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A Visual Guide to the World’s Military Budgets

The U.S. is still by far the biggest spender, but the globe is awash in well-funded armed forces.

Russia's invasion of Ukraine has lifted geopolitical tensions to a level reminiscent of the Cold War. When President Joe Biden entered office last year, his main strategic focus was China, which is second only to the U.S. in military spending but is also a rival for economic influence and soft power. The escalating war in Ukraine has brought the world’s focus back to the size of nations’ arsenals. The circles on this chart represent each country’s military spending over five years; the color indicates its level of political rights and civil liberties according to the nonprofit research group Freedom House. Spending measured in U.S. dollars doesn’t perfectly capture the resources a country can bring to war—for example, it might be able to manufacture arms more cheaply or conscript soldiers. Most important: It may have nuclear weapons.

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