Map Options

Metric:
Color Scheme:
map placeholder
Active Military

0

200K

400K

600K

800K

1M

1.2M

1.4M

1.6M

1.8M

2M

2.2M

Click on a country for details.

Military Size by Country 2024

A country’s military is one of its most important assets. The military works for the government and is tasked with enforcing domestic and foreign policies and protecting that country's citizens. Some nations have mandatory military service in which every citizen must serve for at least a certain number of years.

Factors to consider when evaluating a country's military strength

There are several crucial factors to consider when analyzing the strength of a nation’s military. The capability and availability of equipment (vehicles, weaponry, communications gear, etc.) is essential. The quality of training each soldier receives is vital. Their commanders' ability to consistently devise effective tactical strategies can be pivotal. But one of the most fundamental measures of a country's military strength is the number of soldiers it can deploy.

The list of countries that boast the highest total (active duty, reserves, and paramilitary) number of members in the military may be surprising to some readers. However, it is vital to also keep in mind servicepeople are usually divided into three categories: soldiers on active duty, reserves, or paramilitary members.

  • Soldiers on active duty — Soldiers who work for the military full time, often live on base, and may be deployed at any time.
  • Reservists — Soldiers who typically serve part time and join the reserves—such as the Army Reserve or National Guard—to make extra money, get tuition bonuses at college/university, or take advantage of other perks without devoting themselves full time to the military.
  • Paramilitary members — Servicepeople who belong to organizations such as Canada’s Canadian Rangers or France's National Gendarmerie, which are military-like, but not formally part of the armed forces.

Top 10 Countries with the Highest Total Number of Military Personnel (in members):

Country
Total Personnel
Military Size per 1k
Active Military per 1k
North Korea7,769,000306.150.4
South Korea6,712,500130.511.6
Vietnam5,522,00056.95
India5,137,50041.1
China4,015,0002.91.6
Russia3,708,00026.18.1
Ukraine2,122,00027.64.8
Brazil2,101,50010.11.8
United States2,072,9506.34
Taiwan1,831,80077.86.9

North Korea dominates the list in terms of military members per capita, with 306.1 total members and 50.4 active members per capita. For comparison, the next closest countries in those categories are South Korea with 130.5 total per capita and Eritrea with 33.8 total active members per capita. However, these numbers can be deceiving, as the overwhelming majority of soldiers in Vietnam, North Korea, and South Korea are reserves or paramilitary, not active duty. In terms of the total number of active military members, there are eight nations with active militaries exceeding 500,000 soldiers:

Top 10 Countries with the Highest Number of Active-Duty Military Personnel (in members):

Country
Active Military
Military Reserve
China2,185,0001,170,000
India1,455,5501,155,000
United States1,328,000744,950
North Korea1,280,000600,000
Russia1,154,0002,000,000
Malaysia1,113,00051,600
Pakistan654,000550,000
Iran610,000350,000
South Korea599,0003,100,000
Vietnam482,0005,000,000

It is noteworthy that the world's three most populous countries also have the three largest standing armies, and in the same order. China's massive force is the largest, followed by India and the United States. While the United States has the third-highest population in total, the third-highest number of active military members, and the fourth-highest number of military members overall, it has the highest military spending of any country in the world. Once reserve members are added in, Vietnam's military becomes the largest, with roughly 5 million people in its reserves. The Republic of Korea also has 3.1 million members in its military reserves.

Top 10 Countries with the Highest Number of Paramilitary Personnel (in members):

Country
Paramilitary
North Korea5,889,000
South Korea3,013,500
India2,526,950
Cuba1,146,500
China660,000
Russia554,000
Egypt397,000
Brazil395,000
Pakistan291,000
Indonesia280,000

Looking strictly at each nation's paramilitary capabilities, the ranking again changes. The nation with the largest paramilitary is the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea), which has over 5.889 million members. Conversely, the United States does not count paramilitary organizations as part of its available military (though some, such as the Civil Air Patrol, are considered auxiliaries), so its paramilitary officially has zero members.

On the other side of the coin, some nations have no active military members, or their militaries are minimal. The following six nations have no active members of the military: Costa Rica, Iceland, Libya, Mauritius, Palestine, and Panama. For a full table of countries and their military headcounts, see below.

  • The size of a country's military is only one factor in that country's ability to effectively conduct warfare. Additional factors include the level of training given soldiers, the age and condition of support vehicles and weaponry, and the effectiveness of strategic command.
  • Transnistria is an unrecognized territory in Moldova. It is recognized as sovereign by other (also unrecognized) territories, but not by the United Nations. However, it does maintain its own separate military.

