Author: recipesinthebox

What could a package tour to Australia look like?

What could a package tour to Australia look like?

In the high season between June and August, the prices of a package tour to Australia are usually the highest. Nevertheless, the travel time according to the desired route must be taken into account. You should not save at the wrong end here, as there are several climate zones Down Under and it can get accordingly cool and / or wet. Furthermore, the most famous sights on the selected route should always be approached during a round trip .

Example of a 3-week package tour

The following process is an example of what a 21 day package tour to Australia could look like. It should be noted that the program is only briefly summarized here and there are also many other variants on offer:

Day 1: Arrival in Sydney

After the greeting you will be driven to your hotel. Now you can relax a little and design the first day in the impressive metropolis according to your taste.

Day 2: Sydney City Tour & City Exploration

During a guided city tour you will discover the lively metropolis. Whether it’s a port trip with lunch, a hike along the coast to the famous Bondi Beach, a guided tour of the opera house or the exploration of the most interesting parts of the city, this day will fill your daily program with great activities. The evening, on the other hand, is at your disposal.

Day 3: Day trip to the Blue Mountains National Park

Today the picturesque Blue Mountains with their striking rock formation, the “Three Sisters”, are visited. After an eventful day in the nature of the Australian hinterland, you will return to Sydney, where you will enjoy your dinner at the imposing Darling Harbor.

Day 4: Flight from Sydney to Yulara (Ayers Rock)

Transfer to the airport to take a domestic flight to the outback town of Yulara, near the legendary Ayers Rock (Uluru). On a tour you have the opportunity to explore the world-famous rock in the afternoon. Enjoy the spectacular sunset with a glass of sparkling wine from a good vantage point. Afterwards, an authentic Australian barbecue under the most beautiful starry sky is on the program.

Day 5: Drive to the nearby Olgas (Kata Tjuta)

After a delicious breakfast in the Visitor Center, continue to the impressive rock formation called Kata Tjuta (Olgas). A hike through the Walpa Gorge and the Valley of the Winds will inspire you. After an eventful afternoon, return to the Ayers Rock Resort, where you can relax and / or use your time as you please.

Day 6: Drive from Ayers Rock to Kings Canyon

You leave the Ayers Rock Resort in the morning and continue to the mighty Watarrka National Park, or better known as Kings Canyon.

Day 7: Hike & continue to Alice Springs

You start your hike through the impressive gorge early in the morning. The breathtaking landscapes with excellent views of the Australian outback and the path through the canyon are simply an experience in a class of its own. At noon you will visit a camel farm and travel on to the outback capital Alice Springs.

Day 8: Sightseeing of Alice Springs & onward flight to Cairns

Today you have the opportunity to learn about the wildlife of the red center. The Alice Springs Desert Park gives you the best insights into this. You will also learn more about the life of the indigenous people, the Aborigines. After visiting the Royal Flying Doctors headquarters and the old telegraph station, you will fly to the tropical diving capital in the state of Queensland: Cairns.

Day 9: Sailing trip through the Great Barrier Reef

Today is an absolute highlight of your package tour. You go on a full day sailing trip through the largest coral reef on earth, the Great Barrier Reef. On the way you have the opportunity to explore the colors of the corals and the diversity of fish. Whether you are swimming, snorkeling or while sailing a glass-bottom boat, you will get up close and personal with the marine life of Australia. On the deck, however, there is a delicious lunch buffet as well as sparkling wine and snacks for the sunset.

Day 10: Tour of Kuranda

Day 10 is the green, mountainous hinterland of the Down Unders. First, enjoy the fantastic views from the legendary Kuranda Railway, a leisurely train that probably covers the most beautiful train route on the 5th continent. When you arrive in Kuranda, the colorful hippie market awaits you with fresh products, unusual clothing and handmade jewelry. At the end of the day, take the Kuranda Gondola across the Queensland rainforest to then dine in a very special restaurant.

Day 11: Over the Atherton Tablelands to Townsville

The region’s mountainous highlands are called the Atherton Tableands. Lakes, waterfalls, rainforest and pure nature characterize this day, which ends in the subtropical city of Townsville.

Day 12: Airlie Beach & Hamilton Island

After getting to know the animal world in the Billabong Sanctuary, drive to the small but lively starting point to the gorgeous Whitsunday Islands: Airlie Beach. From here you take a boat to Hamilton Island, where crystal clear water, snow-white sand and true South Seas flair await you. One thing is certain: the Whitsundays should not be missing on any well-organized package tour to Australia.

Day 13: Free time on Hamilton Island

Relaxation, sun, beach and sea is the motto of today. Relax and enjoy the Whitsundays island world. Those who would like to do a little more can, for example, take a trip to beautiful Whitehaven Beach. This beach is certainly one of the most beautiful beaches in the world and therefore adorns countless postcards.

Day 14: Flight to Brisbane & on to Noosa

After the flight to the capital of Queensland, you will travel on to the wonderful Sunshine Coast. The cozy town of Noosa awaits you with many cafes, beautiful beaches, a national park and the Noosa Everglades.

Day 15: Safari on Fraser Island

Explore the striking sand island of Fraser Island by 4WD (all-wheel drive). Whether dunes, beautiful lakes, wild dingoes, miles of beaches or subtropical rainforests, everyone who wants to discover Australia’s nature will get their money’s worth here. Of course, a swim in the crystal clear Lake McKenzie is a must. Then it’s back to Noosa.

Day 16: Free time in Noosa

Enjoy your free day in Noosa by either exploring the Everglades by canoe, exploring the flora and fauna in the National Park, or just relaxing on the beach.

Day 17: Brisbane & Gold Coast

Today you travel to Brisbane, where you will take an organized city tour to get to know the modern metropolis. After great impressions, we continue to the Gold Coast. Long beaches, high waves, many shopping malls, wild parties and passionate surfers characterize the Surfers Paradise district.

Day 18: Byron Bay visit

Byron Bay is a very special place on earth. Whether dream beaches, a wild hinterland, the best surfing conditions or unusual hippie markets, the alternative location Byron Bay is a great highlight of the east coast.

Day 19: Coffs Harbor, Port Macquarie & Hunter Valley

Via the pretty coastal towns of Coffs Harbor and Port Macquarie, it goes into the world-famous Hunter Valley. In the idyllic wine region, a wine tasting awaits you at a first-class winery, where you will also be served a delicious dinner.

Day 20: Free time in Sydney

After arriving at your hotel, the day in Sydney is at your own leisure. Explore Sydney on your own, buy the last few souvenirs or just spend some time on one of the numerous beaches.

Day 21: Transfer to Sydney Airport & flight home

After you have been brought to Sydney Airport, your flight home is due, on which you can review your unforgettable journey through Australia.

Sydney

History of Brazil from Independence until Today

History of Brazil from Independence until Today

Brazilian independence 1822

In 1807 the Portuguese king fled Napoleon’s troops and went to Brazil. In 1815 Brazil was equated with the mother country and in 1821 the king returned to Portugal. This period is also called the Kingdom of Brazil (1808-1821). The king gave Brazil to his son Pedro I in 1821, who declared Brazil independent a year later and declared himself emperor.

Empire of Brazil (1822-1889)

As Pedro I he now ruled Brazil. But in 1831 there was a military uprising and Pedro had to abdicate. He returned to Portugal and handed the throne over to his son, Pedro II. He was only five years old, but remained Brazil’s ruler until 1889.

The economy flourished, and coffee and rubber became important products sold in Europe. Pedro II also had roads, rails and telephone lines built. Allied with Argentina and Uruguay, Brazil defeated Paraguay in a bloody war (Triple Alliance War 1865-1870).

In 1889, however, there was a coup led by the military. Pedro II still stood for the old colonial power Portugal. Another reason was that Pedro campaigned for the abolition of slavery. This led to resistance from the large landowners. While Pedro was in Europe, his daughter Isabella passed a law in 1888 that abolished slavery. The emperor’s support from the large landowners was gone. Brazil became a republic.

Rubber boom

In the reign of Pedro II. Brazil’s economy flourished. The rubber boom started in 1870. From the resin of the rubber tree one could make rubber since 1839. Rubber became an important raw material in the growing industry in Europe. In order to extract rubber, the trees have to be scratched so that the rubber, that is the milk sap of the tree, flows out.

In Brazil, the indigenous population in particular was forced to do this work. The village of Manaus on the Amazon became the center of the rubber trade and grew into a large city. The rubber boom ended around 1920 after the seeds of the carriage tree were smuggled into England, where they grew into little trees that were shipped to Asia. There succeeded plantations to create and so Asia was the new center of the rubber trade.

“Old Republic” (1889-1930)

The coup against the emperor was led by the military Manuel Deodoro da Fonseca. He became the first president of the new republic. Brazil was divided into federal states. The period up to 1930 is also called the “old republic”. The country was politically stable. Although the rubber trade declined, coffee and sugar cane were still important products. During the First World War, however, coffee prices collapsed.

Getúlio Vargas (1930-1945) and the following period until 1964

Resistance arose against the rule of the rich coffee plantation owners. The population felt excluded and disadvantaged. Getúlio Vargas led a revolt and came to power. In 1937 he proclaimed the “new state” (Estado Nuevo). He ruled dictatorially and the country was again centrally ruled. Although he also campaigned for workers’ rights, he was a staunch opponent of communism.

In 1945 Vargas allowed elections and did not run again himself. Several presidents followed at short intervals. Vargas himself was re-elected in 1950 and remained in office until 1954.

In 1961 João Goulart became president. The economic situation was difficult at the time, there were many illiterate people in the country and inflation was high. Goulart tried to implement land reform, which fueled fear of communism. He also fought against illiteracy. In 1964 the military staged a coup, supported by the USA.

Military dictatorship (1964-1985)

Marshal Branco was installed as the new president. Several laws consolidated the power of the military. Political opponents were persecuted, the press censored and new parties were banned. Marshal Costa e Silva, General Médici and General Geisel followed as presidents. A cautious democratization began under Geisel, which General Figueiredo continued. He was President of Brazil from 1979 to 1985. The problems were great: Brazil was in debt and suffered from inflation and corruption. In 1985 free elections were finally allowed.

Democracy (since 1985)

Inflation and corruption remained a problem even among the new democratically elected presidents. In 1991 Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay founded Mercosur. In this common internal market, for example, customs duties will no longer apply. Mercosur strengthened the economy of its member countries. People could buy less and less for their money, so the currency was reformed. This means that the money was worth more in the end.

Fernando Henrique Cardoso ruled from 1995 to 2003, under which the national debt rose again. In 2003 Lula da Silva was elected President. He is a member of the PT (Partido dos Trabalhadores) workers’ party and remained in office until 2011. The Fome Zero program was launched to combat hunger and poverty. Economically, Brazil showed high growth for years. After two terms in office, Lula da Silva could no longer run for election.

Dilma Rousseff, also from PT, became the new President of Brazil in 2011. The economy grew more slowly now. She did not continue Lula da Silva’s social policy. In 2013 there were massive protests against the government. Also corruption was accused Rousseff. Nevertheless, she was re-elected and began her second term in 2015.

In May 2016, proceedings were initiated against Dilma Rousseff that removed her from her position. So she was deposed as president. Temporarily, Michel Temer took over the office. He was then elected President in August 2016. The 2018 elections had to be decided by a runoff, which Jair Bolsonaro won. He has been the President of the Republic since January 1, 2019. He is considered right-wing populist and repeatedly expresses himself hostile to women or racist.

History of Brazil

History of Gambia – from Senegambia to today

History of Gambia – from Senegambia to today

British West Africa

In 1765 Great Britain established its first colony in West Africa on the Senegal and Gambia rivers and named it Senegambia. It belonged to British West Africa. In 1779 the French recaptured their trading establishments in Senegal. They took James Island and destroyed the fort. It was the end of Senegambia. Great Britain only remained the Gambia Valley.

From 1809 to 1817 Senegal was once again under British ownership. In 1811 Great Britain banned the slave trade in its colonies (France followed in 1848). In 1816 the British built a base at Bathurst to combat the slave trade, which was still carried on by the Americans and the French. Today the capital Banjul is located there.

War between Soninke and Marabouts

Between 1850 and 1887, brutal wars took place between the Soninke, who practiced an animistic religion, and marabouts. Marabouts are religious leaders in Islam. They waged war against everyone who did not want to adopt Islam. Soninke supremacy in the area was broken. Members of the Diola on the south bank of the Gambia who rejected Islam were also killed.

The Gambia was temporarily under the administration in Sierra Leone (see there). France wanted to exchange the area for other (French) colonial land, for example from the Ivory Coast. Traders and settlers were against it, but so were the marabouts, who even ended their war. Britain eventually broke off negotiations.

British colony

In 1888 the Gambia became an independent British colony. A year later, Great Britain and France set the national borders as they still exist today. The border followed the course of the Gambia River and the land on the bank stretched as far as the range of a cannonball, namely ten miles.

Independence in 1965 and republic in 1970

After the Second World War, the colony gradually gained more independence. Parties were formed. In 1965 the Gambia was given independence. The country remained in the Commonwealth of Nations and was a monarchy headed by the British Queen. Dawda Jawara became prime minister.

A popular vote in 1970 decided that Gambia should become a republic. Jawara was elected its president and was re-elected in 1972 and 1977. Bathurst was renamed Banjul in 1973. The Gambia was seen as a “model country” with an exemplary democracy.

Senegambia (1982-1989)

An economic crisis led to a coup in 1981, which however was suppressed with the help of troops from Senegal. On February 1, 1982 the Gambia and Senegal merged under the name Senegambia (this is called a confederation). The armed forces, the currency and the economic area were united. But the cooperation turned out to be difficult, and the additional bureaucracy also made the merger difficult. In 1989 the confederation was ended again. Jawara remained President of Gambia and was re-elected in 1992.

1994 coup: Yahya Jammeh becomes president

In 1994, Jawara was ousted in a military coup. He and his government were accused of corruption. The coup was bloodless. Lieutenant Yahya Jammeh declared himself President of Gambia. The constitution was repealed, political parties banned, opponents arrested and the death penalty reintroduced.

In 1996, Jammeh finally allowed democratic elections again. A certain stability returned. Jammeh won the election. Tourism, interrupted by the coup, increased again. In 2001, Jammeh was confirmed in office. He extended his term of office and was accused of corruption and waste.

In 2011, Jammeh was re-elected in an election. Now he was accused of manipulating the election. The lack of freedom of the press and the violation of human rights continue to be criticized. Jammeh sees himself as a faith healer.

Adama Barrow becomes President of Gambia

Jammeh’s presidency ended in 2016. He lost the election and so Adama Barrow took over the office of Gambian President. Jammeh delayed the takeover, but ultimately couldn’t prevent it.

When a baby is born in Gambia, all those who belong to Islam celebrate the naming festival one week after the birth. The Mandinka call the ceremony Kulliyo, the Wolof Ngente. All relatives and friends are invited. It is celebrated in front of the house or in the family courtyard. The festival begins in the morning.

An imam (Muslim head) cuts off a lock of hair from the baby and then doses some water on his head. The imam speaks verses from the Koran. Then he whispers his name in the baby’s ear. Then the name is repeated aloud to everyone. That can also be done by a griot. Griots are called Jali in Gambia.

The name of the child was kept secret until then. The baby’s father chose and determined the name. Now the party will go on until the evening. Most families slaughter a cattle, sheep or chicken. Guests are also often offered kola nuts. You break the seeds into pieces, chew them and spit them out after about an hour.

Incidentally, the birthday is usually not celebrated in Gambia. It also happens that children whose birth has not been reported to the authorities do not even know on which day they were born. This is not only the case in Gambia, but in all of West Africa according to Countryaah.

Names in Gambia

And what are the names of the children in Gambia? Often the first names have a Muslim origin, then there are also traditional names or English names (such as John or Susan). Girls are often called Fatou or Fatoumata, Mariama, Isatou or Ami or Aminata. There is also the first name Fanta, which reminds us more of a lemonade, but the name has nothing to do with that.

The firstborn son is often called Lamin among the Mandinka people. This is the African modification of the Arabic name al-Amin, which means “conscientious” or “trustworthy”. When it comes to the girls’ names, Aminata is the counterpart. Other common boy names are Ebrima, Abdouli (or Abdoulaye, from the Arabic name Abdullah), Momodou (from Arabic Mohammed) or Ousman (Arabic Othman).

You can often tell from the surname which people someone belongs to. Mandinka, for example, are often called Jawara or Jobateh. Wolof are often called Mboge or Njie. Jallow, Ceesay, Bah, Camara, Jobe and Jammeh are also widespread in Gambia.

History of Gambia

Salt Lake City Utah Travel Guide

Salt Lake City Utah Travel Guide

Salt Lake City is the modern capital of Utah. Tourist highlights are a visit to the Salt Lake Temple, the heart of the Mormon temple complex “Temple Square” as well as the Utah State Capitol and the Fort Douglas Military Museum.

