Special Report

The Most and Least Powerful NATO Members: Every Country Ranked

RomanBabakin / iStock Editorial via Getty Images

Since its inception in 1949, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, or NATO, has a mission to guarantee the security and freedom of all members, by ways of military and political means. It was created with 12 countries and since then, 19 more have been added.

The invasion of Ukraine by Russia, which began in February 2022, was supposed to be a quick operation to grab more land following Moscow’s annexation of the Crimean Peninsula eight years earlier. It turned into a full-scale invasion and was also a message to the West to stop expanding NATO closer to Russia’s borders.

Instead, not only has the war become a bloody quagmire approaching its second year but has also led to further NATO expansion. The West’s 74-year-old defensive pact now has 31 members after Finland, which shares an 830-mile border with Russia, joined the organization in May. Sweden is also on track to become NATO’s 32nd member. (These are the nations with the largest active-duty militaries.)

Seven nations — the three Baltic states, three Balkan countries, and Slovakia — became members of the alliance in 2004. NATO’s border is now about 124 miles northwest of Saint Petersburg, Russia’s cultural capital and second-most populous city. About 150 miles to the west of President Vladimir Putin’s beloved home city lies Estonia, which joined NATO in 2004, a year that witnessed the biggest expansion of the mutual defense agreement since it began. 

Many countries are small and have tiny militaries, which is why not all members of NATO carry the same weight. The smallest member of NATO is Iceland which has no army, navy, air force, or defense budget. Compare this to 15 members who have active military personnel of between 1,000 and 25,000. Nine of these states have populations of less than 3 million. (These are the nations with the fastest growing military power.)

According to data from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, the median annual military defense spending for NATO members is $4.8 billion, with seven spending less than a billion a year. The United States ranks second in NATO military spending as a share of GDP, at 3.45%. As of 2023, Poland tops the list with a 3.9% military spending as a share of GDP. Eleven NATO members spend less than 1.5% of their GDP funding military power.

According to GlobalFirepower, an annually updated defense-related statistics website with information on 145 countries, the U.S. boasts about 1.4 million active-duty military personnel and an estimated naval force of 484 warships and 13,300 military aircraft. This force is enormous even compared to Turkey, NATO’s second most powerful military, with 425,000 active-duty personnel, 154 warships, and 1,065 military aircraft.

Four countries comprise the bulk of Europe’s NATO military strength: Germany, France, the United Kingdom, and Italy. These four countries make up 93% of active military personnel among NATO member states excluding the U.S., a NATO founding member, and Turkey, which joined NATO in 1952.

Here are all members of NATO rated by military power. 

31. Iceland

  • GlobalFirepower military strength index score, 2023: 3.4845 — #137 of 145 countries
  • Active military personnel: None
  • Naval fleet: None
  • Aircraft fleet: None
  • Military spending (2022): $0.0 — #31 most of 31
  • Spending as percent of GDP: N/A
  • Population (2022): 381,900 — #31 most of 31
  • Year joined NATO: 1949

30. Montenegro

  • GlobalFirepower military strength index score, 2023: 2.8704 — #128 of 145 countries
  • Active military personnel: 2,500 — #29 most of 31
  • Naval fleet: 13 — #22 most of 31
  • Aircraft fleet: 11 — #26 most of 31
  • Military spending (2022): $98.0 million — #30 most of 31
  • Spending as percent of GDP: 1.61% — #15 most of 31
  • Population (2022): 616,159 — #30 most of 31
  • Year joined NATO: 2017

29. Luxembourg

  • GlobalFirepower military strength index score, 2023: 2.8202 — #126 of 145 countries
  • Active military personnel: 1,000 — #30 most of 31
  • Naval fleet: None
  • Aircraft fleet: 1 — #30 most of 31
  • Military spending (2022): $564.6 million — #27 most of 31
  • Spending as percent of GDP: 0.70% — #30 most of 31
  • Population (2022): 650,774 — #29 most of 31
  • Year joined NATO: 1949

28. North Macedonia

  • GlobalFirepower military strength index score, 2023: 2.1717 — #108 of 145 countries
  • Active military personnel: 9,000 — #24 most of 31
  • Naval fleet: None
  • Aircraft fleet: 20 — #24 most of 31
  • Military spending (2022): $225.0 million — #29 most of 31
  • Spending as percent of GDP: 1.61% — #15 most of 31
  • Population (2022): 2,057,679 — #26 most of 31
  • Year joined NATO: 2020

27. Estonia

  • GlobalFirepower military strength index score, 2023: 2.0686 — #104 of 145 countries
  • Active military personnel: 4,000 — #28 most of 31
  • Naval fleet: 6 — #24 most of 31
  • Aircraft fleet: 6 — #28 most of 31
  • Military spending (2022): $810.9 million — #25 most of 31
  • Spending as percent of GDP: 2.09% — #7 most of 31
  • Population (2022): 1,344,768 — #28 most of 31
  • Year joined NATO: 2004

