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Fifty-two countries have participated in the Eurovision Song Contest since it started in 1956. Winners of the contest have come from twenty-seven of these countries. The contest, organised by the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), is held annually between members of the Union. Broadcasters from different countries submit songs to the event, and cast votes to determine the most popular in the competition.
Participation in the contest is primarily open to all active member broadcasters of the EBU. To be an active member, broadcasters must be a member of the European Broadcasting Union, or be in a Council of Europe member country. Eligibility to participate is not determined by geographic inclusion within the continent of Europe, despite the "Euro" in "Eurovision", nor does it have a direct connection with the European Union. Several countries geographically outside the boundaries of Europe have competed: Israel and Armenia, in Western Asia, since 1973, 1981 and 2006 respectively; Morocco, in North Africa, in the 1980 competition alone; and Australia making a debut in the 2015 contest. In addition, several transcontinental countries with only part of their territory in Europe have competed: Turkey, since 1975; Russia, since 1994; Georgia, since 2007; and Azerbaijan, which made its first appearance in the 2008 edition. Two of the countries that have previously sought to enter the competition, Lebanon and Tunisia, in Western Asia and North Africa respectively, are also outside of Europe. The Gulf state of Qatar, in Western Asia, announced in 2009 its interest in joining the contest in time for the 2011 edition. However, this did not materialise, and there are no known plans for a future Qatari entry the Eurovision Song Contest. Australia, where the contest has been broadcast since the 1970s, has participated every year since making its debut in 2015.
The number of countries participating each year has grown steadily, from seven in 1956 to over twenty in the late 1980s. A record 43 countries participated in 2008, 2011 and 2018. As the number of contestants has risen, preliminary competitions and relegation have been introduced, to ensure that as many countries as possible get the chance to compete. In 1993, a preliminary show, Kvalifikacija za Millstreet ("Qualification for Millstreet"), was held to select three Eastern European countries to compete for the first time at the main Contest. After the 1993 Contest, a relegation rule was introduced; the six lowest-placed countries in the contest would not compete the following year. In 1996, a new system was introduced. Audio tapes of all twenty-nine entrants were submitted to national juries. The twenty-two highest-placed songs after the juries voted reached the contest. Norway, as host country, was given a bye to the final. From 1997 to 2001 a system was used whereby the countries with the lowest average scores over the previous five years were relegated. Countries could not be relegated for more than one year.
Between 2001 and 2003, the relegation system used in 1994 and 1995 was used. In 2004, a semi-final was introduced. The ten highest-placed countries in the previous year's Contest qualified for the final, along with the "Big Four": the largest financial contributors to the EBU. All other countries entered the semi-final. Ten countries qualified from the semi, leaving a final of twenty-four. In 2008, two semi-finals were held with all countries, except the host country and the Big Four, participating in one of the semi-finals.
Some countries, such as Germany, France, The Netherlands and the United Kingdom, have entered most years, while Morocco has only entered once. Two countries, Tunisia and Lebanon, have attempted to enter the contest but withdrew before making a début. Liechtenstein, a country without an eligible television service, tried unsuccessfully to enter in 1976.
The following table lists the countries that have participated in the contest at least once. Shading indicates countries that have withdrawn from the contest.
Morocco participated in the contest once, in 1980. Luxembourg, one of the original seven participants, has not been seen at the contest since 1993. Italy withdrew from the contest in 1997 and returned in 2011. Slovakia previously competed three times between 1994 and 1998, failing to break into the top ten, but returned in 2009. Monaco returned to the contest in 2004, after over two decades out of the contest. However, the country failed to advance from the semi-final with each of its first three entries post-return, and withdrew after the 2006 Contest.
Yugoslavia and Serbia and Montenegro were both dissolved, in 1991 and 2006 respectively. Serbia and Montenegro participated in the 1992 Contest as the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia which consisted of only the two republics. Both Montenegro and Serbia have competed as separate countries since 2007.
|Country||Debut year||Latest entry||Entries||Wins||Broadcaster(s)|
|Bosnia and Herzegovina||BHRT|
France Télévisions (1983–present)
|Germany||HR (1956–1978) (ARD)|
BR (1979–1991) (ARD)
MDR (1992–1995) (ARD)
NDR (1996–present) (ARD)
|Greece||ERT (1974–2013, 2016–present)|
|Russia||RTR (1994, 1996, 2008–present)|
|Serbia and Montenegro||UJRT|
|Sweden||Sveriges Radiotjänst (1958)|
The table lists the participating countries in each decade since the first Eurovision Song Contest was held in 1956.