Download Table Data

Enter your email below, and you'll receive this table's data in your inbox momentarily.

Country
Active Military
Paramilitary
Military Reserve
Total Personnel
Military Size per 1k
Active Military per 1k
China2,185,000660,0001,170,0004,015,0002.91.6
India1,455,5502,526,9501,155,0005,137,50041.1
United States1,328,000744,9502,072,9506.34
North Korea1,280,0005,889,000600,0007,769,000306.150.4
Russia1,154,000554,0002,000,0003,708,00026.18.1
Malaysia1,113,000267,20051,600431,80013.63.6
Pakistan654,000291,000550,0001,495,0007.23.1
Iran610,00040,000350,0001,000,000127.3
South Korea599,0003,013,5003,100,0006,712,500130.511.6
Vietnam482,00040,0005,000,0005,522,00056.95
Egypt438,500397,000479,0001,314,50013.24.4
Myanmar406,000107,000513,0009.27.3
Indonesia395,500280,000400,0001,075,5004.11.5
Brazil366,500395,0001,340,0002,101,50010.11.8
Thailand360,850138,700200,000699,55010.25.3
Turkey355,200156,800378,700890,700114.4
Colombia293,200187,90034,950516,05010.76.1
Sri Lanka255,00092,6005,500353,10015.611.3
Afghanistan250,000170,00075,000495,00014.27.2
Japan247,15014,35056,000317,5002.52
Saudi Arabia227,00024,500251,5007.66.9
Mexico216,000111,90081,500409,4003.31.7
Ukraine209,000102,000900,0002,122,00027.64.8
France208,75030,800141,050380,6005.63.1
Eritrea201,750120,000321,75053.933.8
Morocco195,80050,000150,000395,80011.55.7
Iraq193,000148,000341,0008.54.8
South Sudan185,000185,00018.118.1
Germany183,50050,050233,5502.92.3
Israel169,5008,000465,000642,500766.320.1
Syria169,000100,000269,00013.88.7
Italy165,500175,75018,300359,5505.82.7
Bangladesh163,05063,900226,9501.41
Taiwan163,00011,8001,657,0001,831,80077.86.9
Philippines143,10062,300131,000336,4003.21.4
Nigeria143,00080,000223,0001.10.7
Greece142,7004,000221,350368,05034.213.3
Ethiopia138,000138,0001.31.3
DR Congo134,250134,2501.61.6
Algeria130,000187,200150,000467,20011.23.1
Azerbaijan126,95015,000330,000471,950471.6
Cambodia124,30067,000191,30011.67.6
Venezuela123,000220,0008,000351,00011.13.9
Spain120,35075,80015,150211,3004.42.5
Poland114,05075,400189,4504.93
Angola107,00010,000117,0003.93.5
Sudan104,300105,000209,3004.92.4
Jordan100,50015,00065,000180,50017.39.6
Nepal96,60015,000111,6003.83.3
Peru81,00077,000188,000346,000112.6
Chile77,20044,70040,000161,90094.3
Argentina72,10031,250103,3502.31.6
Romania69,30057,00050,000176,3008.23.2
Canada67,4004,50035,600107,50031.9
South Africa63,35015,05080,4001.51.2
United Arab Emirates63,000130,000193,00019.96.5
Lebanon60,00020,00080,00013.19.8
Australia58,60030,10088,7003.82.5
Dominican Republic56,05015,00071,0506.95.4
Singapore51,0007,400252,500310,90051.98.5
Cuba49,0001,146,50039,0001,234,500110.94.4
Uzbekistan48,00020,00068,0002.31.6
Uganda45,0001,40010,00056,4001.41.1
Armenia44,8004,300210,000259,10085.314.7
Belarus43,350110,000289,500444,85046.74.8
Oman42,6004,40047,00013.512.2
Ecuador40,250500118,000158,7509.62.4
Kazakhstan39,00031,50070,5003.82.1
Bulgaria36,9503,00039,5005.75.2
Turkmenistan36,5005,00041,5007.76.7
Tunisia35,80012,00047,8004.23.1
Netherlands35,4005,9004,50045,8002.72.1
Bolivia34,10037,10071,2006.33
