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Mapped: All the World’s Military Personnel

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map infographic showing military personnel by country. China has the largest active military.

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Mapped: All the World’s Military Personnel

While much of the world is living in one of the most peaceful periods in history, the spark of new conflicts like Russia’s invasion of Ukraine reminds us of the importance of military personnel.

Between ongoing armed conflicts to building of defenses preemptively, many countries have amassed significant militaries to date.

This map, using data from World Population Review, displays all the world’s military personnel.

Who Has the Largest Military?

So who has the largest military? Well, the answer isn’t so simple.

There are three commonly measured categories of military personnel:

  • Active military: Soldiers who work full-time for the army
    Country with the largest active military: 🇨🇳 China (over 2 million)
  • Military reserves: People who do not work for the army full-time, but have military training and can be called up and deployed at any moment
    Country with the largest military reserves: 🇻🇳 Vietnam (5 million)
  • Paramilitary: Groups that aren’t officially military but operate in a similar fashion, such as the CIA or SWAT teams in the U.S.
    Country with the largest paramilitary: 🇰🇵 North Korea (an estimated 5 million)

NOTE: Of these categories of military personnel, paramilitary is the least well-defined across the world’s countries and thus not included in the infographic above.

Which country has the biggest military? It depends who’s doing the counting.

If we include paramilitary forces, here’s how the top countries stack up in terms of military personnel:

CountryActive MilitaryReserve MilitaryParamilitaryTotal Military
🇻🇳 Vietnam482,0005,000,0005,040,00010,522,000
🇰🇵 North Korea1,280,000600,0005,889,0007,769,000
🇰🇷 South Korea599,0003,100,0003,013,5006,712,500
🇮🇳 India1,455,5501,155,0002,526,9505,137,500
🇨🇳 China2,185,0001,170,000660,0004,015,000
🇷🇺 Russia1,014,0002,000,000554,0003,568,000
🇺🇸 United States1,388,100844,950Not disclosed2,233,050
🇧🇷 Brazil366,5001,340,000395,0002,101,500
🇹🇼 Taiwan163,0001,657,00011,8001,831,800
🇵🇰 Pakistan654,000550,000291,0001,495,000

Source: World Population Review

When combining all three types of military, Vietnam comes out on top with over 10 million personnel.

And here are the world’s top 10 biggest militaries, excluding paramilitary forces:

CountryActive MilitaryReserve MilitaryTotal Military
🇻🇳 Vietnam482,0005,000,0005,482,000
🇰🇷 South Korea599,0003,100,0003,699,000
🇨🇳 China2,185,0001,170,0003,355,000
🇷🇺 Russia1,014,0002,000,0003,014,000
🇮🇳 India1,455,5501,155,0002,610,550
🇺🇸 United States1,388,100844,9502,233,050
🇰🇵 North Korea1,280,000600,0001,880,000
🇹🇼 Taiwan163,0001,657,0001,820,000
🇧🇷 Brazil366,5001,340,0001,706,500
🇵🇰 Pakistan654,000550,0001,204,000

Even in this case, North Korea remains near the top of the list with these much larger nations. Excluding estimates of paramilitary forces, the Hermit Kingdom has nearly 1.9 million active and reserve troops.

Building up Military Personnel

The reasons for these immense military sizes are obvious in some cases. For example, in Vietnam, North Korea, and Russia, citizens are required to serve a mandatory period of time for the military.

The Koreas, two countries still technically at war, both conscript citizens for their armies. In North Korea, boys are conscripted at age 14. They begin active service at age 17 and remain in the army for another 13 years. In select cases, women are conscripted as well.

In South Korea, a man must enlist at some point between the ages of 18 and 28. Most service terms are just over one year at minimum. There are however, certain exceptions: the K-Pop group BTS was recently granted legal rights to delay their military service, thanks to the country’s culture minister.

Here’s a look at just a few of the other countries that require their citizens to serve some form of military service:

  • 🇦🇹 Austria
  • 🇧🇷 Brazil
  • 🇲🇲 Myanmar
  • 🇪🇬 Egypt
  • 🇮🇱 Israel
  • 🇺🇦 Ukraine

In many of these countries, geopolitical and historical factors play into why they have mandatory service in place.

