The World’s Strongest Militaries That Protect Their Country

If you don’t have borders, you don’t have a country. The noble men and women who protect their country’s borders deserve all the necessary resources at their disposal. Governments carefully designate funds from taxpayers to make sure their militaries can protect and defend the nations they serve. Some countries need this more than others. The cost of this can sometimes rack up millions or billions of dollars – is it worth it?

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Here, we outline some of the strongest militaries in the world and how they prepare to operate on the world’s stage. Hopefully, we will never have to see how powerful these entities can be.


Australia might not be a country that immediately brings a strong military to mind, but it should be far from understated. The country has 30,000 active members and an additional 14,000 ready to jump in if necessary. Overall, the army has 408 air vehicles, 59 tanks, and 52 ships.

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Despite its relatively small size compared to other countries, Australia’s army succeeds in its Naval efforts and impressive $24.4 billion annual budget. Don’t underestimate the army down under.


With 69 million people, Thailand is one of the most populated countries in the world. It didn’t waste any time building an army that could protect its borders in case of an attack. Thailand is located in the middle of the Indochinese peninsula, which means it needs to protect its many islands.

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The country has 355,000 full-time military members who control 772 tanks, 81 sea vessels, and 551 aircraft. It’s understood that Thailand spends $7.1 billion on its military budget. To date, its military has helped in a number of peacekeeping missions, such as with countries like Iraq and East Timor.


One of the largest populations on the list, Mexico has a massive 129 million people. This means that the country has 183,000 active soldiers on duty at any given time. On top of this, there are many more in the reserves in case they need them.

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Mexico doesn’t have any fighter or combat jets and relies on ground force. Weirdly, the country doesn’t have an aircraft carrier and solely relies on its work on the ground and in the water. With a budget of more than $5.7 billion USD, it has plenty of military assets to play with.


Peru has a population of 32 million people – with 78,000 active personnel at their disposal. 168,000 people wait as part of the reserves who are called if necessary. These brave men and women are prepared to stand up and serve at a moment’s notice.

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Peru also has an air force including attack helicopters, fighter jets, and air support. On the ground, there are an additional 300 combat tanks, vehicles fully armed, and rockets. Overall, the budget stands at around $775 million per year.


You might not think the Netherlands needs such a strong military, but you’d be woefully mistaken. The country has 17 million people with 42,000 people currently serving in its forces. It is fairly small compared to others, but it has an impressive amount of fighter jets, helicopters, 144 battle tanks, and self-propelled artillery.

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The country designates $12.6 billion a year to protecting itself, which is an impressive number considering its size. While it doesn’t operate an aircraft carrier, there are plenty of warships and submarines.


Taiwan needs to maintain its military strength, considering the looming threat of China and other nations. It has 300,000 active personnel with an additional 1.6 million in reserve. Not bad for a country with only 23 million people. Just some of the machines it operates include 102 naval ships, 815 air vehicles, and 2,005 tanks.

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Each trainee goes through many physical and mental tests before being welcomed into the military. This can include crawling through jagged coral and rocks. The budget is $10.2 billion per year.


It really is true what they say about the Swiss. The country has a fairly modest armed force, despite a population of 8.4 million people. At any given time, there are 200,000 people active military members with an additional 120,000 on reserves.

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Even though it has a small airborne force, this doesn’t include any attack helicopters. Generally, the army holds 224 combat tanks and more armed vehicles since it has no need for a navy. The country is completely land-locked and has no direct access to the sea.


Norway has a modest population of 5.2 million people, meaning its armed forces only holds 3,500 soldiers at any given time. The country keeps 46,000 on the waiting list for reserves if the country ever feels it necessary to deploy them.

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Despite the small size, Norway has 57 fight jets and a few transport systems. Generally, the country focuses on its land tactics and does not spend time in the air. With its $7.2 billion budget, it collects naval equipment including submarines.


Even though it has a quarter of the population, Malaysia’s army is a little less than half the size of Mexico’s. There are roughly 110,000 active members from a population of 31 million, with an additional 310,000 in the reserves.

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Malaysia has a small fleet of 44 fighter jets and a few helicopters. Overall, the country focuses most of its military on combat tanks and rocket projectors. There are no aircraft but is protected by submarines and corvettes.

