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Which Countries Receive the Most Foreign Aid from the U.S.?

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Which Countries Receive the Most Foreign Aid From the U.S.?

The United States provided more than $50 billion in aid to over 150 countries and territories, regional funds, and NGOs in 2021.

Each year, Congress appropriates foreign assistance based on national security, commercial, and humanitarian interests.

In this map, USAFacts uses data from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to highlight the countries that received the largest portion of aid.

Food Assistance and the War on Drugs

In 2021, the U.S. directed its aid towards nations grappling with internal conflicts and humanitarian crises.

Following the withdrawal of American troops that same year, Afghanistan emerged as the primary recipient of substantial aid, receiving billions of dollars annually as part of the humanitarian response.

CountryAssistance (USD)Top Activity
๐Ÿ‡ฆ๐Ÿ‡ซ Afghanistan$1.5 billionHumanitarian Assistance
๐Ÿ‡ช๐Ÿ‡น Ethiopia $1.4 billionEmergency Food Assistance
๐Ÿ‡ฏ๐Ÿ‡ด Jordan $1.3 billion Cash Transfer
๐Ÿ‡พ๐Ÿ‡ช Yemen$1.1 billion Emergency Food Assistance
๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ธ South Sudan$1.0 billion Emergency Food Assistance
๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ฉ DRC $891 millionEmergency Food Assistance
๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡พ Syria$844 millionHumanitarian Assistance
๐Ÿ‡ณ๐Ÿ‡ฌ Nigeria $828 millionGlobal Health Supply Chain
๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ด Colombia $761 millionCounter-Narcotics
๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ฉ Sudan$620 millionEmergency Food Assistance

Among the top countries benefiting from U.S. assistance are various African nations contending with both famine and internal conflicts. Notably, Colombia stands out in the top 10, receiving millions of dollars to combat drug trafficking.

Israel Leading in Aid Over Time

Since the end of World War II, the U.S. has disbursed more than $3.75 trillion in foreign aid (adjusted for inflation).

The post-war years saw foreign aid peak, primarily because of the Marshall Plan. This initiative aimed to assist in restoring the economic infrastructure of post-war Europe.

At its height in 1949, U.S. foreign aid totaled nearly $100 billion.

Israel has been by far the largest cumulative recipient of U.S. foreign assistance. Since the 1940s, Israel has received more than $300 billion, with most of it in military support, aiding the country in developing a missile defense system and other projects.

us foreign aid, top 5 countries over time

The primary reason for this foreign aid has been to guarantee U.S. interests in the region, given Israel’s proximity to Syria to the northeast, Hezbollah-influenced Lebanon to the north, and an Islamist insurgency in Egyptโ€™s Sinai to the south.

After a two-decade conflict that took millions of Vietnamese lives and roughly 58,000 American lives, Vietnam is Washington’s second-largest recipient of financial support. This money is used for economic and technological cooperation, military support, and even to aid cleanup efforts from the U.S. militaryโ€™s use of Agent Orange in Vietnam during the war.

Since 1975, Egypt has been a significant recipient of substantial foreign aid from the United States, primarily as part of diplomatic efforts to mitigate tensions in the Arab-Israeli context.

Washington also sent large aid packages to South Vietnam, South Korea, and other countries during the Cold War.

Since 2003, much of the money has been directed toward Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.

The Debate Surrounding U.S. Foreign Aid

According to a recent report by the Congressional Research Service, foreign aid can serve as a means to bolster the United States’ global influence, tackle worldwide challenges, and advance common values.

Nonetheless, the same report reveals that certain Americans and Members of Congress consider foreign aid an expenditure the country cannot afford, given current budget deficits and competing budget priorities.

In 2021, U.S. assistance to other countries accounted for around 0.7% of the federal government’s total expenditures.

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This article was published as a part of Visual Capitalist's Creator Program, which features data-driven visuals from some of our favorite Creators around the world.

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Maps

Ranked: Countries with the Most Embassies Around the World

The Global Diplomacy Index attempts to quantify and compare diplomatic networks by ranking countries with the most embassies worldwide.

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A map of the countries with the most embassies worldwide.

Mapped: Countries with the Most Embassies Around the World

This was originally posted on our Voronoi app. Download the app for free on iOS or Android and discover incredible data-driven charts from a variety of trusted sources.

Itโ€™s easy to contextualize a country’s economic might (GDP) or military prowess (military budgets), but what about diplomatic influence?

The Global Diplomacy Index by the Lowy Institute is an attempt to measure and compare diplomatic networks worldwide to understand the foreign ties that influence geopolitics.

From their 2024 update, we visualize the top 25 countries with the most embassies worldwide. Data for this graphic is current up to November 2023, and does not reflect diplomatic consequences from the Israel-Hamas war.

Ranked: Countries by Worldwide Embassy Count

China leads with 173 embassies around the world, eclipsing the U.S. (168) by just five more foreign posts.

Former colonial powers, France (158) and the UK (156) rank third and fourth respectively. Japan (152) rounds out the top five.

RankCountryEmbassies Overseas
1๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ณ China173
2๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ U.S.168
3๐Ÿ‡ซ๐Ÿ‡ท France158
4๐Ÿ‡ฌ๐Ÿ‡ง UK156
5๐Ÿ‡ฏ๐Ÿ‡ต Japan152
6๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ช Germany148
7๐Ÿ‡น๐Ÿ‡ท Tรผrkiye145
8๐Ÿ‡ท๐Ÿ‡บ Russia143
9๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡ท Brazil135
10๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ณ India135
11๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡น Italy124
12๐Ÿ‡ช๐Ÿ‡ธ Spain114
13๐Ÿ‡ฐ๐Ÿ‡ท South Korea114
14๐Ÿ‡ณ๐Ÿ‡ฑ Netherlands106
15๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ฆ Saudi Arabia104
16๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ญ Switzerland102
17๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ฆ Canada98
18๐Ÿ‡ฟ๐Ÿ‡ฆ South Africa98
19๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ฉ Indonesia92
20๐Ÿ‡ต๐Ÿ‡ฑ Poland91
21๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ฟ Czech Republic91
22๐Ÿ‡ต๐Ÿ‡ฐ Pakistan89
23๐Ÿ‡ฆ๐Ÿ‡ท Argentina87
24๐Ÿ‡ญ๐Ÿ‡บ Hungary87
25๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ช Sweden87

Note: As of November, 2023.

The index notes some key findings in the regional footprint of all these foreign posts as well.

For example, China has a larger diplomatic presence in Africa, East Asia, and the Pacific, while the U.S. leads in the Americas, Europe, and South Asia. This reflects the two superpowersโ€™ trade and economic ties as well.

Meanwhile, Tรผrkiye and India have grown their diplomatic networks the most in recent years. Interestingly, both countries prioritized Africa in their new outreach. In fact, India is a key export destination for many African countries.

Russia meanwhile had to close 14 foreign missions since it invaded Ukraine in 2022, slipping two ranking spots between 2017 and 2022.

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