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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 508 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 : 508 450 856)

CountryTotal populationPopulation %
Malta4293440,08%
Luxembourg5629580,11%
Cyprus8470080,17%
Estonia13132710,26%
Latvia19860960,39%
Slovenia20628740,41%
Lithuania29212620,57%
Croatia42253160,83%
Ireland46289490,91%
Slovakia54213491,07%
Finland54717531,08%
Denmark56597151,11%
Bulgaria72021981,42%
Austria85762611,69%
Sweden97473551,92%
Hungary98555711,94%
Portugal103748222,04%
Czech Republic105382752,07%
Greece108580182,14%
Belgium112584342,21%
Netherlands169007263,32%
Romania198706473,91%
Poland380056147,47%
Spain464495659,14%
Italy6079561211,96%
United Kingdom6487516512,76%
France6641516113,06%
Germany8119753715,97%
Total population508450856100%

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
Severozapaden29
Mayotte30
Severen tsentralen32
Yuzhen tsentralen32
Nord-Est34
Poranesna jugoslovenska Republika Makedonija36
Severoiztochen38
Yugoiztochen39
Sud-Vest Oltenia40
Észak-Magyarország41
Észak-Alföld42
Sud - Muntenia43
Dél-Dunántúl45
Dél-Alföld46
Lubelskie47
Podkarpackie47
Nord-Vest47
Warminsko-Mazurskie48
Swietokrzyskie49
Podlaskie49
Sud-Est49
Centru51
Anatoliki Makedonia, Thraki52
Ipeiros52
Východné Slovensko52
Opolskie54
Dytiki Ellada55
Kujawsko-Pomorskie55
Thessalia56
Guyane56
Zachodniopomorskie56
Lubuskie56
Vest56
Jadranska Hrvatska57
Kentriki Makedonia58
Voreio Aigaio58
Közép-Dunántúl59
Malopolskie59
Kontinentalna Hrvatska60
Calabria60
Stredné Slovensko60
Peloponnisos61
Latvija62
Lódzkie62
Severozápad63
Kriti63
Extremadura63
Campania63
Puglia64
Sicilia64
Pomorskie64
Norte64
Ionia Nisia66
Vzhodna Slovenija66
Strední Morava67
Sterea Ellada67
Nyugat-Dunántúl67
Centro (PT)67
Severovýchod68
Andalucía68
Moravskoslezsko69
Ciudad Autónoma de Melilla (ES)69
Alentejo69
West Wales and The Valleys69
Dytiki Makedonia70
La Réunion70
Basilicata70
Slaskie70
Região Autónoma dos Açores (PT)70
Západné Slovensko71
Castilla-la Mancha72
Wielkopolskie72
Guadeloupe73
Lietuva73
Região Autónoma da Madeira (PT)73
Yugozapaden74
Strední Cechy74
Jihozápad74
Sardegna74
Tees Valley and Durham74
Eesti75
Región de Murcia75
Molise75
Dolnoslaskie75
South Yorkshire75
Ciudad Autónoma de Ceuta (ES)76
Martinique76
Prov. Luxembourg (BE)77
Algarve77
Cornwall and Isles of Scilly77
Prov. Hainaut78
Notio Aigaio78
Canarias (ES)78
Jihovýchod79
Comunidad Valenciana79
Galicia80
Principado de Asturias80
Franche-Comté80
Outer London - East and North East80
Picardie81
Lorraine81
Limousin81
Merseyside81
Lincolnshire81
Cantabria82
Languedoc-Roussillon82
Lancashire82
East Yorkshire and Northern Lincolnshire82
Shropshire and Staffordshire82
Northern Ireland (UK)82
Mecklenburg-Vorpommern83
Northumberland and Tyne and Wear83
Prov. Namur84
Kypros84
Chemnitz85
Castilla y León85
Devon85
Sjælland86
Basse-Normandie86
Malta86
Sachsen-Anhalt87
Thüringen87
Border, Midland and Western87
Nord - Pas-de-Calais87
Auvergne87
Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire87
West Midlands87
Essex87
Kent87
Prov. Liège88
Brandenburg88
Lüneburg88
Poitou-Charentes88
Abruzzo88
Umbria89
Dorset and Somerset89
South Western Scotland89
Centre (FR)90
Bourgogne90
Bretagne90
Corse90
Burgenland (AT)90
West Yorkshire91
East Wales91
Greater Manchester92
Highlands and Islands92
Dresden93
Champagne-Ardenne93
Marche93
Pohjois- ja Itä-Suomi93
Haute-Normandie94
Cumbria94
Outer London - South94
Illes Balears95
Aquitaine95
Drenthe95
Leicestershire, Rutland and Northamptonshire95
Pays de la Loire96
Friesland (NL)96
Zahodna Slovenija96
North Yorkshire97
Herefordshire, Worcestershire and Warwickshire97
Prov. Limburg (BE)98
Trier98
La Rioja98
Midi-Pyrénées98
Eastern Scotland98
Alsace99
Etelä-Suomi99
Attiki100
Aragón100
Flevoland100
East Anglia100
Zeeland101
Länsi-Suomi101
Norra Mellansverige101
Leipzig102
Piemonte102
Schleswig-Holstein103
Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur103
Hedmark og Oppland103
Friuli-Venezia Giulia104
Koblenz105
Liguria105
Área Metropolitana de Lisboa106
Småland med öarna106
Sydsverige106
Cataluña107
Toscana107
Közép-Magyarország107
Overijssel107
Niederösterreich107
Mazowieckie107
Nordjylland108
Gießen108
Münster108
Rhône-Alpes108
Limburg (NL)108
Sør-Østlandet108
Prov. Oost-Vlaanderen109
Veneto109
Östra Mellansverige109
Mellersta Norrland109
Weser-Ems110
Gelderland110
Kärnten110
Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire110
Hampshire and Isle of Wight111
Gloucestershire, Wiltshire and Bristol/Bath area111
Oberfranken112
Arnsberg112
Comunidad Foral de Navarra112
Syddanmark113
Midtjylland114
Surrey, East and West Sussex115
Prov. West-Vlaanderen116
Kassel116
Lazio116
Saarland117
Steiermark117
Berlin118
Rheinhessen-Pfalz118
País Vasco118
Övre Norrland118
Outer London - West and North West118
Västsverige119
Freiburg120
Niederbayern120
Hannover120
Emilia-Romagna120
Detmold121
Nord-Norge121
Cheshire123
Schwaben124
Comunidad de Madrid124
Unterfranken125
Oberpfalz126
Provincia Autonoma di Trento126
Bucuresti - Ilfov127
Prov. Vlaams-Brabant129
Trøndelag129
Prov. Brabant Wallon130
Lombardia130
Köln131
Zuid-Holland132
Düsseldorf133
Valle d'Aosta/Vallée d'Aoste133
Oberösterreich133
Tübingen134
Mittelfranken134
Noord-Brabant134
Braunschweig135
Karlsruhe139
Tirol139
Vorarlberg139
Prov. Antwerpen141
Åland142
Vestlandet147
Southern and Eastern148
Helsinki-Uusimaa149
Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire149
Provincia Autonoma di Bolzano/Bozen150
Agder og Rogaland150
Salzburg154
Utrecht155
Hovedstaden157
Stuttgart159
Bremen160
Darmstadt162
Noord-Holland162
Wien163
North Eastern Scotland163
Praha173
Stockholm173
Oberbayern178
Île de France181
Bratislavský kraj187
Groningen192
Oslo og Akershus194
Inner London - East198
Hamburg204
Rég. Bruxelles / Brussels Gewest211
Luxembourg264
Inner London - West528

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