The 20 countries in the world which currently have no armed forces 

Sushree Behera

Did you know 2 trillion dollars are spent on military expenses every year? However, some countries don’t occupy any armed forces.

These countries are some of the most peaceful countries in the world. So keep reading this article to know more about these countries and why they don’t have any armed forces.

Top 20 countries which have no armed forces

Here is a list of the top 20 countries with no armed forces. While these countries are situated worldwide, they share the idea of neutrality and aim for peace.

1. Andorra

Andorra is one of the few countries maintaining a ceremonial army instead of a standing army. Andorra has signed several military treatises under which the country receives protection and military assistance from Spain and France. Andorra, however, has a GIPA special forces unit that deals with cases of terrorism and hostage recovery.

2. Costa Rica

The Republic of Costa Rica hasn’t had a standing army since 1949. The civil war ended in the country in 1948, after which the police force took the responsibility of maintaining internal security of the country. Therefore, December 1 is celebrated as the Army Abolition Day in Costa Rica. In addition, Costa Rica doesn’t have a standing army because it is protected by the United States.

3. Vatican City

The Catholic capital of the world, Vatican City, had a standing army before 1970 to protect the Pope. However, the standing army of Vatican City got dismantled by Pope Paul VI in 1970.  It is a religious place that most European countries respect. Also, it exists in Rome, which is the capital of Italy. Therefore, no nation attempted to attack Vatican City, and even if they try to attack, they would need to pass through Italy first. 

4. Vanuatu

While Vanuatu doesn’t have a standing army, it has a paramilitary force of around 300 volunteers. The paramilitary force is known as the Vanuatu Mobile Force. Vanuatu doesn’t like to pose an army because it is a peaceful island country that maintains military isolation from the rest of the world.

5. Dominica

Dominica has been a neutral nation since 1981. It doesn’t have a standing army because it has a population of only about 73,000. It, however, only has a police force that can act as a military in the time of external emergencies. In addition, it can call for “military assistance” from the Regional Security System. 

6. Iceland

Despite being a NATO state, Iceland doesn’t have a standing army. The country discourages having an army because it has secured agreements with the United States and other NATO countries. The coast guard and anti-terrorist unit known as the Vikingasveitin are the only security forces in the country.

7. San Marino 

San Marino is one of the world’s oldest republics situated in central Italy. And, like other small nations located around Italy, San Marino is also contingent on Italy for protection and military aid. San Marino, however, has a voluntary military force exclusively for ceremonial purposes.

8. Nauru

Nauru, with an area of 13 square kilometers, is the third smallest country in the world. Therefore, it doesn’t have the resources to maintain a military force. But, Australia provides military protection to Nauru since the countries enjoy diplomatic ties.

9. Samoa

Samoa is another country on the list with a small police force and a Maritime Surveillance unit to maintain internal security. Samoa doesn’t have a standing army because New Zealand has to provide military assistance when asked under the Treaty of Friendship of 1962.

10. Liechtenstein

Liechtenstein is a unique addition to the list because it doesn’t have an army for economic reasons. The country abolished its military in 1968 because maintaining an army was too costly. Moreover, Austria and Switzerland gave defence assistance incentivizing Liechtenstein not to have an army.

11. Solomon Islands

The Solomon Islands lacks military force because of its ideology of strategic neutrality over the years. The country has not had a military force since its Independence in 1976. However, the Solomon Islands has a large police force and Maritime Surveillance unit that can assume the responsibility of protecting the country in a time of need.

12. St. Vincent and the Grenadines

Since St. Vincent and the Grenadines is part of the Regional Security System, the country’s security is taken care of by the United States and the combined military forces of the Caribbean. The Royal Police Force, the Special Service Unit, and the Coast Guard Unit take care of the internal security of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

13. Micronesia

Since Micronesia’s formation, the country has abstained from having an army. It has a mere population of 104,000, and under the Compact of Free Association, the United States maintains the security and defense of Micronesia. 

14. Mauritius

Since 1968, Mauritius has refused to maintain a standing army. The island country is isolated from the rest of Africa. Also, it has strong economic ties in the region. Therefore, Mauritius prefers to focus on full-fledged economic development instead of spending part of the budget on the military.

15. Panama

The US formed the country of Panama to gain control of the Panama Canal. Therefore, when Panama established the National Guard unit in 1983, the US quickly responded by invading Panama in 1989. The US has since taken care of Panama’s defense. 

16. Kiribati

Like other small countries, Kiribati has a police force instead of a standing army. Thus, the police force takes arms in matters of national emergency. The nation is also provided military aid by Australia and New Zealand under an informal agreement.

17. Saint Lucia

Saint Lucia is also part of the Regional Security System. So, like other countries involved in the agreement, Saint Lucia doesn’t have a national army. Instead, the nation is ensured protection by several multinational combined military forces.

18. Palau

Since Palau is also a part of the Compact of Free Association, the US provides Palau military aid to maintain the nation’s defense. In addition to that, the US occupied Palau from 1944-1947. Thus, Palau has always been like an off-shore territory of the US. 

19. Monaco

Despite being the wealthiest country if we calculate GDP per capita, Monaco doesn’t have a standing army. Instead, Monaco relies on France for defense. It, however, has a military of around 250 personnel for ceremonial purposes. 

20. Marshall Islands

Lastly, the Marshall Islands also lack a standing army because of the Compact of Free Association. The US had control over the country after the Second World War. And even after gaining independence, the Marshall Islands abstained from maintaining a military unit under the influence of the US. 

Why don’t these countries have armed forces

The mentioned countries on the list rely on other states for protection and military assistance. They don’t prefer to have a standing army for several reasons. The main reasons are the low population and the economic cost of maintaining an army.

However, most of these countries have started to rethink their military after seeing the failure of NATO countries to help Ukraine during the Russia-Ukraine war. And it shouldn’t be a shock if you see many countries from the list having a military soon.

Read also: The 6 strongest military powers in the world today

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