The city calls itself a ski city – and for good reason. 11 ski areas are only about an hour away from Salt Lake City International Airport. A city trip is included on a ski vacation in Utah.

Religion, music, genealogy: the city center of superlatives

Along with Israel, Salt Lake City is one of the world’s most popular destinations for religious tourism – not least because of the Temple Square , which is located in the heart of the city center.

With three to five million visitors annually, the Mormon religious square is Utah’s most visited attraction. According to Trackaah, Salt Lake City has a total population of 181,743.

The Salt Lake Temple , which embodies the faith community of the “Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints” like no other building, has also had a lasting impact on the cityscape:
It is not only an architectural flagship of the city, but also determines the numbering and arrangement of the surrounding streets – all of which lead to the temple.

The Family History Library , located west of the Salt Lake Temple, contains the world’s largest collection of genealogical data.

Another highlight is the world-famous Mormon Tabernacle Choir , whose choir rehearsals are open to the public every Thursday between 7.30pm and 9.30pm. In the summer months, the rehearsals take place in the conference center.

The Utah State Capitol on Capitol Hill is also in the immediate vicinity of Temple Square. The Capitol is the result of centuries of development and was completed in 1916 according to plans by architect Richard KA Kletting, who himself comes from Utah. The landmark is particularly beautiful to look at in spring – when the more than 400 blossoming cherry trees take the place.

Culture and theater

In addition to numerous bars and restaurants, the pulsating city also has a lot to offer culturally. With a performance by the Plan-B Theater Company in the Rose Wagner Theater you get the best entertainment away from the mainstream. Those who prefer it classic can visit a performance of the Utah Symphony in Abravanel Hall and children will get their money’s worth in the Gateway Mall thanks to laser shows, 3D films and a planetary museum.

Shopping and entertainment

Just a few steps south of Temple Square is the City Creek Center , which was named “best retail development” in North and South America at the 2012 International Property Awards. The state-of-the-art mall has a fully retractable glass roof and features waterfalls, hourly fountain shows and a bubbling stream that runs through the entire project structure. A total of 110 shops are integrated into the shopping center.

Alternatively, the Trolley Square , which is located around 2.5 kilometers southeast of the City Creek Center, offers numerous opportunities for recreational activities. The shopping area, which has been recognized as a historic site, contrasts with the ultra-modern City Creek Center.

Thanksgiving Point

Trolley Square Shopping Center in Salt Lake City

Every November, Eat like a Pilgrim is celebrated at Thanksgiving Point in Leni, about 25 miles south of Salt Lake City.

Even if the name “Thanksgiving Point” fits perfectly, it originally had nothing to do with traditional Thanksgiving. Rather, the founders of Thanksgiving Point made so much money with a software company that they wanted to give some of it back to the community and built this complex in the mid-1990s, which is now the Museum of Ancient Life , an ingenious dinosaur museum , a golf course Includes gardens and much more.

The Museum of Ancient Life has the largest dinosaur exhibition in the world with 60 complete skeletons. There are also 50 interactive displays that make it possible to touch real fossils, dinosaur bones and dinosaur eggs and thus immerse yourself in the world of prehistoric times. In the “Jr. Paleo Lab ”, children can experience paleontology up close and prepare prehistoric fossils. The fossils can be kept and taken home.

Even when it’s not celebrating Thanksgiving , Thanksgiving Point is always worth a stop, either to visit the gardens, have a snack in the café or to visit the museum. This can really be recommended to everyone, whether families with children or adults, it is worth it!

Thanksgiving Point Golf Course in Lehi

Getting there

Delta Air Lines takes travelers from Amsterdam Airport Schiphol directly to Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC) and back. For German travelers on a flight with a stopover in Amsterdam, the lack of “immigration” when switching is particularly interesting. SLC is known for its punctual flight handling and proximity to the city itself. This means that downtown Salt Lake Cities can be reached in just 10 minutes from the airport.

Fiji Travel

Fiji Travel

LESSON 1: BULA! = HELLO! GOOD DAY! HOW ARE YOU?

Palm beaches, lagoons, coral reefs – Fiji has them all and more! The more than 300 islands in the South Pacific offer pure South Sea feeling .

On the two main islands Viti Levu and Vanua Levu you will also find colonial architecture, lively markets in the capital and port city of Suva, first-class food, tranquility and nature experience in tropical vegetation, fascinating marine reserves and reefs.

Fiji Map

At a glance

COUNTRY INFORMATION FIJI

National language: Fijian and English

Capital: Suva on the island of Viti Levu; Nadi on Viti Levu with the international airport is much more important for tourism, with around 15,000 inhabitants

Local time: CET +11 hours / summer time +10 hours

Entry requirements: Valid passport (still valid for at least 6 months) for a stay of up to 4 months. If you are traveling to or from the USA, please note the ESTA regulations. A visa for Australia is required for arrival or onward travel via Australia (free of charge).

Vaccination requirements: No vaccinations required.

Local currency: Fiji Dollar (FJD)

Recommendation: Withdraw cash on site on the main island of Viti Levu at ATMs with an EC card with the Maestro symbol (not always guaranteed) or with a credit card. Credit cards are accepted in hotels and shops.

Power supply: 240 volts alternating current, 50 Hz., Adapter required

Best travel time: all year round. According to Themotorcyclers.com, the months May to October are a little cooler with 25-27 ° C, otherwise temperatures around 28-31 ° C and a little more humid from November to April.

HIGHLIGHTS OF FIJI

13 days round trip from / to Fiji incl. 5 days cruise on the M / V Reef Endeavor

  • everything from a single source: can also be booked with flights from Germany / Austria / Switzerland
  • from 1 person (cruise and boat transfers with several participants)

On this round trip you will get to know the Yasawas archipelago during a comfortable cruise. Then visit the original garden island of Taveuni, which is crossed by the date line. Relaxed days on a small island belonging to the Mamanucas group conclude this journey into the Melanesian culture.

Day 1: Viti Levu

Upon arrival on Fiji’s main island, traditional greeting and transfer to the hotel.

Day 2: Viti Levu – Yasawas

Transfer to the port and embarkation for your cruise to the northern Yasawa archipelago.

3rd-5th Day: Yasawas

On the cruise you will visit small island villages and get to know their inhabitants. Ancient Melanesian culture and activities such as swimming and snorkeling in beautiful bays and coral reefs make an ideal combination. You will take part in a traditional Meka and Lovo festival and enjoy the sun on the most beautiful beaches of the northern Yasawas.

Day 6: Viti Levu – Taveuni

In the morning arrival at the port and transfer to the airport. Then domestic flight to Taveuni Island. Transfer to the hotel.

Day 7: Taveuni

Experience the original life on the garden island Taveuni. Your hotel will be happy to help you organize a small tour of the island by taxi. The date line runs right through Taveuni. So you can visit the little shop that opens first in the world in the morning.

8th-9th Day: Taveuni

Enjoy the real Fiji on the tropical island with its wonderful vegetation. The dive sites around Taveuni are among the best in the world.

Day 10: Taveuni – Matamanoa

Transfer to the airport and flight to Nadi. Then transfer to the port and boat transfer to the island of Matamanoa, which belongs to the Mamanucas archipelago. F.

11.-12. Day: Matamanoa

The small island with only one resort is the ideal place for more perfect vacation days. The diving and snorkeling area around Matamanoa is one of the most beautiful of the Mamanucas. The good service provided by the friendly staff and the wide range of offers will ensure you have relaxed, yet varied days. F.

Day 13: Matamanoa – Viti Levu

Boat transfer to Viti Levu and transfer to the airport.

Cruise ship “M / V Reef Endeavor”
The M / V Reef Endeavor is a small, comfortable ship for a maximum of 130 passengers (language on board is English).
The facilities include 2 bars, a large dining room, 2 lounges, 24 hour tea and coffee bar, pool with sundeck, a spa with sauna and a small fitness area, book & DVD rental and laundrette. On this cruise you will stay in a cabin on the upper 3 decks with a double bed or 2 single beds, bathroom with shower / toilet, air conditioning and 2 panoramic windows.

Prices and dates due to the current Corona situation are still subject to confirmation by the partner agencies on site. / Price surcharges for the turn of the year, Easter and local holidays are possible.

Included services:

  • Fiji Airways flights as listed / Economy Class
  • Environmental contribution green climate

Round trip (1st-2nd and 6th-13th day):

  • 8 nights in a double room in high-class hotels
  • Catering according to the program
  • Transfers as described
  • English speaking local tour guide

Cruise (2nd-6th day):

  • 4 nights in double cabins on the M / V Reef Endeavor (stateroom upper deck) with full board
  • Excursions and sightseeing during the cruise with a local English-speaking guide
  • South Seas travel guide

Services not included:

  • Excursions and entrance fees during the tour, tips, drinks and personal expenses

Fiji Flag

Travel to Cook Islands

Travel to Cook Islands

RELAXED ATMOSPHERE IN THE PACIFIC ISLAND PARADISE

Northeast of New Zealand, the Cook Islands are far away from everyday stress . According to Youremailverifier.com, the archipelago consists of 15 islands. Rarotonga is the largest island with wonderful mountains and the capital Avarua. From here you should plan a detour to Aitutaki and visit the beautiful lagoon.

In addition to enjoying the peace and quiet, the Cook Islands are great for diving, discovering Maori culture and, of course, getting married in a particularly romantic way on one of the dream beaches.

Cook Islands Map

At a glance

COUNTRY INFORMATION COOK ISLANDS

National language: Maori and English

Capital: Avarua on Rarotonga, approx. 5,000 inhabitants

Local time: CET -11 hours / daylight saving time -12 hours

Entry requirements: Valid passport (valid for at least 6 months) for stays of up to 31 days. An onward flight ticket is also required. If you are traveling to or from the USA, please note the ESTA regulations. A visa for Australia is required for arrival or onward travel via Australia (free of charge).

Vaccination requirements: No vaccinations required.

Local currency: New Zealand Dollar (NZD)

Recommendation: Withdraw cash on site in Rarotonga and Aitutaki or in New Zealand at ATMs with an EC card with the Maestro symbol (not always guaranteed) or with a credit card. Credit cards are accepted in hotels and shops.

Power supply: 240 volts alternating current, 50 Hz., Adapter required

Best travel time: all year round. The months June to August are a little cooler with 26 ° C, otherwise temperatures around 28-30 ° C and a little more humid from November to March.

CRUISE MS PAUL GAUGUIN | COOK ISLANDS & SOCIETY ISLANDS

12 days cruise from / to Tahiti

  • everything from a single source: can also be booked with flights from Germany / Austria / Switzerland
  • from 2 people

A cruise on the luxurious MS Paul Gauguin is the most relaxed way to get to know the beauty and diversity of the islands of French Polynesia. The ship was specially built for the low waters in this region and can anchor in small harbors or in front of the most enchanting backdrops of the South Seas. Peace, relaxation and intimacy await you on board: 215 crew members pamper a maximum of 330 guests, there are neither overcrowding nor queues. Five different routes lead along the 118 islands of French Polynesia, excellent land programs will inspire you.

Day 1: Tahiti

Embarkation in the afternoon. A.

Day 2: Huahine

Time spent: 8:00 to 5:00 p.m. F / L / D
Around 175 km northwest of Tahiti you reach the volcanic island of Huahine, one of the largest islands of French Polynesia.

Day 3: day at sea

Enjoy the day on deck. F / M / A

Day 4: Aitutaki (Cook Islands)

Laying time: 8:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. B / L / D
Detour to the Cook Islands.

Day 5: Rarotonga (Cook Islands)

Mooring time: 09:00 am – 05:00 pm B / L / D
Today you anchor off Rarotonga, the largest of the Cook Islands.

Day 6: day at sea

Relax on the deck of the ship. F / M / A

Day 7: Bora Bora

Laying time: from 8:00 a.m. B / L / D
Bora Bora offers fascinating volcanic landscapes, sandy coral islands and lagoons and of course some of the most beautiful beaches in the world.

Day 8: Bora Bora

Lying time: until 11 p.m. B / L / D
A trip with the glass-bottom boat or a helicopter flight? Enjoy the amenities of the island or relax on the white dream beaches.

Day 9: Tahaa (Motu Mahana)

Lying time: 09:00 am – 05:00 pm B / L / D
Today the island beauty Tahaa is on the program. It is one of the so-called Leeward Islands and is surrounded by a coral reef.

Day 10: Moorea

Lying time: from 8:00 a.m. B / L / D
In sight of Tahiti is its sister island Moorea. The remains of a volcanic crater rise up to a height of 800 m on the tropical green island.

Day 11: Moorea

Laying time: until 5:00 p.m. B / L / D
Before the short crossing to Tahiti you will spend the day in the pristine bays of Moorea. Here you will experience one of the most beautiful islands of French Polynesia.

Day 12: Tahiti

Disembarkation in the morning. F.

MS Paul Gauguin
3 restaurants / 2 lounges 24-hour cabin service / internet cafe / swimming pool / water sports platform / beauty and fitness center / library / casino / language on board: English & French / currency on board: US $

Cabin categories
All 165 cabins have a sea view as well as air conditioning, bathroom with bathtub / shower, hairdryer, television, CD / DVD player, minibar, safe, telephone.

Cook Islands Flag

The Most Beautiful Hotels In Tuscany

The Most Beautiful Hotels In Tuscany

The Tuscany is one of the most popular destinations in Italy and offers a great landscape also numerous famous buildings that are simply impressive. Visit the Cathedral of Florence, do a winery tour and discover the charming medieval city of Siena – there is a lot to do in Tuscany. Of course, for a successful stay you also need the right hotel and I’ve picked out quite a few for you. Here are my top 5 most beautiful hotels in Tuscany.

Il Pellicano, Porto Ercole

The five star Hotel Il Pellicano in Porto Ercole is definitely one of the most beautiful hotels in Tuscany. The main building and the six small cottages are surrounded by a beautiful Mediterranean garden and offer a great view of the Tyrrhenian Sea. Relax on the private beach, treat yourself to a few cocktails by the pool and dine in the chic hotel restaurant, which has been awarded a Michelin star. The Hotel Il Pellicano offers its guests excellent service and promises an unforgettable stay.

Four Seasons Hotel, Florence

According to relationshipsplus, the Four Seasons Hotel Firenze is hard to beat when it comes to pomp. Just because of its location in one of the largest private parks in Florence, the hotel has a majestic flair. A look at the suites also reveals: those who reside here feel like royalty. The rooms are all individually decorated with stucco ceilings, frescoes or wall paintings and offer a view of the beautiful park. There are a total of 116 opulent rooms that transport guests back to the 15th century. But I don’t want to reveal too much to you, click through the picture gallery and see for yourself:

Castello Di Casole, Casole D’Elsa

The Castello Di Casole is one of the largest private estates in Italy and offers a total of 41 breathtaking suites. A special highlight is the ingenious infinity pool, which offers a spectacular view of the surrounding vineyards. There are also two restaurants where Tuscan specialties as well as first-class sparkling wines from our own production are served. More Tuscany is not possible!

Belmond Villa San Michele, Fiesole

If you look at photos of the Belmond Villa San Michele , you will quickly see why the hotel is one of the most beautiful in Europe. The former monastery from the 15th century towers high above the hills of Fiesole and offers spectacular views. Surrounded by cypress and rose trees, guests can simply relax and let the beauty of Tuscany sink in. This picture book panorama is sure to stay in your memory for a long time.

Rosewood Castiglion del Bosco, Montalcino

The last hotel I would like to introduce to you is the Rosewood Castiglion del Bosco in Montalcino. The luxury hotel not only offers exclusive villas but also its own winery and golf course. As is to be expected in Tuscany, the Rosewood Castiglion del Bosco is located in the middle of an idyll of vineyards and rolling hills. Those who check in here can look forward to a relaxing holiday. With these pictures I feel a bit more relaxed 😉

Let’s go to Tuscany

After these dream images I would like to book a trip to Tuscany directly and I bet many of you feel the same way 😉 Unfortunately, these hotels are not exactly cheap, which is why I picked out a few affordable alternatives for you. So what are you waiting for? Let’s go to Tuscany!

