In today’s modern world, where most countries like to proudly boast about the strength and power of their armed forces, it is difficult to believe that there are a number of countries in the world with no military forces at all. For most countries, the national armed force is the country’s prime weapon of defense in the face of war and other atrocities. The military here is considered as the protector of the nation in times of crisis, both natural and man-made. However, 23 sovereign nations on Earth appear to do completely fine without any military forces, each having its own unique reason of not having a military force and distinct ways of defending the nation in difficult times.
Specific Reasons Behind "No Military" Policies
It is not surprising that seven of the ten smallest countries of the world like the Vatican City, island nations of Tuvalu and Nauru, have no military at all. Thus, land area of a country thus appears to influence its need for a standing military force. It could be that the small size of the country does not attract international enemies to it, hence not necessitating the need for a military force. Some other countries like Palau and Marshall Islands lacking a military force have achieved independence in a very peaceful manner unlike the aggressive wars of independence of many other countries. Many of these countries thus did not feel the need of having a military force of their own and often depended on their mother nation for military help in problematic times. There are also countries which once had a strong military base but over a period of time, the governments of these nations abolished the military from the country due to specific reasons. For example, Costa Rica demilitarized the country in 1948. The reason behind this act, as some experts claim, is that the President of the country, President José Figueres Ferrer, feared about a possible future army coup against his rule. This fear could have stemmed from the fact that he himself rose to power through an armed insurrection. Again, some countries do not have a military as they cannot afford one. For example, Liechtenstein abolished its army in 1868, since it found the army too costly to maintain.
Countries Completely Lacking Military Forces
16 countries of the present world completely lack military forces of their own. Some of them, however, rely on other nations for maintaining their peace and security. For example, Andorra, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, and Samoa are countries that have entered into some form of agreement with other countries who are responsible for defending them in case any emergency arises. Other countries, like the Vatican City, Tuvalu, Solomon Islands, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Saint Lucia, Liechtenstein, Grenada, Dominica, and Costa Rica, neither have a standing army nor are they under the protective umbrella of any other country. For most of these countries, the Regional Security System is responsible for defending them. Though the Vatican City does not endorse any form of formal defense agreements with other countries to maintain its claim of neutrality, informally, the Italian Armed Forces is known to defend the city. The Pontificial Swiss Guard and the Gendarmerie Corps are also active within the Vatican protecting the Pope and the city, respectively. In other countries without a standing army, a strong police force and paramilitary forces are usually assigned the task of ensuring the safety and security of its citizens.
Countries with No Standing Army Possessing Military-like Forces
There are a few countries in the world like Iceland, Haiti, Mauritius, Monaco, Panama and Vanuatu, who, though they lack a standing army or a formally declared armed force, have other significantly large defense forces. For example, though Iceland does not have a standing army since 1869, it has a strong pact with NATO, which allows Iceland to maintain a very efficient militarized coast guard, an air defense system, a militarized peacekeeping force, and a large police force.
Peace vs. Security
Many of the countries lacking a standing military force regard this situation as a source of national pride, as the world often views these countries as symbols of peace. The absence of a military also saves a large portion of the national budget, which can then be dedicated towards developmental activities of the country. Though lacking a military force appears to be an ideal situation, and perhaps the only feasible step towards a virtually war-free world under the present circumstances, it would not be the ideal move for many countries. In fact, for most countries with powerful enemies, both near and afar in the world, it might make them extremely vulnerable to invasions and attacks.