There are several countries in the world that do not have a standing army or maintain very limited military forces. These countries have chosen to prioritize non-military approaches to defence or rely on alternative security arrangements. Here are top 5 European countries that fall into this category:
- Andorra is a landlocked micro-state located between Spain and France. It does not have a standing army and relies on the defence responsibilities of France and Spain. Andorra’s defense responsibilities have been effectively shared between Spain and France. According to the 1993 constitution of Andorra, these two countries are responsible for guaranteeing its external security.
- Iceland is a Nordic island country that does not have a standing army. Its defence is guaranteed by the United States through the Iceland Defence Force and the NATO alliance. Iceland is a Nordic island nation located in the North Atlantic Ocean. Its strategic location, along with its relatively small population, has meant that Iceland has not faced significant military threats or conflicts throughout its history. As a result, the need for a large standing army has been minimal. Iceland’s defense is primarily ensured through defence agreements with other countries. Since gaining independence from Denmark in 1944, Iceland has relied on its relationship with the United States for defence. The United States provided a military presence in Iceland during the Cold War, and today, defense cooperation continues under the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).
- Liechtenstein is a doubly landlocked microstate located between Switzerland and Austria. It does not have a standing army but maintains a small police force responsible for internal security. The country has not been involved in any major conflicts for centuries, allowing it to maintain a peaceful stance. Liechtenstein has defense agreements with neighboring Switzerland, which guarantee its external security. Liechtenstein is one of the smallest countries in the world, both in terms of land area and population. Maintaining a standing army would be impractical and resource-intensive for such a small nation.
- Malta is an island country in the Mediterranean Sea. It does not have a standing army but maintains the Armed Forces of Malta, which primarily focuses on maritime defense and internal security. Since gaining independence from the United Kingdom in 1964, Malta has relied on defense cooperation and security arrangements with other countries. It is a member of the European Union and benefits from collective defense through NATO. Instead of a standing army, Malta maintains a civilian police force known as the Malta Police Force. This force is responsible for internal security, maintaining law and order, and handling emergencies within the country.
- Monaco is a micro-state located on the French Riviera. It does not have a standing army but maintains a small police force for internal security. Monaco has a history of neutrality and peace, with minimal involvement in conflicts or wars. Monaco’s defense is primarily ensured through agreements with France. The Treaty of Franco-Monegasque Cooperation, signed in 1918 and updated in 2002, outlines the defense cooperation between the two countries.
Other small country which do not have own army is Vatican City in Europe. Vatican City, an independent city-state and the spiritual and administrative headquarters of the Roman Catholic Church, does not have a standing army. Its security is provided by the Swiss Guard.