Czech Republic

The Czech Republic has a modest population of 10.5 million people, with a little less than 25,000 active soldiers. 2,800 additional people are on the reserves. The military features a small number of helicopters, fighter jets, and support vehicles that include 24 helicopters.

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The country is landlocked between Germany and Slovakia so doesn’t rely on naval services. Therefore, it builds strong artillery with 123 combat tanks and armored cars. The budget from the government is $2.9 billion per year.

Myanmar (Burma)

With a population of 53 million, Myanmar’s military is fairly small with only 406,000 soldiers in active duty. The army focuses more on air power than the naval portions, designating 128 fighter jets, 10 attack helicopters, and more support transportation services.

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The overall budget is $2 billion USD per year which offers money for more combat tanks and artillery options if necessary. Generally. The armed forces work to protect the borders and support the country in times of crises.


Ukraine has one of the most impressive militaries, despite its population of 44 million. The country has a massive 1.2 million military soldiers with 182,000 active at any given moment. Ukraine also has its own airborne division that has 188 jets and several helicopters.

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On the ground, the Ukrainian military has a whopping 3,784 combat tanks and fighting vehicles. As for the Navy – it practically doesn’t exist. It has a few vehicles but focuses on the land and the sky. It has an annual budget of more than $6.8 billion.


Sweden is a famously diplomatic country and its 10 million citizens are rarely facing times of war. Therefore, its military is comprised of a little more than 43,000 people. Amazingly, only 21,000 of these are active at a time, making it a fairly peaceful nation.

Generally, they focus mostly on their aircraft, boasting 138 fighter jets. There are 160 combat tanks on the ground and self-propelled artillery. Sweden has five submarines it deploys in its waters. Overall, its annual budget is $6.2 billion.


Greece’s population is a little less than 11 million but has a surprisingly large military. Overall, there are 413,000 members of the armed forces with 161,000 active soldiers at all times. The country boasts 308 fighter and attack aircraft, with an additional 1,244 battle tanks.

Due to the waters surrounding its islands, the military also invested in 11 submarines to help protect its coastal borders. Overall, the government spends around $4.5 billion a year on its services.


There are more than 46 million people living in Spain, giving credence to its military of 170,000 people. Even though only 50,000 people serve full time, it is still an impressive size for the European country. Spain has a relatively small air force: 151 attack and fighter jets as well as six helicopters.

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The country also has four submarines due to its proximately to the water. Its strong economy allows it to spend a huge $11.4 billion each year to maintain the beast.


The North American country has a population of 37 million – which is a little more than 10% of its USA cousins down below. Despite this, it has a much larger land mass and needs to protect it.

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There are 79,000 active military members and is ranked as one of the most powerful militaries in the world. Not bad for a country which is seen as the pacifist of North America. Its budget is roughly $20 billion a year which helps it maintain four submarines and 181 tanks, as well as tools and technologies.


Algeria’s population is 41 million but has a military of 800,000 people – more than 10 times the amount of Canada. At any given time, 420,000 of these are in active duty. The remaining members are part of the reserves and must be called up if necessary. | File Photo

Most of Algeria’s armed forces focus on ground support. This means it has 1,105 combat tanks and ground-to-ground support. The budget per year comes in at just under $13 billion, which means it has far fewer financial resources despite its size.


Argentina has a relatively large population, clocking in at around 44 million people. Despite this, its armed forces only have 51,000 people. In fact, it’s one of the few countries that have fewer people on reserves than in active duty – 52,000.

The government funds 86 fighter jets and a modest number of other attack aircraft. Generally, it is more concerned about its work on the ground, deploying 430 tanks, rocket projectors, and other vehicles. The budget is around $5.1 billion a year.

Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia has a population of nearly 33 million, Saudia Arabia has a relatively small military. There are 231,000 active soldiers out of an overall military of 256,000 people. It maintains its presence in the middle east by operating a massive 287 combat fighter aircraft, many of which have been bought from the US.

On top of that, the country has 1,055 combat tanks and more ground force vehicles. Overall, it spends a massive $69.2 billion on its defense each year.

