What Countries Have the Highest Military Expenditures?

L. S. Wynn
L. S. Wynn

There are a number of different ways to determine which countries have the highest military expenditures. When looking just at actual dollars spent, the United States spends far more than any other nation. The 2012 US Department of Defense budget includes $553 billion US Dollars (USD) as a base, and, when combined with recent supplemental war spending, the total is estimated at over $670 billion USD; that number has dropped from 2011, when it topped $700 billion USD. Coming in a distant second is China, with an estimated $119 billion USD. With combined world military spending at about $1,630 billion USD in 2010, recent US military spending has made up more than 40% of that total.

Singapore has one of the 20 highest military expenditures in the world.
Singapore has one of the 20 highest military expenditures in the world.

Military expenditures can be looked at in other ways, however. Looking at expenditures as a proportion of a country's gross domestic product (GDP) can provide insight into how that spending compares to the country's total economy. When provided by this method, Oman is at the top of the list, and the US falls to 24th.

The People's Republic of China is often near the top of the list of countries with the highest military expenditures.
The People's Republic of China is often near the top of the list of countries with the highest military expenditures.

Here are the top 25 countries in terms military spending as a percentage of GDP according to the CIA World Factbook. The figures are taken from the most recent year for which information is available, 2005 and 2006 for most nations.

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country percentage of GDP
Oman 11.4% Oman Military Expenditures
Qatar 10.0% Qatar Military Expenditures
Saudi Arabia 10.0% Saudi Arabia Military Expenditures
Jordan 8.6% Jordan Military Expenditures
Iraq 8.6% Iraq Military Expenditures
Israel 7.3% Israel Military Expenditures
Yemen 6.6% Yemen Military Expenditures
Eritrea 6.3% Eritrea Military Expenditures
Macedonia 6.0% Macedonia Military Expenditures
Syria 5.9% Syria Military Expenditures
Burundi 5.9% Burundi Military Expenditures
Maldives 5.5% Maldives Military Expenditures
Mauritania 5.5% Mauritania Military Expenditures
Turkey 5.3% Turkey Military Expenditures
Kuwait 5.3% Kuwait Military Expenditures
Morocco 5.0% Morocco Military Expenditures
Singapore 4.9% Singapore Military Expenditures
Swaziland 4.7% Swaziland Military Expenditures
Bosnia and Herzegovina 4.5% Bosnia and Herzegovina Military Expenditures
Bahrain 4.5% Bahrain Military Expenditures
Brunei 4.5% Brunei Military Expenditures
China 4.3% China Military Expenditures
Greece 4.3% Greece Military Expenditures
United States 4.06% United States Military Expenditures
Russia 3.9% Russia Military Expenditures
Many countries in the Middle East rank highest in military spending as a percentage of their gross domestic product.
Many countries in the Middle East rank highest in military spending as a percentage of their gross domestic product.

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Discussion Comments

anon338434

The USSR or Soviet Union doesn't exist anymore.

anon130129

where's Russia or USSR?

anon84328

How old / new is this data? Can we have the trend over the years per each country if possible? -Polycarpe

anon28699

The list is lacking in major terrorist states and the soviet union. Do they get a much better return on their military investments?

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