Just The Facts

Defense’s Other Mega Spenders

Who are the 19 nations that spend more on defense as a share of their national economy than even the United States does?

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  • Oman, South Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Algeria spend above 6% of GDP on defense.
  • In 2015, India spent 2.3% of GDP on defense while China spent 1.9% of GDP on defense.
  • Mauritania, Myanmar, Brunei, Angola, Colombia, Kyrgyzstan and Pakistan spend below 4% of GDP on defense.

1. Among the 171 countries surveyed by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), in 2015, 19 spent a higher share of their GDP on defense than the United States’s 3.3%.

2. All of these countries, of course, spend far less in absolute dollar terms than the United States does, but they are still putting a greater share of their economies to armed pursuits.

3. Above 6% of GDP, in descending order, they are: Oman (16.2%); South Sudan (13.8%); Saudi Arabia (13.7%); Iraq (9.1%); Algeria (6.2%);

4. In the 4-6% range, they are: Israel and Russia (both at 5.4%); Azerbaijan and Bahrain (both at 4.6%); Armenia (4.5%); Jordan (4.2%); Lebanon (4.1%); Ukraine (4.0%);

5. Below 4% but greater than the U.S. share, they are: Mauritania and Myanmar (both at 3.9%); Brunei (3.7%); Angola, Colombia and Kyrgyzstan (all at 3.5%); as well as Pakistan (3.4%).

6. Not long ago, few of these countries surpassed the U.S. rate of spending relative to GDP. Their spending has gone up largely in response to increased regional tensions.

7. For comparison, India spent 2.3% of GDP on defense.

8. China, meanwhile, spent 1.9% of GDP.

Sources: The Globalist Research Center and the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute

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