Countries With the Fastest Growing and Shrinking Militaries

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10. Peru
> Military spending 1 yr. change: -20%
> 2016 military spending: $2.5 billion
> Region: South America
> Population: 31.4 million

Military expenditure across Central America, South America, and the Caribbean fell last year to levels not seen since 2007. Like other oil-exporting nations in the region, Peru’s military spending has likely declined as a result of economic crisis. Last year, Peru produced 144,000 barrels of petroleum per day. While Peru remains among the top 50 oil producers in the world, this level of production is down substantially from 2014.

Depending on regional threats, physical geography, and the priorities of government decision-makers, each country often has unique military needs. With a large coastline and an ongoing drug-trafficking problem, Peru maintains a sizable naval force.

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9. Zambia
> Military spending 1 yr. change: -22%
> 2016 military spending: $300.0 million
> Region: Sub-Saharan Africa
> Population: 16.2 million

Military spending declined across sub-Saharan Africa last year. Zambia, one of the biggest military spenders in the region, accounted for a substantial share of the regional decline. The country cut military spending by 22% in 2016 — one of the steepest drops of any country in the world.

Unlike many of its neighbors, Zambia is a relatively stable nation. Formerly known as Northern Rhodesia, Zambia has managed to avoid war since gaining independence from Great Britain in 1964. The country’s lasting peace may partially explain declines in military expenditure.

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8. Ghana
> Military spending 1 yr. change: -23%
> 2016 military spending: $162.0 million
> Region: Sub-Saharan Africa
> Population: 27.4 million

Ghana spends relatively little on its military. The sub-Saharan country allocated approximately 0.49% of its GDP on military spending. By comparison, NATO member states are expected to spend at least 2.0% of GDP on their militaries. Last year, Ghana cut its total military expenditure by 23% — more than all but a handful of other countries.

The Ghana ministry of defense announced this year it would work with the French government to improve maritime security. Ghana has struggled to contain illegal fishing and piracy in the Gulf of Guinea.

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7. Kazakhstan
> Military spending 1 yr. change: -26%
> 2016 military spending: $1.1 billion
> Region: Central Asia
> Population: 17.5 million

Like most of the countries reporting military spending cuts, Kazakhstan is a major oil-exporter. Crude oil accounted for nearly half of the country’s 2015 exports. The 26% cut in military spending in 2016 is likely closely tied to the country’s economic dependence on oil. The sharp drop in global oil prices in late 2014 ultimately led to decreased military spending in a number of oil-rich countries.

A former USSR member state, Kazakhstan entered into a long-term strategic partnership with the United States in late 2001.

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6. Côte d’Ivoire
> Military spending 1 yr. change: -27%
> 2016 military spending: $425.0 million
> Region: Sub-Saharan Africa
> Population: 22.7 million

Côte d’Ivoire, or the Ivory Coast, spent $425 million on its military last year, a 27% decline in spending from the previous year. Spending cuts were likely the result of the perceived threat of terrorism. In March of last year, Islamist militants attacked a resort town in the country, killing 18 people.

Wages for military personnel may increase and contribute to some increased spending this year. This January, the country’s president ended a two-day army mutiny by paying out bonuses and pledging to improve working conditions for the armed forces.