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Living in the EU

Each EU country is unique. This means that gross domestic product (GDP) and population growth – for example – can be very different from one country to the next. Each country also has its own approach to key policy areas such as education.

Size and population

The EU covers over 4 million km² and has 503 million inhabitants — the world’s third largest population after China and India. By surface area, France is the biggest EU country and Malta the smallest.

Surface area in thousands of square kilometres

CountrySurface area (1 000km²)
Malta0.3
Luxembourg2.6
Cyprus9.3
Slovenia20.3
Belgium30.5
Netherlands41.5
Denmark42.9
Estonia45.2
Slovakia49.0
Croatia56.5
Latvia64.6
Lithuania65.3
Ireland69.8
Czech Republic78.9
Austria83.9
Portugal92.2
Hungary93.0
Bulgaria111.0
Greece132.0
Romania238.4
United Kingdom248.5
Italy302.1
Poland312.7
Finland338.4
Germany357.3
Sweden438.6
Spain506.0
France632.8
Total surface4463.6

Source: Eurostat

Population by country (Total EU population : 506 857 513)

CountryTotal populationPopulation %
Malta4253840,08%
Luxembourg5496800,11%
Cyprus8580000,17%
Estonia13158190,26%
Latvia20014680,39%
Slovenia20610850,41%
Lithuania29434720,58%
Croatia42468090,84%
Ireland46055010,91%
Slovakia54159491,07%
Finland54512701,08%
Denmark56173451,11%
Bulgaria72456771,43%
Austria85068891,68%
Sweden96448641,90%
Hungary98773651,95%
Portugal104273012,06%
Czech Republic105124192,07%
Greece109037042,15%
Belgium112039922,21%
Netherlands168292893,32%
Romania199473113,94%
Poland380178567,50%
Spain465121999,18%
Italy6078266811,99%
United Kingdom6435115512,70%
France6583557912,99%
Germany8076746315,93%
Total population506857513100%

Source: Eurostat

Europe’s population is increasing through a combination of natural growth ( more people are born each year than die) and net migration (more people settle in the EU than leave it).

At the same time, the population of Europe is ageing as life expectancy increases and fewer children are born.

Quality of life

Living standards can be compared by measuring the price of a range of goods and services in each country relative to income, using a common notional currency called the purchasing power standard (PPS). Comparing GDP per inhabitant in PPS provides an overview of living standards across the EU.

GDP per capita in PPS

CountryGDP per capita in PPS
Bulgaria45
Romania54
Croatia61
Latvia64
Hungary66
Poland67
Estonia73
Greece73
Lithuania73
Slovakia75
Portugal78
Czech Republic82
Slovenia82
Malta86
Cyprus89
Spain94
Italy99
France107
United Kingdom109
Finland113
Belgium119
Germany122
Denmark124
Sweden127
Austria128
Ireland130
Netherlands131
Luxembourg258

Source: Eurostat

The EU strives to improve living standards by protecting the environment, encouraging job creation, reducing regional disparities and connecting formerly isolated areas by developing cross-border infrastructure.

Regional gross domestic product (PPS per inhabitant as a percentage of the EU-27 average)

