Special Report

Countries With the Fastest Growing and Shrinking Militaries

 The Countries With the Fastest Shrinking Militaries

Source: Thinkstock

15. Oman
> Military spending 1 yr. change: -9.6%
> 2016 military spending: $9.1 billion
> Region: Western Asia
> Population: 4.5 million

Oman is one of many oil-dependent countries to decrease its military budget in 2016 in the wake of falling oil prices around the globe. Petroleum profits account for roughly 20% of Oman’s GDP, far more than the 12.6% average for countries in the Middle East and North Africa, and many times greater than the 0.8% global average. Despite the decrease, Oman’s defense budget remains equal to 17% of its GDP, the largest share of any country worldwide.

Oman joined last year the Saudi-led coalition of Muslim countries to fight militant groups in the region. While this could increase demand for military spending, such increases in the future will be unlikely unless Oman’s oil industry recovers.

Source: Thinkstock

14. Angola
> Military spending 1 yr. change: -10%
> 2016 military spending: $2.8 billion
> Region: Sub-Saharan Africa
> Population: 25.0 million

Angola spent $2.8 billion on defense in 2016, 10% less than in 2015 and the same level as a decade earlier. Angola’s oil industry accounts for about 11% of the nation’s GDP, more than four times the 2.4% average for all sub-Saharan African nations. Like other oil-dependent economies in the region, Angola’s shrinking military spending is likely the result the recent plunge in global oil prices which remain at historic lows. The price of crude oil fell by roughly half from over $100 per barrel in early 2014 to just over $50 a barrel in 2017. Angola, which accounts for an estimated 15% of all defense spending in sub-Saharan Africa, contributed to the region’s 3.6% decline in military spending overall.

Source: Thinkstock

13. Mexico
> Military spending 1 yr. change: -11%
> 2016 military spending: $6.0 billion
> Region: Central America
> Population: 127.0 million

Mexico spent $6.0 billion on defense in 2016, an 11% decrease from the year before.
Mexico’s defense budget, which accounts for roughly 77% of total defense spending in Central America and the Caribbean, contributed to the region’s 9.1% decline in defense spending overall.

Mexico has actually increased its defens e budget in past years in an effort to combat violent drug cartels within the country. The country’s annual military spending declined last year for the first time since 2004. In light of low oil prices, high government debt, and substantial budget cuts proposed by the Mexican government, the country’s defense spending will likely continue to decrease in the coming years.

Source: Thinkstock

12. Ecuador
> Military spending 1 yr. change: -13%
> 2016 military spending: $2.2 billion
> Region: South America
> Population: 16.1 million

Ecuador is one of many countries with non-diversified, oil-dependent economies that have reduced military spending in the wake of falling petroleum prices. Ecuador joined OPEC in 1973 and remains one of the top oil-exporters in South America. The country’s crude oil production in 2016 was 543,100 barrels per day.

Ecuador dedicated $2.2 billion to defense in 2016, a 13% decrease from the year prior. Ecuador accounts for roughly 4% of all military spending among South American countries, and it contributed to the region’s 9.6% decline in defense spending.

Source: Thinkstock

11. Guinea
> Military spending 1 yr. change: -19%
> 2016 military spending: $162.0 million
> Region: Sub-Saharan Africa
> Population: 12.6 million

Unlike nearly all of the countries with the fastest shrinking defense spending, Guinea is not a major oil exporter, and its finances have not been hurt directly by the global collapse in crude oil prices. Still, Guinea 2016 military expenditure of $162 million was down by 19% from 2015. Guinea’s decreased military spending is in line with the 3.6% average decline in military spending across all countries in sub-Saharan Africa. According to the World Bank, Guinea’s economy is currently recovering from several economic shocks, including the aftermath of Ebola, which circulated in southeastern Guinea in 2014.