How the World’s Top Military Spenders Compare to the US

Just one year after surpassing $2 trillion for the first time, global military expenditure reached a staggering $2.24 trillion in 2022, according to a report from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute released today. While nearly every country allocates some money to defense, only a few dozen nations account for most of the world’s annual military budgets. (Here are the 20 countries with the strongest militaries.

Using data from the SIPRI’s Military Expenditure Database, 24/7 Wall St. identified the 40 countries with the highest military spending in 2022 (expressed in 2021 constant U.S. dollars). Population estimates for 2022 come from the CIA World Factbook. Arms import figures for 2018-2022 are from the SIPRI Arms Transfers Database. SIPRI notes that some values are estimates, including the spending as a percent of GDP in Ukraine and all the spending figures for China, Russia, and Saudi Arabia. 

Combined, the 40 countries on this list accounted for about 93% of global military expenditures last year, and the top five countries alone accounted for an estimated 63%. By far, the largest share of the 40 nations — 15 in all — are in Europe. East and Southeast Asia and the Middle East are tied for second, with seven nations each. 

Russia’s invasion in Ukraine had a major influence on global military budgets last year. Spending by European nations increased by 13%, the largest increase recorded for the region in at least 30 years. Meanwhile, SIPRI estimates that Ukraine’s 2022 military budget increased from $5.9 billion in 2021 to $44.0 billion in 2022. The staggering 640% increase in UKraine’s military spending is the highest ever recorded by a single country since SIPRI began tracking military budget data. 

In addition to Ukraine’ own military spending, the country received financial aid from its allies. The United States alone donated $19.9 billion in weapons to Ukraine last year, the largest single-year donation of military aid since the Cold War. SIPRI estimates that adding the aid Ukraine received to the country’s military spending would position it fifth in military spending worldwide. The U.S. military budget, meanwhile, remains the largest in the world by a wide margin. At $877 billion in 2022, American military spending accounted for an estimated 39% of global spending. (See: the size of the U.S. military each year since the Korean War.

Click here to see how the world’s top military spenders compare to the US.

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