Beautiful Hotels In Tuscany

Mexico City and Puebla

Mexico City and Puebla

Our exciting group trip to Mexico City begins with excursions in the city and its surroundings. The huge capital Mexico City is built on top of the ancient Aztec cult site Tenochtitlán. The center of the Aztec universe, the Templo Mayor, still remains with ruins in the modern Zocaló square. On this large square is also the more modern and stately National Palace, where the president has his work premises in a part of the building. The palace also houses huge murals by the famous artist Diego Rivera. Here you can follow Mexico’s eventful history interwoven in a single large painting. We meet his wife Frida Kahlo, also an artist, in the Blue House. If you have seen the film “Frida”, you will soon recognize the interior of her parents’ home. Frida and Diego lived here and many of the celebrities of that time came here for big parties. A great experience is the visit to the huge Sun and Moon Pyramids in Teotihuacán. How could such huge buildings be built without modern aids? In Xochimilco, we are seduced by the Mexicans’ ease of laughter and desire for music and partying. The city of Taxco dazzles with all its beautiful silver objects! On your day off, you can visit some of the world’s leading museums of anthropology and modern art. Shopping and entertainment? Sure! There is a rich selection here. Mexico City is also a green city and you can stroll around the huge Chapultepec Park. The last two nights we spend in the “ceramic city” Puebla. The trip there goes through wooded national parks and fertile farmland, a real contrast to the capital’s dense and sometimes chaotic buildings. Welcome to the fascinating country of Mexico!

Mexico City and Puebla 2

Day 1: Travel to Mexico (Mexico City)
Flights to Mexico City. Arrival in the Mexican capital the same day. We leave directly from the airport and check in at our hotel for rest. Meals are included on board the flight. Overnight in Mexico City.

Day 2: Xochimilco
Culture and folk life characterize the program this day. First there will be a visit to the charming Saturday market “Bazaar del Sábado” which is located in neighborhoods you never thought existed in this giant city. Artists and artisans gather around the small square to exhibit their work. Then we stroll through the colonial district of Coyoacán to see the Blue House, former residence of Frida Kahlo. Then there are literally other tones. Out in Xochimilco, the townspeople themselves gather during the weekends and therefore Saturdays offer a wonderful life. You take a seat in the boats and head out onto the canals in what was once called “the floating gardens”. The trumpets clatter and the song sounds. Here it is popular, festive and a wonderful atmosphere. On the way home we visit the beautiful Dolores Olmedo Museum which is housed in a charming colonial building. Here are also some paintings by Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera. We pass the university campus and see the beautiful mosaic on the library building. Here, as well as at the nearby Olympic Stadium, we take a photo break. Overnight in Mexico City. (Breakfast and lunch)

Day 3: City tour The
artist Diego Rivera’s monumental fresco on Mexico’s history in the National Palace will be a natural prelude to the city tour. The palace was built where the Aztec capital, Tenochtitlán, used to be. Ruins from part of the temple area, Templo Mayor, have been excavated and can be seen next to the palace. We also visit the National Cathedral, which like the palace is located at the Plaza de la Constitución. This magnificent square is usually called the heart of Mexico. The tour of Mexico City continues through the city’s bustling street life with wide boulevards, magnificent monuments, trendy shopping streets, lush parks and exclusive residential areas. In the afternoon we visit the market La Ciudadela which sells handicrafts from all over Mexico. Overnight in Mexico City. (Breakfast and lunch)

Day 4: Guadalupe Basilica and Teotihuacán
The morning begins with a visit to the Guadalupe Basilica, one of Latin America’s holiest sites. It will be time to experience the life of the people outside the sanctuary where religion and commerce are mixed in a very special way. Native American cultures have succeeded each other in Mexico. The city of Mexico City itself was built by the Aztecs, while the Teotihuacans built the huge Pyramids of the Sun and Moon just over 30 km outside what is now central Mexico City. The dimensions of Teotihuacán are enormous and as a modern human being one can only marvel that all this was created without our modern technical aids. The size becomes even more concrete if you choose to climb one of the pyramids. But remember – it’s easier to get up than to get down … After lunch it’s time to return to the hotel. Overnight in Mexico City. (Breakfast and lunch)

Day 5: Cuernavaca and Taxco
Today’s full day trip goes south and we pass through a beautiful mountain area towards the city of Cuernavaca, “the city of eternal spring”. Cuernavaca was already used by the ancient Native American cultures as a “summer place”. After a short walk in the center, the journey continues through fertile farmland and at lunchtime the old silver town of Taxco appears. After lunch we go on a journey of discovery in this charming city. There will also be time on your own, and maybe you will linger at the square to experience the life of the people and the lively commerce. But it is important to remember that not everything is even silver that glitters! Comfortable walking shoes with a rubber sole are recommended in Taxco. Overnight in Mexico City. (Breakfast and lunch)

Day 6: Mexico City
All day it’s time on its own. You can visit any of Mexico City’s museums; the museum of modern art has a world reputation. The opportunities for shopping are also great. You can also take a lovely walk in the huge Chapultepec Park. In the evening, you might head to Plaza Garibaldi to listen and not least watch the many orchestras trying to capture the interest of the spectators. Overnight in Mexico City. (Breakfast)

Day 7: Mexico City – Puebla 
The morning offers a visit to the Anthropological Museum, one of the world’s most beautiful and interesting museums. Here we experience the country’s rich past and admire fantastic art treasures from Mexico’s different Native American cultures. After lunch we leave the big city Mexico City and travel through an exciting landscape to the ceramic city of Puebla where we check in at our hotel. Overnight in Puebla. (Breakfast and lunch)

Day 8: Puebla
In the charming colonial city of Puebla located in the shadow of the volcano Popocatépetl, the atmosphere is completely different than in the huge Mexico City. Much of the Spanish architecture remains here with beautiful, flower-decorated courtyards, covered sidewalks and playful fountains. The city is famous for its tiles and there are good opportunities for shopping. In the evening we gather for a joint farewell dinner. Overnight in Puebla. (Breakfast and dinner)

Day 9: Return from Mexico City 
The day is free for your own walks in Puebla. In the afternoon transfer to the airport in Mexico City for the return journey. Meals are included on board the flight. (Breakfast in Puebla)

Day 10: Return
Flight to the place of boarding.

Mexico City and Puebla

Before the trip to Iran

Before the trip to Iran

Alcoholic beverages and drugs are strictly forbidden to bring into the country; importation and trafficking in narcotics may result in the death penalty. Bringing in pork, printed matter, videos, cassettes, CDs, shortwave devices and religious material can be considered culturally sensitive and such goods can be seized by the police. There are some restrictions on the export of carpets.

Before the trip to Iran 2

Vaccinations and health
In good time before your trip to Iran, you need to contact their vaccination center for updated information. In general, you should review your basic protection against polio, diphtheria and tetanus. In addition, a vaccine against hepatitis A is needed and any vaccine against cholera may be considered. The air in Tehran is extremely dry and, in combination with the extensive air pollution, can cause airway problems. This can also cause discomfort for people with cardiovascular disease. Dental care and medical care, as well as maternity care, are considered to be of a high standard. Doctors and dentists are often trained abroad. A certificate of yellow fever vaccine is required if you have recently stayed in certain countries in Africa or South America.

Weather and clothes
Iran is a large country and you can therefore expect large differences in temperatures during your trip depending on the season and altitude. During the summer it gets very hot and during the winter it can be extremely cold. Iran is a Shia Muslim country where sharia law is applied. Women must cover their hair and wear clothes that do not reveal the shapes of the body, such as a foot side or ankle-length coat or knee-length coat / jacket and long trousers. However, one does not have to wear black even if many Iranian women, especially outside the capital, do so. In mosques and bazaars, you should be extra careful with your attire so as not to provoke. Men should also dress coveringly, for example. long trousers and long-sleeved shirt.

Customs and traditions
All types of tenderness between men and women should be avoided in public places. Man and woman who are not married are not allowed to sleep in the same hotel room. It should be possible to present proof of marriage. You have to be careful with what you photograph. It is not allowed to photograph anything at the airport, nor military installations, demonstrations or police. Homosexuality is banned and punishable in Iran. The Iranians are incredibly hospitable, helpful and caring about us tourists. Taroof is a complex system of courtesy for us tourists that is deeply rooted in Iranian culture. You can make it a habit to always refuse at least once before accepting to receive something.

Currency and exchange rate
The currency in Iran is called the Rial. When traveling to Iran, cash payment applies. Visa and Mastercard are not accepted. Currency exchange bank branches are located on the street level at Tehran International Airport IKIA. Bring cash in EUR or USD that can be exchanged at banks and exchange offices in the cities. The banknotes should not be damaged. Exchanging money on the street is illegal.

Transport and communications
When traveling from Iran, check-in for international flights from IKIA is recommended at least two hours before departure. Taxis in Iran are sometimes unmarked. In addition, taxis are often poorly maintained and sometimes lack seat belts. There is a functioning metro in the southern and central parts of Tehran. There is also bus traffic here, but it runs without a timetable. In the larger cities there is free Wifi at the airport, some cafes, restaurants and hotels. If you are going to call home, it is cheapest to buy a calling card for international calls. Your mobile phone is unlikely to work in Iran. You can buy an Iranian SIM card.

Security
The personal security of Tehran is relatively good compared to many other capitals in the world. The traffic is different and the risk of having an accident is significantly greater than in Sweden. Pedestrians do not have priority at pedestrian crossings. Passports, money, tickets and other valuables should be stored in a safe place.

Food & beverage
We recommend that you only drink bottled water during your trip to Iran. Drinking alcohol is strictly forbidden. The food in Iran is traditionally mildly spiced. They use fine ingredients and a lot of herbs such as parsley, saffron and mint. Rice and stews with, for example, beans, lentils, squash, nuts and lamb or beef are usually included in a meal. Always politely leave some food on the plate when you are done.

Shopping and gifts
In Iran, the colorful bazaars are full of shopping opportunities. Nice gifts to take home can be Iranian caviar, saffron, dried fruit or nuts. You can find gold, silver and precious stones if you know what you are doing. Iran is also world famous for its fine hand-knotted rugs and there are lots of beautiful fabrics, shawls, teacups, ceramics and glassware as well as regular tourist items and souvenirs.

General and mixed
Local time: Iran is 2.5 hours ahead of us during our winter time.
Electricity: 220 V / 50Hz and usually European sockets.
Baggage: It sometimes happens that the checked baggage gets lost. Therefore, pack important medicines with a certificate from your doctor in your hand luggage. The same goes for valuables.
Language: Persian (Farsi)

Before the trip to Iran

Sightseeing in Bulgaria

Sightseeing in Bulgaria

Bulgaria, a Balkan state in south-east Europe, is becoming increasingly important as a holiday destination. The country not only offers beautiful beaches and good conditions for a relaxing beach holiday, but is also rich in architectural highlights and cultural sights.

In addition, nature lovers get their money’s worth. The holiday country on the Black Sea coast is surprisingly diverse and offers very varied landscapes. The price level is still pleasantly moderate, which is why Bulgaria is also very popular with young holidaymakers and families.

In the following we present you the most exciting tours, the most beautiful attractions and the best sights in Bulgaria. See map of Bulgaria on DigoPaul.

Bulgaria-1002 - Overlooks the Valley

1. Sunny Beach

Sunny Beach in Bulgaria is one of the most popular vacation spots on the Black Sea coast. The most important difference to the legendary Golden Sands: Although you can party here too, it is definitely a bit quieter on Sunny Beach. The sunny beach is about eight kilometers long and up to 100 meters wide. So nothing stands in the way of extensive sunbathing and the promenade on the sunny beach leaves nothing to be desired.

The most famous tourist center in the whole country is called Slantschew brjag in Bulgarian, which means “sunny coast”. The closest airports are Burgas and Varna. There are now more than 800 holiday hotels in all price ranges on Sunny Beach. The season is mainly limited to the months May to October, in winter the region is often deserted and most of the hotel complexes are closed.

2. Golden Sands

The golden sands is also known as the “Ballermann of the Balkans”. It is usually much more turbulent here than on Sunny Beach. While you can find rest and relaxation on the fine sandy beaches during the day, the city becomes a great party backdrop in the evening. In the clubs and bars of the golden sands there are numerous drink specials and music from well-known DJs from all over the world.

The advantage of the golden beach for Ballermann on Mallorca: In addition to really cheap prices, there is neither a curfew nor a music ban. So partying is possible until the early hours of the morning. The Golden Sands region is excellently developed for tourism. The water sports such as jet skiing, sailing or surfing are not neglected here either.

3. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral in Sofia

Sofia is the city not to be missed on a holiday in the Balkans. The most impressive building in the city is the magnificent Alexander Nevsky Cathedral. This is the largest church in all of Bulgaria. The Memorial Cathedral is located right in the center of Sofia in the square of the same name.

With its golden domes that can be seen from afar, it is an impressive photo opportunity. But the interiors are also absolutely worth seeing. Above all, the wall paintings and the 82 icons are incomparable. If you can set it up, attend one of the cathedral’s regular services.

4. Rila Monastery

Bulgaria is a country with an astonishing number of monasteries. However, the Rila Monastery is one of the most beautiful that looks like a fortress. The Rila Monastery, which rises impressively against the backdrop of the Rila Mountains, is even on the UNESCO cultural heritage list. The monastery is around 120 kilometers away from Sofia, making it a nice destination for a day trip.

The entire monastery complex is around 8,800 square meters and consists of several residential and farm buildings as well as churches. Inside you can visit more than 300 rooms, including around 100 monk cells. If you want, you can even spend the night in the monastery.

5. Nessebar

Nessebar is a city that is mentioned in every travel guide. This is located very close to Sunny Beach and impresses with a fantastically preserved old town. While the old town of Nessebar is on a peninsula, pay a visit to the port as well. Here you can buy freshly caught fish, among other things. In the old town of Nessebar, on the other hand, you will feel like you are in a huge open-air museum.

There are numerous well-preserved buildings from different style periods in the old town as well as ruins. These testify to the city’s long history. In the historical core there are eleven medieval churches to marvel at. The typical Black Sea houses are also not missing in Nessebar. These are made of stone at the bottom and wood at the top. After you have completed an extensive sightseeing tour, you should definitely visit one of the restaurants. Here you can try a typical dish. Traditionally, you will be served a fruit schnapps with it.

The bridge of Lovech

6. Melnik

With just 208 inhabitants, Melnik is the smallest town in Bulgaria. Nevertheless, it offers a special feature: Here a unique wine is made from the Schiroka Melnischka Losa grape variety. For wine lovers, Melnik is a recommendable travel destination in Bulgaria, especially since the old town is absolutely worth seeing.

7. Bansko

The city of Bansko is one of the strongholds of winter sports in the Balkans. This is not far from the above-mentioned Rila monastery. In addition to well-groomed slopes, there are rustic restaurants in Bansko. Interesting events also take place here on a regular basis. The place, located at an altitude of 925 meters, is not only a popular winter sports resort, but also a health resort.

There are numerous mineral springs in the area around Bansko. The range of wellness treatments in the most popular hotels in town is correspondingly large. Skiers and snowboarders will feel at home in Bansko, as there are a total of 75 kilometers of slopes. The longest of the slopes is 16 kilometers long. In Bansko itself there are also some interesting museums and more than 100 cultural monuments.

8. Cape Kaliakra

Cape Kaliakra is one of the scenic highlights of Bulgaria and one of the country’s top attractions. Located on the border between Bulgaria and Romania, the approximately 70 meter high cape should not be missed. Here you have a wonderful view of the sea.

It is most beautiful at the Cape, of course, at sunset. With a little luck you can even see some dolphins below the cape. At the Cape there is a recommendable restaurant and there are also souvenir stands. Noticeable: Here you can buy a lot of things you have designed yourself from local traders. So if you are looking for a nice souvenir, you are sure to find it.

9. Basarbowski Monastery

Not far from the city of Ruse you can visit the Basarbovsky Monastery. This is the only monastery in the country in which monks still live. The orthodox mountain monastery is an impressive rock monastery. Before entering the monastery, you pass a fountain via an inner courtyard.

The natives of Bulgaria believe that this well water has healing powers. The monastery can be visited; Unfortunately, there are no overnight accommodations available.

10. Pamporovo

Pamporovo is another popular winter sports destination in the country, which is located in the Rhodope Mountains. With a bed capacity of more than 7,000 beds, Pamporowo is one of the tourist strongholds. Given at an altitude of 1,650 meters, snow is guaranteed in the winter months.

On site you will find accommodations of all categories and price ranges; there is also a ski school. The selection of slopes is exemplary: in addition to green slopes for beginners, there are also red, blue and black slopes for experienced skiers.

Rock'not'Roll (Andrey)

Sightseeing in Bali

Sightseeing in Bali

The dreamy Indonesian island of Bali is blessed with great beaches, lush green jungle, breathtaking volcanic areas and impressive temples. The grandiose nature, the sea and all the magical stretches of land are equally suitable for a beach holiday and an active holiday.

There is so much to explore on the island of the gods. Culture and religion are practically omnipresent on a Bali trip. It would therefore be more than a shame to only spend your vacation in your own hotel resort. Even if you are not planning a big round trip, you should still take a few trips into the hinterland.

In the following we present you the most exciting tours, most beautiful attractions and best sights in Bali.

