In this article, we will list down the 25 most powerful countries in the world. You can skip our detailed analysis of the defense sector, and go directly to the 5 Most Powerful Countries in the World.
Countries and kingdoms have grown throughout history, not only through technological and cultural developments but also through military strength. This is why, even now when global threats such as COVID-19 continue to wreak havoc, governments continue to increase their defense spending every year. It is not straightforward to define the most powerful countries in the world, and it might be subjective. The most powerful countries in the world influence global economic trends, dictate world policies and have substantial military capabilities. The foreign policy of the most powerful countries is widely monitored and frequently makes media headlines around the world.
The military of a country is a valuable asset. The military is in charge of enforcing domestic and foreign policy as well as protecting citizens. The security of citizens, the economy, and the country’s institutions are all considered the government’s responsibilities. National security is critical, and it necessitates enormous sums to establish and maintain it, thus the need to increase military spending every year. As per a new study from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, worldwide military spending increased by 2.6 percent to nearly $2 trillion last year.
Some of the biggest defense companies and contractors such as Lockheed Martin Corporation (NYSE: LMT), Raytheon Technologies Corporation (NYSE: RTX), BAE Systems plc (LSE: BA.L), General Dynamics (NYSE: GD), made huge profits despite the pandemic and will continue to do so as countries look to further strengthen their defenses.
The reason why the US is considered one of the most powerful countries in the world is also because of big-name military companies like Lockheed Martin Corporation (NYSE: LMT), Raytheon Technologies Corporation (NYSE: RTX), General Dynamics (NYSE: GD), and Northrop Grumman (NYSE: NOC) because other countries rely on their contracts with these companies to strengthen their militaries and defense systems.
These 25 most powerful countries in the world are collated, researched, and compared across military strength with economic trends to produce the rankings. We examined each country’s military expenditure in 2019 using World Bank data and compared the world’s most powerful countries using data from a detailed global survey conducted in collaboration with the Global Business Policy Institute (GBPI) that included 196,400 participants. In addition, we have taken into account a country’s nuclear arsenal, standing army, political and diplomatic power. Not only this, renowned military contractors such as Lockheed Martin Corporation (NYSE: LMT), Raytheon Technologies Corporation (NYSE: RTX), BAE Systems plc (LSE: BA.L), General Dynamics (NYSE: GD), and their arms sales also played a role in compiling this list. Here’s the list of the 25 most powerful countries in the world, ranked from lowest to highest:
25 Most Powerful Countries in the World
Military Expenditure in 2019: $1.8 billion
Qatar’s economy is one of the world’s richest in terms of GDP per capita, consistently featuring among the top 10 richest countries in the world. Qatar has become one of the world’s wealthiest countries, thanks to its oil and natural gas reserves. Industrial, construction, and financial services account for just over half of the country’s gross domestic product, which has helped the economy withstand volatility in global oil prices.
Military Expenditure in 2019: $2.6 billion
Vietnam shares large stretches bordering Cambodia, Laos, and the South China Sea as it curves along the eastern side of the Indochina Peninsula. In the most recent global power rankings, Vietnam outperformed some of its Southeast Asian counterparts, demonstrating that it is a significant player on the global stage as it transitions to a more modern, competitive nation.
Military Expenditure in 2019: $4 billion
Belgium is a founding member of the World Trade Organization (WTO), the Eurozone, NATO, and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). It is also one of the founding members of the European Union, as well as home to NATO, the European Council, and a plethora of other international organizations. Belgium’s economy has advanced to the point where it is now highly developed, service-oriented, and globally integrated.
Military Expenditure in 2019: $5 billion
Switzerland is one of the strongest countries on the planet, and its neutrality has long been renowned and its European neighbors have long respected its neutrality. As a result, international organizations like the International Committee of the Red Cross and the United Nations pick Switzerland as their headquarters, particularly Geneva. The country is a member of the IMF, WTO, and World Bank. Low corporate tax rates, a well-developed service sector fueled by financial institutions, and a high-tech business sector all contribute to the country’s robust economy.
Military Expenditure in 2019: $7 billion
Iraq is the world’s 11th most fragile country, according to the Fragile States Index. Despite having one of the world’s greatest crude oil reserves, persistent instability has hampered efforts to reconstruct Iraq’s economy, according to the World Bank. Still, the country continues to focus on its military spending, making it a powerful country on the map.
Military Expenditure in 2019: $11 billion
Singapore, home to one of the world’s busiest ports, was founded as a British commercial colony in the 19th century. Singapore has a high GDP per capita and low unemployment, making it one of the world’s wealthiest and most powerful countries.
19. The Netherlands
Military Expenditure in 2019: $12 billion
The Netherlands has been ranked as one of the most competitive countries in the world. The Netherlands has one of the world’s most powerful economies which is quite an accomplishment for such a small country with a total area of 41,543 km². The Netherlands, which is known for its tolerance, is increasingly wrestling with the issue of immigration.
