Coordinates: The Baltic states, also known as the Baltic countries, Baltic republics, Baltic nations or simply the Baltics (Estonian: Balti riigid, Baltimaad, Latvian: Baltijas valstis, Lithuanian: Baltijos valstybės), is a geopolitical term used for grouping the three sovereign countries in Northern Europe on the eastern coast of the Baltic Sea: Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. The term is not used in the context of cultural areas, national identity or language.
The three countries cooperate on a regional level in several intergovernmental organizations.
All three countries are members of the European Union, NATO and the Eurozone. They are classified as high-income economies by the World Bank and maintain high Human Development Index. Estonia and Latvia are also members of the OECD, while Lithuania is a prospective candidate.
The term "Baltic" stems from the name of the Baltic Sea – a hydronym dating back to the 11th century (Adam of Bremen mentioned Latin: Mare Balticum) and earlier. Although there are several theories about its origin, most ultimately trace it to Indo-European root *bhel meaning white, fair. This meaning is retained in modern Baltic languages, where baltas (in Lithuanian) and balts (in Latvian) mean "white". However the modern names of the region and the sea, that originate from this root, were not used in either of the two languages prior to the 19th century.
Beginning in the Middle Ages and through the present day, the Baltic Sea appears on the maps described in Germanic languages as German: Ostsee, Danish: Østersøen, Dutch: Oostzee, Swedish: Östersjön, etc. In English "Ost" is "East", and in fact, the Baltic Sea mostly lies to the east of Germany, Denmark, Norway, and Sweden. These names were historically also used to refer to Baltic Dominions of Swedish Empire (Swedish: Östersjöprovinserna) and Baltic governorates of Russian Empire (Russian: Остзейские губернии, translit. Ostzejskie gubernii).