North Korea

No one is quite sure just how powerful North Korea is, but we all know they keep trying to up the ante on the world’s stage. The country has a confirmed 661 jets, helicopters, and more airpower. There are 70 submarines and 13 frigates which circle the earth undetected.


Amazingly 22% of its entire GDP goes towards building its army – ten times the average number. Many people are aware of the country’s attempts to build nuclear weapons and increase its arsenal – let’s hope it doesn’t get to that any time soon.


Iran’s population is 81 million, which means it has a few extra heads to help with its growing military. Today, there are 934,000 soldiers in the armed forces with more than 534,000 actively serving at any given time.

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In the last few years, Iran has steadily built its military to include 407 fighter planes, 100 helicopters, and a trainer aircraft. Its ground force is quite spectacular: almost 2,900 combat tanks roam its floor with an additional 28 submarines in its surrounding waters. The country spends $19.6 billion USD a year on its military.


WWII reminds us that Poland was the first country to be invaded by Germany. Since those dark days, the country has been intent not to repeat any of its history. Fast forward a few years, and Poland has built one of the strongest militaries in the world.

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It has 115,000 active soldiers full-time with more than 85,000 reservists. In total, the armed forces have 1,009 tanks, 83 naval vessels, and 461 aircraft. It’s $11.6 billion annual budget is impressive, considering its population of 38 million people.


When your country’s population is 209 million, you have a few extra folks ready to serve in the military. Brazil has an impressive 1.6 million people on reserve waiting to serve if needed. Interestingly, its active army is only 384,000 people, which is relatively small considering its size.

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Despite the fairly small number of active personnel, Brazil’s armed forces have 13 helicopters, 224 fighter aircraft, and many transport vessels. A whopping $29 billion is spent on the military each year.


Vietnam has built an impressive army with more than 5 million people on reserve at any given moment. There are 500,000 active soldiers at any given time – not bad for a population of 96 million. It seems that they’re determined to remain strong for the future.

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In total, the armed forces in Vietnam have 189 jets and helicopters, as well as a further 1,829 combat tanks and fighting vehicles. For the water, it boasts eight submarines and five warships. Not bad off a budget of $7.8 billion.


You might not think of Indonesia’s army as being so strong, but maybe that’s how they like it. The nation has an impressive 264 million people, with around 476,000 active men and women at any given time. An additional 400,000 soldiers are on call if needed.

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The professions work to protect its many island borders, battle terrorism, and seek world peace. It has two submarines and 420 jets, 191 ships, and hundreds of tanks. The budget each year is just over $8 billion.


Pakistan has one of the biggest militaries in Asia, making it a worthy opponent. With 654,000 active personnel and a further 550,000 on reserve, the country is always ready to fight and protect itself. It is estimated that the country’s armed forces have 74 ships, 923 aircraft, and almost 2,200 tanks.

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Oddly enough, Pakistan’s army operates independently from the country’s government or citizens. This means, in theory, it acts as its own force and does not answer to politicians. Its budget is $10 billion a year.

South Korea

Tensions have existed between North and South Korea ever since the 1960s, making them constantly on edge and ready to protect themselves. Because of the imposing threat of North Korea and its growing nuclear capabilities, North Korea has had to think big and think clever.

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It has 625,000 active soldiers with an additional 2.9 million ready to fight in reserves. Not bad for a country with 50 million citizens. The South Korean army spends $39 billion a year growing its 2,300 tanks, 1,451 vehicles, and 166 ships.


With a population of 60 million, Italy has had the time and resources to build an impressive army capable of protection and combat. With direct borders to four different countries, you can never be too careful. To date, its annual budget is $29.2billion.

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What does it do with all that money? Well, the Italian military has 320,000 active members and an additional 42,000 ready to fight whenever there is a problem. It has 174 ships, 785 aircraft, and 586 tanks ready to deploy at a moment’s notice.


Egypt’s armed forces are some of the oldest and largest in the world. This means it should definitely be considered one of the world’s most powerful militaries, too. It has 470,000 active soldiers and an extra 800,000 ready to serve at a moment’s notice.

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Overall, the army has 245 naval vehicles, 4,624 tanks, and 1,133 airplanes. It spends between $7-11 billion each year protecting its borders – with $1.6 billion of that money coming from the USA in the form of financial aid. Not bad, considering its population of 97 million people.


