In 1956, a total of seven countries participated in what was Europe’s biggest technological experiment. As a success, the contest began to grow steadily, and 60 years later, Eurovision has seen more than 50 nations competing for the ultimate goal of winning Europe’s favourite contest.
To be eligible to compete in Eurovision, the country has to be an active member of the European Broadcasting Union (EBU). To be an active member, the country has to be located within the broadcasting area. The area spans further than what can be generally considered as ‘Europe’, therefore technically, countries from Western Asia, such as Israel or Cyprus, transcontinental nations such as Georgia, Azerbaijan and Armenia, as well as countries from North Africa, such as Morocco, can compete in Eurovision.
If a country within this region wishes to compete, the must fulfil the rules set out by the EBU. These rules change year to year, however what continues year to year is that the nation must pay a fee to the EBU before a specified deadline.
These countries can choose whether they would like to participate in a particular year, therefore the number of participating countries changes each year. Over the past decade, we have seen the number of participants’ average at about 40 per year.
The majority of the eligible countries have in fact competed in the contest, however some nations have yet to make their debut. These include Liechtenstein, who have yet to become an active member of the EBU, and Lebanon, who were set to compete in 2005 however withdrew for politically related reasons.
In 2015, for the first time, we will see the participation of Australia. This is said to be a one-off appearance for the country as part of the 60th anniversary of Eurovision. This is the first time a country from outside the EBU broadcasting lines will compete in the contest.