Pura Ulun Danu Bratan Temple Bali

1. Monkey forests in a vacation paradise

On Bali there are several small monkey forests and three large forests where tourists can watch the animals strolling. This is an attraction for the whole family. Caution is always advised, however, because many species of monkeys are used to visitors and try all sorts of things to get hold of one or two delicacies.

The Monkey Forest in Ubud is the most famous monkey forest on the Emerald Isle. A real attraction in the monkey forest is a small, idyllic river. As a visitor, you should follow the central path through the forest. This path then leads the visitors over a small narrow bridge directly to the holy spring. Here the guests of the Monkey Forest can fully enjoy nature. Because the tranquility in this place has a heavenly touch.

2. Bali Botanical Garden

More than 2,000 plant species thrive and bloom on an area of ​​around 157 hectares. As a visitor, you have the opportunity to explore the park on foot. The Botanical Garden is also easy to cross with a moped or a car. The park offers the guests meadow and hill landscapes, deciduous and rainforests, small temples and palm groves as well as wonderful viewpoints.

Flower lovers will experience an abundance and splendor of countless flowering and leafy plants in the Botanical Garden. You can marvel at around 10,000 different specimens in the orchid garden, in the cactus greenhouse, in the aquatic garden and in the fern and cyathea garden. In 1959 the famous Eka Karya Botanical Garden was created. The park in the center of Bali achieved world fame through the diligently pursued botanical collection.

3. Lake Bratan and Temple

The well-known Bratansee is always a well-chosen destination. It is one of four crater lakes on the island. The lake is located in a very old volcanic crater at an altitude of around 1,200 meters. The water is deep and cloudy and it is not uncommon for the surrounding mountain slopes to be covered in mysterious mist. You can use the beautiful scenery at the lake very well as a photographic motif. It is one of the natural sights that is second to none.

In the 17th century a temple was built on the west bank of the lake. The two shrines of the Pura Ulun Danu Bratan temple seem to literally float in the lake. A picturesque picture, pure romance. Sports fans can practice water sports such as water skiing or parasailing. Romantic boat trips are also ideal for immersing yourself in the landscape with all your senses.

4. Gunung Agung – the highest mountain on the island

The active volcano is clearly visible from many points on the island. The high mountain has a permanent place in the Hindu world of gods. On the Agung you can visit holy shrines and several temples.

For the people of Bali, the 3,142 meter high volcano is a sacred mountain. The ascent is impressive and sometimes strenuous, but the sunrise high above the clouds is a stunner.

5. The magical bat temple

Goa Lawah, a Hindu temple, is located on the east coast of Bali. There is a bat cave behind the temple altar. Several thousand bats leave their inns every day at sunset. For the inhabitants of the Indonesian island, the animals that live in or near a temple are sacred.

This attraction attracts many guests from near and far every year. The bat temple was once dedicated to the god Maheswara. A trip here is always worthwhile for you. The idea that the cave is a direct connection to the underworld fascinates young and old alike.

Indonesia - Bali (Marc Veraart)

6. Museum of Balinese Culture

The famous Negeri Propinsi Bali museum gives visitors an excellent insight into the millennia-old culture of the island in a crash course mode. Ancient stone sculptures are exhibited in the main building. On the first floor, culture-savvy island visitors can marvel at traditional household items and original woodcut art.

In the south pavilion of the museum you will get an ideal insight into the Balinese dyeing methods and weaving techniques. The north pavilion houses theatrical and dance masks as well as traditional dance costumes. The central pavilion contains priestly clothing and religious exhibits such as ceremonial objects. For culture lovers, this is definitely a worthwhile visit, especially since the museum is one of the top sights in Bali.

7. Unforgettable sunsets in Kuta

According to DigoPaul, Bali’s beaches are perfect for sunbathing, all kinds of water sports, swimming, snorkeling and diving. Kuta Beach is one of the most international and lively beaches in Bali. If you are looking for deserted beaches, you will find it, but on Kuta Beach young and older people romp around with great joy in life.

The famous Kuta Beach with its restaurants, hotels, shops, cafes and clubs is considered the most legendary party center in Bali. Tours to all major sights can be started from here. Due to the reliable but moderate surf, Kuta Beach is particularly suitable for surfing beginners. Every evening the beach fills up for the dramatic play of colors at sunset.

8. Tegalalang & Jatiluwih rice terraces

The rice terraces in Tegalalang are one of the well-known sights of Bali. In terms of landscape, the island has a lot to offer, in addition to temples and the fantastic beaches, cultural landscapes in the interior are also among the natural attractions worth seeing.

The Jatiluwih equestrian breeds are also popular. You can take part in guided tours, so you can better see how much painstaking detailed work the Balinese use to cultivate and harvest their vital rice. The impressive rice terraces lie in the timeless beauty of the jungle.

9. Temple city of Pura Besakih

The largest and at the same time most important Hindu temple has become a real tourist attraction as a holy place for some time. You don’t need a guide to walk through the temple. With the background information, however, you will learn a lot more about the history and purpose of this temple city. This is not a single temple.

The site, built in the 8th century AD, consists of several temples and over 200 other associated structures. The temple complex is arranged in terraces, the buildings on the slope are connected by paths and stairs. When visiting the temple city, you should put on a sarong and a long shirt before entering, in order to pay the necessary respect to the devout Hindus.

10. Blahmantung waterfall

There are many great and admirable waterfalls in the holiday paradise. On the Indonesian island there are also sights that are not overcrowded with tourists from all directions. In the northeast center of Bali you will find the Blahmantung waterfall. At first glance it looks rather inconspicuous and suddenly appears on the way out of nowhere.

However, this natural attraction can be heard from afar. Once you have reached the entrance to the waterfall, you will see how big it actually is. The water literally flows out of the jungle roof and the plants. A spectacle that is sure to impress you. The vegetation at the waterfall is very strong, bamboo plants can sometimes tower up to 20 meters.

Rice paddies at Ceking (kayugee)

Kotor Travel Guide

Kotor Travel Guide

Kotor is the beauty of the Adriatic. Kotor is one of the most popular resorts in Montenegro, with its beautiful old town.

KOTOR

Montenegro, Kotor is a real gem hidden in a Lonely Planet chose the 2016 top travel destination urban crowd. Kotor, still relatively unknown, enchants the tourist with its magnificent nature. The rugged and summer green mountains surround the small town of Kotor, whose oldest buildings date back to the 12th century.

Fall in love with the beauty of Kotor

The Bay of Kotor can be called one of the most beautiful bays in the world with a good conscience. The crystal clear Adriatic Sea shimmers like turquoise and the high-altitude mountains create impressive frames for it. The most impressive views can be witnessed by climbing the mountain roads or the Kotor Fortress. From the heights you can also look at one of the best preserved medieval cities in the Balkans.

Kotor’s Old Town represents typical medieval architecture and was built between the 12th and 14th centuries. Well-preserved medieval buildings and numerous cultural heritage monuments have guaranteed the city a place on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

According to DigoPaul, Kotor, with a population of about 13,500, is not bursting with activities, but offers ideal opportunities for leisurely walks through the narrow alleys of the old town, hunting for landscapes and historic sites in the mountains, and marveling at luxury yachts in the harbor. A friend of romantic romance can visit the abandoned hotel, located on one of the best beach plots in Kotor.

The mountains of Kotor

The mountains of Kotor offer a magnificent view of the bay and the city.

When to travel?

The Bay of Kotor has a Mediterranean climate, so summers in the city are toasty and winters are mild. The best time to travel to Kotor is May-June as well as September-October, when the weather is warm and the tourist season is not at its hottest. However, especially in the fall, you should be prepared for the fact that some restaurants or other services may have already closed their doors by the end of the season.

July and August are the hottest, driest and most popular months in Montenegro. In this case, it is worth being on time in traffic, for example when booking accommodation, and also take into account the fact that prices tend to rise during the season.

Enjoy protected nature and an affordable price level

Kotor attracts tourists especially with its exceptionally magnificent nature, which offers a fascinating setting for both city holidaymakers and those who are enthusiastic about hiking. The actual beach destination Kotor is not, but you can also take a dip in the turquoise sea if you wish.

Montenegro’s currency is the euro, and Kotor’s affordable price level will surprise the tourist positively. Within the walls of the Old Town, prices are higher, but still at a reasonable level for Finnish tourists. Outside the Old Town, however, you can enjoy, for example, excellent fish meals with wines at a much lower price than Finnish restaurants.

FLIGHTS, ACCOMMODATION AND MOVEMENT AT HOME

FLIGHTS, ACCOMMODATION AND MOVEMENT AT HOME

The old town of Kotor is exceptionally well preserved.

Direct flight to Montenegro

The easiest way to travel from Finland to Kotor is to fly to Tivat Airport, about 10 kilometers from Kotor. Norwegian operates from Helsinki to Tivat once a week. Tivat Airport is only about 10 kilometers from Kotor’s Old Town, and connections between the airport and Kotor are good by both bus and taxi.

Those hunting for cheap flights can also opt for alternative flights to the country’s capital, Podgorica, with a bus connection to Kotor. Buses to Kotor leave from Podgorica, but you can take a taxi directly from the airport.

Those who like Kotor can also buy a flight to the Croatian side to Dubrovnik and hop on a bus to Kotor there . You can also get a taxi ride from Dubrovnik to the Montenegrin side at a reasonable price.

Affordable accommodation in a hotel or private accommodation

Kotor offers accommodation for every budget, but in principle accommodation in the city is affordable. In the area you will find high-quality hotels for those who want it, but also cheap hostels even right in the heart of the old town.

Like the Balkans, the locals also offer accommodation in their own homes. These private inns are typically affordable, and the hospitable locals are happy to offer tips for the traveler. If you have not booked accommodation in advance, you will probably find locals offering accommodation at Kotor Bus Station.

Walking and public transport in Kotor

Kotor is easy to get around on foot, but if you want to experience the neighboring town of Budvan, for example, you can easily get there by local bus. The trip takes half an hour and costs a few euros.

You can also rent a car in Kotor, which can be a worthwhile option if you want to explore the city’s surroundings more widely. However, it is worth noting that the winding roads in the mountains are narrow and winding, and the local driving style is somewhat adventurous. An inexperienced driver should therefore rely on public transport and taxis.

KOTOR ATTRACTIONS

KOTOR ATTRACTIONS

The red brick-roofed buildings of Kotor’s Old Town are in themselves an interesting attraction.

Old Town

The UNESCO-listed Old Town of Kotor is one of the best-preserved medieval towns. In the alleys of the old town you will find several medieval churches and cathedrals, as well as charming squares and staircases.

The popularity of Kotor as a travel destination is constantly rising, and this is also reflected in the numerous tourist shops in the Old Town. However, the traveler should look deeper into the surface and enjoy the exceptionally fine architecture and history.

The walls of Kotor

Climbing the walls of Kotor is something that everyone visiting the city should experience. The views from the walls and especially from the fortress found at the top are breathtakingly magnificent – from here you will grab the best scenery of the trip.

Climbing requires good basic fitness, but the actual athlete does not have to be. Good shoes make climbing much easier. The scenery is at its best on a sunny day, but in summer it is a good idea to start climbing in the morning before the hottest hours. It takes a couple of hours to climb into the fort and back, so on a hot day, a bottle of water is a must.

Bay of Kotor

The foothills of Kotor Bay are not an attraction to look for in the city. However, it is this that gives Kotor its magnificent look. The Bay of Kotor combines rugged Nordic landscapes with a Mediterranean climate.

There are also islands in the Bay of Kotor, of which Our Lady On the Rocks is one of the most popular. It is an artificial island that, according to legend, was built after sailors found a picture of the Virgin Mary on the surface of a rock. The sailors made it a habit to throw a stone at that same place at the end of a successful voyage. From these stones the island is said to have been born.

Delicious food market

Kotor is not an actual shopping city, and you should only loosen purse strings at the food market. At the market you will find delicious air-dried ham, cheeses, olives and various fruits, of which figs in particular are wonderfully sweet.

THE BEST OF KOTOR

THE BEST OF KOTOR

Montenegro is known for its stunning mountain scenery.

The best experiences in Kotor

  1. Climb the walls of the old town
  2. Enjoy a cup of coffee in the hustle and bustle of the old town
  3. Visit the Maritime Museum
  4. Treat yourself to a fish meal at a local restaurant
  5. Explore the abandoned hotel Fjord

The best day trips from Kotor

  1. Perast
  2. Budva
  3. Skutarijärvi Nature Park
Karon Beach Travel Guide

Karon Beach Travel Guide

Karon Beach is a family-friendly destination in Phuket. Phuket’s Karon Beach is one of the most popular beach resorts on the holiday island. Versatile services and a long sandy beach guarantee a successful holiday.

KARON BEACH

Many tourists traveling to Phuket Island just end up at Karon Beach. The resort has all the prerequisites for a successful beach holiday.

Karon Beach is a family favorite

Karon Beach is located in Thailand , on Phuket island’s west coast. To the north is the island’s busiest beach Patong and to the south is the slightly calmer Kata Beach.

The long fine sandy beach of Karon Beach is washed away by the waves of the Andaman Sea. The wide beach is especially popular with families with children, but couples also enjoy it. The water sports opportunities in the Karon area, the rich offer of restaurants and shopping opportunities guarantee a successful beach holiday.

The actual attractions on Karon Beach are few. The most important places to visit are Karon Lookout and Wat Suwan Khiri Khet, or Karon Temple. Its central location makes it easy to explore day trips around Phuket and visit nearby islands from Karon Beach.

Karon Beach continues for a mile. There is no congestion everywhere despite the number of tourists.

Climate of Phuket

From a Finnish point of view, Thailand is always warm.

Due to the climate, the best time to travel to Karon Beach is from November to March, when there is little rainfall and the temperature does not rise too high. This is also the busiest season when the beaches are filled with vacationers.

The hottest time begins towards the end of the season in February and continues through May. The average temperatures are then 35-40 degrees. For many, the heat is too much, so the beaches are also less congested.

In May and September-October, Karon Beach receives the most rainfall. The deaf are plentiful and usually take place in the afternoons as well as at night. In rainy weather, some places close their doors and prices are at their lowest.

A classic beach holiday

The beaches of Phuket are said to be even the best in Thailand. Karon Beach is one of the three most popular beaches in Phuket. The approximately five-kilometer-long fine sandy beach attracts sun worshipers from all over Europe. In addition to Finns, it is especially popular with Russian tourists.

When lying on a sun lounger on the beach and swimming in the turquoise sea waves, time passes as if unnoticed. The long beach is also nice for a walk. Those looking for more activity can go on a snorkeling or diving trip or try paragliding.

There is a highway next to Karon beach with quite busy traffic. Buses and songthaew platform taxis to the airport and Phuket Town also run along this road. The road is lined with restaurants, shops and market stalls.

Karon Beach continues for a mile

Pampering treatments and shopping

In addition to lounging on the beach, you can treat yourself to a manicure, pedicure or massage. Prices are quite affordable in Finnish, although Phuket is slightly more expensive than other Thai resorts.

At Karon Beach, you should also fill your stomach well. The wide range of restaurants offers local specialties as well as international cuisine.

Shopping opportunities at Karon Beach are concentrated near the Karon roundabout. From there you can buy almost everything you need on holiday. You can also shop at Karon Plaza, where you can buy spices, clothes, handicrafts and ornaments as gifts. When shopping, compromising is important.

For those looking for branded products, take a shopping trip to Phuket Town or Patong, where the selections are better. There is a large shopping mall in both locations.

Excursions and things to do for all ages

If lying on the beach starts to get bored, a day trip will liven up your vacation. In addition to Phuket Town and the nearby beaches, it is worth heading inland. There it is possible to get acquainted with rubber tree plantations, attend a cooking course and learn more about culture.

For avid golfers, Phuket has several beautiful and well-maintained courses. It’s a good idea to head to the putting green right in the morning before the midday sun makes gaming a hassle.

In Phuket, you should avoid places where elephant riding is organized. Elephants are often mistreated, and when you participate in excursions, you support unethical activities.

From Phuket you can go on a day trip to the nearby islands. A favorite of many is the white sand beaches of Koh Phi Phi , where you can spend the day relaxing or snorkelling and diving.

Good to know about Karon Beach

During the busiest winter season, there are plenty of tourists on Karon Beach and it can be difficult to find your own peace on the beach. If you are vacationing at Karon Beach during the rainy season, it is good to note that the sea currents can be strong.

In Thailand, left-hand traffic and traffic culture are different than in Finland. Take special care when driving yourself. When riding a motorcycle, it is always advisable to wear a helmet, even if many locals ride in the air. In traffic accidents, the tourist is often held liable, even if not the culprit.