At its peak in the 1940s, the German army had more than 3.5 million active members. After the war, these numbers dwindled and the country has not built up its forces to the same extent since. In 1955, its most modern iteration (called Bundeswehr) was created.

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Even though it’s not as big as it once was, the German army has 60,000 troops and 325,000 on reserve. The soldiers have more than 400 tanks, five submarines, and 676 aircraft. Its 82 million strong population are no longer required to register at 18, and the country spends $44 billion a year on it.


Due to its location above Lebanon, Turkey has been the center of many conflicts over the years. Its history is rich in war as much as it is in culture – continuing today with its battle with Syrian Opposition and Iraq. Its $18 billion annual budget helps the 410,000 active members of the military.

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Overall, the Turkish army has more than 1,000 aircraft, 115 ships, and almost 4,000 tanks. For a population of almost 80 million, it has its work cut out for it. Here’s hoping it stops fighting soon enough.


Japan, unfortunately, has also seen its fair share in war from over the years. Aside from armed forces, Japan also has what is known as a ‘Self-Defense Force’. This means that they have the right to fight and protect themselves from any nation on Earth.

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With a massive budget of $45 billion annually, the Japanese army has 247,000 active men and women who serve, as well as an additional 63,000 in reserves. Overall, the soldiers have access to 1,590 fighter jets, 131 ships, and almost 670 tanks.

The United Kingdom

With an annual budget of $47 billion, the United Kingdom has to protect its 66 million citizens. Unlike the US, the head of the government is not the Commander-in-Chief. That honor goes to Queen Elizabeth II – the official head of state. She even has her own Secretary of State for Defense to advise her on policy.

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As of 2019, the United Kingdom has 146,000 active soldiers and an additional 44,000 in reserve. In total, the soldiers have access to 66 naval vessels, 407 tanks, and 879 aircraft.


With a massive 2.3 million active soldiers, you don’t want to pick a fight with the Chinese. What’s more, they have an additional 1.2 million people on reserve, so you’d be going up potentially millions of armed generals in the event of a war. The army has 9,150 tanks, 673 naval boats, and nearly 3,000 aircraft.

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Amazingly, their military budget is a whopping $228 billion a year. This is more than most other countries combined. It is estimated that they have 260 nuclear warheads, although this is unconfirmed.


In terms of sheer land mass, Russia is by far the largest country in the world. It has a whopping nine time zones – justifying its large military presence. Overall, there are 766,000 active Russian soldiers with a massive 2.5 million more on reserve.

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Beyond its confirmed fleet of nuclear weapons, the military has more than 15,000 tanks, 350 ships, and various cyber capabilities. It’s good to know where that $66 billion budget is being spent!


This African nation has built up an impressive army with its 40 million citizens. As of 2018, the Sudanese Armed Forces had 109,300 active military members with an additional 85,000 on reserve. With its annual budget of $4 billion, the Sudanese government affords it 3% of the country’s entire GDP.

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With this budget, the SAF buys most of its military equipment from China and Russia. It even has its own weapons production company called the Military Industry Corporation. You don’t want to get on the wrong side of these folks.

South Sudan

South Sudan has roughly one quarter the population Sudan, clocking in at around 10.2 million people. The South Sudan People’s Defense Forces (SSPDF) has an impressive 210,000 active personnel with an additional 76,000 on reserve. The same cannot be said for its budget: with an annual amount coming to around $78 million, the costs come to a fraction of other countries.


Regardless of this, there are many countries who supply the SSPDF with the equipment they need. This includes Israel, USA, UK, Canada, South Africa, Japan, and more.


Morocco’s population has been steadily increasing in recent years, reaching almost 36 million as of 2017. Its military, the Royal Moroccan Army, has 175,000 active soldiers at any given moment with almost the same number of people on reserve duty, too.

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Surprisingly, the MRA works closely with the US military. Each year, the two units take part in a training exercise called ‘African Lion’. This aims to promote improved teamwork and mutual understanding of the nations’ techniques, tactics, unit readiness, and procedures.


With a population of 67 million, France can afford to have armed forces with many components. In total, it is made up of the Navy, Air Force, Army, and National Guard. In total, there are more than 205,000 active soldiers with 60,000 ready to serve at a moment’s notice.

