In September 1960 the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries or OPEC was founded. The organization’s founders were five different developing countries that aimed to unify the prices and policies of oil, regulating the way it was produced and sold to other nations. These five countries were Iraq, Iran, Kuwait, Venezuela and Saudi Arabia, and all of them remain to be members of the OPEC until nowadays.

Along the years, many other nations have joined the OPEC. Among them, we can find Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Nigeria, Ecuador, Algeria, Gabon, Angola, Libya, and Equatorial Guinea. One of the countries that joined the OPEC but is not a member anymore is Indonesia. Also, countries such as Ecuador or Gabon have not been permanent members of the OPEC, suspending their participation for several years and rejoining the Organization in time.

Nowadays, the OPEC has a 14 Member Countries in total. In this article, we will share some facts about each one of these members, including the founders and the nations that joined the Organization later in time.

Algeria

Algeria is the largest country in Africa and also the largest Member Country of the OPEC in terms of territory. It has been an independent republic only for the past 55 years, after struggling with its independence for years. Currently, at least 40 million people live in Algeria, holding Arabic as its main language, thought, French and Berber are also spoke by some people.

Algeria became a member of the OPEC in 1969 as the production of oil and gas represent the biggest source of income in the country (35% of their domestic product).

Angola

Angola is the second-largest producer of oil in Africa. With a population of almost 26 million people who speak Portuguese, this country greatly depends on oil production to exist. Oil represents 95% of the country’s exports. It joined the OPEC ten years ago.

Ecuador

Located in Latin America, Ecuador joined the OPEC in 1973 and decided to suspend its membership in 1992, just to reactivate it in 2007. Oil represents only a part of its industry since the country also exports goods such as fruits, vegetables, flowers, cereals, and fish. This is one of the most biodiverse Member Countries of the OPEC.

Equatorial Guinea

Located in Central Africa, Equatorial Guinea is made of numerous islands where less than a million people live at. Despite its size, this nation is responsible for the exports of crude oil and natural gas. It shares the same currency as Gabon does (another member of the OPEC). Also, the spoken languages in this nation include Spanish, French, and Portuguese. The country became a member of the OPEC less than a month ago.

Gabon

Also located in Central Africa, Gabon has less than 2 million inhabitants. Despite its size, this nation is responsible for the production of oil and other materials such as timber, metals, and minerals. It has been a member of the OPEC since 1975, even though it suspended its membership from 1995 to 2016.

Image courtesy of Steve Snodgrass at Flickr.com

Iran

Iran is one of the largest countries in the world. Also, it is one of the world’s oldest civilizations. With a population that exceeds the 70 million inhabitants, this nation is responsible for the production of oil, natural gas, different minerals, and metals. Thanks to this, it was a founder Member of the OPEC in 1960.

Iraq

Iraq shares borders with three other OPEC Member Countries (Iran, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia). It has 37 million inhabitants and has been an independent republic since 1958. It is also a Founder Member of the OPEC and among its natural resources, oil and natural are of extreme importance for the country’s economy.

Kuwait

Kuwait is the most densely populated Member Country of the OPEC. It has a wealthy economy that greatly depends on oil and natural gas. It is also a Founder Member of the OPEC.

Libya

Located in North Africa, Libya is one of the largest countries in the world. It is one of the world’s main producers of oil, natural gas and other sources of energy. Its economy mostly depends on oil production, thanks to this, it decided to join the OPEC in 1962.

Nigeria

Nigeria is the most populous Member Country of the OPEC, with nearly 183 million people. Its main language is English, however, other languages such as Yoruba, Hausa or Igbo can be used by many people.

This country is a big oil producer, however, it is also rich in other materials, such as metals, minerals, arable land and natural gas. However, the oil production represents a third of its economy. Thanks to this, Nigeria joined the OPEC in 1971.

Qatar

Qatar joined the OPED a year after it was founded. It is the smallest Member Country in terms of population and territory. Nevertheless, it is one of the biggest oil and natural gas producers in the Middle East. Thanks to oil, Qatar became one of the wealthiest economies of the world during the past years.

Saudi Arabia

This Kingdom is one of the largest nations of the world. It is the owner of 18 percent of the oil reserves of the world. Its economy largely depends on oil production, however, it also produces natural gas, gold, and copper. This is also a Founder Member of the OPEC.

The United Arab Emirates

This nation comprises different territories (Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Fujairah, Ajman, Ras Al-Khaimah, Al-Quwain, and Sharjah and Umm). This country depends largely on the production of oil (40% of its gross domestic product). Thanks to this, it decided to join the OPEC in 1967. Thanks to oil, this country has become one of the wealthiest and moderns stated of the world.

Venezuela

Located in the northern part of South America, Venezuela is one of the biggest oil producers in America. Its economy depends on oil, natural, gas, metals, diamonds, and minerals. It is also a Founder Member of the OPEC.

Related: Winners and losers in the drop of oil prices by Suzzanne Uhland

* Featured Image courtesy of Svetoslav Nikolov at Flickr.com