The Council of Europe is the continent’s oldest political organisation, founded in 1949. It :
â€¢ groups together 46 countries, including 21 countries from Central and Eastern Europe,
â€¢ has application from 1 more country (Bélarus),
â€¢ has granted observer status to 5 more countries (the Holy See, the United States, Canada, Japan and Mexico),
â€¢ is distinct from the 25-nation European Union, but no country has ever joined the Union without first belonging to the Council of Europe,
â€¢ has its headquarters in Strasbourg, in north-eastern France.