The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom, the UK, or Britain, is a sovereign island country located off the northwestern coast of continental Europe. Apart from this land border, the UK is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, the North Sea, the English Channel and the Irish Sea. The largest island, Great Britain, is linked to France by the Channel Tunnel.
The United Kingdom is a union of four constituent countries: England, Northern Ireland,Scotland and Wales. The United Kingdom is governed by a parliamentary system with its seat of government in London, the capital, and is a constitutional monarchy with Queen Elizabeth II as the head of state. The Crown Dependencies of the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man, formally possessions of the Crown, are not part of the UK but form a federacy with it. The UKhas fourteen overseas territories, all remnants of the British Empire, which at its height encompassed almost a quarter of the world’s land surface, making it the largest empire in history. As a result of the empire, British influence can be observed in the language, culture and legal systems of many of its former colonies such as Canada, Australia, India, and the United States. Queen Elizabeth II remains the head of the Commonwealth of Nations and head of state of each of the Commonwealth realms.
The UK is a developed country, with the fifth (nominal GDP) or sixth (PPP) largest economy in the world. It was the world’s foremost power during the 19th and early 20th centuries, but the economic cost of two world wars and the decline of its empire in the latter half of the 20th century diminished its leading role in global affairs. The UK nevertheless retains strong economic, cultural, military and political influence and is a nuclear power, with the second or third (depending on method of calculation) highest defense spending in the world. It is a member state of the European Union, holds a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council, and is a member of the G8, NATO, WTO and the Commonwealth of Nations.
US citizens traveling to the UK do not need a visa to travel to the UK. Detailed information regarding visa requirements and immigration to the UK can be found by following the link below.
France is bordered by Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Monaco, Andorra, and Spain. Due to its overseas departments, France also shares land borders with Brazil and Suriname (bordering French Guiana) , and the Netherlands Antilles (bordering Saint-Martin). France is also linked to the United Kingdom by the Channel Tunnel, which passes underneath the English Channel.
France has been one of the world’s foremost powers since the latter half of the 17th century. In the 18th and 19th centuries, France built one of the largest colonial empires of the time, stretching across West Africa and Southeast Asia, prominently influencing the cultures and politics of the regions. France is a developed country, with the sixth (nominal GDP) or eighth (PPP) largest economy in the world. It is the most visited country in the world, receiving 82 million foreign tourists annually (including business visitors, but excluding people staying less than 24 hours in France). France is one of the founding members of the European Union, and has the largest land area of all members. France is also a founding member of the United Nations, and a member of the Francophonie, the G8, NATO, and the Latin Union. It is one of the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council; it is also an acknowledged nuclear power with 360 active warheads and 59 nuclear power plants.
Citizens of the US do not need to possess a visa to enter France provided the duration of the stay in France does not exceed 90 days. For stays exceeding 90 days, US citizens must possess a visa prior to entering France. For detailed information regarding French visa requirements, follow the link below.
Germany, officially the Federal Republic of Germany, is a country in Central Europe. It is bordered to the north by the North Sea, Denmark, and the Baltic Sea; to the east by Poland and the Czech Republic; to the south by Austria and Switzerland; and to the west by France, Luxembourg, Belgium, and the Netherlands. The territory of Germany covers 357,021 km² and is influenced by a temperate seasonal climate. With over 82 million inhabitants, it comprises the largest population among the member states of the European Union and is home to the third-largest number of international migrants worldwide.
A region named Germania inhabited by several Germanic peoples has been known and documented before 100 AD. Since the 10th century German territories have formed a central part of the Holy Roman Empire that lasted until 1806. During the 16th century, northernGermany became the centre of the Protestant Reformation. As a modern nation-state, the country was first unified amidst the Franco-Prussian War in 1871. After World War II,Germany was divided into two separate states along the lines of allied occupation in 1949. The two states became reunified again in 1990. West Germany was a founding member of the European Community (EC) in 1957, which became the European Union in 1993. It is part of the borderless Schengen zone and adopted the European currency, the euro, in 1999.
