Countries without regular military forces.
This is a list of countries without armed forces. The term “country” is used in the sense of independent state; thus, it applies only to sovereign states and not dependencies (i.e., Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, Bermuda), whose defense is the responsibility of another country or an army alternative. The term “armed forces” refers to any government-sponsored defense used to further the domestic and foreign policies of their respective government. Some of the countries listed, such as Iceland and Monaco, have no armies, but still have a non-police military force.
Many of the 21 countries listed here typically have had a long-standing agreement with a former occupying country; one example is the agreement between Monaco and France, which has existed for at least 300 years. The Marshall Islands, Micronesia, and Palau have no say in their respective country’s defense matters, and have little say in international relations.
For example, when Micronesia negotiated a defensive agreement with the United States, it did so from a weak position because it had grown heavily dependent on American assistance. Andorra has a small army, and can request defensive aid if necessary, while Iceland had a unique agreement with the United States that lasted until 2006, which required them to provide defense to Iceland when needed.
The remaining countries are responsible for their own defense, and operate either without any armed forces, or with limited armed forces. Some of the countries, such as Costa Rica, Dominica, and Grenada, underwent a process of demilitarization.
Other countries were formed without armed forces, such as Andorra over 700 years ago; the primary reason being that they were, or still are, under protection from another nation at their point of independence. All of the countries on this list are considered to be in a situation of “non-militarization.”
Japan is not included in this list because, while the country may officially have no military according to its constitution, it does have the Japan Self-Defense Forces, a military force only used outside Japan for peacekeeping missions.
|Dominica||Has not had a standing army since 1981 due to an attempted army coup. Defense is the responsibility of the Regional Security System.|
|Grenada||Has not had a standing army since 1983 due to an American-led invasion. The Royal Grenada Police Force maintains a paramilitary special service unit for internal security purposes. Defense is the responsibility of the Regional Security System.|
|Kiribati||The only forces permitted are the police and the coast guard. Defense assistance is provided by Australia and New Zealand.|
|Liechtenstein||Abolished its army in 1868 because it was deemed too costly. Army is only permitted in times of war, but this situation has never occurred. According to the CIA World Factbook, defense is the responsibility of Switzerland. However, official sources of both Switzerland and Liechtenstein do not provide any backing to this claim and no defense treaty is ever mentioned.|
|Marshall Islands||Defense is the responsibility of the United States.|
|Micronesia||Defense is the responsibility of the United States. Maintains a small paramilitary police force.|
|Nauru||Australia is responsible for Nauru’s defense under an informal agreement between the two countries.|
|Palau||Defense is the responsibility of the United States.|
|Saint Lucia||The Royal Saint Lucia Police maintains a paramilitary special service unit for internal security purposes. Defense is the responsibility of Regional Security System.|
|Saint Vincent and the Grenadines||The Royal Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Police Force maintains a paramilitary special service unit for internal security purposes. Defense is the responsibility of Regional Security System.|
|Samoa||Does not have a standing army. New Zealand can be called upon for military aid per a 1962 agreement.|
|Solomon Islands||Had a heavy ethnic conflict between 1998 and 2006, in which Australia, New Zealand and other Pacific countries intervened to restore peace and order. Has no standing army.|
|Tuvalu||Has no army, but its police force includes a Maritime Surveillance Unit.|
|Vatican City||Maintains a Gendarmerie Corps for internal policing. The Swiss Guard is a unit belonging to the Holy See, not the Vatican City State. There is no defense treaty with Italy, as it would violate the Vatican’s neutrality, but informally the Italian military protects Vatican City. The Palatine Guard and Noble Guard were abolished in 1970.|
Countries with no standing army, but having limited military forces
|Iceland||Has not had a standing army since 1869, but is a member of NATO. There was a defense agreement with the United States, which maintained an Iceland Defense Force and a military base in the country from 1951 to September 2006; in March 2006 the US announced it would continue to provide for Iceland’s defense but without permanently basing forces in the country; Naval Air Station Keflavik closed in 2006 after 55 years. Even though Iceland does not have a standing army, it still maintains a military expeditionary peacekeeping force, an air defense system, an extensive militarised coast guard, a police service, and a tactical police force. There are also agreements about military and other security operations with Norway, Denmarkand other NATO countries. See Military of Iceland for more information|
|Monaco||Renounced its general military investment in the 17th century because the advancement in artillery technology had rendered it defenseless, but still self-identifies as having limited military forces. Defense is the responsibility of France, but two small military units are maintained; one primarily protects the Prince and judiciary, while the other is responsible for civil defence and fire fighting. Both units are trained and equipped with small arms.|
|Panama||Abolished its army in 1990, which was confirmed by a unanimous parliamentary vote for constitutional change in 1994. The Panamanian Public Forces, including the National Police, National Borders Service, National Aeronaval Service, and Institutional Protection Service, have some warfare capabilities.|
|Haiti||Haiti’s military disbanded in June 1995, but rebels have demanded its re-establishment. The 9,000 strong Haitian National Police maintains some paramilitary units and a Coast Guard; these units are considered to be larger than what is required, considering the much smaller militaries of some neighboring countries.|
|Costa Rica||Costa Rica was the first country to formally abolish military forces. The constitution has forbidden a standing military since 1949. It does have a paramilitary force, the Public Security Forces, whose role includes law enforcement and internal security.|
|Mauritius||Has had a paramilitary police force and coast guard since 1968.|