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Overall, France dedicates $57.8 billion a year to its budget – coming in at 1.81% of the entire GDP. In terms of the number of battles fought and won, France is the most successful military power in European history.

Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka is a fairly modest country with 21 million citizens – but that doesn’t mean you should underestimate its armed forces. Overall, 2.2% of the country’s GDP goes towards its annual budget, totaling a $2.4 billion budget.


In total, the Sri Lankan military is made up of three branches: the army, the navy, and the air force. Altogether, there are 346,000 active soldiers on duty with more on reserve. Sri Lanka has help from foreign suppliers such as India, Pakistan, China, Israel, and the US.


Colombia’s 49 million people all have a chance to serve in its armed forces. From the age of 18, citizens are committed to serving in one of its three branches. Each year, there are 470,000 active members of the army, air force, and national police force.

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Overall, Colombia assigns 3.3% of its GDP to the Military Forces of Colombia. This totals more than $9.7 billion in annual costs for the branches that protect its land from invaders.


This small northeast African country may only have 5 million people, but you shouldn’t underestimate its power. The Eritrean Defence Forces are one of the strongest African armies, accepting soldiers from the young age of 15.

It dedicates a staggering 20% of its GDP for its budget, which even then only totals around $220 million. With 320,000 active personnel and more than 500,000 on reserve, Eritrea remains determined to protect itself from external aggressors, build border security, and develop national cohesion.

Democratic Republic of Congo

The Democratic Congo has 134,000 active soldiers on duty, but amazingly has no one held for reserves. This is a fairly small military considering its population of more than 81 million people. Interestingly, 20,000 of the active soldiers are over the age of 60.

It’s annual budget is a tiny $93 million, costing just 1.3% of the country’s GDP. The majority of its armed forces are dedicated to its army, although Congo can boast a small air force and navy, too.


Despite its small population size of only 5 million people, you shouldn’t underestimate the size of the Finnish Defence Forces. Conscription is mandatory for all men once they turn 18, and young soldiers serve for 165, 255, or 347 days.

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Its annual budget is approximately $3.5 billion. It may sound like a lot, but they enjoy fairly low GDP costs coming in at less than 1.3%. Its armed forces are supplied by the US, Germany, Sweden, Norway, and Israel.


Jordan’s population is approaching 10 million people. Overall, the Jordanian Armed Forces receive 7% of the country’s GDP from the government to fund itself. With an annual budget of $2.5 billion, it gives them plenty to play with.

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There are 110,000 active soldiers on duty at any given time with an additional 60,000 in the reserves. Apparently, the Jordanian Army is considered one of the most professional armies in the Arab region. As of 1992, all participation in the army is optional.

United States of America

The US invests more in its military than any other country – and the competition isn’t even close. With a recently expanded budget of $610 billion, the 1.4 million active military members have all the resources they need. There are an additional 1.1 million waiting as reserves.

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Overall, the US military has 13,444 jets, nearly 9,000 tanks, and more than 470 sea vehicles. Not bad considering its population is approaching 340 million people.

US Military on Guam

Guam, which has been a US territory since 1898, sits in the middle of the Pacific Ocean and it of extreme significance to the US military. Due to its location, it provides the US with a unique opportunity to protect itself from any missile strikes from Asia.

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In fact, North Korea leader Kim Jong Un has expressed how he is threatened by US presence nearby. Whenever he attempts to practice his missile training out of North Korea, he is quickly reminded that powerful US retaliation is not too far away.


Israel has had to overcome multiple adversaries ever since its creation 70 years ago. The tiny country has been determined to protect its borders and citizens since 1948. Its 8.7 million citizens each serve in the Israel Defense Force (IDF) which boasts an impressive $21 billion annual budget.


Overall, this accounts for roughly 5.1% of the country’s GDP. Despite its small size in population and geography, the IDF has 170,000 active personnel and a whopping 465,000 people on reserve.


The Armed Forces of the Republic of Uzbekistan requires mandatory conscription once its citizens turn 18. Each year, it is estimated that more than 320,000 people reach military age. Despite this, Its active personnel remains at 65,000.


