Armed forces personnel, total

Definition: Armed forces personnel are active duty military personnel, including paramilitary forces if the training, organization, equipment, and control suggest they may be used to support or replace regular military forces.

Description: The map below shows how Armed forces personnel, total varies by country. The shade of the country corresponds to the magnitude of the indicator. The darker the shade, the higher the value. The country with the highest value in the world is China, with a value of 2,843,000.00. The country with the lowest value in the world is Libya, with a value of 0.00.

Source: International Institute for Strategic Studies, The Military Balance.

See also: Country ranking, Time series comparison

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Development Relevance: Although national defense is an important function of government and security from external threats that contributes to economic development, high military expenditures for defense or civil conflicts burden the economy and may impede growth. Data on military expenditures are a rough indicator of the portion of national resources used for military activities and of the burden on the economy. Comparisons of military spending among countries should take into account the many factors that influence perceptions of vulnerability and risk, including historical and cultural traditions, the length of borders that need defending, the quality of relations with neighbors, and the role of the armed forces in the body politic.

Limitations and Exceptions: Data excludes personnel not on active duty, therefore it underestimates the share of the labor force working for the defense establishment. Governments rarely report the size of their armed forces, so such data typically come from intelligence sources. Unless otherwise indicated, the reserves includes all reservists committed to rejoining the armed forces in an emergency, except when national reserve service obligations following conscription last almost a lifetime.

Statistical Concept and Methodology: Military data on manpower represent quantitative assessment of the personnel strengths of the world's armed forces. The numbers are based on the most accurate data available to, or, on the best estimate that can be made by the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) at the time of its annual publication. The IISS collects the data from national governments. Armed forces personnel comprise all servicemen and women on full-time duty (including conscripts and long-term assignments from the Reserves). Reserve describes formations and units not fully manned or operational in peacetime, but which can be mobilized by recalling reservists in an emergency. IISS estimates of effective reservist strengths on the numbers available within five years of completing full-time service, unless there is good evidence that obligations are enforced for longer. The indicator includes paramilitary forces. The source of the data (IISS) reports armed forces and paramilitary forces separately, however these figures are added for the purpose of computing this series. Home Guard units are counted as paramilitary.

Aggregation method: Sum

Periodicity: Annual

General Comments: Data for some countries are based on partial or uncertain data or rough estimates.