Quick Quiz: Mapping Militarism 2023

By David Swanson, May 2, 2023

Can you test yourself with this quick quiz?

A picture can be worth a trillion words — or a couple of trillion dollars when it’s a picture of military spending.

We’ve just published a new collection of maps for Mapping Militarism 2023. As always, they are at worldbeyondwar.org/militarism-mapped and available for your use. If you go there, you can pick a map, and zoom in and out. You can click on a country to get details. You can move the slider back to see earlier years. You can switch to list-view and get the information in text form. You can click “source” to see the origins of the data and exactly what it means.

Can you guess what the map above is?

Look up, not down, until you’ve guessed.


Here’s the answer:

It’s NATO members and partners (in red). The position of the North Atlantic might be what makes it tricky. Bet you didn’t know New Zealand was even in the North Atlantic.

How about this one?

Here’s the answer:

That’s countries with wars (in red).

This next one is almost a mirror image. It must be the peaceful nations of the world, right? What do you think?

Peaceful? Not exactly. The red and — less so — the pink, orange, and yellow are where the weapons come from — and more of them each year!

These next two are related to each other. What do you think they could be?

The first one is military spending, and the second one military spending per capita. Red is the highest spending, white the least. (Blue is no data.)

The spending data is ever more extreme. With some 231 nations in the world, the military spending of the U.S. is significantly more than that of 227 of them combined. Of the other three, one (India) is a U.S. ally, and the other two (Russia and China) spend a combined 43% what the U.S. does, or a combined 21% of what the U.S. and its weapons customers and allies do. For all the details, go to Mapping Militarism 2023.

(Note that WBW calculated and added the U.S. per-capita spending, while all the other spending numbers came from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. We don’t know why SIPRI doesn’t know how many people live in the United States.)

How are you doing so far? If you’ve been guessing them all, this one might stump you:

In the above map, the red countries are all illegally punished with economic sanctions by the U.S. government. We’ve added this map this year. Sanctions are intentionally deadly, illegal, and often a step toward war.

This next one should be easier. Red is the highest, then pink, orange, yellow. Blue is no data or irrelevant. What do you think it can be?

It’s the number of U.S. foreign troops present. The U.S. is blue because we’re only mapping troops deployed abroad. A few other countries are blue because they are suffering under the thumb of evil enemies of freedom. (Yes, that is satire. Yes, I concede that satire is more evil than war and penitently confess my sin.)

As always at Mapping Militarism, we’ve mapped efforts for peace as well as for war.

The blue countries below are doing something peaceful. What is it?

They’re in nuclear-free zones.

Here’s a map of 193 blue countries in which at least one person has done a particular peaceful thing. What do you think it is?

In each of the blue countries at least one person has signed the Declaration of Peace.

How did you do?

Note that in this year’s Mapping Militarism, we have not updated the maps on U.S. air strikes and drone strikes because the U.S. government has stopped reporting on them and the Bureau of Investigative Journalism has stopped reporting on them. Some limited amount of related information can still be found at airwars.org.

19 Responses

  1. This is so brilliant and so important. Thank you so much. I applaud you for all the in-depth research and the hard work involved in putting this together. Bless you. In solidarity.

  2. Yes, indeed such an important issue. Too bad the mainstream press would not pick this up. Oh, I forgot they serve NATO and the proxy wars and arms merchants. We can keep educating the public.

  3. Can one get or buy a copy of these maps and their explanations? Attributing appropriate credit, of course.
    It may be a pertinent topic to expand on in the Conscience Canada website (consciencecanada.ca).


  4. The endless march towards war. What all that money could do if dedicated to peaceful endeavors.

  5. When people are convinced their own ideology is absolutely the only right way, then the other is the wrong way. If one is following the wrong way, killing is the solution. We teach our children the right way, and allow them to have weapons to kill those they identify as on the wrong way.

  6. Well, of course Aotearoa NZ is not situated in the North Atlantic. I live in Aotearoa NZ and have just put in my submission to our Defence Strategy Review on Sunday 4 minutes to midnight when it closed. It appears we are a “partner” of NATO but I have recommended we relinquish all military alliances. I pointed out that even countries like Norway and Russia took part in RIMPAC exercises which are not in the Pacific at all. Same stupid “alliances” which are not even in their area.
    I used information from Edwina Hughes of Peace Movement Aotearoa and of course from World Beyond War in writing my submission.
    If your country has a “review” do put your submission in.

    1. Would be interesting to know what countries even make a pretense of asking people what they think.

  7. It is almost impossible for ordinary people to have any impact on how governments spend money. Yet mostly is is ordinary people who get killed. I can just imagine the hate relatives of the victims must feel.
    The problems are countries that manufacture and sell weapons. I live in Iceland and for the past few weeks we are fed with frightening news about attack, therefore we must have some country that is willing to defend us. I am born in 1943 and can remember the awful terror in childhood of a country wanting to attack us. We, the children dug bomb shelters and when we heard the fighter planes we fled into this shelter. I don’t want my children, grandchildren and great grandsons to live in a world of hate and murder.

  8. Which country has the most military bases around the world?
    No prizes……of course America.
    AND NOW THEY HAVE ADDED Finland, Sweden and Norway shortly as part of NATO = USA

    1. Yes indeed, though we try to call it the U.S. given how many countries are in America.

  9. Awesome, David. I’ll share on Mastodon. I don’t have many followers yet but it’s such a great map, maybe it’ll be shared.

    Thank you for all your awesome work!

  10. This needs to be part of school curriculum! Children in foreign countries know more about what is happening in the U.S. , than adults who call themselves Americans.

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