Military forces are one of a country’s basics— needed to support and defend the country against enemies, be it inside or outside the country, engage and win during warfare, and maintain military actions, above all others. Large militaries often signify the country’s power. In the US, for instance, $686.1 billion was the allotted budget for the Department of Defense in 2019, as reported by World Population Review.

I mean, could you imagine your country without military security? Probably not. This, however, is the case for several countries that do not have their own military forces. Be it because they have been demilitarized, are former colonies that are still under the roof of protection of those countries, or just did not establish one from the very beginning.

This is Part 1 of 2 of the countries that do not have their own armed forces.

Andorra

Map showing locations of Andorra and the Republic of Ireland. (BrownHairedGirlCC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

The reason why Andorra does not have a standing army is that it signed treaties with Spain and France, like the 1993 Treaty of Good Neighborliness, Friendship, and Cooperation, and so they depend on them for protection. In the past, the country had a small army. Before World War I, it had around 600 part-time militiamen under the guidance of a Captain and Lieutenant, and they acted as their armed force. Today, their small volunteer army is not for combat but for ceremonial functions only. They have the paramilitary GIPA trained in counter-terrorism and hostage management, but they are part of the national police.

Aruba, Curacao, Sint Maarten

Up until 1929, the Dutch Antilles, composed of Aruba, Curacao, and Sint Maarten, had hardly any military forces. This, however, changed on June 28, 1929. The Venezuelan rebel leader named Rafael Simon Urbina launched an attack in Curacao and took several hostages, including governor Leonard Albert Fruytier. After the attack, the Dutch government decided that they would station one of their naval ships in the Antilles for good. They also raised a voluntary defense corps both in Curacao and Aruba. And so their defenses are the responsibility of the Kingdom of the Netherlands that protect them, including the Royal Netherlands Navy, the Netherlands Marine Corps, and the Netherlands Coastguard.

Cayman Islands

It’s pretty much the same concept for the Cayman Islands. This group of islands in the Caribbean belongs to the British Overseas Territories. This is the reason why they are in charge of defending their archipelago, located roughly 150 miles away from the south of Cuba. They have, however, a national police force in the island called the Royal Islands Police Force.

Cook Islands

Named after Captain James Cook, Cook Islands is located in the middle of French Polynesia and American Samoa. Their 15 islands’ population is 17,952 as of March 21, 2022, according to Worldometer. They are independent and self-governing in terms of administering their own affairs, although the islanders are basically New Zealand citizens because they are in free association with the country. Therefore, their defense is dependent on New Zealand but only upon their request.

Costa Rica

Costa Rica has had no armed forces since 1949, after the very last civil war that they endured in 1948. In 1983, they proclaimed their permanent and unarmed neutrality. Currently, they have nothing but small police forces that act as their law enforcers, the only ones that they use for defense purposes in some needed cases. They are, however, protected by the US.

Dominica

The Commonwealth of Dominica is an island country located in the Caribbean, geographically situated as part of the Windward Islands chain in the archipelago of Lesser Antilles. As a member of the Commonwealth, they are part of a union of several foreign states, including the United Kingdom and its former colonies. The Commonwealth of Dominica Police Force is their police that also acts as coastguard, but they didn’t have any official standing army since 1981, with their defense under the wings of the Regional Security System (RSS), an international agreement of the eastern Caribbean region with the purpose of defending and securing the eastern Caribbean region in case of emergencies like war.

Falkland Islands

Welcome sign in the Falkland Islands. (amanderson2CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

Since the Falkland Islands are a British overseas territory, its defense system heavily relies on the United Kingdom. The British Forces South Atlantic Islands (BFSAI) is responsible for protecting the Falkland Islands and other UK territories in the South Atlantic and South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands (SGSSI). The British Army, Royal Air Force, and Royal Navy are all part of the commitments of BFSAI, all led by the Commander-BFSAI.

Faroe Islands

The Faroe Islands and its 51,000 inhabitants rely on the Danish government to provide them with military and territorial defenses. The Island is located in the North Atlantic between the British Isles, Norway, and Iceland. The main responsible branch is called the Arctic Command, part of the Danish armed forces.

French Polynesia

French Polynesia on the globe
French Polynesia on the globe (French Polynesia centered) (TUBSCC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

Located in the southern Pacific Ocean and made up of many small and large islands, French Polynesia has no armed forces for its 290,000 inhabitants because they rely on France to provide a territorial defense.

Greenland

Although Greenland geographically belongs to North America, the largest island on Earth is an autonomous part of Denmark. In 2009, the island passed the Self-Government Act that recognizes the citizens of Greenland’s right to self-determine under international law. Regardless, Denmark still has control over several policy areas like foreign, security, and financial policy. The very same reason why they are still responsible for the defense system of the island.

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