26. Latvia

  • GlobalFirepower military strength index score, 2023: 1.9161 — #95 of 145 countries
  • Active military personnel: 6,500 — #27 most of 31
  • Naval fleet: 18 — #20 most of 31
  • Aircraft fleet: 4 — #29 most of 31
  • Military spending (2022): $848.8 million — #24 most of 31
  • Spending as percent of GDP: 2.05% — #8 most of 31
  • Population (2022): 1,883,379 — #27 most of 31
  • Year joined NATO: 2004

25. Lithuania

  • GlobalFirepower military strength index score, 2023: 1.9026 — #93 of 145 countries
  • Active military personnel: 16,000 — #20 most of 31
  • Naval fleet: 11 — #23 most of 31
  • Aircraft fleet: 10 — #27 most of 31
  • Military spending (2022): $1,732.3 million — #21 most of 31
  • Spending as percent of GDP: 2.52% — #3 most of 31
  • Population (2022): 2,833,000 — #23 most of 31
  • Year joined NATO: 2004

24. Albania

  • GlobalFirepower military strength index score, 2023: 1.8466 — #91 of 145 countries
  • Active military personnel: 8,000 — #25 most of 31
  • Naval fleet: 19 — #19 most of 31
  • Aircraft fleet: 19 — #25 most of 31
  • Military spending (2022): $288.7 million — #28 most of 31
  • Spending as percent of GDP: 1.58% — #17 most of 31
  • Population (2022): 2,775,634 — #24 most of 31
  • Year joined NATO: 2009

23. Slovenia

  • GlobalFirepower military strength index score, 2023: 1.7261 — #86 of 145 countries
  • Active military personnel: 7,000 — #26 most of 31
  • Naval fleet: 2 — #25 most of 31
  • Aircraft fleet: 37 — #23 most of 31
  • Military spending (2022): $735.2 million — #26 most of 31
  • Spending as percent of GDP: 1.19% — #28 most of 31
  • Population (2022): 2,108,732 — #25 most of 31
  • Year joined NATO: 2004

22. Croatia

  • GlobalFirepower military strength index score, 2023: 1.2141 — #69 of 145 countries
  • Active military personnel: 15,000 — #22 most of 31
  • Naval fleet: 34 — #17 most of 31
  • Aircraft fleet: 80 — #19 most of 31
  • Military spending (2022): $1,308.5 million — #23 most of 31
  • Spending as percent of GDP: 2.17% — #6 most of 31
  • Population (2022): 3,854,000 — #22 most of 31
  • Year joined NATO: 2009

21. Belgium

  • GlobalFirepower military strength index score, 2023: 1.1836 — #68 of 145 countries
  • Active military personnel: 26,000 — #14 most of 31
  • Naval fleet: 17 — #21 most of 31
  • Aircraft fleet: 106 — #15 most of 31
  • Military spending (2022): $6,867.0 million — #13 most of 31
  • Spending as percent of GDP: 1.18% — #29 most of 31
  • Population (2022): 11,669,446 — #12 most of 31
  • Year joined NATO: 1949

20. Slovakia

  • GlobalFirepower military strength index score, 2023: 1.1789 — #67 of 145 countries
  • Active military personnel: 13,000 — #23 most of 31
  • Naval fleet: None
  • Aircraft fleet: 48 — #22 most of 31
  • Military spending (2022): $1,994.2 million — #20 most of 31
  • Spending as percent of GDP: 1.76% — #10 most of 31
  • Population (2022): 5,431,752 — #21 most of 31
  • Year joined NATO: 2004

19. Bulgaria

  • GlobalFirepower military strength index score, 2023: 0.9757 — #59 of 145 countries
  • Active military personnel: 25,000 — #16 most of 31
  • Naval fleet: 29 — #18 most of 31
  • Aircraft fleet: 66 — #20 most of 31
  • Military spending (2022): $1,336.0 million — #22 most of 31
  • Spending as percent of GDP: 1.51% — #20 most of 31
  • Population (2022): 6,465,097 — #17 most of 31
  • Year joined NATO: 2004

18. Hungary

  • GlobalFirepower military strength index score, 2023: 0.8643 — #54 of 145 countries
  • Active military personnel: 23,000 — #18 most of 31
  • Naval fleet: None
  • Aircraft fleet: 57 — #21 most of 31
  • Military spending (2022): $2,572.2 million — #19 most of 31
  • Spending as percent of GDP: 1.53% — #19 most of 31
  • Population (2022): 9,683,505 — #16 most of 31
  • Year joined NATO: 1999

