South Asian nations have formed the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), an intergovernmental organization whose mission is to promote economic growth and regional integration across the subcontinent.
The SAARC countries occupy 3% of the earth’s land surface or over 2 million square miles. All member nations’ populations totaled more than 1.7 billion in 2019, accounting for 21% of the world’s total. SAARC nations accounted for 4.21 percent of the world GDP during this time.
The first grouping of seven nations, including Pakistan, the Maldives, Bhutan, and the Indian subcontinent, formed the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) in 1985.
In 2008, Afghanistan became the eighth country to join the United Nations, but only after a lengthy dispute concerning its commitment to peace and whether or not it should be regarded as a South Asian nation. The SAARC observer status extends to several more nations.
List of SAARC Member Countries:
List of SAARC Observer Countries:
|European Union||non-member observer|
|Russia||applicant for observer status|
|Sri Lanka||non-member observer|
|Turkey||applicant for observer status|
Myanmar has expressed a desire to join SAARC at the full membership level, which bodes well for the future growth of SAARC. The Russian Federation and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus have filed to be observers, while South Africa has been a visitor at previous SAARC meetings.
The SAARC has its own set of problems.
By progressively decreasing or removing tariffs between SAARC member nations, SAARC inaugurated the South Asian Free Trade Area (SAFTA) in 2006.
Although SAFTA has been widely regarded as a success, Malaysia has been accused of utilizing SAFTA to export palm oil into India through Nepal unlawfully.
Also See: Republic Countries 2022
SAARC had summit meetings every one to three years from its inception in 1985 till 2014. (eighteen summits over 29 years). An assault on the Indian Army’s Uri command center by a group of Pakistani rebels occurred soon before the 2016 summit was supposed to take place in Pakistan.
Other SAARC members expressed fear about possible terrorist attacks should the summit go ahead as planned, as tensions between the governments of India and Pakistan increased. The 2016 summit was eventually canceled. Since April 2022, SAARC has not convened.
|United States||non-member observer||338289.8570|
|South Africa||previous participant||59893.8850|
|South Korea||non-member observer||51815.8100|