Seven countries participated in the first contest. Since then, the number of entries has increased steadily. In 1961, 3 countries debuted, Finland, Spain and Yugoslavia, joining the 13 already included. Yugoslavia will become the only socialist country to participate in the following three decades. In 1970, a Nordic-led boycott of the contest reduced the number of countries entering to twelve. By the late 1980s, over twenty countries had become standard.
In 1993, the collapse of the USSR in Eastern Europe gave many new countries the opportunity to compete. Three countries—Croatia, Slovenia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, all of them former Yugoslav republics—won through from a pre-qualifier to compete. After the 1993 event, a relegation system was introduced, allowing even more Eastern European countries to compete: seven more made their debut in 1994.
In 2003, three countries applied to make their debut: Albania, Belarus and Ukraine. In addition, Serbia and Montenegro, who had not competed since 1992, applied to return. The EBU, having originally accepted the four countries' applications, later rejected all but Ukraine; allowing four extra countries to compete would have meant relegating too many countries. The semi-final was introduced in 2004 in an attempt to prevent situations like this. The Union set a limit of forty countries, but by 2005 thirty-nine were competing. In 2007, the EBU lifted the limit, allowing forty-two countries to compete. Two semi-finals were held for the first time in 2008.
|Bosnia and Herzegovina||X||X||X||X||X||X|
|Bosnia and Herzegovina||X||X||X||X||X||X||X||X||X|
|Serbia and Montenegro||X||X||X|
|Bosnia and Herzegovina||X||X||X||X|
There have been several unsuccessful attempts to participate in the Eurovision Song Contest. For broadcasters to participate, they must be member of the EBU and register their intention to compete before the deadline specified in the rules of that year's event. Each participating broadcaster pays a fee towards the organisation of the contest. Should a country withdraw from the contest after the deadline, they will still need to pay these fees, and may also incur a fine or temporary ban.
China aired the Eurovision Song Contest 2015 and then Chinese provincial television channel Hunan Television had confirmed its interest in participating in the Eurovision Song Contest 2016. The EBU had responded saying "we are open and are always looking for new elements in each Eurovision Song Contest". However, on 3 June 2015, the EBU denied that China would participate as a guest or full participant in 2016.
During the Chinese broadcast of the first 2018 semi-final on Mango TV, both Albania and Ireland were edited out of the show, along with their snippets in the recap of all 19 entries. Albania was skipped due to a ban on television performers displaying tattoos that took effect in January 2018 while Ireland was censored due to its representation of a homosexual couple on-stage. In addition, the LGBT flag and tattoos on other performers were also blurred out from the broadcast. As a result, the EBU has terminated its partnership with Mango TV, citing that censorship "is not in line with the EBU's values of universality and inclusivity and its proud tradition of celebrating diversity through music," which led to a ban on televising the second semi-final and the grand final in the country. A spokesperson for the broadcaster's parent company Hunan TV said they "weren't aware" of the edits made to the programme.
Since 2010, the Faroese national broadcaster Kringvarp Føroya (KVF) has been attempting to gain EBU membership and thus participate independently in the Eurovision Song Contest. However KVF cannot obtain EBU membership due to the islands being a constituent part of the Kingdom of Denmark as determined by the unity of the Realm.
In late 2018, the Faroese national broadcaster Kringvarp Føroya showed renewed interest in joining the European Broadcasting Union and participating in the Eurovision Song Contest. According to the broadcaster, they are not excluded by the rule that only independent nations can join, and as a result the Faroese broadcaster started internal discussions on applying for the EBU membership and participating in the Eurovision Song Contest and even hosting a national final similar to the Dansk Melodi Grand Prix.
Kazakhstan has not participated in the Eurovision Song Contest yet. Kazakhstan is negotiating to join the European Broadcasting Union. The state television company (K-1) has been hoping for pending or approved EBU membership since 2008. If this happens, they may be eligible to compete in the Eurovision Song Contest. Nevertheless, they have broadcast the Eurovision Song Contests from 2010 onwards. However, according to the EBU, no Kazakh broadcaster has ever formally applied to join the EBU.
