The volume of military conflicts in the world is growing, and the doomsday clock is getting closer to midnight. We understand why, even in such conditions, these countries do not plan to create armies.
This small state in southwestern Europe has not had an army since 1933. In the event of an invasion, large neighbors France and Spain are obliged to protect it, with which Andorra has concluded agreements with poetic names. For example, the document of 1993 is titled “Agreement on good neighborliness, friendship, and cooperation.” On a permanent basis, the country is served by 12 soldiers, whose functions are limited to the ceremonial raising of the flag. According to some reports, funds for their maintenance are collected through voluntary donations.
This island nation gained independence from the UK in 1980 and has not had any military since. Security in Vanuatu is maintained by the police and the Mobile Forces, a small force of 300 volunteers. They help maintain law and order in the country’s outlying islands, which are sometimes difficult for the police to reach. However, in 1994, 50 of them were sent to Papua New Guinea on a peacekeeping mission.
According to the Lateran Accords concluded in 1929, the Vatican is assigned a neutral status: “The Pope promised eternal neutrality in international relations and abstention from mediation in disputes unless specifically requested by all parties.” Order in a tiny state is provided by the Gendarmerie (an analog of the police) and the Swiss Guard – the personal security detachment of the Pope. It has existed since 1506 and has about 100 members. Then Pope Julius II created an army of Swiss soldiers, who were considered among the best in Europe. The tradition is still preserved. Guardsmen must necessarily be Catholics between the ages of 19 and 30 who have served in the Swiss army. Even their height is strictly defined – not lower than 174 cm.
Because of its location, Iceland has never been a central target for conquest. In the second half of the 18th century, decades before the start of the Napoleonic Wars, the island’s army consisted of several hundred soldiers armed with ancient weapons, including halberds from the 1500s. Because of this, the British took Iceland in 1808 without resistance. In the middle of the 19th century, attempts to create a modern army were unsuccessful. In 1940, Great Britain again landed on the island to prevent its capture by the Germans. A year later, the British soldiers replaced Americans. The United States continued to maintain a garrison in the country after the end of World War II. In 1949, Iceland became one of the founding members of NATO, despite the fact that it still did not have an army and did not plan to create one. However, the coast guard remained off the island, which in the 1960s and 1970s repeatedly came into direct confrontation with the Royal Navy of Great Britain for the right to fish in the North Atlantic. These clashes became known as the “Cod Wars”.
In 1948, Costa Rica was rocked for 44 days by a civil war between government and opposition forces over fraudulent elections. It became the bloodiest event for the country in the twentieth century. The rebels won, whose leader Jose Figueres Ferrer became president, disbanded the army, and introduced a direct ban on its re-creation into the Constitution. Since then, unlike its Central American neighbors, Costa Rica has developed as a peaceful and prosperous parliamentary democracy. The state regularly ranks in the top twenty of the International Happiness Index. As stated president of the country and Nobel Peace Prize winner Oscar Arias Sanchez, “the solution of conflicts by military means should be the last resort; here we always find a way out at the negotiating table.”
This small state in the center of Europe has not had an army since 1866 when an 80-man garrison was sent to the country’s southern border to guard against potential attack during the Austro-Prussian-Italian War. According to historians, “they had absolutely nothing to do but enjoy the mountain scenery, drink wine and beer, and smoke pipes all day long.” Moreover, when the war ended seven weeks later, Liechtenstein’s “army” returned home with more. One of the Austrian officers joined him. After this heroic event, the country’s parliament took the opportunity and voted to disband the army. The main reason was citedsenseless expenses. Now Liechtenstein has only the police, who work closely with the military departments of neighboring Austria and Switzerland.
Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Palau
These three small island states in the middle of the Pacific signed a “Pact of Free Association” with the US in the 1980s. The United States keeps them safe, which is why Palau, Micronesia, and the Marshall Islands don’t have armies. Order is maintained by the police and coast guard.
The Panamanian army appeared in 1903 when the country won its independence from Colombia. The next 87 years defined military coups, dictatorships, and the American invasion. Finally, in February 1990, the state parliament unanimously supported the amendment of the Constitution to prohibit the formation of a standing army. Since then, Panama has been guarded by the police, border guards, and other law enforcement agencies.
11 more countries without an army
- San Marino
- Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
- Saint Lucia
- Solomon islands