The 40 countries with the highest military expenditure in 2020

World military expenditure in 2020 is estimated to have been $1981 billion.




  • World military expenditure was $1981 billion in 2020, an increase of 2.6 per cent on 2019 in real terms.

  • Total military spending accounted for 2.4 per cent of global gross domestic product (GDP) in 2020.

  • The five biggest spenders in 2020 were the United States, China, India, Russia and the United Kingdom, which together accounted for 62 per cent of world military spending.

  • US military expenditure grew by 4.4 per cent in 2020, to $778 billion. China (1.9 per cent), India (2.1 per cent), Russia (2.5 per cent) and the UK (2.9 per cent) all increased their military spending in 2020.

  • In 2020 military expenditure increased in Africa (5.1 per cent), Europe (4.0 per cent), the Americas (3.9 per cent), and Asia and Oceania (2.5 per cent). The total military expenditure of the 11 countries in the Middle East for which data is available decreased by 6.5 per cent.

  • The military burden increased across all regions in 2020. The military burden was an average of 1.5 per cent of GDP for countries in the Americas; 1.8 per cent for Africa, Asia and Oceania, and Europe; and 4.9 per cent for the countries in the Middle East for which data is available.


Military expenditure by the top 15 countries reached $1603 billion in 2020 and and accounted for 81 per cent of global military spending (see Pic). There were some changes in the composition and rank order of the top 15 between 2019 and 2020. Most notably, Israel entered the top 15 in place of Turkey, and the United Kingdom moved above Saudi Arabia—whose military spending fell by 10 per cent—to become the fifth largest spender in 2020.

All but three countries in the top 15 had higher military expenditure in 2020 than in 2011. The exceptions were the United States (–10 per cent), the UK (–4.2 per cent) and Italy (–3.3 per cent). China’s increase in military spending of 76 per cent was by far the largest among the top 15 over the decade 2011–20. Other top 15 countries with substantial increases between 2011 and 2020 were South Korea (41 per cent), India (34 per cent), Australia (33 per cent) and Israel (32 per cent). With a military budget of an estimated $778 billion, the USA remained the world’s largest spender in 2020, accounting for 39 per cent of global military spending. In 2020 the USA spent almost as much on its military as the next 12 largest spenders combined. The US military burden amounted to 3.7 per cent of GDP in 2020, up by 0.3 percentage points on the previous year.

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