Military Expenditure in 2019: $17 billion
Consistent prosperity boosted Spain’s tourism, housing, and construction industries, which eventually burst during the global financial crisis, throwing the country into a deep recession in 2009. Spain’s recovery has been boosted by a robust export market and a restructuring program supported by the European Union in 2014. Efforts to adopt labor, pension, health, tax, and education reforms have been made by the country to remerge as a key global player.
Military Expenditure in 2019: $20 billion
Years of regional conflict and terrorism have weighed heavily on Turkey. The country houses the largest number of Syrian refugees fleeing the country’s civil war. Turkey is predicted to be one of the fastest-growing members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development in the next years. For more than a decade, power struggles between a military-backed secular administration and an increasingly popular religious movement have raised concerns about the government’s future. This hasn’t stopped the country from investing heavily in its military and related exports.
Military Expenditure in 2019: $20 billion
Israel’s top exports include cut diamonds, high-tech equipment, and pharmaceuticals, demonstrating that it has a well-developed market economy. The country is advanced in terms of life expectancy, per capita income, education, and other human development index indicators. The country’s economy, on the other hand, is one of the most unequal in the Western world, with significant gaps between affluent and poor. Huge investment in the military, a major role in global policies and proxies make Israel one of the most powerful countries in the world.
15. The United Arab Emirates
Military Expenditure in 2019: $22.7 billion
The United Arab Emirates has grown into a global force thanks to its robust military system and abundant resources. With a GDP on par with highly developed European nations, the formerly impoverished desert nation now has one of the greatest economies in the Middle East. Soft power is wielded through Dubai, the region’s business center, and companies like DP World, a shipping conglomerate.
Military Expenditure in 2019: $22.2 billion
Canada was ranked in the middle of the list due to its small number of active military personnel, lack of aircraft carriers, attack helicopters, tanks, and submarines. Canada, however, has remained a NATO member and has continued to engage in US operations in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Military Expenditure in 2019: $26 billion
Australia, the world’s only country that is also a continent, has a unique geographical advantage and has one of the most prosperous economies. It is recognized as a wealthy country with a market-based economy and a high GDP and per capita income. The service sector and commodities exports are the backbones of its economy in addition to a strong military.
Military Expenditure in 2019: $27 billion
Brazil is a North American giant, both in terms of size and people, occupying half of the continent’s geographical mass. Brazil’s past is littered with economic upheaval, with booms and busts, and its culture is a melting pot that has always welcomed visitors. Brazil is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world.
Military Expenditure in 2019: $27 billion
In certain aspects, Italy’s economy, the Eurozone’s fourth-largest, is effectively two economies: a faster-growing one in the established industrial north and a slower-growing one in the less-developed south. Machinery and transport equipment, chemicals, textiles, and wine are Italy’s principal exports. The cultural impact of Italy has always been significant.
10. South Korea
Military Expenditure in 2019: $43 billion
South Korea is one of the most militarized countries in the world, according to the Bonn International Center for Conversion (BICC), a German NGO. South Korea has cutting-edge military hardware, thanks in large part to weapons transfers from the United States and Germany.
Military Expenditure in 2019: $47 billion
Japan is an East Asian country made up of four main islands and is one of the world’s most literate and technologically advanced countries. Despite its robust economy, Japan has not demonstrated its presence in the sphere of global security in the post-World War II era.
8. United Kingdom
Military Expenditure in 2019: $48 billion
The United Kingdom is a highly developed country with significant economic, political, scientific, and cultural influence on the international stage. Because of the country’s withdrawal from the European Union, new questions about the country’s role in the global arena, as well as policies supporting the Eurozone, have arisen. Big defense companies including BAE Systems plc (LSE: BA.L) play a major role in making the United Kingdom a powerful country.
Military Expenditure in 2019: $49 billion
Germany, the most populous country in the European Union, has one of the world’s greatest economies and has progressively increased its influence in the international community since reunification. Above all, German power is enmeshed in the European Union, which together improves and constrains the country’s ability to engage in foreign affairs.
6. Saudi Arabia
Military Expenditure in 2019: $61 billion
Saudi Arabia is the Middle East’s colossus, with the vast majority of the Arabian Peninsula’s territory and wealth falling within its borders. Saudi Arabia is regarded as a regional as well as a medium power. Saudi Arabia’s economy is the largest in the Middle East and the nineteenth largest in the world. Despite military spending more than France, Saudi Arabia still lags slightly behind when it comes to its impact on the global landscape.
As countries ramp up their military spending amid rapidly changing geopolitical changes, companies like Lockheed Martin Corporation (NYSE: LMT), Raytheon Technologies Corporation (NYSE: RTX), BAE Systems plc (LSE: BA.L), General Dynamics (NYSE: GD) are set to profit in the future.
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