Germany is a federal parliamentary republic of sixteen states. The capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany is a member of the United Nations, NATO, the G8, the G4 nations, and signed the Kyoto protocol. It is the world’s third largest economy by nominal GDP and the largest exporter of goods in 2007. In absolute terms, Germany allocates the second biggest annual budget of development aid in the world, while its military expenditure ranked sixth. The country has developed a high standard of living and established a comprehensive system of social security. It holds a key position in European affairs and maintains a multitude of close partnerships on a global level. Germany is recognized as a scientific and technological leader in several fields.
Germany is one of 22 European countries included in the Schengen Agreement. As a member of the Schengen Agreement, visa holders are permitted to travel throughout all Agreement members for a maximum of 90 days per six month period. For more information on the Schengen Agreement, follow the link provided below.
Citizens of the United States traveling to Germany are not required to obtain a visa. The absence of a visa requirement is subject to the condition that US citizens are permitted to spend no more than 90 days in Germany per six months. For more detailed information regarding visa requirements and immigration to Germany for vacation, follow the link provided below.
Russia, also the Russian Federation, is a transcontinental country extending over much of northern Eurasia. It is a semi-presidential republic comprising 83 federal subjects. Russiashares land borders with the following countries (counter-clockwise from northwest to southeast): Norway, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania (Kaliningrad Oblast), Poland(Kaliningrad Oblast), Belarus, Ukraine, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, China, Mongolia andNorth Korea. It is also close to the U.S. state of Alaska, Sweden, Denmark, Turkey and Japan across relatively small stretches of water.
At 17,075,400 square kilometers, Russia is by far the largest country in the world, covering more than an eighth of the Earth; with 142 million people, it is the ninth largest by population. It extends across the whole of northern Asia and 40% of Europe, spanning 11 time zones and incorporating a great range of environments and landforms. Russia has the world’s greatest reserves of mineral and energy resources, and is considered an energy superpower. It has the world’s largest forest reserves and its lakes contain approximately one-quarter of the world’s unfrozen fresh water.
The nation’s history began with that of the East Slavs. The Slavs emerged as a recognizable group in Europe between the 3rd and 8th centuries AD. Founded and ruled by Vikings and their descendants, the first East Slavic state, Kievan Rus’, arose in the 9th century and adopted Christianity from the Byzantine Empire in 988, beginning the synthesis of Byzantine and Slavic cultures that defined Russian culture for the next millennium. Kievan Rus’ ultimately disintegrated and the lands were divided into many small feudal states. The most powerful successor state to Kievan Rus’ was Moscow, which served as the main force in the Russian reunification process and independence struggle against the Golden Horde. Moscow gradually reunified the surrounding Russian principalities and came to dominate the cultural and political legacy of Kievan Rus’. By the 18th century, the nation had greatly expanded through conquest, annexation and exploration to become the huge Russian Empire, stretching fromPoland eastward to the Pacific Ocean.
Russia established worldwide power and influence from the times of the Russian Empire to being the largest and leading constituent of the Soviet Union, the world’s first and largest constitutionally socialist state and a recognized superpower. The nation can boast a long tradition of excellence in every aspect of the arts and sciences. The Russian Federation was founded following the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, but is recognized as the continuing legal personality of the Soviet Union. Russia is a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council and a leading member of the Commonwealth of Independent States and the G8. It is one of the five recognized nuclear weapons states and possesses the world’s largest stockpile of weapons of mass destruction.
US citizens travelling to Russia must posses a valid visa from the Russian embassy or consulate prior to entering Russia. Russian authorities will deny entry to all US citizens attempting to enter Russia without a valid US passport and a valid visa. For detailed information regarding travels to Russia, please follow the links below.
