This essay contains briefings on five wealthy Western European countries – Finland, France, Italy, Norway, and Spain. France and Italy are founding members of the European Union (EU), Finland and Spain are later EU entrants, whereas Norway has opted to stay out of the EU. Each briefing focuses on political, economic, and cultural history and on indicators of recent socio-economic development. I wrote the briefings for various European programs operated by Stanford Travel/Study and other companies during the past two decades.
The historical section of each of the five briefings begins with early settlement and then sets out key turning points in history for the country during the past two millennia. The primary indicators of recent socio-economic development are levels and growth rates of income per capita, adult literacy, life expectancy at birth, and rankings in the United Nations’ Human Development Index, the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Index, and Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index. I append a time line, bibliography, and description of sites visited.
Paris, France, Madrid, Spain, Oslo, Norway, Rome, Italy, Helsinki, Finland,