With Sweden joining NATO after clearing Hungary's opposition, see the new NATO map

With Hungary's parliament voting to ratify Sweden's bid to join NATO, the Scandinavian nation is set to join 31 other countries in the alliance.

After nearly two years of negotiations, Sweden follows Finland, which was accepted into NATO last year. The countries applied to join at the same time in May 2022, but Hungary and Turkey both objected to Sweden joining.

The Nordic country's entry into NATO was momentarily paused with opposition from Turkey, but the country eventually agreed to support Sweden's bid to join the organization, according to the Associated Press.

Sweden's final hurdle came Monday, when Hungary at last voted to let the nation join NATO

Why didn't Turkey or Hungary want Sweden to join NATO?

Sweden's Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson, left, and his Hungarian counterpart Viktor Orban pose at the Carmelite Monastery in Budapest, Hungary, on Feb 23, 2024.
Sweden's Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson, left, and his Hungarian counterpart Viktor Orban pose at the Carmelite Monastery in Budapest, Hungary, on Feb 23, 2024.

Turkey previously cited Sweden's support for Kurdish separatist groups and restrictions on arms exports from the country as reasons it had reservations about its joining.

On the other side, Hungary's Prime Minister, Viktor Orbán, is a right-wing nationalist who has forged close ties with Russia. The country cited criticism from Swedish politicians of Hungary’s democracy as harming relations between the two countries, leading to a reluctance among lawmakers in Orbán's party, Fidesz, to support Sweden's bid.

Can Sweden join NATO with out Hungary's permission?

No. All members of NATO must give their approval before another country is able to join, according to the Associated Press.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban addresses a parliament session, on the day lawmakers are expected to approve Sweden's accession into NATO, in Budapest, Hungary, Monday, Feb 26, 2024. Hungary's parliament voted Monday to ratify Sweden's bid to join NATO, likely bringing an end to more than 18 months of delays that have frustrated the alliance as it seeks to expand in response to Russia's war in Ukraine.

Why is Sweden joining a big deal?

According to reporting from USA TODAY and the AP, these are some of the reasons why:

  • Their entry has been blocked for over two years

  • Sweden has stayed out of military alliances for over 200 years, but the Russian invasion of Ukraine changed that. While Sweden doesn't border Russia, it is very close to it.

  • Russia opposed NATO's expansion and threatened to respond if NATO tried to establish military infrastructure in Sweden or Finland, which does border Russia.

Who are NATO's members?

The following countries are members of NATO:

  • Belgium, 1949

  • Canada, 1949

  • Denmark, 1949

  • France, 1949

  • Iceland, 1949

  • Italy, 1949

  • Luxembourg, 1949

  • Netherlands, 1949

  • Norway, 1949

  • Portugal, 1949

  • United Kingdom, 1949

  • United States, 1949

  • Greece, 1952

  • Turkey, 1952

  • Germany, 1955

  • Spain, 1982

  • Czech Republic, 1999

  • Hungary, 1999

  • Poland, 1999

  • Bulgaria, 2004

  • Estonia, 2004

  • Latvia, 2004

  • Lithuania, 2004

  • Romania, 2004

  • Slovakia, 2004

  • Slovenia, 2004

  • Albania, 2009

  • Croatia, 2009

  • Montenegro, 2017

  • The Republic of North Macedonia, 2020

  • Finland, 2023

What is NATO?

NATO stands for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. It is a "political and military alliance" between the 31 countries listed, and now, Sweden is joining that list.

NATO was formed to deter the expansion of the Soviet Union, stop the renewal of nationalist militarism in Europe and encourage political integration on the continent, according to NATO's website.

"Every day, member countries consult and take decisions on security issues at all levels and in a variety of fields," according to the website. "A 'NATO decision' is the expression of the collective will of all 31 member countries since all decisions are taken by consensus."

Ambassador Julianne Smith has represented the U.S. at NATO since November 2021.

Contributing: Janet Loehrke, George Petras and Kim Hjelmgaard; USA TODAY

Julia is a trending reporter for USA TODAY. She has covered various topics, from local businesses and government in her hometown, Miami, to tech and pop culture.

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: NATO map: With Sweden joining, see all 32 countries in the alliance