Much like the First World War, the number of countries involved in the Second World War was exceedingly high. There were two main opposing armies, towards whom other countries pledged their allegiances.
The side considered the ‘aggressors’ of the Second World War was known as the ‘Axis powers’, led by Nazi Germany, and joined by Italy from 1940-43, as well as Japan, who led the Axis power in the Pacific theatre. As Nazi Germany expanded in territory, and occupied other countries within Europe, the number of countries thus fighting on the side of the Nazis grew. Countries annexed by the Axis leaders include Austria, parts of Mongolia and China, Romania, some of the Pacific Islands, Greece, France, Libya, Somalia, Poland, the Philippines, and Bulgaria. Countries that willingly fought in support of the Axis powers include Thailand, Iraq, and Finland.
Great Britain, Russia, and the USA were the leading countries of the Allied forces, although Great Britain was the only one to declare war against Germany as early as 1939. France also declared war in 1939, but was defeated and subsequently occupied by the Nazis in 1940. Russia – then known as the USSR – did not join the war effort until 1941, after the attempted occupation of Moscow, which followed a successful invasion of the capital, Leningrad (now known as St Petersburg). The USA joined following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour in 1941. The offense against Russia, and the arrival of the USA in the Allied forces, are considered the point at which the war began to turn in the favour of the Allies, since Hitler looked to have over-stretched himself in the pursuit of Russia, and the USA brought an enormous number of men into the army on the side of the Allies.
Great Britain in the 1940s still had a lot of countries within its Empire and Commonwealth, and so many of them were brought in to fight for the Allied cause. Countries that fought for the Allies include Canada, Brazil, Australia, South Africa, Jamaica, New Zealand, the Netherlands, British India (which included territories we now know as Burma, Bangladesh, and Pakistan), Mexico, Belgium, and Southern Rhodesia, which is now called Zimbabwe.
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