Here’s a Map of the World’s Fastest Growing Militaries

Twenty-three nations have doubled their defense spending in the past decade. By Ben Watson and Kedar Pavgi

The United States may be cutting its military spending, but 23 nations have doubled their defense spending over the past decade, according to a report released by a leading arms observation group on Monday.

Afghanistan tops the list of nations with the sharpest increase in defense spending over the past decade, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute said.

Afghanistan’s newly established military saw a staggering 557 percent increase from 2004 to 2013. The former Soviet satellite republic of Azerbaijan comes in second with a 493 percent increase over the same time period, a spike reflecting tensions with neighboring Armenia over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh territory. And Iraq’s military ranks third with a 284 percent increase in spending over the past decade.

Many nations that doubled their military spending during the previous decade share close proximal ties with Russia, including Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Georgia, Belarus and Armenia. But spending increases have also been made in Africa and South America—raising the military capabilities of Ghana, Algeria and Angola, as well as Ecuador, Honduras and Paraguay

China, Russia and Saudi Arabia have also invested heavily in their militaries since 2003. Those three nations immediately trail the U.S. in overall military spending for 2013.

Click the map below for a complete list of the countries that have at least doubled their annual military spending since 2004.

[Eds Note: Military spending involves more than just the sale of arms, but also covers salaries and benefits, construction and maintenance, as well as research and development costs for the world’s militaries.]