With the initial agreement signed on March 22, 1945, the Arab League has existed for more than 70 years.
Although relations between Arab states have not always been smooth, the league has persevered and championed the cause of a pan-Arab identity. However, although you may know that there are 22 member states and might even be able to name most of them, did you know these 7 facts about the Arab League?
1. Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq, Syria, Saudi Arabia and Yemen founded the league
The seven founding members all signed the charter in 1945, with Yemen signing several months after the others. In 1953, the first expansion of the League occurred when Libya was admitted. Comoros and Djibouti are the newest members, joining in 1993 and 1977 respectively.
2. The Arab League's principle criteria for membership is language
Although all – with the exception of Lebanon – of the Arab League countries also have an overwhelming majority of Muslim citizens, the league is united by the Arabic language and not religious or ethnicity. Arab identity is complicated and is defined differently by different people, even within the Arab world.
Several members also have additional official languages besides Arabic.
3. There are four observer members – who don't all speak Arabic
In addition to the league's 22 members, four countries – Brazil, Venezuela, India and Eritrea – are classified as observer states. Brazil, Venezuela and India do not use Arabic as an official or working language of their countries. Eritrea, however, does use Arabic along with English and Tigrinya.
4. All but one secretary-general of the Arab League has been Egyptian
Chedil Klibi of Tunisia served as the league's fourth secretary-general from 1979-1990. Only eight people, all of them men, have held the position. The current secretary-general, Ahmed Aboul Gheit, took office in July.
Additionally, six of the seven Egyptian secretary-generals were also former foreign ministers of Egypt.
5. Each Arab state has one vote when decisions are made
However, decisions are only binding for the countries that voted for them. Basically, each country can technically choose whether to follow the crowd or do its own thing.
6. The Arab League spans a territory of about 14 million square kilometers
That's more than three times the size of the European Union and nearly 50 percent bigger than the United States. As of 2014, there were approximately 366 million people living in the Arab League.
7. Three members have been suspended from the league
Egypt was the first to be suspended in 1979, following the signing of the Egypt-Israeli Peace Treaty. It was readmitted 10 years late in 1989. Libya was suspended in February of 2011, during the country's revolution, and restored as a member by August of that year with the National Transitional Council representing the country. Also in 2011, Syria's membership was suspended as the country's ongoing civil war escalated. The Syrian Opposition currently represents Syria instead of the government of Bashar Assad.