Geographical regionGDP per capita in PPS
Van, Mus, Bitlis, Hakkari20
Agri, Kars, Igdir, Ardahan23
Sanliurfa, Diyarbakir25
Mardin, Batman, Sirnak, Siirt27
Severozapaden29
Nord-Est29
Gaziantep, Adiyaman, Kilis29
Severen tsentralen31
Yuzhen tsentralen32
Hatay, Kahramanmaras, Osmaniye34
Erzurum, Erzincan, Bayburt34
Malatya, Elazig, Bingöl, Tunceli34
Poranesna jugoslovenska Republika Makedonija36
Sud-Vest Oltenia37
Severoiztochen38
Yugoiztochen38
Kastamonu, Çankiri, Sinop38
Trabzon, Ordu, Giresun, Rize, Artvin, Gümüshane38
Sud-Est39
Kayseri, Sivas, Yozgat39
Samsun, Tokat, Çorum, Amasya39
Észak-Magyarország40
Sud - Muntenia40
Konya, Karaman41
Kirikkale, Aksaray, Nigde, Nevsehir, Kirsehir41
Nord-Vest42
Adana, Mersin42
Észak-Alföld43
Dél-Alföld44
Lubelskie44
Podkarpackie44
Dél-Dunántúl45
Centru45
Podlaskie47
Warminsko-Mazurskie47
Manisa, Afyonkarahisar, Kütahya, Usak48
Swietokrzyskie49
Zonguldak, Karabük, Bartin49
Aydin, Denizli, Mugla50
Východné Slovensko51
Opolskie52
Balikesir, Çanakkale52
Guyane (NUTS 2010)53
Lubuskie54
Kujawsko-Pomorskie54
Vest54
Ipeiros (NUTS 2010)55
Zachodniopomorskie55
Thessalia (NUTS 2010)56
Malopolskie56
Anatoliki Makedonia, Thraki (NUTS 2010)57
Antalya, Isparta, Burdur58
Dytiki Ellada (NUTS 2010)59
Jadranska Hrvatska59
Közép-Dunántúl59
Stredné Slovensko59
Latvija60
Lódzkie60
Kentriki Makedonia (NUTS 2010)62
Kontinentalna Hrvatska62
Pomorskie62
Norte62
Severozápad63
Voreio Aigaio63
Campania63
Calabria64
Centro (PT)64
Cornwall and Isles of Scilly64
West Wales and The Valleys64
Peloponnisos (NUTS 2010)65
Sicilia65
Strední Morava66
Izmir66
Severovýchod67
Extremadura67
Puglia67
Lietuva68
Nyugat-Dunántúl68
Wielkopolskie68
Eesti69
Kriti69
Réunion (NUTS 2010)69
Tekirdag, Edirne, Kirklareli69
Jihozápad70
Slaskie70
Alentejo70
Bursa, Eskisehir, Bilecik70
Moravskoslezsko71
Basilicata71
Vzhodna Slovenija (NUTS 2010)71
Tees Valley and Durham71
Ankara71
Sterea Ellada (NUTS 2010)72
Região Autónoma dos Açores (PT)72
Západné Slovensko72
Strední Cechy73
Jihovýchod73
Andalucía73
Dolnoslaskie74
Lincolnshire74
Ionia Nisia (NUTS 2010)75
South Yorkshire75
Ciudad Autónoma de Melilla (ES)76
Kocaeli, Sakarya, Düzce, Bolu, Yalova76
Castilla-la Mancha77
Guadeloupe (NUTS 2010)77
Martinique (NUTS 2010)77
Sardegna77
Shropshire and Staffordshire77
Yugozapaden78
Molise78
Lancashire78
Northern Ireland (UK)78
Prov. Hainaut79
Región de Murcia79
Algarve79
Dytiki Makedonia (NUTS 2010)80
Merseyside80
East Yorkshire and Northern Lincolnshire80
Devon80
Highlands and Islands80
Istanbul80
Prov. Luxembourg (BE)81
Canarias (ES)82
Ciudad Autónoma de Ceuta (ES)83
Picardie83
Lorraine83
Limousin83
Languedoc-Roussillon83
Northumberland and Tyne and Wear83
Cumbria83
Mecklenburg-Vorpommern84
Basse-Normandie84
Dorset and Somerset84
Lüneburg85
Thüringen85
Comunidad Valenciana85
Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire85
Kent85
Prov. Namur86
Chemnitz86
Sachsen-Anhalt86
Border, Midland and Western86
Franche-Comté86
Malta86
Essex86
Galicia87
Poitou-Charentes87
Auvergne87
Abruzzo87
Burgenland (AT)87
West Midlands87
Sjælland88
Brandenburg88
Nord - Pas-de-Calais88
Dresden89
Notio Aigaio89
Bretagne89
North Yorkshire89
Herefordshire, Worcestershire and Warwickshire89
South Western Scotland89
Prov. Liège90
Bourgogne90
Greater Manchester90
Outer London (NUTS 2010)90
Principado de Asturias91
Centre (FR)91
Corse91
East Wales91
Champagne-Ardenne92
Umbria93
West Yorkshire93
Leicestershire, Rutland and Northamptonshire93
Cantabria94
Kypros94
Flevoland94
East Anglia94
Leipzig95
Castilla y León95
Aquitaine95
Midi-Pyrénées95
Pohjois- ja Itä-Suomi95
Haute-Normandie96
Pays de la Loire96
Eastern Scotland98
Prov. Limburg (BE)99
Drenthe99
Região Autónoma da Madeira (PT)99
Zahodna Slovenija (NUTS 2010)100
Trier101
Illes Balears101
Alsace101
Marche102
Etelä-Suomi102
Hampshire and Isle of Wight102
Schleswig-Holstein103
Hedmark og Oppland103
Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur104
Friesland (NL)105
Länsi-Suomi105
Liguria106
Niederösterreich106
Norra Mellansverige106
Koblenz107
Attiki107
Mazowieckie107
Área Metropolitana de Lisboa107
Sydsverige107
Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire107
Surrey, East and West Sussex107
Aragón108
Östra Mellansverige108
Prov. Oost-Vlaanderen109
Weser-Ems109
La Rioja109
Rhône-Alpes109
Gelderland109
Nordjylland110
Piemonte110
Toscana110
Közép-Magyarország110
Kärnten110
Småland med öarna110
Gloucestershire, Wiltshire and Bristol/Bath area110
Sør-Østlandet110
Syddanmark111
Münster111
Gießen112
Steiermark112
Midtjylland113
Berlin113
Arnsberg113
Cataluña113
Overijssel113
Prov. West-Vlaanderen114
Oberfranken116
Friuli-Venezia Giulia116
Limburg (NL)116
Mellersta Norrland116
Rheinhessen-Pfalz117
Lazio117
Kassel118
Veneto118
Västsverige118
Cheshire118
Nord-Norge118
Prov. Brabant Wallon119
Hannover119
Freiburg120
Saarland120
Detmold121
Provincia Autonoma di Trento122
Bucuresti - Ilfov122
Trøndelag123
Comunidad Foral de Navarra124
Zeeland124
Niederbayern125
Unterfranken125
Schwaben125
Braunschweig125
Emilia-Romagna125
Övre Norrland125
Comunidad de Madrid126
Prov. Vlaams-Brabant127
Zuid-Holland128
Köln129
Oberpfalz130
País Vasco130
Oberösterreich130
Noord-Brabant131
Valle d'Aosta/Vallée d'Aoste132
Lombardia132
Tübingen133
Mittelfranken133
Tirol133
Karlsruhe135
Düsseldorf137
Vorarlberg137
Åland138
Prov. Antwerpen139
Vestlandet142
Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire143
Southern and Eastern145
Noord-Holland146
Agder og Rogaland146
Provincia Autonoma di Bolzano/Bozen147
Salzburg149
Stuttgart152
Utrecht152
Hovedstaden153
Helsinki-Uusimaa153
Bremen158
North Eastern Scotland159
Darmstadt162
Wien165
Oberbayern168
Praha171
Stockholm173
Île de France182
Groningen182
Bratislavský kraj186
Oslo og Akershus189
Hamburg202
Rég. Bruxelles / Brussels Gewest222
Luxembourg266
Inner London (NUTS 2010)321

