WASHINGTON — In the United States, which has 1.3 million active-duty troops and spends more on defense than the next seven countries combined, it's hard to imagine that there are countries without a standing military. But there are, in fact, three dozen such countries and regions.
The CIA World Factbook lists 36 nations and territories without armed forces, many of which rely on other countries and international groups to provide their defense. Switzerland and Austria have agreed to provide a collective defense of Liechtenstein, for instance, while Spain and France protect Andorra.
Although several of these states do not have a "regular military force," per the CIA's definition, their national police forces act as de facto military forces. For example, Vanuatu's Mobile Force or the Public Forces of Costa Rica are responsible for protecting their nations' borders.
One state that is notably absent from this list is the Vatican City, which is home to the famed Swiss Guard. While largely ceremonial, they are tasked with preserving the territorial integrity of the city-state and, of course, for protecting the pope. The CIA World Factbook considers them as a regular force since they fulfill much of the duties that a traditional standing army would — even though Italian Armed Forces also guarantee the territorial integrity of the Holy See.
- Cayman Islands
- Cook Islands
- Costa Rica
- Falkland Islands
- Faroe Islands
- French Polynesia
- Macau (autonomous territory of China)
- Marshall Islands
- Federated States of Micronesia
- New Caledonia
- St. Lucia
- St. Vincent and the Grenadines
- San Marino
- Sint Maarten
- Solomon Islands
- Svalbard (unincorporated region of Norway)