Overall, the budget for the Armed Forces of the Republic of Uzbekistan reaches 2% of the country’s GDP. As well as the army, it has an Air Force with many planes and aircraft. Not bad, considering Uzbekistan’s population recently reached 32 million.


Romania’s population has actually been decreasing in the last 30 years, now reaching numbers as low as 19 million. Despite this, the Romanian Armed Forces still has 70,000 active soldiers enjoying an annual budget of $4.5 billion.

Sgt. Mark Miranda

The Romanian Armed Forces is divided between Land Forces, Air Force, and the Naval Forces. After joining NATO in 2004, Romania’s conscription laws were changed. This means that it is no longer compulsory to fight. It receives its equipment from the UK, US, and Turkey – among others.


Belarus may be a landlocked country with 9.5 million people, but there’s no reason to undermine its military. It has 62,000 active soldiers at any given time, but a massive 344,000 ready to go at a moment’s notice.


Overall, its budget equates to $630 million a year – which is 1.2% of its GDP. Because the country has no access to the sea or ocean, the majority of its efforts are placed in land and sea armies.


With a population of 191 million, you would expect Nigeria to spend its resources protecting its country. Well, as of 2016, there are 200,000 people who are actively involved in the Armed Forces at any given time.


Despite its emphasis on material hardware items, the Nigerian Armed Forces are drastically underprepared for software battles. Due to the fact that many counties source its equipment, it can be almost impossible to work out how to maintain its technology. This may be one of the biggest militaries, but it isn’t one of the best.


What Venezuela lacks in food, water, or toiletries, it makes up for in military strength. The National Bolivarian Armed Forces of Venezuela uses only 0.5% of the country’s GDP to account for its $1.1 billion annual budget. As of 2018, there are 350,000 active soldiers all enjoying food and shelter. There are an additional two million on the waiting list.


Venezuela used to get equipment from the US and EU, but has pivoted to accepting arms from Russia and China.


The Iraqi Armed Forces enjoys a massive 7.5% of the country’s GDP for its annual budget. This means that it has $17 billion each year to use for its 64,000 active members. There are three primary branches of the Armed Forces: the Amy, Air Force, and Navy.


Under Saddam Hussein’s presidency, the Iraqi Armed Forces developed some of the world’s best military equipment. These include state-of-the-art facilities and rockets. It receives its military weapons from the US, UK, and India.


Angola’s population has been steadily increasing in recent years, reaching 30 million people. This is almost triple the number of people who lived there in 1986. The Angolan Armed Forces is growing with it – today it has 90,000 active personnel with 30,000 more on reserve.

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Its growing population all experience life in the armed forces, since all citizens are required to join for at least two years. With an annual budget of $6.8 billion – 5.25% of GDP – The African country will only grow stronger over time.


Citizens in Syria are required to join the army for at least one year. Usually, conscription lasts three years but it is on a case-by-case basis. Every year, Syria as more than 250,000 16-year-olds who are suitable to join the army.

Sputnik / Mikhail Alayeddin

Despite a population of only 18 million people, the Syrian army has 304,000 active personnel. However, in recent years reports have suggested that this number has dropped to around 150,000. It receives its weapons from China, North Korea, and Russia.


Denmark only designates 1.17% of its GDP to the military budget, but this still equals an impressive $3.8 billion USD each year. Not bad for a population of 5 million! Due to its small population, the Danish Defense only has 15,000 active soldiers.

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Time in the Army is mandatory for men and optional for women from the age of 18. In total, the Armed Forces have four branches: Royal Army, Royal Navy, Royal Air Force, and Home Guard.


Another European country with a modest population, Hungary’s Armed Forces aren’t as big as some of its neighbors. This time around, 1.2% of its GDP only equates to an annual budget of $1.8 billion.


The Hungarian Defence Forces has 36,000 active personnel and an additional 58,000 on hold for reserve duty. The Armed Forces are dedicated to Ground and Air Forces due to the landlocked nature of the country. It is open to citizens from the age of 18.


The Armed Forces of Chile have three primary branches: the Army, Navy, and Air Force. With a population of around 18 million people, the South American country has 150,000 people reaching military age each year. At the moment, there are 80,000 active soldiers with 62,000 on reserve.

