Eritrea, a Small African Nation by Population, Has More Active Military Forces per Capita Than Any Other Country in the World

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This article was written with the assistance of A.I. technology, and has been edited and fact-checked by Melly Alazraki.

With a population of just over 3.6 million and 202,000 active armed forces personnel, Eritrea has an active armed forces of 55.8 per 1,000 residents. In comparison, the United States has an active military of 4.2 per 1,000 residents. These figures are based on military personnel data from the International Institute for Strategic Studies Military Balance 2022 report adjusted for the population using population figures from the World Bank.

Eritrea’s high number of military personnel per capita is due to the country’s military service laws. Eritrea mandates military service for all citizens between the ages of 18 and 40 (18-27 for women if conscripted), according to the CIA.

Though the country signed a peace agreement with Ethiopia in 2018, it has been previously in a state of war with its neighbor since 1998. The conflict has resulted in a high number of casualties and has displaced hundreds of thousands of people.

Despite the country’s small size (130th of 169 countries), the Eritrean military is ranked 22nd of the 169 countries considered in terms of total active military personnel. In comparison, the United States military is the third largest in the world, with nearly 1.4 million active personnel.

Click here to see the countries with the most active military per person.

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