Most countries all over our modern world have their own military forces. Some large countries have small forces and some small nations have large military forces. But some countries or states have no military forces. They have instead, a defence or protection system for external purposes and a policing or Para-military force for internal purposes. Yet there are a few countries that don’t have a standing military force.
By countries we mean an independent state or sovereign republic and not dependencies. Dependencies entrust their protection to another country or ally. Some are protected under a treaty or defence agreement. Demilitarised countries also don’t have own armies.
Here’s a list of countries that don’t have own standing armies:
1. Costa Rica
8. Marshall Islands
15. Saint Lucia
16. Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
18. Solomon Islands
20. Vatican City
1. Costa Rica, situated in Central America was the first nation to formally abolish its military in 1948. The country has the Fuerza Policia which performs duties of a police force, like ground security, border patrol, law enforcement, etc.
2. Dominica is an island nation in the Caribbean Sea. The Commonwealth of Dominica measuring 720 square kilometres has an estimated population of 72,000. Its protection is by the Regional Security System (RSS) operational in the Caribbean region.
3. Grenada has not had a formal army after the American led invasion in 1983. Defence is the responsibility of the Regional Security System (RSS) in the region.
4. Haiti is a Caribbean country. It was the first independent nation in Latin America after a slave rebellion in 1804. It has French designated as an official language. A Haitian National Police maintains a nine thousand strong force with some paramilitary units and its Coast Guard.
5. Iceland is a European island country, situated in the North Atlantic Ocean on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. It has a very small population and has no standing army, navy or air-force. But it is still a member of NATO. It has an Air Defence System, a Crisis Response Unit which is a small peace keeping force, a militarised Coast Guard and the Vikingasveitin, a highly trained counter-terrorism unit. In September 2006, the US military withdrew from Naval Air Station Keflavik after 55 years.
6. Kiribati or the Republic of Kirirbati, located in the central tropical Pacific Ocean is a part of the main island chain of Gilbert Islands. The only forces maintained here are the police and the coast guard. It became independent from the United Kingdom in 1979.
7. Liechtenstein is a landlocked Western European country found between Switzerland and Austria. It abolished its army in 1868 after the Austro-Prussian War because it was too expensive to keep. It has a police force known as Principality of Liechtenstein National Police Force and it would rally an army, only in times of war.
8. Marshall Islands is situated in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, close to Micronesia and Palau. It was granted the status of a sovereign nation under the Compact of Free Association of 1983, which means the U.S., will serve as the protectorate for this associated state. It has the Marshal Islands Police for regular common police duties in this nation of atolls and islands.
9. Mauritius is located in the east of Madagascar in the Indian Ocean. It does not have a standing army, but has had a paramilitary police force and coast guard since 1968. Security functions are carried out under the command of Commissioner of Police by 10,000 strong personnel. The Special Mobile Force and National Coast Guard are two paramilitary units in the country.
10. Micronesia is situated in the western Pacific is made up of 600 islands, grouped into 4 states. Though independent, it has signed a “compact of free association” with the USA. So they are responsible for its defence and the country is dependent of aid from outside.
11. Monaco is a micro-state located on the coast of the Mediterranean. It is surrounded by France and it renounced its military in the 17th century. Defence is the responsibility of France as it maintains two small paramilitary units. One protects the Prince and the judiciary whereas the other is for civil defence and fire-fighting.
12. Nauru is the smallest island nation in the world. Found in Micronesia, it has an area of 21 square kilometres and was dependent on its Phosphate resource for revenue. It has a Nauru Police Force and has an informal agreement with Australia for defence.
13. Palau does not have a military force and it is an island nation in the Pacific. Its defence is the responsibility of the USA, having emerged from UN trusteeship in 1994. Palau has its Palau National Police. It keeps the peace and protects the civilians.
14. Panama is the southernmost nation of Central America. It abolished its army by parliamentary vote in 1994. The Panamanian Public Forces include the National Police, the National Aeronaval Service, the National Borders Service and the Institutional Protection Service, which assume the paramilitary roles.
15. Saint Lucia which is located at eastern Caribbean Sea became an independent state in 1979. The island nation has the Royal St. Lucia Police for internal security and a paramilitary special service unit. Here, the Regional Security System (RSS) takes care of the defence.
16. Saint Vincent and the Grenadines are situated at the south-eastern end of the Caribbean Sea, an opening to the Atlantic. The Regional Security System is responsible for defence of the nation. For internal security the country, it maintains a paramilitary special service unit under the Royal Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Police Force.
17. Samoa was formerly called Western Samoa and got independence from New Zealand in 1962. It does not have a standing army or formal defence force. Having signed a Treaty of Friendship with New Zealand in 1962, it can call upon New Zealand for defence help.
18. Solomon Islands lie east of Papua New Guinea and they gained independence from the British in 1978. However severe ethnic conflicts resulted in Australia, New Zealand and a few Pacific countries to intervene. It has no military forces or armed forces.
19. Tuvalu, a group of coral islands in Micronesia has a monarch as head-of-state and a Prime Minister as head of government. It has no formal political parties and literally spends nothing on military. Its police force includes Maritime surveillance Unit which also does search and rescue operations.
20. Vatican City is known as the smallest country, a land-locked city-state without an army or military forces. Military defence is provided by Italy. The Swiss Guard is for the safety of the Pope.
While concluding it would be interesting to note that there is also an army without a county, which is the army of erstwhile Soviet Union. This army was one institution that survived the disintegration of the Soviet Union. This army, in its present reorganised form, still serves members of the CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States). It also forms the Russian armed forces. The transformation process is still going on.