NATO Fast Facts

NATO foreign ministers gather for the session to formally admit Montenegro during ministerial meetings at the NATO Headquarters in Brussels on December 2, 2015. 
NATO foreign ministers invited Montenegro to join the US-led military alliance, a move Russia has repeatedly warned would be a provocation and a threat to stability in the western Balkans.

(CNN)Here's a look at the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), headquartered in Brussels, Belgium.


The organization's charter states that the signing parties will "seek to promote stability and well-being in the North Atlantic area," and will "unite their efforts for collective defense and for the preservation of peace and security."
    April 4, 1949 - Established when 12 nations sign the North Atlantic Treaty in a ceremony in Washington, DC.
    2014-present - The current secretary general is Jens Stoltenberg, former prime minister of Norway.
    March 19, 2020 - The secretary general's annual report is published.

    30 Member Countries

    Albania (2009)
    Belgium (1949)
    Bulgaria (2004)
    Canada (1949)
    Croatia (2009)
    Czech Republic (1999)
    Denmark (1949)
    Estonia (2004)
    France (1949)
    Germany (1955, as West Germany)
    Greece (1952)
    Hungary (1999)
    Iceland (1949)
    Italy (1949)
    Latvia (2004)
    Lithuania (2004)
    Luxembourg (1949)
    Montenegro (2017)
    Netherlands (1949)
    North Macedonia (2020)
    Norway (1949)
    Poland (1999)
    Portugal (1949)
    Romania (2004)
    Slovakia (2004)
    Slovenia (2004)
    Spain (1982)
    Turkey (1952)
    United Kingdom (1949)
    United States (1949)

    Timeline (selected)

    April 4, 1949 - The 12 nations of Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, the United Kingdom and the United States sign the North Atlantic Treaty in Washington, DC.
    July 25, 1950 - First meeting of NATO Council Deputies in London. US Ambassador Charles M. Spofford is elected permanent chairman.
    December 19, 1950 - General Dwight Eisenhower is appointed the first supreme allied commander.
    April 2, 1951 - Allied Command in Europe becomes operational with Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe in Roquencourt, near Paris.
    March 12, 1952 - Lord Ismay is named the first secretary general of NATO and appointed vice chairman of the North Atlantic Council.
    April 10, 1952 - Allied Command Atlantic becomes operational, headquartered in Norfolk, Virginia.
    April 16, 1952 - NATO establishes its provisional headquarters in Paris at the Palais de Chaillot.
    April 28, 1952 - First meeting of the North Atlantic Council in permanent session in Paris.
    May 6, 1952 - West Germany joins NATO.
    May 14, 1955 - The Soviet Union and Eastern Bloc countries form the Warsaw Pact in response to West Germany joining NATO.
    July 26, 1956 - Egypt nationalizes the Suez Canal. France and Great Britain use troops to intervene, against the wishes of the United States, causing a rift in NATO.
    August 13, 1961 - The Berlin Wall is erected.
    October 22-23, 1963 - NATO and the United States demonstrate the size and speed of emergency forces with 14,500 US troops flown into West Germany for maneuvers.
    March 10, 1966 - France formally announces intentions to withdraw from the military structure of NATO, accusing the United States of having too much influence in the organization.
    March 31, 1967 - Opening ceremony of new NATO headquarters in Casteau, near Mons, Belgium.
    August 14, 1974 - Greece, angered at NATO's response to the Turkish invasion of Cyprus, withdraws from the military arm of NATO.
    October 20, 1980 - Greece rejoins the NATO military structure.
    May 30, 1982 - Spain joins NATO.
    November 9, 1989 - The Berlin Wall comes down.
    October 3, 1990 - Germany is reunified after 45 years. With German reunification, East Germany leaves the Warsaw Pact and is incorporated into NATO.
    February 11, 1991 - The Warsaw Pact is dissolved.
    December 13, 1991 - For the first time, the Soviet Union takes part in meetings at NATO as part of the North Atlantic Cooperation Council.
    December 21, 1991 - Eleven of the republics of the former Soviet Union create a new Commonwealth of Independent States.
    December 25, 1991 - The Soviet Union is officially disbanded with the resignation of Mikhail Gorbachev as president and supreme commander-in-chief of Soviet Forces.
    February 28, 1994 - NATO forces shoot down four Bosnian Serb planes violating the UN-imposed no-fly zone. It is the first time NATO has used force.
    November 21, 1995 - After the Dayton Peace Accords, the war in Bosnia Herzegovina ends.
    December 20, 1995 - The United Nations turns over military operations command to NATO's Implementation Force (IFOR).
    January 13, 1996 - Russian troops are deployed to support IFOR in Bosnia.
    May 22, 1997 - NATO and the Russian Federation sign a security and cooperation pact, the "Founding Act" which establishes a NATO-Russia Permanent Joint Council (PJC).
    March 24, 1999 - NATO launches air strikes against Yugoslavia to