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Top 14 maps and charts that explain NATO


The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) is a military alliance originally established in 1949 with 12 member states, including America, Britain and France. The goal of the alliance was to avoid future war in Europe and to allow stable growth in peace. Today, NATO has 28 members including most of Europe, representing a population of more than 900 million.

The main goal of NATO is set out in Article V of the North Atlantic Treaty, which says that an “armed attack against one” NATO member “shall be considered an attack against them all”. As the US is the biggest military power in the world effectively the agreement binds America to defend Europe.

The following maps and charts try to explain what is NATO and why it’s needed.

1. NATO Member states

2. Countries with promised invitation to NATO

source: CNDUK

3. NATO has added 12 new members since the German reunification and the end of the Cold War. 

4. NATO vs. Warsaw Pact

In 1949, the prospect of further Communist expansion prompted the United States and 11 other Western nations to form the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). The Soviet Union and its affiliated Communist nations in Eastern Europe founded a rival alliance, the Warsaw Pact, in 1955.

source: Stratfor

5. Russia is testing NATO’s reaction time around the world (events between 2013 and 2015)

© de Volkskrant

source: The Aviatonist

6. Nuclear weapon around the world

7.  Risk of unintended war with Russia

source: VOX

8. Military spendings

source: Bank of America

9. US spends more on military than the next 15 countries together

The US spends more than the next 15 countries combined on its defence budget. China is the only nation approaching the US’s defence budget, In 2015 Chinese military budget increased from $129 to $216 billion.

source: VOX

10. Eduction vs military budgets by country

source: technocraticparty.us

11. US military based around the world

source: Politico

12. And a closer look into US military bases

source: Makanaka

13. Current and past NATO missions

source: Stratfor

14. How World War 3 Could Destroy The Planet

source: Imgur

I'm a professional always thinking outside the box and a self-confessed gadget addict. As a son of a professor of cartography I was surrounded by maps all my life and as a result spatial way of thinking and seeing reality is naturally embedded in who I am.


  1. France wasn’t a member of NATO in 1990. Degaulle pulled France out of NATO 8n through 60s, and Sarkozy put them back in 2009.

  2. […] Take a look at No. 4 on this series of maps.  It shows NATO countries versus Warsaw Pact countries, compared to NATO countries today. Since the Cold War, NATO has expanded to the very borders of Russia. I certainly understand why nations that were occupied and brutalized by the Soviet Union wanted to be part of NATO. That said, look at things from Russia’s point of view. […]

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