located in East Africa, joined the UN in 1961 after gaining independence from the UK. It first joined as two separate states, Tanganyika and Zanzibar, but merged in 1963.
United States - 1945
The United States is another founding member of the UN and a permanent member of the UN Security Council.
The US is by far the biggest donor to the UN’s peacekeeping budget, and the UN Headquarters reside in New York City.
Following the fall of the Soviet Union, the US has been the dominant global power and this has caused tension in the UN. The US has regularly utilized its veto power in favor of Israel, which has drawn criticism from several Arab nations.
The US was integral in instigating the Iraq War in 2003 when it deemed that Iraq, under Saddam Hussein, had failed to cooperate with a United Nations resolution to disarm its weapons of mass destruction. It led over 50 nations in an invasion that was later criticized as illegal under international law.
Uruguay - 1945
Uruguay is one of the most progressive and prosperous nations in Latin America. It borders Brazil and Argentina and joined the UN in 1945 as a founding member.
Uzbekistan - 1992
Uzbekistan, located in Central Asia, is a former Soviet state and joined the UN in 1992 following the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991.
Vanuatu - 1981
Vanuatu is an island nation in Oceania, north of New Zealand. It gained independence from the UK and France in 1980 and joined the UN in 1981.
Vanuatu has been a vocal advocate for action on climate change and colonization, two issues that deeply affect island nations.
Venezuela - 1945
Officially the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, it’s located on the northern coast of South America. It joined the UN as a founding member in 1945.
Since then, the country has experienced several periods of unrest and has been in crisis since the early 2010s, when record inflation crippled its economy and society.
Vietnam - 1977
Vietnam, located in Southeast Asia, gained independence from France in 1954. However, the country was ravaged by the Vietnam War which lasted from 1955 to 1975. Following the war, the country reunified and joined the UN in 1977.
Yemen - 1947
Yemen, located in the Middle East, joined the UN initially as two separate nations. North Yemen joined in 1947 and Southern Yemen joined in 1967. The two nations merged in 1990 and continued their membership as a single nation.
Zambia - 1964
Formerly known as Northern Rhodesia, this landlocked country in southern Africa gained independence from the UK in 1964 and joined the UN. It has played a key role in conflict resolution in its neighboring countries.
Zimbabwe - 1980
Zimbabwe’s independence from the UK was recognized in 1980 and it joined the UN that year. The country struggled for many years under the authoritarian rule of Robert Mugabe.
Which Countries Are Not in the UN?
Some countries have Observer status.
Vatican City - 1964
Vatican City, also known as the Holy See, is a small, independent city-state located in Rome, Italy. It is the world’s smallest sovereign state and is the home of the Pope, the leader of the world’s Roman Catholics.
It joined the UN in 1964, and in 2004 it gained all the rights of a full member except voting.
Palestine - 1974
Palestine, bordering Israel, first gained observer status as a non-member entity in 1974. In 2012, the UN recognized it as a non-member observer state, which some consider signifies its unofficial recognition of Palestine as a sovereign state.
There are also some areas of the world that are not members of the UN in any capacity.
Cook Islands and Niue
These are associated states of New Zealand and have the rights of full members. Both nations have stated they wish to join the UN as sovereign members but New Zealand will not sanction this without constitutional change.
The political status of Kosovo is disputed because Serbia claims it as an autonomous province, while the Republic of Kosovo claims it is a sovereign nation. Because of this dispute, Kosovo is not a full member of the UN.
Officially the Republic of China, Taiwan did hold China’s seat on the UN until 1971, when it was replaced by the People’s Republic of China, which claims sovereignty over Taiwan. It has had several unsuccessful bids to be recognized as a sovereign nation.
Another nation whose sovereignty is under dispute, the majority of Western Sahara is controlled by Morocco, with the rebel Polisario Front controlling the remaining part. The UN has attempted to instigate a referendum to resolve the issue.
The Structure of the United Nations
The U.N. includes other parts (or organs). There are five that actively meet, including the General Assembly, and one that is mostly defunct.
The Secretariat is the actual administration of the U.N., led by the elected Secretary General. They handle U.N. operations aside from political decision making.
There is also the Economic and Social Council which oversees matters of economic and cultural significance. A lot of their work is advised or accomplished through Independent U.N. Agencies, like the World Health Organization, the World Bank, and the International Monetary Fund. The Council itself is smaller than the General Assembly.
The Security Council is responsible for coordinating matters of global safety. The Security Council includes a rotating list of nations from each continent, as well as five permanent members. These five (The United States, the United Kingdom, France, Russia, and China) were the main Allied nations in WWII, and they have retained their roles since then. The permanent members have a special power to veto resolutions. This is especially important as, unlike General Assembly resolutions, Security Council resolutions are usually legally binding. Violating them will result in being tried in court for breaking international law.
Which brings us to the last organ, the International Court of Justice. The ICJ, based in the Netherlands, is responsible for trying people who break international law. Most significantly, they try war criminals. Their rulings are considered binding before the eyes of the international community, despite being a supranational organization.
There is a sixth organ, the Trusteeship Council, but it no longer has a role. Trusteeship was a system where the U.N. organized territories that weren't self-governing, with a goal of establishing governments. They succeeded in this goal, and there are no longer any U.N. Trust territories. The council still exists, in case there were to be another trust in the future, but now they meet only as needed.
There’s no doubt that the UN has protected and improved the lives of millions of people around the world, particularly in developing countries. However, the opinion of the UN is not always favorable. Many argue that it is far too bureaucratic and inefficient, while many more believe that it is dominated by wealthy, more powerful nations.
The fact that almost every sovereign state in the world is part of it suggests the benefits must be significant. However, there are calls for significant reform to the organization, and it will be interesting to see what changes, if any, take place in the coming years.
Why not find out more about the formation and history of the United Nations?
List of Member States at a Glance
This table provides information about the member countries of the United Nations, including the date of admission.