The data is not available for EU countries that do not appear in the drop-down menu.

Source: Eurostat

Education

Education increases the skills of the workforce and puts them in a better position to cope with increasing international competition. The amount of money each country spends on education varies.
The EU encourages people to spend time abroad as part of their education. The Erasmus programme for student exchanges has been particularly successful.

Students from one EU country studying in another, by host country

CountryTotal students in thousandsStudents %
Malta1.40,21%
Slovenia2.70,41%
Estonia4.70,71%
Denmark5.90,89%
Latvia7.31,10%
Luxembourg7.81,18%
Finland9.11,37%
Hungary9.71,46%
Croatia10.01,51%
Belgium11.81,78%
Czech Republic13.01,96%
Austria15.22,29%
Sweden15.22,29%
Lithuania15.52,34%
United Kingdom17.42,62%
Netherlands19.02,86%
Portugal19.02,86%
Ireland25.33,81%
Cyprus25.53,84%
Bulgaria27.24,10%
Spain29.64,46%
Slovakia35.45,33%
Romania37.55,65%
Greece38.25,76%
Poland43.56,55%
Italy54.58,21%
France55.18,30%
Germany107.216,15%

Source: Eurostat

Languages

Language skills are becoming increasingly important, as globalisation leads to more and more contact with people from other countries. The EU actively encourages the acquisition of language skills from an early age.

Average number of foreign languages learned per pupil in Upper Secondary Education (International Standard Classification of Education level 3)

CountryTotal languages
Portugal0.8
Denmark0.9
Germany0.9
Ireland0.9
Greece0.9
Hungary1.2
Netherlands1.2
Lithuania1.3
Austria1.3
Italy1.4
Czech Republic1.5
Croatia1.5
Bulgaria1.6
Latvia1.6
Poland1.6
Slovenia1.6
Sweden1.6
Belgium1.7
Cyprus1.7
Malta1.7
France1.8
Slovakia1.8
Estonia2.0
Romania2.0
Luxembourg2.4

No data available for some countries and/or sectors

Source: Eurostat