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Chile spends around 3% of its GDP on the military budget, totaling around $371 million each year. Interestingly, the Chilean Air Force has an airbase on King George Island, Antarctica.


Austria spends a surprisingly small amount of money on its military budget – just 0.7% of its GDP. Due to its population of roughly 8.7 million, this means that its budget is around $2.9 billion a year.


The Austrian Armed Forces demands six months of mandatory conscription from young adults. At the age of 17, men and women join the military and can stay until the age of 49. Austria receives equipment from the US, Australia, France, and Germany.


Slovakia is another landlocked European country with a modest military. Founded in 1993, the Slovak Armed Forces has 17,000 active soldiers and 4,800 available for reserve duty. Due to its small population of 5 million people and its low GDP, the budget comes to $1.8 billion a year.

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Slovakia has three branches of the military: the Army, Air Force, and ‘Special Forces’. The 5th Special Forces Regiment is dedicated to counter-terrorism and special operations. Not bad for a population of 5 million.


The Portuguese Armed Forces currently has 32,000 active personnel from a population of 10 million. Interestingly, 88% of all citizens serving in the military are male. This is because the country only allowed women to serve from the early 1990s.

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Portugal dedicates 1.1% of its GDP for a $2 billion annual budget. This goes towards the Army, the Air Force, and the Navy. While conscription was once a vital part of Portuguese culture, this was abandoned in 2004.


Singapore has a modest population of roughly 5 million people, but dedicates an impressive 3.2$ of its GDP to the Singapore Armed Forces. This means its $11.2 billion budget can be generally distributed to help its 72,000 active soldiers.


On top of its 72,000 active personnel, the Singapore Armed Forces has an amazing 1.3 million people available for reserve duty – which totals roughly 20% of the country’s population. Military age is 16.6, whereas conscription starts at 18.


Belgium is one of the rare countries to dedication less than a percent of its GDP to Armed Forces. As of 2018, 0.93% of the budget contributes to $4 billion across land, air, and naval components.


With a population of roughly 11 million, the entire Armed Forces remain small in size and scope. Each year, there are 25,000 soldiers with an additional 1,700 people waiting in reserves. Due to harsh lessons learned in WWII, Belgium focuses more on collective security as foreign policy.


This South American country has a population of 16.6 million people and an annual budget of $2.3 billion. It is made up of 2.74% of its GDP – a fairly reasonable and normal percentage compared to other countries.


Generally, the Military of Ecuador abides by a mission statement to preserve the integrity and sovereignty of the national territory. The Army also frequently helps the government with social issues like illegal immigration, organized crime, and anti-narcotic operations. It receives its weapons from the US, France, UK, and Israel.


With a population of only 4.1 million, the Republic of Croatia Armed Forces is fairly modest. Its three branches are the Army, the Navy, and the Air Force – all totaling to just 16,000 active soldiers at any given time.


Using 1.25% of its GDP, the annual budget Croatian military branches enjoy $767 million a year in spending. Conscription was abolished in 2008 and relies on voluntary service from men and women after the age of 18.

South Africa

The South African Army was formed in 1910 and has evolved over the years. The army itself has gone through many changes due to its political and social history. Today, it has 40,000 soldiers with an additional 12,000 on reserve.


Its annual budget is approximately $706 million, although this has been slashed in recent years due to financial strain. Despite this, it has access to many pieces of military equipment that can cause damage if necessary.


The Cuban Revolutionary Armed Forces enforce a 2-year obligation from men and women to serve in one of its branches. Between the ages of 17-28, citizens will spend up to 24 months at one of Cuba’s ground, air, or naval bases.

Pintrest | Stephanie Lauren Bounds

Cuba dedicates more than 3% of its GDP to the Armed Forces. In total, there are 90,000 active soldiers and a further 1.5 million ready to serve in reserves if necessary. As of 2012, Cuba has been deepening military cooperation with China.


India is the seventh-largest country in the world with the second-highest population. It makes sense that the country would work towards reinforcing its armed services ever since its independence in 1947. With a massive one billion people at its disposal, the active army is 1.3 million.

Via: Indian Army

Overall, the country has 2,100 planes, 6,500 tanks, and more than 200 ships. The budget for this huge operation comes to a relatively modest $43 billion per year. Let’s hope they never have to fight too much.

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