In the U.S., many different factors play into why the country has such a large military force. For one, the military industrial complex feeds into the U.S. army. A longstanding tradition of the American government and the defense and weapons industry working closely together creates economic incentives to build up arms and defenses, translating into a need for more personnel.

Additionally, the U.S. army offers job security and safety nets, and can be an attractive career choice. Culturally, the military is also held in high esteem in the country.

Nations with No Armies

For many countries, building up military personnel is a priority, however, there are other nations who have no armies at all (excluding the paramilitary branch).

Here’s a glance at some countries that have no armies:

  • 🇨🇷 Costa Rica
  • 🇮🇸 Iceland
  • 🇱🇮 Liechtenstein
  • 🇵🇦 Panama

Costa Rica has no army as it was dissolved after the country’s civil war in the 1940s. The funds for the military were redirected towards other public services, such as education.

This is not to say that these nations live in a state of constant peace—most have found alternative means to garner security forces. Under the Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance, other countries like the U.S. are technically obligated to provide military services to Costa Rica, for example, should they be in need.

The Future of Warfare

International conflicts persist in the 21st century, but now go far beyond just the number of troops on the ground.

New and emerging forms of warfare pose unforeseen threats. For example, cyber warfare and utilization of data to attack populations could dismantle countries and cause conflict almost instantaneously. Cybersecurity failure has been ranked among the top 10 most likely risks to the world today.

If current trends continue, soldiers of the future will face off on very different fields of battle.

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Maps

Mapped: The U.S. State that Each Country Trades With the Most

This map identifies the biggest U.S. export markets by state, showing the top partner of each country by value of goods imported.

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This map identifies the biggest export destinations for products from every U.S. state.

The U.S. State that Each Country Trades With the Most

The U.S. is the world’s second-largest exporter, just behind China. In 2022 alone, America exported some $2.1 trillion, accounting for 8.4% of global exports.

In this graphic by OnDeck, we show the U.S. state that each country receives the most exports from, using data from the U.S. International Trade Administration.

Texas is the Top Exporter

Texas is the leading U.S. exporter to major global economies. The state leads in 94 countries, including Canada, China, the U.K., and Germany. Texas is followed by California (25 countries) and Florida (24 countries).

State2023 Exports (Millions)
Texas$444,608
California$178,717
Louisiana$100,197
New York$97,828
Illinois$78,724
Unallocated$73,829
Florida$68,899
Michigan$64,904
Washington$61,209
Indiana$56,081
Ohio$55,764
Pennsylvania$52,876
Georgia$49,772
New Jersey$43,334
North Carolina$42,223
Kentucky$40,212
Tennessee$38,120
South Carolina$37,297
Massachusetts$35,221
Arizona$28,791
Wisconsin$28,021
Oregon$27,718
Alabama$27,447
Minnesota$24,920
Puerto Rico$22,493
Virginia$22,395
Iowa$18,439
Maryland$18,360
Missouri$17,858
Utah$17,388
Connecticut$15,825
Mississippi$14,305
Kansas$14,148
Colorado$10,378
Nevada$9,533
Nebraska$7,987
New Hampshire$7,638
North Dakota$7,520
Oklahoma$6,511
Arkansas$6,450
West Virginia$5,652
Alaska$5,244
New Mexico$4,940
Delaware$4,921
Idaho$4,011
Virgin Islands$3,403
Rhode Island$3,016
Maine$2,951
South Dakota$2,399
Montana$2,231
Wyoming$2,143
Vermont$1,991
District of Columbia$1,746
Hawaii$570

Exports from Texas to Mexico have an annual value of $144.29 billion—the highest value of exports from a U.S. state to any country. From this total, Texas exports $33.63 billion in Petroleum & Coal Products to Mexico yearly, the highest value of any single product category from a state to another country.

While oil-producing states like Texas, New Mexico, and North Dakota dominate America’s export market, other states have established unique trade relationships in some regions.

Michigan, for example, exports $15.37 billion in Transportation Equipment to Canada. These include passenger vehicles and trucks, as well as parts.

Australia imports $4.56 billion in goods from Illinois each year, more than from any other U.S. state.

New York State’s exports to Switzerland reached $23.56 billion in 2022. Over three-quarters of this trade is in the category of Primary Metal Manufactures, which includes upstream metal products such as closures, castings, pipes, tubes, wires, and springs.

Hong Kong also counts New York as the state from which it imports the most.

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