Adventures in a non-militarized world?
With violence on the rise in the middle east and Africa, China building up its military, troops on the streets of Southern Mexico and places like North Korea going totally bat-shit crazy, sometimes you just yearn for a bit of adventure in a more peaceful place. Does an adventure truly have to be dangerous by definition, after all? That depends who you ask, but I think we all could agree that adventure can exist without the threat of being pumped full of lead by warring armies or guerrillas.
Do any fully non-militarized, peaceful places exist in a world where pacifist Buddhist Thais have become all too familiar with the term “military coup?”
Well, let’s start with this list of countries without armed forces from Wikipedia.
It gives us 25 countries that do not maintain their own armed forces, but I’m going to go ahead and throw out tiny Andorra, Monaco, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, Marshall Islands and Samoa, which are defended by more powerful nations like France, Australia, the US or Australia.
Barbados, Grenada and a handful of other Caribbean nations participate in something called the ‘Regional Security System’ which essentially functions as a shared military, so I’ll strike them too. Haiti’s not officially militarized anymore, but come on….
Iceland? Yes, you’d think Bjork’s homeland would be a peaceful, non-militarized place, but it’s tough to overlook all the American troops stationed there, so throw them out, too.
The Solomon Islands has no army, except for the Australian and other troops that have intervened to stem the tide of ongoing ethnic conflict. No serenity there, so buh-bye.
The small nation of Mauritius was on the bubble, but I think their paramilitary police force disqualifies them from the running. Same with Panama’s “public force” and Vanuatu’s small mobile military.
That leaves us with about a half-dozen nations living in peace and harmony (for the most part) without a military:
- Kiribati has only a police force and coast guard patrolling its 33 Pacific atolls, although the memory of military history was left from WW2 and the testing of H-Bombs in the area.
- Liechtenstein abolished their army over 100 years ago, the tiny European burg does not maintain a military in peacetime.
- Vatican City’s security is guaranteed by the Swiss Guard, a strange tradition with a long history. Come to think of it, they probably shouldn’t be on the list, either.
- The island nation of Tuvalu doesn’t have a military to speak of, but it is likely to be the first place wiped out by global warming and rising sea levels, so they have other things to worry about.
- San Marino, totally surrounded by Italy, is a good bet for some peace and quiet, as long as nobody’s attacking Italy.
- That leaves us with Costa Rica as arguably the most peaceful nation in the world, a bit of a surprise considering its location in turbulent Central America. But it was the first democratic country to abolish its army in 1949. It is now the home of the UN University of Peace and one of the safest places to travel south of the (Canadian) border.