Large numbers of tourists always attract scammers and traders as well. You shouldn’t be too blue-eyed, but taking normal caution is enough.

Trips to Sumatra

Trips to Sumatra

Why travel to Sumatra?

Sumatra is the largest island in Indonesia, known especially for its unique nature and fauna.

The trip to Sumatra offers adventures that take you from tropical rainforests to lush volcanic landscapes and unique animals. One such is the beautiful sumatran ranch that lives on the island in the wild and is unlikely to be seen anywhere else.

Our tour in Sumatra

On the way to Sumatra, you will experience all the highlights of the island. You can also combine a tour with a wonderful holiday in Bali, where you can relax on the beautiful beaches of Sanur, explore the artistic life of Ubud or go hiking in Munduki. Click on a trip and explore the different possibilities.

Read more about the highlights of the trip below.

Bukit Lawang

The small village of Bukit Lawang is located north of Sumatra. Right next to the village is the Gunugn Leuser National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of Sumatra’s main attractions.

The national park is known for its dense rainforests and diverse ecosystems, including rivers, volcanoes and lakes. The national park is home to more than 700 different species of animals, including an elephant, a rare Sumatran tiger and a highly endangered Sumatran tern.

“Oranki” means “forest man,” and the Sumatra jungle is one of the few places in the world where you can see these fascinating animals.

On the hiking trip you can see the entire fauna and flora of the lush rainforest. Under Ranger’s guidance, you can also get close to oranges.

Lake Toba and Samosir

Toba is the largest crater lake in the world north of Sumatra.

The island of Samosir is like a gem in the middle of a lake. Attractions on the island include the tomb of the ancient king Sidabutar in Tomok and the village of Ambarita, known for its local stone tables and chairs.

The trip will also include the Huta Bolon Simanindo Museum, which was once the home of King Rajah Simalungun of Batak and his 14 wives.

A visit to the traditional villages of Batak Karo

In Batak Karo villages, you can see traditional siwaluh Jabo long houses, which can accommodate up to 12 families.

The roofs of the houses are in the shape of a boat, and at each end is hung a buffalo horn, which serves as a status symbol and has traditionally been believed to protect the inhabitants from evil spirits.

Want to know more about our trips to Sumatra?

Sumatra offers countless experiences. You can read more about them on the travel-specific pages. Click on “Read more” next to the trip at the top of the page and check out the highlights, daily schedule and prices of the trip.

Trips to Sumatra

Yemen Defense and Foreign Policy

Yemen Defense and Foreign Policy

Foreign policy and defense

Based on geographical map from Digopaul, Yemen is a nation in Western Asia. Its capital city is Sanaa. Following the terrorist attacks in the United States in 2001, Yemen joined the Americans’ war on terrorism. Cooperation to fight militant groups in Yemen is a sensitive issue among Yemenis. The United States has also been critical of what the Yemeni government’s reluctance towards extremist groups is. Neighbors’ incursions into Yemen’s civil war can also be viewed in the light of concerns that Yemen’s internal problems will spread.

yemen military spending and defense budget

Yemen lacks functioning state power and the country is in several parallel civil wars. There are a number of armed groups in the country in addition to the regular army. Some are affiliated with the “government army”, others fight it.

  • Countryaah: Overview of business holidays and various national observances in Yemen for years of 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023, 2024 and 2025.

One reason for the widespread violence is that Yemen is one of the world’s most densely armed countries. Most adult residents have access to modern handguns. Some groups, including clan militia, also carry heavier weapons such as anti-tank robots, anti-aircraft guns and lighter artillery. Even when Yemen has been at its most stable, it has been possible for the government to govern without, in various ways, appeasing and negotiating with clan leaders and other local rulers. This has made it easy for foreign states to interfere, by financing or concluding agreements with local leaders themselves. This is particularly true of Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Iran, which are fighting each other for influence in Yemen, and the United States, which is both involved in the Yemeni power struggles and has attacked al-Qaeda-linked groups inside Yemen.

Following al-Qaeda’s terrorist attacks in the United States in 2001, Yemen joined the US “war on terrorism”. The two countries’ cooperation to fight militant groups has been a sensitive issue for many Yemenis, who are critical of US influence in the Middle East. Since 2011, the United States has been a regular supporter of suspected supporters of terrorism. Hundreds of people have been killed by cruise robots and drones and the attacks have sparked protests in Yemen. The government had secretly approved them, even though it did not openly admit it.

Relations with Saudi Arabia have often been tense. The conflicts partly go back to the civil war in North Yemen in the 1960s, when Saudi Arabia actively supported the royalists. Yemen’s unification in 1990 meant that the new country gained almost as much population as Saudi Arabia, which was seen with the disapproval of Saudi rulers. Saudi Arabia also reacted negatively to Yemen’s support for Iraq in the Kuwait War 1990-1991 and the neighboring country attempted to weaken the Saleh regime, among other things, by supporting the south side in the 1994 civil war.

Clear boundaries between Saudi Arabia and Yemen in the al-Rub al-Khali desert area have been a constant source of conflict. A border agreement was concluded in 1934 and the countries agreed on another agreement in 1995, but new border conflicts were flared up. In 2000, an agreement was made that established how the border goes in the northwest. The settlement resulted in a political thunderstorm. Saudi Arabia increased its financial assistance and opened its labor market for Yemeni guest workers.

The difficulties in guarding the border have continued to create contradictions. From Saudi Arabia, consumer goods are smuggled into Yemen while weapons and refugees go the opposite way. The Saudis are also worried about militant groups coming in. In 2004, the Saudis started building a wall along the border. The building was halted, following protests from Yemen, but Saudi Arabia quietly continued to construct barriers and surveillance systems. The work gained momentum when the Shiite riots revolted in the border areas in 2004. Saudi Arabia supported the Yemeni government’s attempt to defeat the rebels, including through direct military intervention around the turn of the year 2009/2010. In 2011, Saudi Arabia decided to resume building the wall. Saudi unrest escalated from the rise of the Hutians in 2014–2015 as it was considered to strengthen Iran’s influence.

Iran probably played no major role in the skin movement in its earliest years, other than as an ideological source of inspiration. Over time, Iranian support seems to have grown. Since 2011, the conflict between the Houthis and Saudi-backed groups (such as the clan militia of the Islamist Party and the Ahmar family) has largely evolved into a war through agents – at least it seems to be perceived by both Saudi Arabia and Iran.

The Hutians’ advancement prompted the Saudis and a number of neighboring countries to form an alliance that has carried out air strikes against the rebels since 2015. The warring countries have received sharp criticism for not caring about the suffering of civilian Yemenites. Therefore, after several years of devastating wars, Saudi Arabia 2018 launched a development program for Yemen to try to counter popular bitterness. Investments in schools, health centers and desalination have been announced.

In November 2017, Yemeni rebels fired a robot that reached far into Saudi Arabia, and the Saudis increasingly accused Iran of arming the Shiites. The conflict between the region’s great powers had also intensified by supporting opposite sides in the Syrian war, where Iran’s allies gradually strengthened their positions. In Yemen, the bombings and blockades continued to areas held by the huhirebells and sale hangers. From that point, Saleh came to the negotiating stage for the country’s internationally recognized government and its Saudi backers, but Saleh was instead killed in mutual fighting between the opposition forces. After Saleh’s death, the power play in and around Yemen has increasingly developed into a power metric between Sunni states led by Saudi Arabia and Shi’a forces with Iran in the back.

Yemen has not been allowed to join the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), but since 2001, the country has been a member of GCC institutions that handle issues such as health care and education. Yemen wants to join in order to be able to receive financial support and investment from the rich oil states, but the GCC countries have been afraid of being drawn into Yemen’s crises.

Increasing violence in Somalia from 2006 has led to increased refugee flows to Yemen. Traffic over the Red Sea also includes smuggling, including weapons, and the Aden Bay has become notorious for pirate acts emanating from ports in Somalia. There are also fears that Somali militant groups will associate with Yemen’s Islamist phalanxes.

Defense

The military service is voluntary, but those who join must serve for at least two years. The defense forces are relatively large when it comes to manpower, but the equipment is outdated and maintenance is neglected. In 2011, the military was divided between supporters of various political leaders, including then President Saleh and his son Ahmed, Vice President Hadi and General Ali Muhsin al-Ahmar. The government also recruited militias to strengthen the army in the fight against al-Qaeda’s Aqap depositor in southern Yemen. Throughout Hadi’s time as president (2012–2015; he has subsequently led an exile government), attempts to seek control over military units that were not loyal to him became an ongoing sequel.

After Ali Abdullah Saleh was forced to resign, Ahmed Saleh sought to secure continued influence for his father via the Republic Guard. In 2012, therefore, newly-incumbent President Hadi reorganized the military’s military structure to marginalize the influence of Saleh and his family. Since then, the armed forces consist of five branches: the army, the air force, the navy (including the coastal defense), the border troops and the strategic reserve forces. At the heart of the reform was the transformation of the Republic Guard into strategic reserve forces, which were divided into special forces, missile defenses and the President’s protection corps.

Both military units and – to a greater extent – irregular militias and clan groups have recruited child soldiers. In 2011, a Yemeni children’s rights organization claimed that about half of those who took part in the fighting between the government army and the Houthi rebels in Saada province that year were under 18 (this included both government soldiers and rebels). A 2014 UN report accused all investigated parties (the Houthis, Aqap, government forces, Islah and government-friendly militia) of using children as soldiers.

In 2017 alone, 842 children were recruited as soldiers, according to a UN report 2018 which stated that there was documentation showing that 76 of the children had participated in combat.

FACTS – DEFENSE

Army: 60,000 men (2015)

The air Force: 3,000 men (2015)

The fleet: 1 700 men (2015)

Military expenditure’s share of GDP: 5.0 percent (2014)

Military spending’s share of the state budget: 14.3 percent (2014)

Vietnam Defense and Foreign Policy

Vietnam Defense and Foreign Policy

Foreign policy and defense

Based on geographical map from Digopaul, Vietnam is a nation in Southeastern Asia. Its capital city is Hanoi. Vietnam has relatively relaxed relations with the vast majority of countries, including the United States with which the country was at war with the 1960s and 1970s. An exception is China, which is a competitor for the right to territorial waters in the South China Sea. The relationship with Cambodia is also periodically strained.

vietnam military spending and defense budget

Vietnam’s relationship with the outside world has changed radically since the early 1990s. At that time, the country was internationally isolated, financially punished for its occupation of Cambodia and still ousted by the United States after the war. The only strong support came from the socialist countries with the Soviet Union at the forefront.

  • Countryaah: Overview of business holidays and various national observances in Vietnam for years of 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023, 2024 and 2025.

After taking back his Cambodian soldiers in 1989 and signing the United Nations Peace Plan for the neighboring country in 1991, Vietnam was able to re-integrate into the regional community. Trade with the countries of Southeast Asia increased, and in 1995 Vietnam joined Asean. The entry was an irony of history, since Asean was partially founded in 1967 as protection against what was then perceived as the threat of communist North Vietnam. Click Songaah to find songs associated with Vietnam and printable song lyrics.

Complex relationship with China

Until the 1980s, relations with China were extremely tense, partly because of Beijing’s support for the Cambodian Red Khmer, and partly because of the harassment of the Chinese minority in Vietnam after the end of the war in 1975. It went as far as the 1979 war (see Modern history).

An approach began in 1989 when Vietnam acknowledged that the country’s Chinese had been treated poorly. In November 1991, the relationship was formally normalized at a Beijing summit. The need for better relations was reinforced by the uncertainty both countries felt after the fall of communism in Eastern Europe. The two countries have also chosen the same ideological path, with market economy in a communist state.

In May 2017, Vietnam undoubtedly supported China’s infrastructure project BRI (the Belt and Road Initiative, or the New Silk Road), which will culminate in a network of roads, train lines and ports from eastern Asia to Europe. Some construction projects have yet to start in Vietnam.

The conflict over the Spratly and Paracel Islands

Despite normalization, relations with China remain sensitive. Both countries claim the largely uninhabited island groups Spratly and Paracel in the oil and gas-rich South China Sea. Screen savers have been involved with fishing and patrol boats involved, while politicians have often tried to dampen the contradictions.

When China placed an oil drilling platform in the Paracel Islands in May 2014, relations reached a bottom level. Popular anger led to riots and attacks on Chinese-owned factories in mainly southern Vietnam (although it was found that many affected facilities were owned by Taiwanese or South Koreans). The authorities initially seemed to tolerate the outbreak of violence but put a stop to it after a while. Several people were killed during the unrest and China evacuated thousands of citizens from the country. The enemy noises were sharp even at high level. The platform was later shipped off, but China has placed oil drilling platforms on the islands even at later times.

In early 2015, satellite images revealed that China had filled in reefs around the Sprat Islands to build a runway for flights. The intervention was condemned by Vietnam, USA with several countries. In January 2016, a Chinese aircraft lifted off the runway and a month later, China fired anti-aircraft missiles from the Paracel Islands.

The conflict has subsequently escalated, with more land fillings and military armaments on both sides. In 2017, China began cruising traffic in disputed waters. When Vietnam began to look for oil in the area, China threatened to attack with its fleet.

United States – from arch enemy to weapons supplier

The first approach to the United States came in 1986, when Vietnam offered to help find the remains of 2,600 fallen American soldiers who were still missing after the war in the 1960s and 1970s. In return, the United States promised humanitarian aid. After a few years of gradual approaching, the United States in 1994 abolished the economic boycott that has been in effect since the days of the Vietnam War. The decision was motivated by the willingness of the Vietnamese to cooperate in the search for the missing Americans. But behind the renewed economic ties also lay pressure from American companies that looked to be overshadowed by foreign competitors in the burgeoning Vietnamese market.

Since the establishment of diplomatic relations in 1995, the United States has become one of the largest investors in the country. In November 2000, US President Bill Clinton made a symbolically important state visit to Vietnam and in 2007 President Nguyen Minh Triet visited as the first Vietnamese head of state since the end of the Vietnam War White House in Washington. Relations have gradually strengthened with the rest of the Western world, although recent criticism has increased against violations of human rights.

The United States imposed a ban on all arms exports to Vietnam in 1984. Thirty years later, the US government partially repealed the arms embargo, enabling Vietnam to buy US marine security equipment. The United States denied that the easing of the embargo was a result of China’s advanced positions in the South China Sea.

At a visit to Vietnam in May 2016, US President Barack Obama announced that the United States had decided to lift the remaining embargo on arms sales to Vietnam. Obama said that the last lingering traces of the Vietnam War were thus gone. The US decision made it easier for Vietnam to gear up its defense. However, the United States emphasized that the decision was not related to the tense situation between China and Vietnam in the South China Sea, but that it was part of the normalization of relations with Vietnam after the war in the 1960s and 1970s.

Other important relationships

Vietnam’s relationship with Communist Laos is close, with close cooperation on both political and security issues. For Cambodia, relations are more complicated for historical reasons, although they are basically now relatively safe. However, the boundary between the two countries is not fully established, which has led to recurring inequality.

Vietnam has maintained good relations with Russia even after the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991. The countries cooperate primarily in the areas of trade, defense and energy.

From the end of the 1990s, Vietnam and India have been approaching each other, in line with China’s growing influence in Asia. In March 2000, the two countries signed a cooperation agreement in the field of defense: Vietnam trains Indian soldiers in the fight against insurgency and in warfare in jungle environments, while India assists Vietnam in the upgrading and modernization of the defense. The countries are also fighting piracy in the South China Sea together. In 2013, Vietnam gave India the right to look for oil in the South China Sea. In May 2018, India and Vietnam completed their first joint naval exercise, including that of the South China Sea.

With the EU (then EC; European Community), Vietnam established diplomatic relations in October 1990. A comprehensive cooperation agreement was signed in June 2012.

Defense

Vietnam has drastically shrunk its army since the early 1990s, when it consisted of just over a million men. The army has maintained its strong political position and is an important recruitment base for top positions within the party and the state. The equipment of the armed forces is being modernized. In addition to the regular armed forces with army, navy and aviation, Vietnam has a special air defense as well as semi-military forces, militia, in cities and in rural areas. There is a general duty of military service for at least two years for men between the ages of 18 and 35.

FACTS – DEFENSE

Army: 412 000 men (2017)

The air Force: 30,000 men (2017)

The fleet: 40,000 men (2017)

Military expenditure’s share of GDP: 2.3 percent (2017)

Military spending’s share of the state budget: 7.9 percent (2017)

Uzbekistan Defense and Foreign Policy

Uzbekistan Defense and Foreign Policy

Foreign policy and defense

Based on geographical map from Digopaul, Uzbekistan is a nation in Central Asia. Its capital city is Tashkent. Uzbekistan’s foreign policy is characterized by a desire to maintain stability and not become unilaterally dependent on a single partner. The country is claiming a leadership role in Central Asia, but the quest to develop regional cooperation has not always been so successful.

uzbekistan military spending and defense budget

The countries that cooperated with the Karimov regime (1991–2016) in Uzbekistan often ignored its lack of respect for democracy and human rights as long as stability could be maintained in an otherwise troubled region. Uzbekistan’s strategic location and the country’s assets in the form of natural gas, cotton and gold also contributed to this attitude.

