Military Expenditure Per Capita: Which Countries Spend the Most on Defense Per Person?

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For once the U.S. doesn’t top this list—and China doesn’t even make the top 50. Newsweek

The U.S. famously spends far more money on its military than any other country, splurging a whopping $610 billion every year. This number dwarfs other countries’ military spending—to get some context, you should know that the combined spend of the next seven highest countries is less than that.

Nevertheless, the amount the U.S. spends on defense has fallen from its height in 2010 when it reached $768 billion. In 2017, the world as a whole spent $1.74 trillion on its military, up 1.1 percent.

But budget alone doesn’t tell the whole story. The U.S. can afford to spend so much thanks to several factors, including its large population, GDP and per-capita income. Some smaller, less wealthy countries are actually pouring a larger percentage of their income into the military than the U.S.

The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) has created a Military Expenditure Database which tracks the military spending of countries for the period 1949–2017. Using their data, we’ve compiled this list of the countries with the highest military expenditure per capita—that is, which countries spent the most on the military per citizen, a figure which is known as the ‘military burden.’

For once, the U.S. doesn’t top this list. China, which has the second-biggest budget for military spending, doesn’t even make the top 50, thanks to its enormous population.

Instead, Middle Eastern countries with smaller populations end up footing a large per-person military bill. Their location in a high-conflict region is partly why military expenditure in the Middle East rose by 6.2 percent in 2017. Seven of the 10 countries with the highest military burden are in the Middle East.

Our list reveals which country is inflicting the biggest military burden on its citizens, as well as how much Americans pay out compared with the rest of the world.

See also: The World’s Biggest Naval Forces—Number One on the List May Surprise You

Note: SIPRI military expenditure data is based on open sources. Due to lack of economic data, no figures are provided for North Korea.

01 Serbia
75. Serbia. Total military expenditure: $731 million. Population: 8.8 million. Military expenditure per capita: $83.2. Andrej Isakovic/AFP
02 Georgia
74. Georgia. Total military expenditure: $333 million. Population: 3.9 million. Military expenditure per capita: $85. Vano Shlamov/AFP
03 Sri Lanka
73. Sri Lanka. Total military expenditure: $1.9 billion. Population: 20.9 million. Military expenditure per capita: $89.4. Dinuka Liyanawatte/Reuters
04 Thailand
72. Thailand. Total military expenditure: $6.3 billion. Population: 69 million. Military expenditure per capita: $91.8. Rufus Cox/Getty Images
05 Congo
71. Congo. Total military expenditure: $484 million. Population: 5.3 million. Military expenditure per capita: $92.1. Sia Kambou/AFP
06 Morocco
70. Morocco. Total military expenditure: $3.5 billion. Population: 35.7 million. Military expenditure per capita: $96.9. Stephane de Sakutin/AFP
07 Angola
69. Angola. Total military expenditure: $3 billion. Population: 29.8 million. Military expenditure per capita: $102.8. Alexander Joe/AFP
08 Sudan
68. Sudan. Total military expenditure: $4.4 billion. Population: 40.5 million. Military expenditure per capita: $108.1. Ashraf Shazly/AFP
09 Malaysia
67. Malaysia. Total military expenditure: $3.5 billion. Population: 31.6 million. Military expenditure per capita: $110.5. Mohd Rasfan/AFP
10 Montenegro
66. Montenegro. Total military expenditure: $74.3 million. Population: 629,000. Military expenditure per capita: $118.1. Savo Prelevic/AFP
11 Bulgaria
65. Bulgaria. Total military expenditure: $867 million. Population: 7 million. Military expenditure per capita: $122.3. Stoyan Nenov/Reuters