10 Countries With No Army

By | January 28, 2023

Almost all countries in the world have armed forces. The main tasks of the armed forces are to defend the country and provide assistance in emergency situations. The armies are also often deployed in foreign missions for various reasons. Check ethnicityology for list of poorest countries in the world.

The Netherlands has an armed force that was established in 1572 and consists of the Royal Navy, the Royal Army, the Royal Air Force and the Royal Military Police. Although our armed forces have been cut back considerably in recent years, they still exist in our country. The following countries no longer have armed forces for various reasons.

  1. Dominica (military disbanded in 1981)

Dominica is a small island in the Caribbean Sea. The country has only 74,000 inhabitants and today has no armed forces. The armed forces were disbanded almost 20 years ago. Reason: The military attempted a coup d’état. The country then decided to abolish the army.

For defense, the country depends on the Regional Security System (RSS). This is a kind of cooperation between the different Caribbean countries to ensure safety. Furthermore, the country has a kind of police unit that can be transformed into a military unit in times of war or emergency. Finally, in times of war or emergency, the country can rely on military support from the United States.

  1. Liechtenstein (army disbanded in 1866/1868)

Liechtenstein is a small mountain state in Europe that lies between Switzerland and Austria. The official language in Liechtenstein is German. The country has less than 40,000 inhabitants and is ruled by a monarch.

The country had an army until 1866 (other sources state 1868). The reason the army has been disbanded is a strange one, according to some sources. The army of Liechtenstein, consisting of 80 men, was sent to Italy. The number that came back: 81! They had befriended an Italian and he joined the group. To prevent the company from bringing friends more often, the country was forced to abolish the army. Another, less humorous reason: the army is simply too expensive for a country like Liechtenstein and unnecessary in peacetime. In times of war and emergency, the army can count on neighboring Switzerland.

  1. San Marino (established 1740, today only ceremonial)

San Marino, like Liechtenstein, is a dwarf state in Europe. The country is surrounded by Italy and has almost 35,000 inhabitants. San Marino has the oldest constitution still in force (around 1600) and San Marino is the oldest existing constitutional republic in the world, founded in the year 301. More than 1400 years later, the army was founded. The task at the time was to protect the country, the heads of state and other important government officials. Today, although the army consists of various corps, such as a gendarmerie corps and a uniformed corps, it mainly plays a ceremonial role and is responsible for security within the small country. De jure, San Marino does have an armed force, but de facto it does not (anymore).

  1. Vatican City (1506, still a ceremonial function today)

The smallest country in the world, Vatican City, has about 1,000 inhabitants and is enclosed by Rome. In 1505/1506 the Swiss Guard was established to protect the Papal State. Not only the Vatican City had a Swiss guard, also kings and other monarchs often had a Swiss guard.

In 1527 the ‘army’ consisted of 189 men and fought in the Sack of Rome . During the looting, 147 men were killed, the 42 survivors managed to bring the pope to safety. This shows great courage! This is also reflected in the guard’s motto: “Acriter et Fideliter” (brave and faithful).

The Vatican City Swiss Guard is the last of its kind and today consists of 120 men. The men must be between 19 and 30 years old, at least 174 cm tall, have served in the Guard for at least 2 years and take Vatican nationality. In addition, the members of the guard have indeed had military training and are therefore professional soldiers. They therefore carry an automatic weapon in the legs of their puff pants. Nevertheless, the guard fulfills a ceremonial role and is no longer seen as an armed force.

  1. Monaco (owned by a military force until the 17th century)

The last country on European territory to be included in this list. Monaco is the second smallest country in the world after the Vatican City . Monaco is densely populated and has over 30,000 inhabitants. Monaco is also enclosed by France and is close to the Italian border.

In 1297 Francois Grimaldi, dressed as a monk, took the fortress in Monaco with his army. The House of Grimaldi had power in the mini-state from then on and still has it today. Grimaldi’s army took even more territory, but it later declared its independence again and today belongs to France.

Monaco had a military force up to and including the 17th century, but it was later abolished because it could not compete with the artillery of other countries. Monaco does have an army unit nowadays, consisting of 255 men, but this army unit is more responsible for internal security. For foreign military affairs, the country is dependent on France.

  1. Costa Rica (the armed forces were disbanded in 1948)

Unlike some of the other countries in this list, Costa Rica is a country of millions of people, about 5 million to be exact. Costa Rica is located in Central America and is one of the few countries in the world without an army.

In the 1940s, a brief civil war raged in Costa Rica, which was eventually won by José Figueres Ferrer and his men. Ferrer then decided to abolish the armed forces. In 1949 the constitution established the abolition of the army. The advantage: unlike neighboring countries, there have been no outbreaks of violence in Costa Rica. The money that was released was spent on education, security and culture. Yet there was almost a war with neighboring Nicaragua. Nicaragua decided to occupy an island in the San Juan River, because they were entitled to it according to Google Maps.Costa Rica responded by sending in a heavily armed police force. The two countries subsequently decided to submit the dispute to the International Court of Justice in The Hague.

Thus, while Costa Rica does not have an army, it does have special commando teams, namely the UEA and UEI . According to critics, these commando teams are indeed an army, except in name. Not entirely illogical, because these commando teams wear camouflage clothing and are heavily armed. So one cannot compare the police in these countries with our police. In these countries, the police are a lot stricter and have heavier weapons.

Nevertheless, Costa Rica officially has no armed forces. The country relies on international organizations that want to ensure peace in the world and solve problems related to peace. In addition, in times of emergency or war, Costa Rica can set up a temporary army in no time. December 1 is Costa Rica’s national holiday: the day the country abolished the army.

