The Schengen area is made up of 26 European countries that allow free movement between their borders without any form of Schengen area border control or passport checks. The Schengen area member states also enable travellers to move freely between them with a single accepted visa. Over 400-million citizens benefit from the agreement, and over a billion journeys are made between the Schengen area countries every year.
The Schengen area advantages include both unity and economic competitiveness since people, goods, and services are able to travel freely throughout the region. In fact, the cost of trade within the Schengen area can decrease by between 0.5% and 1.5% depending on a variety of factors.
To ensure that safety isn’t compromised on account of the open borders, the Schengen states share information regarding security threats ad cross-border policing and surveillance is both permitted and encouraged. The Schengen member countries are also obligated to remove any unnecessary speed limits or any other obstacles to the free flow of traffic.
As far as the Schengen area’s history goes, it was named after the Schengen area agreement that was signed in 1985 and signed in Schengen, Luxembourg. Initially, only five countries signed the agreement and agreed to the abolition of internal border controls. However, over the coming years, the Schengen area expansion continued, and today 26 countries make up the Schengen area.
The Schengen Area Countries
As stated, 26 countries make up the Schengen area. This includes Iceland, Norway, Switzerland, and Liechtenstein, which are not European Union (EU) members. The full list of Schengen area countries is outlined below.
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Belgium is a small but densely populated country in Western Europe that is known for its picturesque towns, and traditional European castles.
Read about: How to Apply for a Belgium Schengen Visa?
Nestled in the centre of Europe, the Czech Republic is filled with beautiful castles, medieval towns, spa-studded mountains, and stunning vineyards.
Read about: How to Apply for a Czech Republic Schengen Visa?
Denmark is one of the happiest nations in the world, with its historic harbours, stunning architecture, and wonderful people.
Read about: How to Apply for a Denmark Schengen Visa?
Known for its bratwurst, Germany is a country that is filled with spirited culture, stunning scenery, and historic towns.
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Estonia is an outdoor lover’s paradise, with breathtaking natural beauty, fascinating culture, and medieval architecture.
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Sun-soaked Greece is a country filled with ancient mythology, clear skies, an endless coastline of white beaches, and passionate culture.
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Spain is a diverse and beautiful country, filled with generous people, fantastic food, flamenco dancers and matadors, and incredible energy.
Read about: How to Apply for a Spain Schengen Visa?
France is one of the most popular travel destinations in the world, and for a good reason – the country offers unique cuisine, Gothic cathedrals, and endless museums.
Read about: How to Apply for a France Schengen Visa?
Italy is an inspiring country that’s home to some of the most magnificent art, architecture, and cuisine on the planet.
Read about: How to Apply for an Italy Schengen Visa?
The small nation of Latvia offers endless unspoilt landscapes, rich heritage, and charming towns lined with cobbled streets.
Read about: How to Apply for a Latvia Schengen Visa?
Filled with long, balmy midsummer days, Lithuania also offers enchanting cities, mystical forests, and fascinating architectural heritage.
Read about: How to Apply for Lithuania Schengen Visa?
Luxembourg is Europe’s wealthiest nation, and it is filled with spellbinding scenery, antiquated charm, historic churches, and charming towns.
Read about: How to Apply for a Luxembourg Schengen Visa?
Hungary has a reputation for fascinating architecture, quaint folk art, beautiful castles, thermal springs, and enchanting oak forests.
Read about: How to Apply for a Hungary Schengen Visa?
The small archipelago of Malta has a lot to offer, with an exciting nightlife, secluded beaches, and a long, fascinating history.
Read about: How to Apply for Malta Schengen Visa?
Known for their beautiful field of tulips and ancient windmills, the Netherlands is home to some of Europe’s greatest art and interconnected canals.
Read about: How to Apply for a Netherlands Schengen Visa?
Home to the famous Swarovski crystals and classical composers such as Mozart, Austria also provides breathtaking mountain scenery and neoclassical architecture.
Read about: How to Apply for an Austria Schengen Visa?
Poland boasts lively cities that are steeped in incredible history, stunning Tatra mountains that are capped with snow, and kindhearted natives.
Read about: How to Apply for a Poland Schengen Visa?
As one of Europe’s most famous countries, Portugal impresses travellers with its energetic cities, its sun-soaked beaches, and its compelling history.
Read about: How to Apply for Portugal Schengen Visa?
Slovenia is an unexpected paradise of canopied forests and charming towns that overlook majestic mountains dotted with relaxing wellness spas.
Read about: How to Apply for a Slovenia Schengen Visa?
Right in the heart of Europe, Slovakia is home to some of Europe’s best skiing, quaint cobble-street towns, and unbelievable alpine scenery.
Read about: How to Apply for Slovakia Schengen Visa?
Finland is known for having the cleanest air in the world, wildly beautiful natural surroundings, fantastic gastronomy, and bustling cities.
Read about: How to Apply for a Schengen Visa for Finland?
Sweden offers a fantastic variety of sights, from medieval castles to frozen landscapes and beautiful islands – and of course, the Northern Lights.
Read about: How to Apply for a Sweden Schengen Visa?
Known for its healing thermal spas, Iceland is “the land of fire and ice” with an abundance of volcanoes that contrast with dramatic glaciers.
Read about: How to Apply for an Iceland Schengen Visa?
Despite being one of the smallest (and richest) countries in Europe, Liechtenstein has a lot to offer, such as fairytale castles, impressive museums and galleries, and stunning landscape.
Read about: How to Apply for a Liechtenstein Schengen Visa?
Norway is a unique country that is home to both the midnight sun and the Northern Lights, an endless coastline, and vast untouched nature.
Read about: How to Apply for a Norway Schengen Visa?
Switzerland may be most famous for its fine chocolate and cuckoo clocks, but the country also offers impressive skiing, dramatic mountain ranges, and the cleanest cities you’ll ever see.
Read about: How to Apply for a Switzerland Schengen Visa?
Prospective Candidates to Join the Schengen Area
A handful of countries that still have border controls are Cyprus, Bulgaria, Croatia, and Romania. Yet, each of these countries is expected to join the Schengen zone after they meet the European Commission evaluation criteria.
Cyprus joined the EU on 1 May 2004 and is legally obligated to join the Schengen member states.
Bulgaria is in the process of joining the Schengen area, and its current visa policy is based on the Schengen system.
Romania joined the EU on 1 January 2007 and is also legally obliged to join the Schengen Area.
The European Commission has officially supported Croatia’s bid to join the Schengen Area, saying that the country has met the necessary criteria – but this has not been finalised as of yet.
Countries with Open Borders to the Schengen Area
Three European countries are not officially part of the Schengen area but have open borders with the Schengen zone, and these include:
- San Marino
- Vatican City
Non-European Territories Included in the Schengen Area
Several non-European territories are included in the Schengen member states, and these include:
- The Azores
- The Canary Islands