17. Finland

  • GlobalFirepower military strength index score, 2023: 0.8099 — #51 of 145 countries
  • Active military personnel: 24,000 — #17 most of 31
  • Naval fleet: 246 — #3 most of 31
  • Aircraft fleet: 166 — #11 most of 31
  • Military spending (2022): $4,822.9 million — #16 most of 31
  • Spending as percent of GDP: 1.72% — #12 most of 31
  • Population (2022): 5,556,880 — #19 most of 31
  • Year joined NATO: 2023

16. Denmark

  • GlobalFirepower military strength index score, 2023: 0.8011 — #50 of 145 countries
  • Active military personnel: 16,000 — #20 most of 31
  • Naval fleet: 74 — #11 most of 31
  • Aircraft fleet: 115 — #14 most of 31
  • Military spending (2022): $5,467.9 million — #14 most of 31
  • Spending as percent of GDP: 1.42% — #22 most of 31
  • Population (2022): 5,903,037 — #18 most of 31
  • Year joined NATO: 1949

15. Czechia

  • GlobalFirepower military strength index score, 2023: 0.7849 — #48 of 145 countries
  • Active military personnel: 26,000 — #14 most of 31
  • Naval fleet: None
  • Aircraft fleet: 97 — #18 most of 31
  • Military spending (2022): $4,005.4 million — #17 most of 31
  • Spending as percent of GDP: 1.36% — #24 most of 31
  • Population (2022): 10,526,073 — #14 most of 31
  • Year joined NATO: 1999

14. Romania

  • GlobalFirepower military strength index score, 2023: 0.7735 — #47 of 145 countries
  • Active military personnel: 67,000 — #11 most of 31
  • Naval fleet: 45 — #16 most of 31
  • Aircraft fleet: 146 — #12 most of 31
  • Military spending (2022): $5,186.7 million — #15 most of 31
  • Spending as percent of GDP: 1.73% — #11 most of 31
  • Population (2022): 18,956,666 — #10 most of 31
  • Year joined NATO: 2004

13. Portugal

  • GlobalFirepower military strength index score, 2023: 0.6116 — #41 of 145 countries
  • Active military personnel: 27,000 — #13 most of 31
  • Naval fleet: 111 — #8 most of 31
  • Aircraft fleet: 104 — #16 most of 31
  • Military spending (2022): $3,500.3 million — #18 most of 31
  • Spending as percent of GDP: 1.35% — #25 most of 31
  • Population (2022): 10,379,007 — #15 most of 31
  • Year joined NATO: 1949

12. Netherlands

  • GlobalFirepower military strength index score, 2023: 0.5801 — #39 of 145 countries
  • Active military personnel: 35,000 — #12 most of 31
  • Naval fleet: 61 — #13 most of 31
  • Aircraft fleet: 136 — #13 most of 31
  • Military spending (2022): $15,606.6 million — #9 most of 31
  • Spending as percent of GDP: 1.58% — #17 most of 31
  • Population (2022): 17,703,090 — #11 most of 31
  • Year joined NATO: 1949

11. Norway

  • GlobalFirepower military strength index score, 2023: 0.5289 — #35 of 145 countries
  • Active military personnel: 23,000 — #18 most of 31
  • Naval fleet: 48 — #15 most of 31
  • Aircraft fleet: 100 — #17 most of 31
  • Military spending (2022): $8,388.4 million — #11 most of 31
  • Spending as percent of GDP: 1.64% — #14 most of 31
  • Population (2022): 5,457,127 — #20 most of 31
  • Year joined NATO: 1949

10. Greece

  • GlobalFirepower military strength index score, 2023: 0.4621 — #30 of 145 countries
  • Active military personnel: 130,000 — #7 most of 31
  • Naval fleet: 120 — #7 most of 31
  • Aircraft fleet: 635 — #6 most of 31
  • Military spending (2022): $8,104.9 million — #12 most of 31
  • Spending as percent of GDP: 3.69% — #1 most of 31
  • Population (2022): 10,566,531 — #13 most of 31
  • Year joined NATO: 1952

9. Canada

  • GlobalFirepower military strength index score, 2023: 0.3956 — #27 of 145 countries
  • Active military personnel: 70,000 — #10 most of 31
  • Naval fleet: 61 — #13 most of 31
  • Aircraft fleet: 376 — #10 most of 31
  • Military spending (2022): $26,896.3 million — #6 most of 31
  • Spending as percent of GDP: 1.24% — #26 most of 31
  • Population (2022): 38,929,902 — #8 most of 31
  • Year joined NATO: 1949

8. Germany

  • GlobalFirepower military strength index score, 2023: 0.3881 — #25 of 145 countries
  • Active military personnel: 184,000 — #5 most of 31
  • Naval fleet: 80 — #10 most of 31
  • Aircraft fleet: 601 — #7 most of 31
  • Military spending (2022): $55,759.7 million — #3 most of 31
  • Spending as percent of GDP: 1.39% — #23 most of 31
  • Population (2022): 84,079,811 — #3 most of 31
  • Year joined NATO: 1955

