3. Saudi Arabia
> Military expenditure: $87.2 billion
> Pct. change military expenditure, 2006-2015: 97.1%
> Expenditure as pct. of GDP: 13.7%
> Per capita military expenditure: $2,778
At an estimated 266.6 billion barrels, Saudi Arabia has the second largest proven crude oil reserves in the world after Venezuela. With the precipitous drop in oil prices in recent years, a number of other oil-dependent nations reduced their defense budgets. Despite the decline in oil prices, Saudi Arabia has consistently amassed immense oil wealth that ensured stable economic conditions and allowed larger military expenditures. The country’s annual defense spending of $87.2 billion is the third highest in the world and far and away the largest in the Middle East. Military spending in Saudi Arabia nearly doubled over the past 10 years.
As Perlo-Freeman explained, the Saudi military is also quite active. Notably, the country has led military operations in Yemen and Syria in recent years.
> Military expenditure: $214.8 billion
> Pct. change military expenditure, 2006-2015: 131.7%
> Expenditure as pct. of GDP: 1.9%
> Per capita military expenditure: $156
While China’s military expenditure of $214.8 billion trails the United States by a considerable margin, it is still an enormous investment. Chinese military expenditure, at quadruple India’s spending, accounts for roughly half of all defense spending in the region. Reports of China’s slowing economic growth have not hindered the country from further investing in its military. Over the last 10 years, China’s military expenditure shot up 131.7%, the 15th largest such growth of all countries reviewed.
Like Russia and other military superpowers, Chinese military activities in the South China Sea have triggered defense spending spikes in bordering nations such as the Philippines, Vietnam, and Indonesia.
> Military expenditure: $596.0 billion
> Pct. change military expenditure, 2006-2015: -3.9%
> Expenditure as pct. of GDP: 3.3%
> Per capita military expenditure: $1,854
Annual U.S. military spending accounts for 36% of the world’s military spending. No other country comes close to spending as much as the United States — neither in absolute terms nor as a share of global military expenditure. The United States spends close to three times more than second-place China on its military. Following the Great Recession, and the withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan, the U.S. defense budget has declined for several years. However, the 2015 decline of 2.4% was the smallest cutback since 2011.
A considerable portion of the country’s military budget is spent on equipment manufactured by U.S. companies. Of the world’s 10 largest arms manufacturers — such as Lockheed Martin, Boeing, and Raytheon — seven are based in the United States.