Global Armed Forces: Country Comparison

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ON JULY 18th the British government announced a reduction to the country’s army from 101,000 troops now to 84,000 by 2020. Altogether Britain’s active armed forces—ie, excluding reserves—numbered 178,000 in 2010, placing it a fairly modest 28th in a global ranking of 161 countries for which data are available. Indeed, its European counterparts Germany and France actually maintain larger armed forces of 251,000 and 238,000 respectively.

 In absolute numbers, rich and populous countries such as America, China and India keep the biggest militaries. Countries that have seen war (Iran, Vietnam) or are situated in strife-torn regions such as the Middle East also feature prominently. The most heavily militarised country of all is North Korea, where there are 49 military personnel for every 1,000 of its people.

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