7. Spain

  • GlobalFirepower military strength index score, 2023: 0.3556 — #21 of 145 countries
  • Active military personnel: 120,000 — #8 most of 31
  • Naval fleet: 166 — #4 most of 31
  • Aircraft fleet: 517 — #8 most of 31
  • Military spending (2022): $20,306.6 million — #7 most of 31
  • Spending as percent of GDP: 1.47% — #21 most of 31
  • Population (2022): 47,615,034 — #7 most of 31
  • Year joined NATO: 1982

6. Poland

  • GlobalFirepower military strength index score, 2023: 0.3406 — #20 of 145 countries
  • Active military personnel: 120,000 — #8 most of 31
  • Naval fleet: 86 — #9 most of 31
  • Aircraft fleet: 459 — #9 most of 31
  • Military spending (2022): $16,573.1 million — #8 most of 31
  • Spending as percent of GDP: 2.39% — #4 most of 31
  • Population (2022): 37,561,599 — #9 most of 31
  • Year joined NATO: 1999

5. Türkiye

  • GlobalFirepower military strength index score, 2023: 0.2016 — #11 of 145 countries
  • Active military personnel: 425,000 — #2 most of 31
  • Naval fleet: 154 — #5 most of 31
  • Aircraft fleet: 1,065 — #2 most of 31
  • Military spending (2022): $10,644.6 million — #10 most of 31
  • Spending as percent of GDP: 1.23% — #27 most of 31
  • Population (2022): 85,341,241 — #2 most of 31
  • Year joined NATO: 1952

4. Italy

  • GlobalFirepower military strength index score, 2023: 0.1973 — #10 of 145 countries
  • Active military personnel: 170,000 — #6 most of 31
  • Naval fleet: 313 — #2 most of 31
  • Aircraft fleet: 850 — #4 most of 31
  • Military spending (2022): $33,489.7 million — #5 most of 31
  • Spending as percent of GDP: 1.68% — #13 most of 31
  • Population (2022): 58,856,847 — #6 most of 31
  • Year joined NATO: 1949

3. France

  • GlobalFirepower military strength index score, 2023: 0.1848 — #9 of 145 countries
  • Active military personnel: 205,000 — #3 most of 31
  • Naval fleet: 126 — #6 most of 31
  • Aircraft fleet: 1,004 — #3 most of 31
  • Military spending (2022): $53,638.7 million — #4 most of 31
  • Spending as percent of GDP: 1.94% — #9 most of 31
  • Population (2022): 67,935,660 — #4 most of 31
  • Year joined NATO: 1949

2. United Kingdom

  • GlobalFirepower military strength index score, 2023: 0.1435 — #5 of 145 countries
  • Active military personnel: 194,000 — #4 most of 31
  • Naval fleet: 73 — #12 most of 31
  • Aircraft fleet: 663 — #5 most of 31
  • Military spending (2022): $68,462.6 million — #2 most of 31
  • Spending as percent of GDP: 2.23% — #5 most of 31
  • Population (2022): 66,971,411 — #5 most of 31
  • Year joined NATO: 1949

1. United States

  • GlobalFirepower military strength index score, 2023: 0.0712 — #1 of 145 countries
  • Active military personnel: 1,390,000 — #1 most of 31
  • Naval fleet: 484 — #1 most of 31
  • Aircraft fleet: 13,300 — #1 most of 31
  • Military spending (2022): $876,943.2 million — #1 most of 31
  • Spending as percent of GDP: 3.45% — #2 most of 31
  • Population (2022): 333,287,557 — #1 most of 31
  • Year joined NATO: 1949

Methodology

To determine the strongest North Atlantic Treaty Organization members, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed 2023 data from GlobalFirepower, an annually updated defense-related statistics website with information on 145 countries. We ranked countries according to their military strength, based on GlobalFirepower’s Power Index, which rates stronger countries closer to zero and weaker countries with higher index values. The index takes into account over 60 factors, including the arsenal, vehicles, aircraft, and more at each countries’ disposal.

Data on active service personnel, total military aircraft, and naval vessels are from GlobalFirepower. From Stockholm International Peace Research Institute’s Military Expenditure Database, we included total military spending by country in 2022 in current U.S. dollars and military spending as a percentage of gross domestic product. 2022 population figures came from the World Bank. From NATO, we added the year that each country joined the alliance.

URGENT – New Seats Available (sponsored)

Top financial advisors are now accepting new clients for 2024! Finding the right advisor can be the difference between retiring early, or working forever. Don’t waste a moment matching with the right advisor for you. Every moment today can mean riches tomorrow, with the right advisor by your side.

Use the advisor match tool below, or click here now, to find your financial freedom!

Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us?
Contact the 24/7 Wall St. editorial team.