What Percent of GDP do Countries Spend on Their Military?

Singapore spends about 5 percent of its GDP on the military.
North Korea's military expenditure is almost 34% of its GDP.
In developed countries, the cost of fielding a soldier includes their training, housing, benefits, and both the research and manufacturing behind their equipment.
Israel, Syria, Jordan and Lebanon all rank in the top 25 of military spending as a percentage of GDP.
The U.S. spends about $277 billion annually on defense.
Lebanon spends nearly 5 percent of its GDP on its military.
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  • Written By: L. S. Wynn
  • Edited By: L. S. Wynn
  • Last Modified Date: 22 November 2015
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According to the CIA World Factbook, military spending worldwide amounts to a staggering 741 billion dollars annually. This figure represents approximately 1.5% of the world's GDP of $49,000 billion ($49 trillion). The United States has a $277 billion defense budget which accounts for 37% of the world's total.

Comparing military expenditures to a nation's GDP, however, presents a different picture. North Korea, for example, spends an amazing 33.9% of its GDP on their military. Some of the top spenders are listed below. The United States comes in 46th on this list at 3.2%.

country % GDP
North Korea 33.9 North Korea percent of GDP spent on military
Saudi Arabia 13.0 Saudi Arabia percent of GDP spent on military
Ethiopia 12.6 Ethiopia percent of GDP spent on military
Oman 12.2 Oman percent of GDP spent on military
Eritrea 12.0 Eritrea percent of GDP spent on military
Qatar 10.0 Qatar percent of GDP spent on military
Israel 8.8 Israel percent of GDP spent on military
Jordan 8.6 Jordan percent of GDP spent on military
Maldives 8.6 Maldives percent of GDP spent on military
Afghanistan 7.7 Afghanistan percent of GDP spent on military
Bahrain 6.7 Bahrain percent of GDP spent on military
Armenia 6.5 Armenia percent of GDP spent on military
Macedonia 6.0 Macedonia percent of GDP spent on military
Syria 5.9 Syria percent of GDP spent on military
Kuwait 5.5 Kuwait percent of GDP spent on military
Angola 5.4 Angola percent of GDP spent on military
Burundi 5.3 Burundi percent of GDP spent on military
New Caledonia 5.3 New Caledonia percent of GDP spent on military
Yemen 5.2 Yemen percent of GDP spent on military
Brunei 5.0 Brunei percent of GDP spent on military
Greece 4.9 Greece percent of GDP spent on military
Singapore 4.9 Singapore percent of GDP spent on military
Lebanon 4.8 Lebanon percent of GDP spent on military
Swaziland 4.8 Swaziland percent of GDP spent on military

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Discuss this Article

Post 8

It is a very worrying situation in the modern scientific world if a country can spend one third of its annual revenue on military activities. The UN should call for all countries to rethink and reallocate such funds for the people's development.

Post 7

Why Maldives...?

Post 6

It should be noted that where the facts and figures used to discuss US and most open countries are at least close to the truth, closed societies like NK and PRC are baseless estimates at best. The PRC, for example, is currently building a huge increase in its naval capability, but by utilizing cheap, almost slave labor and owning the majority of its minerals, it is truly unknown what its real GNP is. Any estimate is probably low.

The US might have a big budget and low percentage of GNP, but its labor costs are higher, etc. So to truly compare how much of a country's assets are utilized for military is an art, not a science.

Less than 1 percent of Americans serve, yet estimates are as high as 30 percent of military age males in the PRC and NK with absolute minimal pay. So who is spending more? Really?

Post 5

How much of their total GDP do they spend of military in Benin?

Post 2

@Glasshouse - It should also be noted that looking at the fiscal year budget for military spending can be deceptive because operational wartime spending is separate from the general Department of Defense (DOD) budget, and is approved by congress as supplementary spending. If you want to count veterans affairs as military spending that is another $120+ billion that is allocated under the Department of Veterans Affairs. Spending on our nation’s nuclear arsenal is also not considered military spending. The U.S. nuclear budget falls under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). According to the Whitehouse, the fiscal year 2011 department of defense base budget is $548.9 billion. There is already a request placed for $159 billion

for FY 2011 to cover the current wars. There is also potential for a significant increase in these requests should new conflicts erupt, or fighting get worse. Already only six months into 2010, and there is a pending request to congress for an additional $33 billion for overseas operations. Who knows what will happen if the situations in North Korea, Pakistan, or Iran worsens.

Post 1

I'm not sure how old this article is, but it is a bit dated. Global military spending topped $1.5 trillion for 2009. Military spending in the United States accounts for somewhere near 45% of global military spending, and the current military budget accounts for a little over 4% of GDP. U.S. expenditures as a percentage of GDP ranks 25th out of all countries surveyed. The CIA keeps a public record of most basic country data online. This information is all public domain. If you want to read a full unbiased report on everything related to international peace and security, you should check out the Stockholm International Peace Research Yearbook (SIPRI) yearbook. The SIPRI report is a little pricey, but it can be found in most major university library collections.

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