On 18 December 2015, it was announced that Khabar Agency, a major media outlet in Kazakhstan, had been accepted into the EBU as an Associate member, but were still not eligible to take part in the contest under the current rules. Only countries who are part of the European Broadcasting Area are eligible to participate, with Australia being the only exception after being an associate member for over 30 years.
They debuted at the Junior Eurovision Song Contest 2018 alongside Wales, placing sixth. On 30 July 2018, the EBU stated that the decision to invite Kazakhstan was made solely by the Junior Eurovision reference group, and there were no current plans to invite associate members other than Australia.
On 22 November 2018, Jon Ola Sand said in a press conference that "we need to discuss if we can invite our associate member Kazakhstan to take part in adult ESC in the future, but this is part of a broader discussion in the EBU and I hope we can get back to you on this issue later." However, shortly after he clarified that they will not have an entry in the 2019 edition.
Kosovo has never participated in the Eurovision Song Contest on its own, but the contest has had a long history within the country which has broadcast it since 1961, and after the start of Kosovo's UN administration, the Kosovan public broadcaster RTK has been independently licensed by the EBU to broadcast all three shows. Despite not having participated at the song contest, Kosovo did participate in the Eurovision Young Dancers 2011.
RTK can formally apply to become a member of the EBU, once Kosovo becomes a member of the International Telecommunications Union, as defined by the EBU rules. The EBU will vote on full membership of the Kosovar broadcaster in June 2019, possibly allowing the country to debut in 2020, or in the near future after that.
Jugovizija, the national pre-selection of Yugoslavia organized by the Yugoslav broadcaster Yugoslav Radio Television (JRT) since 1961 and it featured entries submitted by the subnational public broadcasting centres based in the capitals of each of the constituent republics and autonomous provinces. Each of them had its own regional jury. SAP Kosovo was represented by RTV Priština, but their entry has never won. Jugovizija 1986 was organized by RTV Priština. Before 2008 Kosovo declaration of independence, Viktorija a singer from Vučitrn represented Yugoslavia as part of Aska in 1982 and Nevena Božović from Mitrovica represented Serbia in the Junior Eurovision Song Contest 2007. After the breakup of Yugoslavia, numerous Kosovo Albanian singers participated at the Festivali i Këngës which is the Albanian national selection for Eurovision organized by RTSH. The most notable participants to date were Rona Nishliu who represented Albania in the Eurovision 2012 and Lindita who represented Albania in the Eurovision 2017. Some singers, especially Kosovo Serbs, participate in Serbian national selection organized by RTS. Nevena Božović also represented Serbia, as member of Moje 3, in the Eurovision Song Contest 2013 and she will compete in the Eurovision Song Contest 2019 again as a solo artist.
After Kosovo's declaration of independence from Serbia in 2008, its broadcaster Radio Television of Kosovo (RTK) applied for EBU membership, and wished to enter Kosovo into Eurovision Song Contest 2009. There is a cooperation agreement signed between the EBU and RTK and the EBU supports the membership of RTK. From 2013 on, RTK has observer status within the EBU and did participate in the Eurovision Young Dancers 2011. According to the Kosovan newspaper Koha Ditore, a possible entry would be selected via a national final called Akordet e Kosovës, a former pop show that had been taken off the air some years ago.
Lebanon has never participated in the Eurovision Song Contest. The country's broadcasting organization, Télé Liban, was set to make the country's debut at the Eurovision Song Contest 2005 with the song "Quand tout s'enfuit" performed by Aline Lahoud, but withdrew due to Lebanon's laws barring the broadcast of Israeli content.
Liechtenstein has never participated at the Eurovision Song Contest, but the contest has had a long history within the country, with at least one attempt to participate being made by the principality.
Liechtensteiners have had the opportunity to watch the contest on Swiss, Austrian or German television. The country has made attempts to participate in the contest in the past: in 1976 a Liechtenstein entry was selected to compete in the contest – Biggi Bachman and "Little Cowboy" would have been the country's first entry had there been a national broadcaster, but as there was none in the country the entry was rejected from competing.
