The European countries that spend the most on their military

Joe Vesey-Byrne
Thursday 18 August 2016 17:00
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Picture: Jakub Marian

The per capita military spending of European countries in 2015 has been plotted by cartographer Jakub Marian. The country at the top of the list will probably surprise you.

While many would expect somewhere like Russia to have the highest spending, Marian found that Norway topped the list at $1,147 (USD) per capita. In part this is because of its border with Russia and membership of Nato, leading to higher spending. In addition, the Norwegian armed forces 'Forsvaret', operates the policy of conscription, which raises the amount each citizen spends on the military in the form of taxes.

Picture: Jakub Marian

Writing for his educational blog, Marian used data from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (Sipsri) to create the map. It shows Norway spent the most in 2015, followed by:

  1. United Kingdom ($869 USD)

  2. France ($783 USD)

  3. Denmark ($612 USD)

  4. Sweden ($555 USD)

  5. Finland ($546 USD)

  6. The Netherlands ($527 USD)

  7. Russia ($467 USD)

As Marian points out, the per capita measure excludes the economic power of each country, creating a somewhat skewed comparison. To counter this, he created a second map that measured the military spending of each country in 2015 by GDP.

Picture: Jakub Marian

When military spending was measured as a percentage of GDP, Russia topped the list, followed by Ukraine (which Marian admits is based on unverified data). Greece, Poland, France, Turkey and the UK followed. The data from (Sipsri) suggested that the UK was missing its 2 per cent Nato commitment by a fraction of a percentage point.

The measurement also placed Norway in the middle-to-lower rankings of the list, spending 1.5 per cent of GDP on the Forsvaret and other military organisations.

For context, Marian also supplied the figures for military spending in other nations on other continents. The USA spent $1,854 (USD) per capita, and 3.3 per cent of its GDP in 2015. China spent £156 (USD) per capita and 1.9 per cent of its GDP.

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