  • Countryaah: Overview of business holidays and various national observances in Uzbekistan for years of 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023, 2024 and 2025.

When the Soviet republics of Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan were formed in the 1920s, the Fergana Valley was cut into a maze of complicated borders. The area is politically charged with ethnic enclaves, unresolved border disputes and conflicts over water and energy between the countries. The Karimov regime opposed Kyrgyzstan’s and Tajikistan’s plans to build hydroelectric power stations in the Amu and Syrian Darja rivers – plants that would curtail the flow of water to Uzbekistan.

Following President Mirzijojev’s accession in 2016, a gradual approach has taken place between Uzbekistan and the other former Soviet republics in Central Asia. In 2017, air travel between Uzbekistan and Tajikistan resumed, and in January 2018, ten border crossings opened, closed since 2001. When Mirzijev visited Tajikistan’s President Emomali Rahmon in neighboring capital Dushanbe in March 2018, the two leaders agreed to abolish the visa requirement since 2000 travel between countries.

Unlike Karimov, Mirziajev and Tajikistan’s and Kyrgyzstan’s plans not to expand hydropower upstream from Uzbekistan do not oppose.

Border disputes with Kazakhstan were partially resolved in an agreement of 2001. However, problems remained and in 2005 Uzbekistan accused the neighboring country of hosting Uzbek armed hostile groups. Through an agreement in 2013, relations were strengthened in both trade and security matters. When Mirzijoev visited Kazakhstan in 2017, further cooperation agreements were signed.

There is disagreement with Turkmenistan about the water resources in the Amu-Darja border.

Fight against militant Islamism

The threat from the Islamic guerrilla Uzbekistan’s Islamic movement (IMU; see also Political system) played a central role in foreign policy for several years. During the 1990s, the regime sought help from Russia to guard its border with Afghanistan. The IMU had bases in neighboring countries and received support from the Taliban and terrorist leader Usama bin Laden to make raids into Uzbekistan and its neighboring countries. The guerrillas financed their activities through, among other things, drug smuggling and aimed to overthrow the Uzbek regime and establish an Islamic state in the Fergana Valley.

Around the turn of the millennium, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan joined forces militarily to stop the IMU. Russia, China, the United States and the EU supported military cooperation. Also, unrest in connection with the US-led war against the Taliban regime in Afghanistan in 2001 forced Uzbekistan and Tajikistan closer cooperation. In addition, Uzbek and Kyrgyz security forces have made joint raids against radical Islamists in the Fergana Valley.

In 2001, Uzbekistan joined the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), a counter-terrorism cooperation organization, which also includes Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.

Relations with Russia and China

Uzbekistan’s relations with Russia have at times been strained, but Russia has remained the most important defense and trade partner. After Uzbekistan was criticized by the western countries for the Andizyan massacre in 2005 (see Modern History), President Karimov and his Russian colleague Vladimir Putin came closer. In 2017, the first joint military exercise was held with Russia since 2005, in southeastern Uzbekistan. In March 2018, an agreement was also reached on the purchase of new Russian-made combat helicopters.

China has also shown a growing interest in Uzbekistan in recent years. Both Russia and China have increased cooperation with Uzbekistan through trade, investment and a joint fight against radical Islamism. In May 2017, Mirzijojev visited Beijing and the same month began a Sino-Uzbek collaboration to develop gas fields in Uzbek Karakul.

Relations with the western world

Uzbekistan’s relations with the United States were strengthened when the countries signed an agreement on defense cooperation in 1995. Uzbekistan joined the NATO Partnership for Peace (PFF) in 1994. Military exercises with American participation were organized in the Fergana Valley, where armed Islamists were active. The EU also tried to develop relations with Uzbekistan and in 1996 signed a so-called partnership and cooperation agreement. However, both EU and US enthusiasm cooled as the lack of democracy and respect for human rights in Uzbekistan became increasingly evident.

Following the terrorist attacks against the United States on September 11, 2001, Uzbekistan abandoned its territory for the US-led military alliance that expelled the Taliban regime from Afghanistan. Many of the IMU guerrillas are believed to have been killed in the fighting there. The US had to deploy combat aircraft and military personnel at the former Soviet air base Karshi-Khanabad. As a thank you, more than $ 150 million in financial and military aid was paid to Uzbekistan.

Relations with the United States deteriorated markedly in 2005, when the US, like the EU, criticized the massacre of the Uzbek military of about 500 unarmed protesters in Andizan. Karimov’s regime then terminated the agreement on the Karshi-Khanabad air base.

However, the US need for allies in the region was so great that criticism of the Karimov regime soon faded. In 2008, the United States was granted the right to use an air base in southern Uzbekistan with certain restrictions and the following year the US was allowed to transport non-military supplies through Uzbekistan to Afghanistan.

At a meeting between President Mirzijoev and US President Donald Trump in May 2018, Uzbekistan gave its “full support” to the US strategy in Afghanistan. The US government said that Uzbekistan has made “tremendous progress” in social, economic and political reforms since President Mirzijojev took office in 2016.

The EU imposed some trade and travel sanctions on Uzbekistan in 2005 because of the regime’s refusal to allow an international investigation into the shooting deaths in Andhizan. But even for the EU, Uzbekistan’s strategic importance is too great for the country to be isolated. Although political repression had rapidly increased, the EU gradually lifted all sanctions until 2009. Karimov visited Brussels in 2011 and met the EU and NATO leaders for the first time in almost six years. Among other things, an agreement was signed on energy cooperation with the EU.

Defense

At independence in 1991, Uzbekistan took over Soviet military facilities in the country. Citizens in military service abroad were called home and Uzbekistan built its own defense with army and air force. One year of military service applies.

There are also semi-military forces in the country of 20,000 men: 1,000 men are included in the National Guard, who are under the Ministry of Defense and 19,000 are under the Ministry of the Interior. The oversized police force was named during the Karimov regime as one of the world’s most corrupt and its brutality was a witness. Reforms of security forces and police are reported to be ongoing, but corruption and abuse are still widespread.

FACTS – DEFENSE

Army: 24 500 men (2017)

The air Force: 7,500 men (2017)

Military expenditure’s share of GDP: 0.5 percent (2003)

Military spending’s share of the state budget: 1.6 percent (2003)

United Arab Emirates Defense and Foreign Policy

United Arab Emirates Defense and Foreign Policy

Foreign policy and defense

Based on geographical map from Digopaul, United Arab Emirates is a nation in Western Asia. Its capital city is Abu Dhabi. Arab unity is an important element of the United Arab Emirates’ foreign policy. In the Arab world, the country is usually on the side of conservative states. Long ago, the emirate has had close relations with Iran – but a territorial dispute is hampering contacts. In Yemen’s civil war, the emirate has participated in the Saudi-backed government’s military efforts against the Shiite Muslim Huthirbels.

uae military spending and defense budget

The United Arab Emirates’ most serious foreign policy dispute concerns the two Tunisians and the island of Abu Musa. These have been controlled by Iran since 1970, but the Emirate of Sharjah claims them. The conflict was exacerbated in 1996 when Iran opened an airport at Abu Musa and a power plant in Tunisia, and it has flared up at regular intervals, no later than 2012. Despite the dispute, the countries maintain strong trade relations.

  • Countryaah: Overview of business holidays and various national observances in United Arab Emirates for years of 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023, 2024 and 2025.

The United Arab Emirates has a defense treaty with Saudi Arabia. In recent years, however, the state leadership has tried to limit the neighboring country’s great influence over several of the emirates. For a long time, the countries also have a dispute about the border line north of the large oil field Shayba in the al-Rub al-Khali desert.

In 1981, the United Arab Emirates joined and formed a cooperative organization for the Gulf States, the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), together with Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and Saudi Arabia. The countries have a mutual defense pact and in 2008 the region became a common market with free movement. The UAE, together with Saudi Arabia, sent forces under the GCC to Bahrain to help the regime against Shiite protests in 2011. Disagreements between Qatar and the other GCC countries have later put the cooperation to the test, with trade boycotts included.

The United Arab Emirates was one of the countries that maintained diplomatic relations with the Taliban regime in Afghanistan in 1996–2001. Following the terrorist attacks against the United States on September 11, 2001, carried out by, among other two emirates, the Emirates broke off its contacts with the Taliban. Between 2003 and 2014, Emirati elite soldiers assisted the United States during the war in Afghanistan. The state, on the other hand, was awaiting US plans to attack Iraq to overthrow dictator Saddam Hussein. US airbases in the Emirates played a marginal role when the invasion began in 2003.

The United Arab Emirates has purchased combat aircraft and other military equipment from the United States to a large extent. US military personnel are stationed in the emirate, and during the 2010s, cooperation has been strengthened by both countries wanting to counter both militant Islamism and Iran’s nuclear weapons capabilities. A defense agreement between the countries entered into force in May 2019.

Following a 2008 agreement between France and the emirate, a French military base was opened in Abu Dhabi in 2009.

In 2013, the Emirate supported the military coup that deposed Egypt’s President Muhammad Mursi from the Muslim Brotherhood, then assisted the new Egyptian military government with $ 3 billion. In 2014, according to US sources, the United Arab Emirates has carried out a bomb attack with Egypt against Islamist militia in Libya. From 2014, the emirate also participated in air strikes against the jihadist extremist group Islamic State (IS) positions in Syria. After a Jordanian pilot was captured by IS when his plane was shot down that year, the Emirates stopped the bombing, citing that the United States must be better at rescue operations. But when the pilot was brutally killed by IS in early 2015, the attacks resumed.

In recent years, at the same time as the Emirate’s participation in the civil war in Yemen, the United Arab Emirates has also sought to expand the dialogue with other major religions. The head of the Catholic Church Franciscus was able to conduct the first pope visit in the Arabian Peninsula in early 2019 and meetings with Sunni Muslim leaders were followed by a large mass. Most of the Christians in the emirate are native to Asia, not least the Philippines, so the Pope’s visit also has symbolic value as a gesture towards the guest workers’ homelands.

In the Yemen war, the emirate has participated with ground troops, while Saudi Arabia has, above all, carried out air strikes and attracted sharper international criticism. However, it has emerged that the United Arab Emirates is responsible for prisons on Yemeni land, where, according to human rights organizations, there have been severe abuses. In the summer of 2019, the emirate announced that fighting alliances would be withdrawn, although it could create friction with Saudi Arabia, which was hired from the south by Yemeni Shi’ite belligerents.

In the civil war in Libya, the emirate has taken a clearer position, for warlord Khalifa Haftar, who from the east is fighting the government headquartered in Tripoli. For a major offensive against Tripoli that Haftar initiated in 2019 and continued in 2020, the emirate is reported to have recruited soldiers in Sudan, with the withdrawal of financial support as a means of pressure.

Since 1976, the seven emirates have a joint, federal defense with almost a third of foreign nationals. However, Dubai still has its own smaller force. Military service is mandatory for all men between the ages of 18 and 30. The defense is funded almost entirely by Abu Dhabi.

FACTS – DEFENSE

Army: 44,000 men (2017)

The air Force: 4,500 men (2017)

The fleet: 2,500 men (2017)

Military expenditure’s share of GDP: 5.6 percent (2014)

Military spending’s share of the state budget: 17.0 percent (2014)

Turkmenistan Defense and Foreign Policy

Turkmenistan Defense and Foreign Policy

Foreign policy and defense

Based on geographical map from Digopaul, Turkmenistan is a nation in Central Asia. Its capital city is Ashgabat. A constitutional principle in Turkmenistan’s foreign policy is that of “permanent neutrality”. The large oil and natural gas resources make the country interesting for both Russia and the US as well as the EU and China. Relations with Russia and the western countries are often strained and Turkmenistan has been in conflict with the Caspian Sea countries regarding the right to oil and natural gas.

turkmenistan military spending and defense budget

The foreign policy line on permanent neutrality was introduced after the independence of the Soviet Union in 1991 and meant that Turkmenistan was in fact long internationally isolated.

  • Countryaah: Overview of business holidays and various national observances in Turkmenistan for years of 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023, 2024 and 2025.

The country was one of the founders of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), which gathers former Soviet republics, but since 2005 is only an associate member and, for example, stands outside the organization’s security cooperation and free trade union.

The relationship with Russia is complicated, mainly because of Turkmenistan’s export of natural gas. Turkmenistan was long dependent on the Russian gas export market and the country often accused Russia of taking advantage of its geographical position to buy Turkmen gas at underpriced prices and exporting it further west with good profits. Discussions about the price of natural gas often occurred. Turkmenistan has therefore strived to reach the world market through new lines, which do not go through Russian territory, to China, Iran and the EU, among others.

Turkmenistan chose not to condemn Russia for the annexation of the Crimean Peninsula in March 2014 (see Ukraine, current policy). The economic crisis that hit Russia in 2014 led to a sharp decline in imports of Turkmen. In 2016, it ceased altogether after the Russian gas company Gazprom accused Turkmen Turkmazaz of breach of contract. After a visit by Gazprom’s head in Turkmenistan in March 2019, gas exports to Russia resumed.

Iran and China are important

Nowadays, China is by far the largest buyer of Turkmen gas (see Natural Resources, Energy and Environment). In December 2009, a gas pipeline was opened from Turkmenistan to China. During the 2010s, cooperation with China has increased significantly, not least because China has increased its investments in infrastructure in Turkmenistan.

In 1997, a gas pipeline was opened between southwest Turkmenistan and the Iranian city of Kord Kuy. It was the first pipeline for the export of Turkmen gas outside the former Soviet Union and marked an important departure from the dependence on Russia. In 2010, the second gas pipeline was inaugurated to Iran. However, in early 2017, Turkmenistan ceased gas flow to Iran due to unpaid gas delivery bills. With the dispute still unresolved, in January 2018, Iran turned to the International Arbitration Court in The Hague for an opinion, whereupon Turkmenistan soon also filed a complaint. The verdict is expected to take a couple of years.

Tight contacts with the vest

Turkmenistan became the first Central Asian country in 1994 to join NATO’s Alliance for Peace Partnership Program for Peace (PFF). However, US and EU countries’ relations with the authoritarian Turkmen regime are strained.

The EU’s interest in natural gas is great, at the same time as it criticizes the lack of democracy in Turkmenistan and the violations of citizens’ human rights (see Democracy and Rights). A partnership and cooperation agreement was signed in 1998, but it did not come into force because of the above criticism.

For the same reason, relations with the United States are complicated. Relations with Washington were also weakened by the fact that Turkmenistan maintained diplomatic contacts with the Taliban regime in Afghanistan in 1996–2001 and that the country did not lend its support to the US-led invasion of Afghanistan in 2001. During the ensuing war, however, Turkmenistan became an important transit country for aid transports to Afghanistan. Around one million Turkmen live on the Afghan side of the border.

In the spring of 2015, Turkey, Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan announced a collaboration that will bring gas from Turkmenistan via Turkey to Europe. In March 2019, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, Georgia and the EU agreed to build a transport corridor linking the port city of Türkmenbaşy with the Romanian Black Sea city of Constanta.

The Caspian Sea conflict

Turkmenistan has long had strained relations with all the countries around the Caspian Sea, ie Kazakhstan, Russia, Azerbaijan and Iran. In August 2018, however, the five countries signed an agreement regulating the legal status of the water. The agreement was signed by the country’s leaders in the port city of Aktau, Kazakhstan.

The status of the Caspian Sea has been unclear since the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991. The conflict has affected whether it is a lake or an inland sea. An inland sea would be subject to UN maritime law, while the right to a lake must be negotiated between the countries. The ambiguity has led to uncertainty about who has the right to extract the rich oil and natural gas resources.

The 2018 agreement stipulates that the Caspian Sea is neither a lake nor an inland sea, but has “special legal status”. This means that the surface water will be used jointly by the five states, while the seabed and its assets will be divided. How these boundaries are to be drawn does not say anything about (however, the interference fishing that produces caviar is regulated by means of quotas). The agreement also states that no other country may establish military bases on the Caspian Sea alongside the five states.

The years after the turn of the millennium, Turkmenistan’s relations with Uzbekistan were bottom frozen as a result of an alleged coup attempt in Ashgabat in 2002. The Uzbek embassy in Ashgabat was searched by police in search of evidence of Uzbek involvement in the coup attempt. Uzbekistan reacted strongly to the accusations and soon troops were assembled on both sides of the border. Through bilateral cooperation agreements and other confidence-building measures, relations between neighboring countries have gradually improved and are now normalized.