Chad33,25011,90045,1502.92.1
Rwanda33,0002,00035,0002.92.7
Burundi30,05021,00051,0504.32.5
Sweden29,75021,20050,9505.13
Laos29,100100,000129,10017.84
Zimbabwe29,00021,80050,8003.62.1
Serbia28,1503,70050,15082,00011.64
Hungary27,80012,00020,00059,8006.12.8
Ivory Coast27,40027,40011
Portugal27,25024,700211,700263,65025.52.6
Tanzania27,0001,40080,000108,40020.5
Belgium26,3005,10031,4002.72.3
Cameroon25,4009,00034,4001.31
El Salvador24,50017,0009,90051,4008.34
Kenya24,1005,00029,1000.60.5
Finland23,80014,200254,000292,00052.74.3
Norway23,25040,00063,25011.84.3
Austria22,050125,600147,65016.82.5
Czech Republic21,75021,75022
Uruguay21,0001,40022,4006.66.2
Georgia20,6505,40026,0505.34.2
Lithuania19,85014,4006,70040,95014.77.1
Somalia19,80019,8001.81.8
Switzerland19,550196,450216,000262.4
Guatemala18,05025,00063,850106,9006.41.1
Kuwait17,5007,10023,70048,30016.66
Qatar16,5005,00021,5009.17
Slovakia15,85015,8502.92.9
Mauritania15,8505,00020,8505.44.1
Ghana15,50015,5000.60.6
Croatia15,2003,00018,35036,5508.63.6
Zambia15,10014,0003,00019,5001.20.9
Cyprus15,00075050,00065,75053.112.1
Honduras14,9508,00060,00082,95091.6
Denmark14,50044,00058,50010.12.5
Paraguay13,95014,800164,500193,25027.52
Senegal13,6005,00018,6001.20.9
Madagascar13,5008,10021,6000.80.5
Mali13,0007,80020,8001.10.7
Nicaragua12,00012,00022
Mozambique11,20011,2000.40.4
Burkina Faso11,20025011,4500.60.6
Kyrgyzstan10,9009,50020,4003.51.9
Malawi10,7004,20014,9000.80.5
Bosnia and Herzegovina10,50010,5002.72.7
Djibouti10,4502,65013,10014.811.8
Republic of the Congo10,0002,00012,0002.42
Namibia9,9006,00015,9006.33.9
Guinea9,7002,60012,30010.8
Mongolia9,7007,500137,000154,20049.73.1
Ireland9,5004,05013,5502.71.9
Central African Republic9,1501,00010,1501.81.6
New Zealand9,0002,30011,3002.52
Botswana9,0009,00044
Tajikistan8,8007,50016,3001.91
Togo8,5507509,3001.11
Sierra Leone8,5008,5001.31.3
Bahrain8,20011,26019,46013.55.7
Albania8,0008,0002.62.6
North Macedonia8,0007,6004,85020,4509.73.8
Benin7,2504,80012,0501.10.6
Slovenia7,2505,9501,50014,70073.4
Brunei7,2004507008,35018.516
Estonia7,10017,50024,60019.85.7
Latvia6,21015,90022,11011.53.2
Niger5,3005,40010,7000.50.3
Moldova5,15090058,00064,05018.61.5
Gabon4,7002,0006,7003.22.2
Guinea Bissau4,4504,4502.42.4
Trinidad and Tobago4,0504,0503.33.3
Jamaica3,9509804,9301.81.4
Papua New Guinea3,6003,6000.50.5
Fiji3,5006,0009,50010.33.8
Guyana3,4006704,0705.54.6
Montenegro2,35010,10012,45020.33.8
Timor Leste2,2802,2801.71.7
Liberia2,0102,0100.40.4
Lesotho2,0002,00011
Malta1,9501802,1304.74.3
Suriname1,8401,8403.13.1
Belize1,5001507002,3506.13.9
Equatorial Guinea1,4501,4501.81.8
Bahamas1,3001,3003.93.9
Cape Verde1,2001,2002.12.1
Luxembourg9006001,5002.51.5
Gambia8008000.40.4
Barbados6104301,0403.62.1
Seychelles4204204.44.4
Antigua and Barbuda180802602.71.9
Haiti15050200
Costa Rica9,8009,8002
Panama26,00026,0006.8
Mauritius2,5502,5501.9
Iceland2502500.7
Vanuatu3003000.9
Vatican City135135259.6
showing: 169 rows

Which country has the strongest army in the world?

The United States has the strongest army in the world.

Frequently Asked Questions

Sources