  1. Haiti (army disbanded in 1995)

Another country with (reasonably) many inhabitants, but without armed forces. Haiti is an island nation in the Caribbean Sea and has over 10 million inhabitants.

Haiti has a rich history with many uprisings and unrest. First of all, the country was a colony of Spain and then of France. Under France, there was talk of slavery in the country. The inhabitants then turned against France, managed to defeat the French and declare independence. Problem: The country became isolated because other states refused to cooperate with Haiti. France demanded 150 million francs from Haiti to end isolation and support independence . Half had been paid off in 1830 and only in full in 1947.

After the French were defeated, a power vacuum was created in the country. Between 1843 and 1915 there were 22 regime changes, several coups and conspiracies. This was again disastrous for the country’s economy. Haiti was occupied by the United States from 1915 to 1934. The population was not happy with American rule and the Americans subsequently left the country. This was seen as a second independence, but there was no peace after that. There was another power vacuum and in 1934 there was a new conflict. The mulatto militia, the black population, and the remaining American guards all wanted to seize power. Until 1957 there were again different regimes and different presidents succeeded each other in rapid succession.

This came to an end in 1957 when the Duvalier family seized power. This family ruled between 1957 and 1986. First, Francois Duvalier (Papa Doc) ruled the country, then passed the baton to his son Jean-Claude (Baby Doc). The family carried out a reign of terror with many murders, torture and rapes. In 1986 the dictatorship was finally overthrown and several military coups followed one another. In 1991 there was a democratic vote and Jean-Bertrand Aristide was elected president. He could not enjoy it for long, because in the same year the president was deposed in a military coup. In 1994, with foreign support from the US, Aristide was crowned president again and in the year 2000 he was again democratically elected. In the year 1995 Aristide decided to abolish the army, in view of the years of unrest in the country and the many coups. The poison cup was not yet empty for Haiti, because rebels revolted and took over large parts of the country.

The police apparatus could not resist the rebels and Aristide was faced with the choice of either leaving the country or being liquidated. He chose the former, but his remaining troops were nearly all killed. In the years that followed, several presidents followed again. Today, Jovenel Moïse is in power in the country. Not surprisingly, his reign is marked by corruption. He has also set up a small army again, but there is no question of a real armed force yet. Haiti’s troubled history, various natural disasters and poor economy make it one of the poorest countries in the world . The UN peacekeeping force MINUSTAH is trying with all its might to reform the state and to guarantee security in the country.

  1. Grenada (army disbanded in 1983)

Grenada (army disbanded in 1983)

Grenada is an island in the Caribbean Sea and has about 110,000 inhabitants. The island was first a colony of France and then of the United Kingdom until it gained independence in 1974. It then remained part of the United Kingdom. The country was a dictatorship from 1974 to 1979.

In 1979 Maurice Bishop, leader of the NJM, staged a coup. Because of his Marxist-Leninist views and his sympathy for communist Cuba, he did not endear himself to neighboring countries. In 1983 there was unrest within the NJM and Huson Austin seized power and Bishop was killed. With the support of Dominica (also mentioned in this list) and other surrounding neighboring countries, a military intervention was held together with the United States, also known as the invasion of Grenada. The coup leaders were deposed and elections were held in 1984 under pressure from the US and peace has returned to the island. The US was strongly condemned for invading Grenada because the US was not asked to intervene militarily. Nevertheless, Grenada is dependent on the US in situations of emergency and war. Due to the military coup in 1979 and 1983, the country decided to abolish the military.

  1. Mauritius (army disbanded in 1968)

Mauritius (army disbanded in 1968)

Mauritius is an archipelago east of the African mainland. The country has nearly 1.5 million inhabitants. Mauritius is named after Maurits van Oranje, the Prince of Orange during the 80-year war.

Mauritius was therefore part of the Netherlands. In 1810, the British seized power in Mauritius. The country only became independent in 1968, but it always remained part of the British commonwealth. In 1992 the country became a republic. Unlike Haiti, it is therefore not corruption that prevents Mauritius from having an army. The main reasons are: the army is not necessary in time of peace, in addition, the country prefers to spend money on other things for the country.

Until 1968 the country had an army. Today, the country has an active workforce of 10,000. About 8,000 people make up the national police force that provides internal security. 1500 people form the Special Mobile Force, this is a paramilitary unit that takes care of the internal and external security of Mauritius. These individuals are therefore more heavily armed than the national police. The last 500 individuals make up the Coast Guard. This unit monitors the waters of Mauritius. Mauritius has 2 aircraft that provide patrol and 4 helicopters that also patrol. Finally, the country has 9 patrol vessels that monitor and protect the waters of Mauritius.

  1. Panama (military disbanded in 1990)

Panama (military disbanded in 1990)

The last country we mention in this list of countries without an army is Panama. Panama, like Costa Rica, is a country in Central America. The country has almost 4 million inhabitants. Panama also has a turbulent history, although less violent than Haiti, but still worth mentioning. Panama has known several coups, it was the coup d’état of 1981 that eventually led to the abolition of the army of Panama.

In 1981, Manuel Noriega seized power. He behaved like a dictator and under his rule domestic tensions rose and the economy deteriorated. The highlight of his reign: the declaration of war on the US in 1989. This declaration of war was not taken seriously at first, but after an American soldier was shot dead by Noriega’s troops, the US decided to intervene. The military regime of General Manuel Antonio Noriega was overthrown and the army was disbanded in 1990 under pressure from the US. Democracy then returned, also under pressure from the US.