With Russia having seized some territories of Ukraine, many nations have already bolstered their military spending in case the unthinkable happens, and World War III breaks out. Albert Einstein is often attributed with the quote “I do not know with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.” However, it’s not just Europe facing armed conflict.
There are an estimated 40 wars and minor conflicts currently happening in villages towns and cities across three dozen countries. And if history tells us anything, war is not going away any time soon according to American writer, historian, and philosopher Will Durant, in collaboration with his wife, Ariel Durant, came to the conclusion after studying the last roughly 3,400 years of civilization, humanity has only been at peace for about 270 of those years.
Despite our apparently inherent lust for continued war and destruction, there are still countries that, even in these troubling times, have no military at all. Here are going to look at 11 of these non-military nations, some more surprising than others.
This Nordic island country is the most sparsely populated one in Europe with around 370,000 and is more famous for its stunning Fjords than firearms. So, you’d be forgiven for not being surprised that it doesn’t have its own army. However, the fact that they are a member of NATO does make that fact a little strange, especially in the current climate. Instead of making war, Iceland makes love by participating in international peace missions with the civilian Icelandic crisis management unit.
Panama has had a long relationship with the United States for the past 100 years when the superpower assisted them in seceding from Colombia in 1903. As helpful as that might be, the reason for our generosity was to facilitate the construction of the Panama Canal by the United States Army Corps of Engineers between 1904 and 1914. With a waterway of such strategic importance, you would think Panama would have a defensive force of some description, but, after abolishing its military in 1990 and instead creating the Panamanian Public Forces. Just four years later, Panama’s constitution prohibited the creation of any standing military.
Covering an area of just 0.78 square miles with a total of 31,000 inhabitants, Monaco is the second smallest state in the world. Although it has no air force or navy, it does have one of the largest police forces in relation to its population in the world. Although technically it does have a military force, it is one that was founded by Prince Honoré IV in 1817 solely for the protection of the principality and the princely family and consists of 116 officers and men known as the Compagnie des Carabiniers du Prince. Any other military personnel Monaco might boast, all serve in the French armed forces.
4. Cayman Islands
Comprising the three islands of Grand Cayman, Cayman Brac and Little Cayman, the Cayman Islands are part of the British Overseas Territories. The fact that the Cayman Islands is known as a massive tax haven and a major world offshore financial center for international businesses and wealthy individuals, you would think that they would have some form of defensive military force to protect all that money, but no. They do have a national police force called the Royal Cayman Islands Police Force, but the responsibility for their protection falls to Great Britain.
This sovereign landlocked microstate on the Iberian Peninsula between France and Spain has a minuscule population of around 85,000. While of course, it has its own police force to maintain law and order within the mini-state, it has no need for an army. Due to its close proximity to France and Spain, they have shared the responsibility for the defense of its borders.
6. San Marino
As well as being the oldest republic in the world, this mini-state, which is completely surrounded by Italy, San Marino is also the third-smallest European state. Although Italy bears the responsibility of protecting this small nation, also wonderfully known as the Most Serene Republic of San Marino, they do have a voluntary military corps that can be used to bolster their police force. However, in case of emergencies, the state can call all San Marino citizens between the ages of 16 and 60 to service.
7. Costa Rica
Officially known as the Republic of Costa Rica, this Central American country of 5 million is often referred to as the “Switzerland of Central America” because in 1983 it proclaimed its permanent and unarmed neutrality. However, decades before this proclamation and just after a brief civil war, Costa Rica abolished its military force on December 1, 1948. The following year the abolition of its military force was enshrined in Article 12 of the Costa Rican Constitution. The responsibility for the protection of this long-standing and stable democracy falls to the United States.
Located between the Arctic and Atlantic oceans, Greenland is the largest island on Earth and the least densely populated region in the world. It technically and geographically belongs to North America but is instead one of the three constituent countries that form the Kingdom of Denmark. They have had a long association with not only Denmark but have come under the authority of Norway in the past. While Denmark is responsible for its military protection and still exercises control over several policy areas, including foreign, security, and financial policy, in 2009 Greenland passed the Self-Government Act to ensure its inhabitants had a right to self-determination under international law.
If you want to know more about this frozen island, here’s an interesting book you may want to read.
A hugely popular tourist destination in the Caribbean Sea, the island state of Aruba and its 116,000 local inhabitants have not had to worry about the defense of their nation since 1986 when they entered into an agreement to become a semi-autonomous, yet still separate, member of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. It is therefore the responsibility of the Netherlands military to ensure their safety.
This small island country in the West Indies in the Caribbean Sea, also known as the Island of Spice, fought hard to resist European colonization after Christopher Columbus discovered the island in 1498, but would finally fall to the French in 1649. Over a century later on 10 February 1763, the island would be ceded to the British under the Treaty of Paris. After gaining independence on 7 February 1974 it became a member of the Commonwealth. However, it would be the overthrowing of the government in a bloodless coup d’état in March 1979 that would eventually cause a U.S.-led invasion in October 1983. After being roundly defeated by the U.S. the country would no longer have its own military force.
Officially the Principality of Liechtenstein is a German-speaking microstate is a constitutional monarchy headed by the Prince of Liechtenstein and is the sixth smallest state in the world.. Sandwiched between Switzerland to the west and south and Austria to the east and north, this wealthy nation boasts one of the world’s highest standards of living. Although this tiny nation has a national police force, they work closely with the military of both Switzerland and Austria who share responsibility for its military defense.
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Very informative and some beautiful scenery also.