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Thursday, September 19, 2019

Stats Gate

The World’s Top 10 Biggest Military Spenders In 100 Years (From 1914 to 2018)

Undoubtedly, America has the most active and powerful military in the world. At a whopping $649 billion, the United States is still the biggest global spender on its military. It spent almost as much on its military in 2018 as the next eight largest-spending countries combined.

The top five biggest spenders in 2018 were the U.S., China, Saudi Arabia, India, and France., which together accounted for 60% of global military spending.

But the United States wasn’t always on top — the data below shows how military spending is distributed around the world and who are the most influential players. From 1914 to 1990 military spending is calculated in US$ in 2000 terms.

The World’s Top 10 Biggest Military Spenders In 1914

With Europe amping up preparations for the World War I, military budgets ballooned ahead of the four-year-long conflict that spanned several continents.

  1. Germany: $23.7 billion
  2. United Kingdom: $22.3 billion
  3. France: $16.4 billion
  4. Austria-Hungary: $13.9 billion
  5. Russia: $11.4 billion
  6. United States: $3.4 billion
  7. Japan: $1.4 billion
  8. Spain: $1.3 billion
  9. Italy: $1.2 billion
  10. China: $0.9 billion

The World’s Top 10 Biggest Military Spenders In 1939

With World War II on the horizon, defense spending skyrocketed. Germany outspent its nearest rival, the United Kingdom by more than $40 billion.

  1. Germany: $122.2 billion
  2. United Kingdom: $80.4 billion
  3. Russia (USSR): $61 billion
  4. Japan: $17.3 billion
  5. France: $10.4 billion
  6. United States: $10 billion
  7. Poland: $9.9 billion
  8. Italy: $6.8 billion
  9. Czechoslovakia: $2.7 billion
  10. China: $1.8 billion

The World’s Top 10 Biggest Military Spenders In 1975
At the peak of the Cold War, the arms race between the United States and Soviet Russia saw the nations pour billions into their defense programs to stay a step ahead of the other.

  1. Russia (USSR): $334.2 billion
  2. United States: $237.5 billion 88.4
  3. China: $74.4 billion
  4. West Germany: $39.9 billion
  5. France: $34 billion
  6. United Kingdom: $30 billion
  7. Iran: $17.47 billion
  8. Poland: $15.6 billion
  9. Italy: $12.4 billion
  10. Japan: $11.8 billion

The World’s Top 10 Biggest Military Spenders In 1990
As the Soviet Union gradually crumbled, the US cemented its position as the most dominant military force, with armed engagements ongoing around the globe.

  1. United States: $355.4 billion
  2. Russia (USSR): $158 billion
  3. United Kingdom: $47.2 billion
  4. Germany: $45.6 billion
  5. West Germany: $43.7 billion
  6. France: $42.7 billion
  7. Japan: $35.2 billion
  8. Saudi Arabia: $28.5 billion
  9. Italy: $24 billion
  10. Kuwait: $16.1 billion

The World’s Top 10 Biggest Military Spenders In 2006

  1. United States: $527 billion
  2. United Kingdom: $57.5 billion
  3. China: $55.3 billion
  4. France: $54.5 billion
  5. Japan: $41.5 billion
  6. Germany: $38 billion
  7. Russia: $34.5 billion
  8. Italy: $29.7 billion
  9. Saudi Arabia: $29.6 billion
  10. South Korea: $25.1 billion

The World’s Top 10 Biggest Military Spenders In 2010

  1. United States: $698 billion
  2. China: $115.7 billion
  3. France: $61.8 billion
  4. Russia: $58.7 billion
  5. United Kingdom: $58 billion
  6. Japan: $54.7 billion
  7. Germany: $46.3 billion
  8. India: $46.1 billion
  9. Saudi Arabia: $45.3 billion
  10. Brazil: $34 billion

The World’s Top 10 Biggest Military Spenders In 2014

  1. United States: $610 billion
  2. China: $200 billion
  3. Russia: $84.7 billion
  4. Saudi Arabia: $80.8 billion
  5. France: $63.6 billion
  6. United Kingdom: $59.2 billion
  7. India: $51 billion
  8. Japan: $46.8 billion
  9. Germany: $46.1 billion
  10. South Korea: $37.6 billion

The World’s Top 10 Biggest Military Spenders In 2018

  1. United States: $649 billion
  2. China: $250.4 billion
  3. Saudi Arabia: $67.5 billion
  4. India: $66.5 billion
  5. France: $63.8 billion
  6. Russia: $61.4 billion
  7. United Kingdom: $50 billion
  8. Germany: $49.5 billion
  9. Japan: $46.6 billion
  10. South Korea: $43 billion


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Anna Papadopoulos
Editor, writer, teacher, consultant. Advocate for plain language, journalism, free speech, and tolerance. Feminist. Based in Sydney, Australia.
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