Special Report

40 Countries Spending the Most on War

Global military expenditure topped $2 trillion for the first time in 2021. According to a new report from the independent think tank Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, or SIPRI, combined military spending of nations around the world totalled $2.1 trillion last year, up 0.7% from 2020. 

While nearly every country allocates some money to defense, only a few dozen, relatively wealthy nations account for the vast majority of military spending. Here is a look at the countries with the strongest militaries

Using data from SIPRI, 24/7 Wall St. identified the countries with the highest military spending. Countries are ranked based on military spending in 2021 (expressed in 2020 U.S. dollars). Combined, the 40 countries on this list accounted for about 93% of global military expenditures, and the top five countries alone accounted for an estimated 62%. 

The 2021 uptick in global military spending is the continuation of a longer-term trend, as military spending has climbed every year since 2015. Countries that have increased their spending the most last year include Finland, Sweden, Iran, Belgium, and Japan. 

Notably, the United States is among the minority of countries on this list where military spending fell in 2021. However, the decline in real spending in the U.S. was due entirely to inflation. In nominal terms, America’s military budget actually climbed by nearly 3% from 2020 to 2021. 

The U.S. military budget remains the largest in the world by a wide margin, accounting for an estimated 38% of global spending. Over the last 10 years, the U.S. has sharply increased investments in military research and development, while reducing procurement spending. The shift suggests a strategy that relies more on new technologies than on investment in legacy systems. Here is a look at 12 new weapons the U.S. is adding to its arsenal

All data in this report, including changes in military spending and military spending as a share of gross domestic product is from SIPRI. These are the countries spending the most on their military.

Click here to see 40 countries spending the most on war

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