On 15 August 2008, 1FLTV, licensed by Liechtenstein's government, became the first broadcaster based in Liechtenstein. This would allow the country to begin competing at the Eurovision Song Contest for the first time, should they decide to join the EBU, a pre-requisite for entering the contest. Shortly after its foundation however, the broadcaster announced that they were not interested in joining the EBU or Eurovision at that time because they had no budget for membership.
In July 2009, the broadcaster officially announced its intent to apply to join the EBU by the end of July, with the intent of taking part at the Eurovision Song Contest 2010, to be held in Oslo, Norway. Peter Kölbel, managing director of 1FLTV, officially confirmed the broadcaster's interest, revealing that they had plans to develop a national final similar to Deutschland sucht den Superstar, the German version of the Idol series. In November 2009, 1FLTV decided to postpone EBU and Eurovision plans, due to financial reasons began to search for other options for funding EBU membership in the future.
1FLTV submitted its application for EBU membership on 29 July 2010. If accepted, 1FLTV would have gained full EBU membership and would have been able to send an entry to the Eurovision Song Contest 2011. However, Liechtenstein did not appear on the official list of participants for Eurovision 2011. In late 2012 it was announced by Peter Kölbel of 1FLTV that Liechtenstein would not be able to take part till 2013 at the earliest. They had been trying to get government subsidies since 2010 to enable participation, participation was likely if in April 2012 the Government approved funding.
On 10 September 2013, 1FLTV informed and confirmed to Esctoday.com that Liechtenstein would not be participating at the Eurovision Song Contest 2014 in Copenhagen, Denmark. The broadcaster has no plans to join the EBU at the moment. This was confirmed again on 28 July 2014 in the run-up to the Eurovision Song Contest 2015 in Austria. 1FLTV did however state their interest in participating in the Eurovision Song Contest, but that they have to evaluate the costs of EBU membership, a necessary prelude to participation. 1FLTV confirmed that the nation will not be able to make its début in 2016, due to lack of funds to join the EBU. On 21 September 2016, 1FLTV announced that they would not be able to debut to the contest in 2017, but that they would set their eyes on a future participation once they overcome their financial hurdles. Yet again, on 1 September 2017 they also announced they would not debut at the 2018 contest in Lisbon.
On 4 November 2017 the broadcaster confirmed that it was planning to debut in the Eurovision Song Contest in 2019 and would organise a national selection to select both the singer and the song. However, on 20 July 2018, the EBU stated that 1 FL TV have not applied for membership.
Qatar Radio (QR) is currently an associate member of the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), while all competing countries of the Eurovision Song Contest must be active members of the Union. The broadcaster first revealed on 12 May 2009 that they were interested in becoming active members of the Union, which would allow the nation to compete in the Contest. Qatar Radio has stated that they hope to join Eurovision by 2011. [Qatar]] first became involved in the Contest at the 2009 edition, where the broadcaster sent a delegation to the contest and broadcast a weekly radio show called '12pointsqatar' dedicated to Eurovision, which received favourable responses and has initiated the further involvement of Qatar in Eurovision. Qatar Radio has said that they feel that they would be happy to join all other competitors in the contest, including Israel if Qatar gets membership.
Qatar is required to have a broadcaster which has at least associate membership of the EBU in order to have a chance to take part, as Qatar Radio is only a radio station and Qatar lies outside the European Broadcasting Area and cannot apply for Council of Europe membership, with Australia being the only exception after being an associate member for over 30 years. The broadcaster would most likely be Qatar Television (QTV) also owned and run by the Qatar General Broadcasting and Television Corporation (QGBTC). If Qatar Radio gets accepted too, then they would be able to air the contest alongside the television broadcast.
The Scottish National Party (SNP) has campaigned for a place in Eurovision for Scotland but had been rejected numerous times because Scotland is represented as a part of the British entry and is represented by the BBC. On 11 February 2008 the EBU stated that a Scottish broadcaster could apply for EBU membership, but under the current rules could not enter the Eurovision Song Contest as the BBC currently has exclusive rights to represent the entire United Kingdom.
Scotland would have been eligible to enter the contest had Scotland gained independence as a result of the Scottish independence referendum, 2014, as Scotland would therefore have been a separate country.
