The perfect gas law is used as a reference when selecting state variables (P, V, T, n) needed to characterize ideal gases (vapors), liquids and solids. Van der Waals equation of state is used as a reference for models characterizing interactions in liquids, solids and their mixtures. Van der Waals loop introduces meta- and unstable states between the observed gas (vapor)-liquid P-V transitions at low T. These intermediate states are shown to appear also between liquid-liquid, liquid-solid and solid-solid phase transitions. First-order phase transitions are characterized by a sharp discontinuity of first-order partial derivatives (P, S, V) of Helmholtz and Gibbs free energies. Second-order partial derivatives (K-T, B, C-V, C-P, E) consist of a static contribution relating to second-order phase transitions and a relaxation contribution representing the degree of first-order phase transitions. Bimodal (first-order) and spinodal (second-order) phase boundaries are used to separate stable phases from metastable and unstable phases. The boundaries are identified and quantified by partial derivatives of molar Gibbs free energy or chemical potentials with respect to P, S, V and composition (mole fractions). Molecules confined to spread Langmuir monolayers or adsorbed Gibbs monolayers are characterized by equation of state and adsorption isotherms relating to a two-dimensional van der Waals equation of state. The basic work of two-dimensional wetting (cohesion, adsorption, spreading, immersion), have to be adjusted by a horizontal surface pressure in the presence of adsorbed vapor layers. If the adsorption is extended to liquid films a vertical surface pressure (Pi) may be added to account for the lateral interaction, thus restoring PV = Pi Ah dependence of thin films. Van der Waals attraction, Coulomb repulsion and structural hydration forces contribute to the vertical surface pressure. A van der Waals type coexistence of ordered (dispersed) and disordered (aggregated) phases is shown to exist when liquid vapor is confined in capillaries (condensation-liquefaction-evaporation and flux). This phenomenon can be experimentally illustrated with suspended nano-sized particles (flocculation-coagulation-peptisation of colloidal sols) being confined in sample holders of varying size. The self-assembled aggregates represent critical self-similar equilibrium structures corres-ponding to rate determining complexes in kinetics. Overall, a self-consistent thermodynamic framework is established for the characterization of two- and three-dimensional phase separations in one-, two- and three-component systems.