Defense

Turkmenistan’s defense is still under construction. Plans exist for a naval force in the Caspian Sea. Turkish military is training parts of the country’s armed forces. With Russia, Turkmenistan has entered into an agreement on defense cooperation; the two countries are jointly responsible for Russian forces deployed along the border with Iran and Afghanistan. The defense is based on general military duty for two years. President Berdimuhamedow has his own militia of about 2,000 men and other security units. There are around 5,000 semi-military soldiers in the country.

FACTS – DEFENSE

Army: 33,000 men (2017)

The air Force: 3,000 men (2017)

The fleet: 500 men (2017)

Military expenditure’s share of GDP: 2.9 percent (1999)

Military spending’s share of the state budget: 15.0 percent (1999)

Turkey Defense and Foreign Policy

Turkey Defense and Foreign Policy

Foreign policy and defense

Based on geographical map from Digopaul, Turkey is a nation in Western Asia. Its capital city is Ankara. In two rounds since the beginning of the 2000s, Turkey’s position in the world has changed dramatically. During the first decade of the century, a greatly improved economy coincided with an increased activity of Turkish companies abroad and an intense diplomatic activity characterized by great self-confidence and an ambition for “zero problems with the neighbors”. From the beginning of the 2010s, things started to go down. Conflicts arose with almost every country in the region and an increasingly authoritarian policy within the country created some anxiety in the western world.

turkey military spending and defense budget

For a long time, membership in the NATO military alliance has been the basis of Turkey’s foreign policy. For many years, the hopes of a future membership of the EU also got the country to emphasize its opportunity to build a bridge between west and east. Membership in NATO is not directly questioned, but not without problems.

  • Countryaah: Overview of business holidays and various national observances in Turkey for years of 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023, 2024 and 2025.

The United States has two air bases in Turkey and, at least until Donald Trump’s term as president, has placed great emphasis on relations with NATO’s only Muslim member state. But although Turkey has mostly been loyal to NATO, there are fairly widespread anti-American sentiments and often an annoyance to the United States within the Turkish leadership. In recent years, disagreements have risen in view of the war in Syria, where the United States has supported the Syrian-Kurdish guerrilla YPG, which has been one of the most effective opponents of the Islamic extremist Islamic State (IS) movement. Turkey, on the other hand, has fought the YPG, which is considered a branch of the Turkish-Kurdish guerrilla PKK. Following the attempted coup d’état in Turkey in 2016, the United States was accused of failing to distance itself quickly from the coup attempt. It has also been suggested that the United States was somehow involved in the coup by letting pastor Fethullah Gülen, of Turkey designated as the brains behind the conspiracy, live in the United States. There has been strong irritation in Turkey that the United States has not extradited him.

Disappointment to the EU

Turkey’s disappointment with the EU is evident. After long wishing to become a member of the EU, Turkey was recognized as a candidate country in 1999, albeit with reservations. To negotiate membership, the Turks must first improve respect for human rights and correct political abuses. This was precisely what progress-friendly forces in Turkey wanted to do, with the support of the EU. Soon there was a demand that Turkey’s Customs Union must include all EU members including Cyprus. Despite opposition from several EU countries, Turkey was allowed to negotiate membership in 2005, but negotiations were slow. EU adaptation in Turkey lost momentum, while Germany and France, in particular, raised new barriers to the prospect of entering a large, Muslim country in what some considered a kind of Christian community.

The EU has also been criticized for opposing Turkey while it was in a phase of democratization, but relied on Turkish support to resolve the acute crisis that arose with the great wave of refugees to Europe 2015, even though Turkey was then perceived as the next next to a dictatorship. At that time, Turkey was promised billions of euros to take care of refugees that the EU did not want, as well as increased pace in member negotiations. The support to the refugees comes in several forms, including smaller cash grants, but mainly as humanitarian aid through large, international organizations.

The schism between the EU and Turkey deepened after the coup attempt in 2016, when the EU was also accused of dragging its legs by standing on the government’s side. Turkey complained that promised refugee support was not paid and threatened to terminate the agreement. At the same time, Turkey demanded visa freedom for its citizens to the EU, while the EU demanded that Turkey first change the broad definition of “terrorism” which, among other things, led to mass arrests of tens of thousands of people after the coup attempt.

Especially with Germany, which has a large population group originating in Turkey, relations have been put to the test. 900 mosques in Germany are run by the Turkish Religious Authority, which pays the parish leaders’ salaries. In several German states, legislative changes are discussed that could make parishes less dependent on outside financial support (there is a voluntary church tax for Christians proposed as a model).

While the EU has for several years already acted in a way that Turkey perceived as patronizing and ruthless, and the negotiations virtually stopped, the Ankara government was aiming for other alliances. The AKP government began to pursue active diplomacy and trade in virtually all countries that were once part of the old Ottoman Empire. Even with Turkish-speaking former Soviet states in Central Asia, close contacts were made.

Support for Islamist parties

During the “Arab Spring” of 2011, tens of thousands of regime opponents in Tunisia, Egypt and other countries saw the Turkish AKP as an example of the party’s ability to combine basic Islamic values ​​with democratic and secular politics and liberal economic principles. But when a short-lived Islamic government in the most important country, Egypt, was overthrown by a new military regime, Turkey suddenly faced an enemy in Cairo instead of a friend. Turkey has insisted on considering the deposed Islamist President Muhammad Mursi as the legal leader of Egypt.

The attempts to gain influence in Tunisia and Libya since the dictatorship of the countries were overthrown were also unsuccessful, at least in the short term.

In 1949, Turkey was the first Muslim country to recognize Israel. For decades, the countries had good relations, but in 2009 it happened when then-Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan resigned to Israeli President Shimon Peres for Israel’s actions in Gaza. In 2010, the crisis deepened when ten Turks were killed in an Israeli command raid against the Turkish ship Mavi Marmara, which was part of an international convoy that would try to break the blockade of Gaza. Israel refused to apologize, which ended with Turkey canceling the military cooperation agreement and downgrading diplomatic relations. Following a new Israeli shooting of Gaza in 2012, Erdoğan described Israel as a “terrorist state”. Only in 2016 were relations normalized, since Israel agreed to pay damages to the ten killed Turks’ relatives. The relations were put to the test again in 2017 when the United States recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. At the head of Sunni Muslim countries, Turkey then called for international recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine.

The settlement with Israel following the offshore events around the Gaza convoy was interpreted in the outside world as an attempt by Turkey to break the relative isolation the country has endured. This also applied to the reconciliation with Russia that happened at about the same time.

Relations with Russia had been relatively tense following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, but when Turkey in 2015 cut down a Russian fighter aircraft in the border regions against Syria, the countries turned into enemies. Russia restricted trade with Turkey and stopped all charter tourism, which hit hard on the Turkish economy. The conflict also involved the most serious confrontation between NATO and Russia since the end of the Cold War. In 2016, President Erdoğan Russia apologized and met his Russian colleague Vladimir Putin. They agreed to try to restore normal relationships. The approach was facilitated by the fact that Russia had fared more quickly than the EU and the US from the coup attempt and that Putin did not criticize the mass arrests in Turkey. Normalization was considered to benefit both countries financially.

Worried leaders in the West feared that a new alliance between authoritarian leaders could be created and disrupt the balance of power in Europe. In the conflicts in Syria and Libya, Turkish-Russian relations have continued to arouse interest. Ankara and Moscow have supported opposite sides in both countries, but at the same time have tried to tie the grip on negotiations between warring parties in a way that has placed the Western powers and the UN alongside the development of events.

Hunting for Kurdish guerrillas

Turkey’s relationship with Syria has long been poor due to Syria’s support for the Kurdish guerrilla PKK and major Turkish irrigation projects that reduced the flow of water to Syria. Relations improved since Syria broke with the PKK in 1998, and Turkey saw itself as the only Western-friendly state that could talk to Syria. But when it failed to stop the bloody persecution of the Assad regime by the spring 2011 opposition, Turkey instead became one of the driving forces for power change in Syria. The disintegration of the Syrian state aroused strong concern in Turkey that Kurdish groups in Syria could establish some form of self-government along the Turkish border, similar to the conditions in northern Iraq. The Turkish government threatened to intervene if the PKK was allowed to establish new bases on Syrian land.

The civil war in Syria also affected Turkey in a concrete way through a strong current of refugees. The Turkish government estimated that the country would not be able to handle more than 100,000 refugees and proposed that the UN establish a protected zone for refugees on Syrian soil along the border. This rejected the Security Council as unrealistic. Turkey appealed to the EU for greater efforts. In 2013, the crisis in Syria worsened rapidly and the number of Syrians seeking protection in Turkey skyrocketed. In 2019, Turkey hosted more than 3.6 million Syrian refugees, one-tenth of which were in the established refugee camps.

Turkey’s attempt to contribute to overthrowing the Syrian regime at all costs is believed to have long left the country’s border with the southern neighbor country open to Sunni Muslim extremists, among them jihadists who would later call themselves Islamic State (IS). Turkey was criticized internationally for devoting more force to fighting Syrian-Kurdish guerrillas than IS. Only in late summer 2016 did Turkey pledge to seriously join the fight against IS and until then accept a continued role for the regime in Damascus. When IS was defeated (in 2019 battles were fought in desert areas that knocked out IS’s last real mounts), it was Kurdish-dominated forces that accounted for the largest efforts, with assistance from the US and other countries. But Turkey has not let go of its focus on Kurdish state-building efforts on Syrian soil. Three Turkish military offensive between 2016 and 2019 have focused on the Kurdish forces that Turkey describes as terrorists. The 2019 invasion, when the president also declared his intention to set up a zone where refugees from Syria would be sent back, took place in the face of deteriorating economy in Turkey and reduced voter support for Erdoğan and his party.

Turkey’s hostile attitude to the Syrian regime has strained relations with one of its most important partners, Iran. The fact that since 2011 NATO has a radar station on Turkish soil as a link in its defense shield against Iranian robots has also deteriorated the relationship. Iran has also criticized Turkey’s support for Sunni groups during the “Arab Spring”, as well as in the civil war in Yemen. However, an agreement in 2014 on increased economic cooperation and trade exchange is considered to have thawed relations. In 2017, Turkey, Iran and Russia rallied behind joint initiatives to end the civil war in Syria, with the condition of leaving Bashar al-Assad as head of state.

Although hundreds of Turkish companies operate in Iraq, the political relations between the countries are cool. By contrast, the AKP government has established relations with the Kurdish regional government in northern Iraq and has great trade exchanges with the Iraqi Kurds, but without supporting the idea that they should form an independent Kurdish state. The export of oil directly from Kurdistan to Turkey for a time was condemned by the Iraqi government as illegal.

The Iraqi government is also opposed to the Turkish army’s repeated raids against the PKK on Iraqi soil. At the end of 2015, Iraq turned to the UN Security Council to remove a larger Turkish force. Since 2014, each year the Turkish parliament has extended a scheme that allows Turkish troops to be sent into Iraq and Syria to fight organizations that in Turkey are perceived as terrorist groups.

Cyprus sensitive issue

For historical reasons, Turkey-Greece relations have long been strained, but mutual aid following earthquakes in 1999 near Istanbul and Athens created a rapprochement and was followed by Greece’s veto of Turkish membership negotiations with the EU. Relations have been improving ever since, although it angered the Turkish leadership that the coup attempt in 2016 resulted in opponents of President Erdoğan seeking asylum in Greece. Erdoğan visited Greece in 2017, as the first Turkish President in 65 years. But he astonished his hosts by advocating a review of the 1923 Lausanne Treaty, in which modern Turkey’s borders were established after the fall of the Ottoman Empire (see Ancient History).

The most serious conflict with Greece concerns Cyprus. The island, located near the Turkish coast, is divided between Greek Cypriots in the south and Turkish Cypriots in the north. The split was completed in 1974, when Turkey invaded northern Cyprus to prevent a military junta in Athens from uniting Cyprus with Greece. Only the Greek Cypriot government is internationally recognized, though not by Turkey. However, the republic proclaimed by the Turkish Cypriots is recognized only by Turkey, which has troops in northern Cyprus.

For many tour nationalists, the Cyprus issue is emotionally charged. Turkey has in the past sometimes threatened to incorporate northern Cyprus, but AKP has taken a softer stance in office. It was probably behind a crucial turn in Cyprus in 2003, when the Turkish Cypriots opened the border between both parts of the island. Among other things, following pressure from the Turkish government, a majority of Turkish Cypriots in 2004 voted in favor of the plan for the reunification of Cyprus presented by the then UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan. However, the Greek Cypriots rejected the proposal and thus the Greek Cypriot government came to represent Cyprus when it joined the EU in 2004. Subsequently, Turkey’s refusal to recognize the Greek Cypriot government, and the entry of Cypriot vessels into Turkish ports, has been a major obstacle to the Turkish EU. -membership. Turkey also protests that the Greek Cypriot government has entered into an agreement on the country’s economic zone in the Mediterranean with, among others, Israel, without consulting Turkey or the Turkish Cypriots. Talks about reunification of the island have been held occasionally but not led to agreements.

When the Soviet Union disintegrated, new states emerged in Central Asia, inhabited by Turkmen. Turkey’s attempts to approach these peoples have had the greatest success in Azerbaijan, whose language is close to what is spoken in Turkey. Turkish companies are very active in Azerbaijan and Turkey supports the country in its conflict with Armenia.

History casts its shadow over the Turks’ relationship with the Armenians (see Population and Languages) and the Armenian issue also disturbs Turkey’s relations with other countries. A number of countries’ official recognition of the expulsion of the Armenians in 1915 as a genocide has always led Turkey to cool down diplomatic relations for a period of time. For example, this happened to Sweden in 2010.

Against China, the Turkish leadership has made sharp markings after reports of mounting repression against the Uighur people in Xinjiang.

In conjunction with the corona pandemic, Turkey 2020, despite the spread of infection in its own country, has contributed protective equipment to, for example, Italy, Spain and Palestine. And besides, sold drugs to Armenia.

Great defense and military exports

Turkey has one of NATO’s largest military alliances in NATO. It consists of around 600,000 men, including 500,000 conscripts. Since 2014, the general military duty for most people has been going on for twelve months.

Turkey has its own production of tanks, military aircraft, satellites and warships. Drones (unmanned vehicles) have been used by the Turkish military both against Kurdish guerrillas in the country and in warfare on the Syrian side of the border, both for reconnaissance and for assault against, for example, armored vehicles. Both state-run Turkish Aerospace and the company Baykar, run by the president’s US-trained sister-in-law Selçuk Bayraktar, are developing drones.

FACTS – DEFENSE

Army: 260,200 people (2017)

The air Force: 50,000 men (2017)

The fleet: 45,600 Men (2017)

Military expenditure’s share of GDP: 2.2 percent (2017)

Military spending’s share of the state budget: 6.4 percent (2017)

Thailand Defense and Foreign Policy

Thailand Defense and Foreign Policy

Foreign policy and defense

Based on geographical map from Digopaul, Thailand is a nation in Southeastern Asia. Its capital city is Bangkok. Thailand has always pursued a pragmatic foreign policy and adapted to new situations. The country can also be described as nationalist with a skepticism about foreign involvement in politics.

thailand military spending and defense budget

After World War II, foreign policy has been markedly Western-friendly, but Thailand is also striving to expand its cooperation with other countries in Southeast Asia. Asean is the most important regional cooperation organization, while Apec is rather aimed at dialogue with the outside world.

  • Countryaah: Overview of business holidays and various national observances in Thailand for years of 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023, 2024 and 2025.

Under the military rule in Thailand after the coup in May 2014, contacts with China increased. The Beijing government was quick to express its support for the military junta, and as early as February 2015, an agreement on enhanced defense cooperation was signed. Trade relations have also been strengthened. However, Thailand’s leaders have been hesitant about China’s infrastructure efforts in the region.

Myanmar and Laos

Relations with Myanmar (formerly Burma) have long been strained. Several Myanmar guerrilla groups, not least rebels from minority people shan, operate near the border with Thailand. From time to time, they attack military sites and often reach the Myanmar military’s fire of fire into Thai territory. The Myanmar military junta, in particular, in the 1980s and 1990s accused Thailand of supporting the rebels, which are largely made up of various ethnic minorities. The many Myanmar refugees in Thailand as well as drug trafficking across the border help make the situation problematic.

The democratization process that began in 2011 in Myanmar has facilitated a rapprochement between the two countries, but Myanmar’s tough handling of the minority Rohingy population and the refugee flow to Thailand that has created this has caused new irritation. When Myanmar’s then-president Thein Sein visited Thailand in July 2012, the two countries signed a cooperation agreement. In October 2014, Thai dome leader Prayuth Chan-ocha visited Myanmar as the first country since he became head of government. The leaders of the two countries discussed cooperation in port development, the energy sector and border surveillance. In April 2018, more than 100,000 Myanmar refugees were in nine camps along the border between the two countries.