On 25 November 2013, the Scottish Government released a referendum blueprint which detailed plans for the transfer of BBC Scotland into the Scottish Broadcasting Service (SBS) and joining the EBU, as well as partaking in competitions, including Scottish entries in the Eurovision Song Contest. Had the referendum vote been favour of independence, then the earliest that Scotland would be eligible to debut would have been 2017. However, the referendum result on 18 September 2014 was to remain part of the United Kingdom, and the aforementioned BBC retains exclusive rights to represent the United Kingdom, including Scotland.
The Soviet Union never participated in the Eurovision Song Contest, but it made several attempts in the late 1980s. In 2009, Eduard Fomin, a former employee of the Ministry of Education of the RSFSR, revealed that in 1987 George Veselov, the Minister of Education for the Soviet Union, brought forward the idea of Soviet participation in the Eurovision Song Contest due to the number of political reforms made by the General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union Mikhail Gorbachev during the late 1980s. The idea was mainly a political one, with the thought that a win in the contest for the Soviet Union would impact on the relationships between the Soviet Union and the capitalist countries of the west. Valery Leontyev was suggested as a singer for the Soviet Union's first entry into the contest, but Veselov's ideas were not shared by the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, or by Gorbachev himself, believing it to be too radical a step to take, and so the Soviet Union never entered the contest before dissolving.
Some former republics of the Soviet Union, which were geographically situated in Europe, would later compete in the contest on their own in the 1990s and 2000s: Russia, Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova, Armenia, Georgia, and Azerbaijan, except Kazakhstan, with four of the countries going on to win one of the contests: Estonia, Latvia, Russia, and Azerbaijan. Ukraine was the first ex-USSR country to win twice.
Tunisia was to perform fourth in the 1977 Eurovision Song Contest's running order. The reason for the country's withdrawal was never officially established; rumours suggest ERTT did not want to compete with Israel. To date, the only African nation to participate in the Eurovision Song Contest is Morocco, who made just one appearance, in the 1980 contest. On 18 June 2007, the public Tunisian television broadcaster confirmed that due to a governmental request they will not participate in the contest.
In the 1960s, the late Welsh singer, scholar and writer Meredydd Evans proposed that Wales should have its own entry in the Eurovision Song Contest. In 1969, Cân i Gymru was launched by BBC Cymru Wales as a selection show for the contest, with songs to be performed in Welsh. However, it was decided that the BBC would continue to send one entry for the whole of the United Kingdom. Despite this, Cân i Gymru has been broadcast every year since, with the exception of 1973. The winning song takes part in the annual Pan Celtic Festival in Ireland. Wales has appeared as an independent country in another EBU production, Jeux Sans Frontières and Welsh national broadcaster S4C has been encouraged to take part in the Junior Eurovision Song Contest. Wales is also eligible to take part in minority language song contest Liet-Lávlut, but has so far shown no interest.
Wales participated in the inaugural Eurovision Choir of the Year in 2017, where they finished 2nd. Wales announced on 9 May 2018 that they would debut at the Junior Eurovision Song Contest 2018 in Minsk, Belarus. They finished in 20th place with 29 points.
|Brazil||Rede Tupi (RTTV)||1969, 1970, 1972|
|Chile||Canal 9||1969, 1970|
|Egypt||Egyptian Radio and Television Union (ERTU)||1981|
|Hong Kong||Radio Television Hong Kong (RTHK)||1971–1972, 1975, 1978–1979|
|India||All India Radio (AIR)||TBC|
|Japan||Japan Broadcasting Corporation (NHK)||1972, 1975, 1978, 2000|
|Jordan||Jordan Radio and Television Corporation (JRTV)||1975, 1978|
|Kyrgyzstan||Kyrgyz Television (KTRK)||2012 |
|Mexico||Canal de las Estrellas||2004|
|New Zealand||BBC UKTV||2014–2016|
|Puerto Rico||Maquila Solidarity Network (MSN)||2003–2004|
|South Korea||Korean Broadcasting System (KBS)||1975|
|Taiwan||Taiwan Television (TTV)||1972|
|Thailand||National Broadcasting Services of Thailand (NBT)||1972|
|United States||Unknown, Logo TV||2000, 2016–present|