Which Country Has The Biggest Army In The World?


In a time of constant tension and unrest, have you ever wondered what country has the biggest army in the world and how the world’s superpowers match up against another? If you have, we take a look at some of the world’s largest armies, including the likes of China, USA and Russia to determine which one is the truly the world’s biggest.

It depends on what condition you are judging the biggest army on as to who comes out on top so we’ll take a look at the country with the largest active army, the largest reserve army, the largest total army as well as the countries who have the highest density of soldiers per 1000 citizens.

World’s Biggest Active Army – China

Unsurprisingly when it comes to active personnel, China takes top spot by having a staggering 2,333,000 soldiers in its active army. The country has an additional 510,000 soldiers in reserve ready and waiting to be called upon if needed meaning China has almost instant access to just over 2.8 million soldiers. However considering China has the largest population in the world at around 1.4 billion people, it’s no surprise that China also has the biggest army in the world.

The USA has the second largest active army in the world with 1,492,200 soldiers with a further 843,750 personnel in reserve.

Worlds Biggest Reserve Army – Vietnam

With 5,000,000 reserve soldiers, Vietnam has the world’s largest reserve army despite only having an active army that has 482,000 soldiers. One of the reasons for Vietnam’s large reserve army is due to conscription being in place for all males aged between 18 and 25. Vietnam has a popular of 92 million people and spends around 5% of its GDP on its military budget, although its equipment is dated by today’s modern standards.

South Korea has the second largest reserve army which is no surprise given the tensions with North Korea. The country is able to call upon around 2,970,000 reservists if needed to.

World’s Largest Army By Population Density Per 1000 Citizens – North Korea

While North Korea may not have the world’s largest army, although it does still have 1,190,000 active soldiers in addition to 600,000 reservists, the country does have the world’s biggest army by population density with there being 47.8 active soldiers for every 1000 citizens.

North Korea also has 5,889,000 personnel who are considered paramilitaries (armed units not part of the official army). As a result, when the total armed personnel are taken into account, North Korea has a staggering 308.5 soldiers per 1000 citizens.

Eritrea has the world’s second biggest army by population density with 31.8 soldiers for every 1000 citizens. The small African country has 201,750 active soldiers with a further 120,000 reservists able to be called upon.

Source: International Institute for Strategic Studies “The Military Balance” 2014 Edition


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