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Eritrea has largest Army in Africa (pop 4 million)

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Eritrea: Country and Ethiopia Top Africa in Army Sizes





New Vision (Kampala)


December 28, 2006

Posted to the web December 29, 2006


Vision Reporter



Eritrea and Ethiopia have the biggest armies in Sub-Saharan Africa.


The data, contained in the latest UNDP Human Development Report, are raising more concerns about the situation in the Horn of Africa.

Western Union


Both countries have troops in Somalia, fighting on opposite sides.


Both in percentage and in numbers, Eritrea tops the list. Of a population of 4.2 million, 202,000 are in the armed forces. One in every 20 Eritreans is a soldier.


Ethiopia holds the second position. It has an army of 183,000 for a population of 75 million.


Other countries with large armies include Angola (108,000 troops), Sudan (105,000 troops), Nigeria (79,000) and the Democratic Republic of Congo with 65,000 troops.


Rwanda, with a population of 8.9 million, has an army of 51,000, which is larger than Uganda's 45,000, with a population of 27.8 million.


Gambia and Equatorial Guinea have the smallest armies in Sub-Saharan Africa. Their armed forces count only 1,000 soldiers.


Down on the ladder are also Lesotho (2,000) and Central African republic (3,000), while Niger, Malawi, Benin and Gabon each have 5,000 soldiers.


Interestingly, the number of soldiers does not correspond with military expenditure.


Botswana and Namibia, though having only 9,000 soldiers each, are spending a high percentage of their gross domestic product (GDP) on defence, 3.8% and 3.1% respectively.


Though many Sub-Saharan countries have not submitted their figures, from the data available Burundi has the highest military expenditure as compared to GDP (6.3%), followed by Angola (4.2%) and the DR Congo (3%).


Uganda, which has been criticised by donors over its defence budget, spends 2.3% of GDP on the military. This is a slight increase compared to previous years but significantly less than in 1990, when military expenditure stood at 3.1% of GDP.


With 2.2 million soldiers, China has the largest army in the world, followed by the US (1.5 million), India (1.3 million) and Russia (1 million).


In terms of military expenditure in relation to GDP, Middle East countries score the highest.

Relevant Links

East Africa



Arms and Military Affairs


Oman spends 12% of its GDP on defence, followed by Israel (8.7%), Saudi Arabia (8.3%), Jordan (8.2%) and Kuwait (7.9%).


In absolute terms, however, US military expenditure, currently at 4% of GDP, is likely to top because of the size of its economy.


Five countries in the world have no army at all. They are Iceland, Panama, Haiti, Mauritius and Costa Rica.

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They are not relatives in the sense they are family.


Meles mother was born in what is now Eritrea. His mothers birth place and his father's towns are just near (whats now international border)the border.


Isayas mother is from Meles's province in Tigray

Isayas father is also from another province, but Tigray state.

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