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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 %
Malta4293440,08%
Luxembourg5629580,11%
Cyprus8470080,17%
Estonia13132710,26%
Latvia19860960,39%
Slovenia20628740,41%
Lithuania29212620,57%
Croatia42253160,83%
Ireland46258850,91%
Slovakia54213491,07%
Finland54717531,08%
Denmark56597151,11%
Bulgaria72021981,42%
Austria85849261,69%
Sweden97473551,92%
Hungary98490001,94%
Portugal103748222,04%
Czech Republic105382752,07%
Greece108124672,13%
Belgium112584342,22%
Netherlands169007263,33%
Romania198614083,91%
Poland380056147,48%
Spain464398649,14%
Italy6079561211,96%
United Kingdom6476711512,74%
France6635246913,06%
Germany8117400015,97%
Total population508191116100%

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
Bulgaria47
Romania55
Croatia59
Latvia64
Hungary68
Poland68
Greece73
Lithuania75
Estonia76
Slovakia77
Portugal78
Cyprus82
Slovenia83
Malta84
Czech Republic85
Spain91
Italy96
France107
United Kingdom109
Finland110
Belgium119
Sweden123
Germany124
Denmark125
Austria130
Netherlands131
Ireland134
Luxembourg266

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
Severozapaden30
Severen tsentralen31
Yuzhen tsentralen32
Nord-Est34
Severoiztochen35
Poranesna jugoslovenska Republika Makedonija36
Yugoiztochen37
Észak-Magyarország40
Sud - Muntenia41
Sud-Vest Oltenia41
Észak-Alföld42
Dél-Dunántúl45
Dél-Alföld45
Sud-Est45
Nord-Vest47
Lubelskie48
Podkarpackie48
Warminsko-Mazurskie48
Swietokrzyskie49
Podlaskie49
Centru51
Anatoliki Makedonia, Thraki (NUTS 2010)52
Východné Slovensko52
Guyane (NUTS 2010)54
Opolskie54
Ipeiros (NUTS 2010)55
Thessalia (NUTS 2010)56
Lubuskie56
Kujawsko-Pomorskie56
Kentriki Makedonia (NUTS 2010)57
Dytiki Ellada (NUTS 2010)57
Voreio Aigaio57
Calabria57
Zachodniopomorskie57
Jadranska Hrvatska58
Közép-Dunántúl59
Malopolskie59
Vest59
Peloponnisos (NUTS 2010)60
Stredné Slovensko60
Puglia61
Sicilia61
Severozápad62
Dytiki Makedonia (NUTS 2010)62
Sterea Ellada (NUTS 2010)62
Kontinentalna Hrvatska62
Kriti63
Campania63
Lódzkie63
Latvija64
Norte64
Extremadura65
Pomorskie65
Réunion (NUTS 2010)66
Strední Morava67
Nyugat-Dunántúl67
Centro (PT)67
West Wales and The Valleys67
Severovýchod68
Ionia Nisia (NUTS 2010)68
Vzhodna Slovenija (NUTS 2010)68
Moravskoslezsko69
Basilicata69
Sardegna69
Andalucía70
Ciudad Autónoma de Melilla (ES)70
Molise70
Slaskie70
Cornwall and Isles of Scilly70
Região Autónoma dos Açores (PT)71
Západné Slovensko71
Yugozapaden72
Guadeloupe (NUTS 2010)72
Alentejo72
Strední Cechy73
Jihozápad73
Eesti73
Lietuva73
Wielkopolskie73
Tees Valley and Durham73
Região Autónoma da Madeira (PT)74
Martinique (NUTS 2010)75
Notio Aigaio76
Castilla-la Mancha76
Dolnoslaskie76
South Yorkshire76
Lincolnshire76
Prov. Luxembourg (BE)77
Jihovýchod77
Región de Murcia77
Ciudad Autónoma de Ceuta (ES)77
Prov. Hainaut78
Algarve79
Lancashire79
Lorraine80
Limousin80
Shropshire and Staffordshire80
Canarias (ES)81
East Yorkshire and Northern Lincolnshire81
Mecklenburg-Vorpommern82
Comunidad Valenciana82
Picardie82
Franche-Comté82
Languedoc-Roussillon82
Merseyside82
Devon82
Northern Ireland (UK)82
Galicia83
Highlands and Islands83
Principado de Asturias84
Prov. Namur85
Thüringen85
Border, Midland and Western85
Abruzzo85
Northumberland and Tyne and Wear85
Sachsen-Anhalt86
Cantabria86
Poitou-Charentes86
Malta86
Sjælland87
Brandenburg87
Basse-Normandie87
Nord - Pas-de-Calais87
Auvergne87
Essex87
Kent87
Prov. Liège88
Bretagne88
Burgenland (AT)88
Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire88
Castilla y León89
Centre (FR)89
Bourgogne89
Corse89
Kypros89
Cumbria89
Dorset and Somerset89
South Western Scotland90
Umbria91
West Midlands91
Outer London (NUTS 2010)91
Drenthe92
Haute-Normandie93
Marche93
Pohjois- ja Itä-Suomi93
Leicestershire, Rutland and Northamptonshire93
Champagne-Ardenne94
Aquitaine94
North Yorkshire94
West Yorkshire94
Herefordshire, Worcestershire and Warwickshire94
East Wales94
Midi-Pyrénées95
Greater Manchester95
Pays de la Loire96
Friesland (NL)96
Zahodna Slovenija (NUTS 2010)97
Attiki98
Prov. Limburg (BE)99
Illes Balears99
Alsace99
Flevoland99
East Anglia100
Etelä-Suomi101
Eastern Scotland101
Schleswig-Holstein102
La Rioja102
Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur102
Aragón103
Länsi-Suomi103
Norra Mellansverige103
Zeeland104
Niederösterreich105
Piemonte106
Nordjylland107
Rhône-Alpes107
Friuli-Venezia Giulia107
Toscana107
Limburg (NL)107
Kärnten107
Mazowieckie107
Sydsverige107
Közép-Magyarország108
Overijssel108
Área Metropolitana de Lisboa108
Småland med öarna108
Prov. Oost-Vlaanderen109
Östra Mellansverige109
Syddanmark111
Cataluña111
Veneto111
Gelderland111
Hampshire and Isle of Wight111
Liguria112
Mellersta Norrland112
Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire112
Midtjylland113
Berlin113
Prov. West-Vlaanderen114
Gloucestershire, Wiltshire and Bristol/Bath area114
Surrey, East and West Sussex115
Saarland116
Comunidad Foral de Navarra116
Steiermark116
Cheshire116
Lazio118
Emilia-Romagna120
Västsverige120
Övre Norrland121
País Vasco122
Prov. Vlaams-Brabant126
Provincia Autonoma di Trento127
Comunidad de Madrid128
Prov. Brabant Wallon129
Zuid-Holland130
Oberösterreich130
Bucuresti - Ilfov131
Valle d'Aosta/Vallée d'Aoste132
Noord-Brabant133
Lombardia134
Vorarlberg134
Tirol135
Prov. Antwerpen140
Åland140
Southern and Eastern146
Helsinki-Uusimaa148
Provincia Autonoma di Bolzano/Bozen149
Salzburg151
Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire152
Hovedstaden155
Utrecht155
Bremen159
Noord-Holland159
Wien159
North Eastern Scotland166
Praha173
Île de France175
Stockholm179
Bratislavský kraj184
Groningen187
Hamburg195
Rég. Bruxelles / Brussels Gewest207
Luxembourg258
Inner London (NUTS 2010)325

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