Switzerland, officially the Swiss Confederation, is a landlocked alpine country of roughly 7.6 million people in Western Europe with an area of 41,285 km. Switzerland is a federal republic consisting of 26 states called cantons. Berne is the seat of the federal authorities, while the country’s economic centers are its two global cities, Geneva and especially Zurich. Switzerland is one of the richest countries in the world.
It is bordered by Germany, France, Italy, Austria and Liechtenstein. Switzerland has a long history of neutrality it has not been at war since 1815 and hosts many international organizations, including the Red Cross, the World Trade Organization and one of the U.N.’s two European offices. Switzerland is multilingual and has four national languages: German, French, Italian and Romansh. The establishment of Switzerland is traditionally dated to August 1, 1291; the first of August is the national holiday.
Travelers from the US who possess a Permanent Resident Card or a valid US passport are permitted to travel to Switzerland for less than 90 days for a visit, vacation, business or medical treatment are not required to possess a visa. A visa will be required for stays of more than 90 days if the purpose of the visit is for study or vacation. Additionally, a visa is required for business stays lasting longer than 8 days. For detailed information on visa requirements for Switzerland, follow the link below.
Italy, officially the Italian Republic, is located on the Italian Peninsula in Southern Europe, and on the two largest islands in the Mediterranean Sea, Sicily and Sardinia. Italy shares its northern Alpine boundary with France, Switzerland, Austria and Slovenia. The independent states of San Marino and the Vatican City are enclaves within the Italian Peninsula, while Campione d’Italia is an Italian exclave in Switzerland.
Italy has been the home of many European cultures, such as the Etruscans and the Romans, and later was the birthplace of the movement of the Renaissance, that began in Tuscany and spread all over Europe. Italy’s capital Rome was for centuries the center of Western civilization; it also spawned the Baroque movement and seats the Catholic Church. Italy possessed a colonial empire from the mid-nineteenth century to the mid-twentieth century.
Today, Italy is a democratic republic and a developed country with the 8th-highest Quality-of-life index, rating in the world. It is a founding member of what is now the European Union (having signed the Treaty of Rome in 1957), and a founding member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). It is a member of the G8 (having the world’s 7th largest nominal GDP), Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), World Trade Organization (WTO), the Council of Europe, the Western European Union, the Central European Initiative, and a Schengen state. It has the world’s 8th largest defense budget and shares NATO’s nuclear weapons. On January 1, 2007, Italy began a two year term as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council.
US citizens do not need a visa to travel to Italy for business or vacation provided the stay does not exceed 90 days. For detailed information on visa requirements for Italy as well as immigration information, follow the link provided below.
Poland, officially the Republic of Poland, is a country in Central Europe. Poland is bordered by Germany to the west; the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south; Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania to the east; and the Baltic Sea and Kaliningrad Oblast, a Russian exclave, to the north. The total area of Poland is 312,679 km ² (120,728 sq mi), making it the 69th largest country in the world and 9th in Europe. Poland has a population of over 38.5 million people, which makes it the 33rd most populous country in the world.
The establishment of a Polish state is often identified with the adoption of Christianity by its ruler Mieszko I in 966 (see Baptism of Poland), when the state covered territory similar to that of present-day Poland. Poland became a kingdom in 1025, and in 1569 it cemented a long association with the Grand Duchy of Lithuania by uniting to form the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. The Commonwealth collapsed in 1795, and its territory was partitioned among Prussia, Russia, and Austria. Poland regained its independence in 1918 after World War I but lost it again in World War II, occupied by Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union. Poland lost over six million citizens in World War II, and emerged several years later as a socialist republic within the Eastern Bloc under strong Soviet influence. In 1989 communist rule was overthrown and Poland became what is constitutionally known as the “Third Polish Republic”.Poland is a unitary state made up of sixteen voivodeships. Poland is also a member of the European Union, NATO and OECD.
US citizens do not need to posses a visa when entering Poland provided the duration of the stay is less than 90 days. For stays lasting longer than 90 days, a visa is required. For detailed information regarding visa requirements for Poland, follow the link below.