Friday, August 27, 2010

Military Might Map of the World

A personal indulgence of mine is to kick back with a glass of scotch and read about foreign affairs, particularly in Foreign Affairs and Foreign Policy magazines. The article "Africa's North Korea: Inside Eritrea's Open Air Prison" in the July/August Foreign Policy issue, written by Nathaniel Myers, really caught my attention.

I knew Eritrea has its share of political instability. It's also had a tumultuous history with its neighboring States, Ethiopia in particular. I did not, however, know the extent of the Eritrean army. The army is immense for, as Myers puts it, "one of Africa's most enchanting and unpredictable countries."

After some googling inspired by Myers' article, I found an interesting visualization of percentage of GDP spent on military. Cool, yes, but not quite what I was looking for. I wanted a map to compare the rate of active duty troops (per 1000 capita) in the countries of the world. Where does military might exude itself most in the fabric of the world's societies? To find out, I went ahead and made a map myself.

Below is a complete world map, a Robinson projection of course! Five continent maps follow to provide you with more detail on active duty troops per 1000 capita. The population was a 2009 estimate by Caliper Corporation and the military data came from a variety of sources, a list of which can be found here.

I've chosen to put the legend at the bottom of all the maps. I wanted to leave the maps free from clutter and the actual number (per 1000 capita) isn't as important as how a country relates to its neighbors and the rest of the world.

The world military map

Africa Military map

Asia military

Europe military

North America Military

South America military

World Military legend

Here is a list of the top ten military countries by active duty troops per 1000 people.

1. Eritrea
2. North Korea
3. Israel
4. Vietnam
5. Singapore
6. United Arab Emirates
7. Lebanon
8. Brunei
9. Djibouti
10. Jordan

Eritrea is the big surprise and unquestionably the real story, but I already knew that thanks to Mr. Myers. I've listed a few notables that stood out for me below. What do you think? Is there a country you expected to have a high per capita military but does not?

Other Notables (out of 161)

29. Russia
50. USA
73. Pakistan
139. India
143. Tajikistan (I expected this to be much higher)

As much as I try to keep an eye on the events occurring across Africa and other developing countries, the information available is barely a trickle compared to the barrage of domestic news thrown at me. I'm always searching for a different side of the story and the lesser-known yet just as important happenings in the world. I ask you to help me find those lesser-known news sources, books and blogs! Your comments are appreciated.

And for those of you who would like another reason to indulge in a drink and a good read, might I suggest Laphroaig scotch whiskey.

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