Special Report

Countries Spending the Most on War

Global military spending hit an all-time high in 2021. According to the independent research organization Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, worldwide spending on military arms, equipment, personnel, and training topped $2 trillion for the first time in history. In much of the world, such expenditures are expected to rise even further in 2022 amid heightened geopolitical tensions in the wake of Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine. 

The United States has the world’s largest military budget by a wide margin, spending over $800 billion in 2021, which accounts for about 38% of global military spending. While the U.S. defense budget is unmatched in dollar terms, measuring military spending as a share of gross domestic product, or GDP, the U.S. does not even rank among the top 10 biggest spenders. 

Military spending as a share of GDP is an important measure as it is an indication of the burden military spending places on taxpayers. High military spending as a share of GDP in a given nation indicates the high priority the government places on defense. Here is a look at the country with the largest military

Using data on 2021 defense spending as a share of GDP from SIPRI, 24/7 Wall St. identified the 25 countries spending the most on war. Among the countries on this list, defense spending as a share of GDP ranges from 2.8% to 7.3%. 

Many countries on this list are relatively poor places, with a per capita GDP of less than $10,000. For context, GDP per capita in the U.S. stands at over $63,000. In these places, military budgets are relatively modest in dollar terms, even though they represent a large share of total GDP. (Here is a look at the poorest countries in the world.)

Notably, NATO alliance members agreed in 2006 to a defense spending threshold of at least 2% of GDP or higher. As of 2021, only 10 of the 30 NATO members are meeting that threshold, and of those 10, Greece and the United States are the only two countries to rank on this list.

Click here to see the countries spending the most on war
Click here to read our detailed methodology

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