282 Arms Imports


This map shows the spending of territories on the import of arms. Arms imports are international transfers of arms from one territory to another. The United Nations Development Programme defines conventional arms transfers as follows: “the voluntary transfer by the supplier (and thus excludes captured weapons and weapons obtained through defectors) of weapons with a military purpose destined for the armed forces, paramilitary forces or intelligence agencies of another country. These include major conventional weapons or systems in six categories: ships, aircraft, missiles, artillery, armoured vehicles and guidance and radar systems (excluded are trucks, services, ammunition, small arms, support items, components and component technology and towed or naval artillery under 100-millimetre calibre).” An estimated US$19,032 million was spent on arms worldwide in 2003. Note this is 3 billion less than that reported to be exported in Worldmapper map 281, Arms Exports.

The UNDP definition was sourced from the section on ‘Technical notes and definitions’ of the 2004 Human Development Report, which was accessed from the site below in November, 2004:


It is noted in the data source that: “ data are as of 25 February 2004 . Figures are trend indicator values, which are an indicator only of the volume of international arm transfers, not of the actual financial value of such transfers. Published reports of arms transfers provide partial information, as not all transfers are fully reported. The estimates presented are conservative and may understate actual transfers of conventional weapons.”

Data sources

See technical notes for Worldmapper 281, Arms Exports.

When import data was given as "under $1 million" for 76 territories we put US$ 0.5 million. Zero arms imports were never reported in the source data, however 29 territories recorded ‘not known’. A further 23 territories were not listed in the original dataset. Most of these territories were small, with an average population under 5 million. Those territories missing data are estimated using regional averages of spending on arms imports per person.

When US dollars are used to measure value, the 1990 value of US dollars is used.

Click here to view detailed data source references

The quotation used to accompany this map is from the playwright William Shakespeare’s

Julius Caesar, written in 1599. The quotation was sourced from the dictionary of quotations that is referenced below.

Anthony Jay (editor). 1997. The Oxford Dictionary of Political Quotations. Oxford University Press, Oxford. p.329:7

Excel sheets

Below is an explanation of each of the columns in the excel file:

Column A = Unique numerical territory (see 001).

Column B = Region and territory names (see 001).

Column C = Region code (see 001).

Column D = The ISO 3 code, or ISO ALPHA-3 (see 001).

Column E = Spending on arms imports, in millions of 1990-value US$ dollars, in 2003. This number is taken from column H. If data were missing, then the regional US$ value of arms imports per person living there (Column F) is multiplied by the population living there in millions (Column G).

Column F = Spending on arms imports per person living in a territory, in 1990-value US $, in 2003. This is calculated by dividing the value of arms imports in millions of 1990-value US $ in 2003 (Column E) by the population in millions in 2002 (Column G). (F = E / G).

Column G = Population in millions, for year 2002. For source data and derived estimates see 002, ‘Total Population’.

Column H = Arms imports in 2003 in millions of 1990-value US dollars. This is calculated using the source data. For territories where the percentage of the world share of arms imports from that territory is reported to be greater than 1, then that percentage of the world share is multiplied by the worldwide total millions of US$ value of arms exports, and divided by 100 to give the value of exports from that territory in millions of US$. If the data on the world share of the value of arms imports was not available, then alternative source data giving the value of imports was used. If (.) was show, indicating under US$1 million, then imports of the value of US$ 0.5 million were assumed. Where data are missing ‘..’ is shown.