Relations with Laos have been greatly influenced by the fate of the Hmong refugees. Tens of thousands of members of the hmong folk group, who have experienced harassment and persecution in their homeland of Laos since the 1970s (see Laos, Modern History), have over the years moved to Thailand where they lived as stateless in large refugee camps. In 2006, Thailand and Laos agreed to work together to find a solution to the refugee issue. While thousands of hmong have been granted refugee status in the United States, Thai authorities have been trying to identify the refugees to find out where they come from. However, this work has been slow and the Doctors Without Borders organization has reported bad conditions in the camps. In 2009, Thailand deported about 4,000 hmong refugees to Laos, which received sharp criticism from the US and human rights organizations, among others.

Thailand invests in hydropower development in Laos and most of the electricity generated will be exported to Thailand.

Cambodia

The relationship with Cambodia is also strained. In the 1990s, the Phnom Penh government accused Thai security forces of indirectly supporting the guerrilla movement of the Red Khmer smuggling of timber and gemstones to less prominent Thai buyers. Thousands of Cambodians also fled across the border to Thailand as fighting erupted in the homeland between the military and guerrillas.

After the turn of the millennium, relations improved. In 2001, the countries decided to jointly raise security at the border to curb the smuggling of people, drugs and objects stolen from temples in the Cambodian city of Angkor.

The positive trend reversed when an old conflict over the Preah Vihear temple, located in the border region between countries, flared up in 2008. The triggering factor was the UN body UNESCO’s decision to place the temple on its list of World Heritage Sites in Cambodia. In 1962, the International Court of Justice in The Hague ruled that the temple is located in Cambodia, but Thai nationalists have found it difficult to accept. In addition, the boundary line is unclear in parts of the area around the temple.

In connection with the 2008 riots, Thailand and Cambodia mobilized troops at the temple. Soon there were around a thousand soldiers posted on each side. Through negotiations, the forces could be gradually reduced.

Relations deteriorated again in the fall of 2009 when Cambodia offered Thailand’s Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra a post as economic government adviser. Thailand’s Abhisit government saw the play as a provocation. In August 2010, Thaksin resigned from the disputed post and full diplomatic relations were restored.

In February 2011, Cambodia turned to the UN with a plea that the World Organization would intervene to end the temple conflict by creating a buffer zone in the area. Following mediation by Asean the same month, an Indonesian observer group was placed on both sides of the border.

Still, new battles flared up in April. It was not until December of that year that the countries agreed on mutual troop retreat, under the supervision of the Indonesian observers. In April 2012, the two countries decided to jointly clear mines at Preah Vihear, and in July a gradual troop retreat was initiated.

In November 2013, the International Court of Justice in The Hague ruled that the disputed land areas around Preah Vihear belong to Cambodia. The court urged Thailand to withdraw all its soldiers, police and border guards from the areas.

Relations with Cambodia were strained once again in connection with the coup against Yingluck Shinawatra in May 2014, but strengthened again after Cambodia’s Prime Minister Hun Sen visited the coup leader Prayuth Chan-ocha in Bangkok again.

Other Southeast Asian countries

The revolt among Muslim residents of southern Thailand (read more here) has periodically caused tension in relations with Malaysia, which has been accused by Thailand of supporting the separatists. Relations improved when Malaysia in 1998 promised to cease its support and a number of rebel leaders could be arrested. When the uprising escalated in 2004 and was met with harsh methods by the Thaksin government, relations with Malaysia again deteriorated.

The contacts gradually grew warmer during the military-led transitional government in 2007-2008 and during the Abhisit government in 2008–2011. The Yingluck government in 2011–2014 made new attempts to reduce tensions in the conflict area, but the results were slim. Relations with Malaysia were relatively unproblematic under military rule after spring 2014.

Thailand’s relationship with Indonesia, the Philippines and Singapore is good. With Indonesia, Thailand collaborates primarily on agricultural development, energy and fisheries.

USA and Russia

Thailand has long cultivated good contacts with the United States and annually the two countries hold joint military exercises. Following the terrorist attacks against the United States on September 11, 2001, Thailand pushed for a regional anti-terrorism policy within ASEAN. When the US-led invasion of Iraq began in 2003, Thailand declared itself “neutral” but still sent 400 soldiers to Iraq.

More recently, Thailand’s relations with the United States have cooled down, partly as a result of other countries, such as China, increasing in importance to Thailand and partly because of the military coups in Thailand in 2006 and 2014. The coup against the Thaksin government in 2006 was condemned by the Western countries and the US withdrew its military support to Thailand for two years. The 2014 military coup was also criticized by the US and other western countries. The US again froze its military support for the country and EU foreign ministers canceled official visits to and from Thailand. In October 2017, Prime Minister Prayuth was invited to the White House by US President Donald Trump. In December of that year, the Union resumed political contacts with Thailand “at all levels”.

After the 2014 military coup, Thailand sought closer contacts with Russia, whose relations with the Western world as well as Thailand had deteriorated in recent times. As the first Russian head of government in a quarter of a century, Dimitri Medvedev visited Thailand in April 2015. The countries agreed to expand cooperation in a number of areas, including drug fight, tourism, trade and investment. The two countries also decided that Russia should help Thailand develop its energy sector.

Defense

The military is a political power factor and has intervened on a number of occasions in the political process through coups, most recently against Yingluck Shinawatra’s government in May 2014. Until then, the defense underwent a long-term reform aimed at creating a professional and unpolitical military power, to a slightly smaller size. than the previous one. Large sums are invested in modernizing the defense equipment through the purchase of new tanks, artillery and frigates. The equipment is mainly purchased from the US but in recent years arms imports from China have increased. The general military duty is two years.

In 2015, China and Thailand agreed to increase military cooperation through more joint exercises, increased technological exchange and cheaper arms exports from China to Thailand. China also promised not to interfere in Thailand’s internal affairs, something Thailand thought the US had done recently by demanding that the state of emergency be lifted.

FACTS – DEFENSE

Army: 245 000 men (2017)

The air Force: 46,000 men (2017)

The fleet: 69 850 men (2017)

Military expenditure’s share of GDP: 1.4 percent (2017)

Military spending’s share of the state budget: 1.0 percent (2017)

2006

October

Military-led government takes over power

Retired General Surayud Chulanont is appointed acting prime minister for a military-led transitional government.

September

Thaksin is deposed in a military coup

The military deposes Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra and his government in a bloody coup. Thaksin is currently attending a meeting of the UN General Assembly in New York.

Tajikistan Defense and Foreign Policy

Tajikistan Defense and Foreign Policy

Foreign policy and defense

Based on geographical map from Digopaul, Tajikistan is a nation in Central Asia. Its capital city is Dushanbe. The world’s great powers have all interests in the security-unstable region in which Tajikistan is located. Russia and China belong to the immediate area, and the United States has an extensive military presence in the region. With the Central Asian neighbors, Tajikistan has a partially strained relationship.

tajikistan military spending and defense budget

Across the border with Afghanistan, much of the heroin that eventually reaches Europe is smuggled in, and the drug trade largely funds extremists active in the area.

  • Countryaah: Overview of business holidays and various national observances in Tajikistan for years of 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023, 2024 and 2025.

Following the terrorist attacks against the United States in September 2001, the US military was allowed to use air bases in Tajikistan for the ensuing war in Afghanistan. That cooperation brought economic benefits to Tajikistan.

Relations with Russia

The collaboration also disrupted relations with Russia, which opposed the US presence. It contributed to the withdrawal of the Russian border border against Afghanistan in 2005. Following the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, Russia had left a large border force to prevent drug smuggling and the infiltration of militant Islamists. Now, the Tajiks themselves took over the assignment, albeit with contributions from both Russia and elsewhere to accomplish the task.

Russia was also given the right to set up its first permanent military base in Tajikistan. With its 7,000 men, the military base in Dushanbe is one of Russia’s largest abroad. The Russians also regained control of a former Soviet space surveillance center in Nurek. Moscow also agreed to write off most of Tajikistan’s debt.

The countries agreed in 2012 that the Russian military may stay in the country until 2042. Russia will also help modernize Tajikistan’s defense. In 2017, cooperation with Russia strengthened again in guarding the border with Afghanistan. The backdrop was the Taliban’s success there.

The difficult situation of the Tajik guest workers in Russia creates some tension in relation to Moscow.

Relations with Uzbekistan

Tajikistan has cooperated politically and militarily with Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan to fight extremists. The efforts have been directed, among other things, at the Taliban-allied Uzbek Islamist movement (IMU), which has waged guerrilla war against several regimes in the region. Another extremist movement moving across borders is Hizb ut-Tahrir. The extensive troop retreat from Afghanistan launched by the United States and its NATO allies in 2014 raised concerns that Islamists in the region would be given new leeway and in the long term threaten not only the Kabul government but also the neighboring countries. However, a deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan slowed the troop retreat and in 2017, US President Donald Trump pledged more troops to Afghanistan.

Relations with Uzbekistan were very strained until the death of Uzbek President Karimov in 2016. Uzbekistan saw Tajikistan as a weak link in the fight against terrorism. The neighboring country also protested against Tajik’s plans to build hydroelectric power stations that it believed would threaten downstream water supply, in Uzbekistan. It led from 2009 to recurring blockades of rail transport to Tajikistan across the border, to prevent equipment from reaching the dam project Rogun (see Natural Resources, Energy and Environment). From 2012, Uzbekistan also stopped the important supply of natural gas to Tajikistan, which protested against high gas prices. The countries have accused each other of espionage and environmental destruction across the border.

Following the change of president in Uzbekistan, a gradual approach has taken place between the two states. One of President Mirzijoyev’s main election promises when he was elected Uzbekistan’s president in 2016 was to improve relations with neighboring countries. In 2017, flights between Uzbekistan and Tajikistan resumed after a 25-year hiatus. In March 2018, a number of border crossings were opened which have been closed since 2001. When Mirzijoev visited President Rahmon in Dushanbe the same month, the two leaders agreed to scrap the visa requirement that has existed since 2000 for travel between the two neighboring countries. Uzbek and Tajiks should be able to spend 30 days in each other’s countries without a visa.

Unlike Karimov, Mirziojev does not oppose Tajikistan’s construction of the dam project Rogun. As a result, Tajikistan began to re-export electricity to Uzbekistan after an interruption since 2009, while Uzbekistan resumed gas supplies to Tajikistan. In September 2018, for the first time, the two neighboring countries conducted a joint counterterrorism exercise, in Tajikistan.

Other important relationships

Also with Kyrgyzstan there are tensions regarding water and land use along the largely unmarked border in the Fergana Valley and in two Tajik exclaves located in Kyrgyzstan. Smaller screen savers occur regularly.

With China, there has been a protracted dispute over the border crossing in the Pamir Mountains. It was reported to have been resolved in 2011, through an agreement that means that Tajikistan will relinquish more than 1,000 square kilometers or close to 0.8 percent of its territory to its neighbor. China has become Tajikistan’s largest bilateral lender. The neighboring giant has provided favorable loans for major road construction and expansion of the electricity grid, and has invested mainly in Tajik gold mining. During the 2010s, China has shown increasing interest in the security situation in Central Asia due to fears that militant Islamism will spread to the Uighur minority in the Chinese Xinjiang region.

Relations with Afghanistan improved significantly after the fall of the Taliban regime in 2001. To Iran, Tajikistan has strong ethnic and linguistic ties and the countries cooperate on economic and military issues. However, relations with Iran were strained from 2015 when the Iranian government received a notorious militant Islamist leader.

Tajikistan participates in several regional cooperation bodies, in addition to the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), which consists of the majority of former Soviet republics. The country was part of the Eurasec Economic Community (Eurasec), which was formed in 2000 between Russia, Belarus and four Central Asian states (Turkmenistan stood outside). Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan agreed in 2014 to move forward and form the Euro-Asian Economic Union (EEU) from January 1, 2015. Tajikistan does not belong to the countries that are in turn to join the EEU. China (but not Belarus) also participates in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) security cooperation. However, the various attempts to increase integration in the region have so far not yielded a major dividend.

Defense

Tajikistan’s defense is poorly equipped. Two years of general military duty prevails, but those who can afford can often buy themselves free, which is why most of the soldiers are from poor families. It is reported that students who are really excluded and men who have passed military service are kidnapped and forced to join the army. Systematic violence against conscripts is also a problem. The military is often accused of involvement in the extensive drug smuggling operation.

FACTS – DEFENSE

Army: 7,300 men (2017)

The air Force: 1,500 men (2017)

Military expenditure’s share of GDP: 1.2 percent (2015)

Military spending’s share of the state budget: 3.8 percent (2015)

2004

October

Russian military base

Russia opens a military base and takes control of the former Soviet space center in Nurek.

2003

June

Rachmonov can remain until 2020

A constitutional amendment is approved in a referendum, which means that President Rachmonov can remain in power for two more seven-year terms from the 2006 election.

2001

September

The United States is offered support

Tajikistan provides support for the alliance against terrorism created by the United States following the attacks in New York and Washington on September 11.

2000

February

Rachmonov’s party wins elections

Elections for a new two-chamber parliament are held. Rachmonov’s party The People’s Democratic Party wins big.

Taiwan Defense and Foreign Policy

Taiwan Defense and Foreign Policy

Foreign policy and defense

Based on geographical map from Digopaul, Taiwan is a nation in Eastern Asia. Its capital city is Taipei. Taiwan’s situation is unique in the world. The Republic of China, as it is officially called, is recognized by only a few small states in the Pacific, Latin America and Africa. They thereby receive extensive assistance from Taiwan, and refrain from having relations with the People’s Republic of China. No country can simultaneously recognize and maintain official relations with both Beijing and Taipei.

Taiwan Defense and Foreign Policy

In practice, Taiwan acts as an independent country, with its own territory, its own government and its own unofficial foreign relations. Dozens of countries have representation in Taiwan, despite the lack of diplomatic recognition.

  • Countryaah: Overview of business holidays and various national observances in Taiwan for years of 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023, 2024 and 2025.

The Taiwan government – which until 2000 was constituted by the Nationalist Party Kuomintang – considered, like Beijing, that there was only one China, which includes Taiwan. But from Taiwanese point of view this China was the Republic of China with its 1947 Constitution and not the Communist-led People’s Republic.

However, the Democratic Party (DPP) has wanted to see Taiwan as independent and independent from the mainland. DPP President Chen Shui-bian’s distinctive independence policy (2000-2008) caused Taipei and Beijing to collide.

When Kuomintang returned to power, then President Ma Ying-jeou’s goal was to maintain the status quo in relation to China based on the promise “no independence, no reunification, no war”. However, the increased cooperation across the Taiwan Strait was based on continued agreement between the parties that there is only “one China” – but understood that there are different interpretations of what this means in Beijing and Taipei respectively. Beijing’s hope was that economic cooperation would lead to political rapprochement, which in turn would make the Taiwanese more positive to a reunification.

Diplomatic truce

In 2008, China and Taiwan agreed on a “diplomatic cease-fire” which meant that they would not try to steal each other’s diplomatic allies. When China allowed Taiwan to participate with observer status at the World Health Organization’s (WHO) annual meeting in 2009, it was a sign that new winds were blowing. Taiwan had long been completely excluded from the UN and its many sub-bodies. Since the early 1990s, Taiwan has repeatedly sought membership in the UN alongside China, with no results.

In the spring of 2017, however, the wind had returned. For the first time since 2009, Taiwan was not invited to attend the WHO Annual Meeting, which was because relations had deteriorated with Beijing since Tsai Ing-wen took over the 2016 presidential post (see below). In 2018, too, Taiwan was left outside the WHO meeting, despite intensive lobbying by the Tsai government.

Most Taiwanese are aware that neither reunification nor formal international recognition of Taiwan as an independent state is realistic or even desirable in a short-term perspective. If Taiwan were to declare independence, there is a clear risk that China would attack militarily. And if Taiwan were to agree to the form of reunification with the People’s Republic of China that applies to Hong Kong and that Beijing also advocates for Taiwan – under the formula “one country, two systems” – sooner or later it would mean a loss of actual sovereignty, and probably also the democratic freedoms.

The development of relations with Beijing

For close to 40 years everything connected with the mainland was forbidden. From the late 1980s, family visits as well as business, science and journalism trips were first allowed. Then direct mail and telephone connections were established. In 1990, the locks for mass tourism from Taiwan to the mainland were opened, and the following year the plan to formally recapture China was withdrawn. The trade, which was for a long time forbidden, but which was still conducted through middlemen mainly Hong Kong, was now completely open. In 1992, the governments established contact with each other through special semi-official organizations with high status that maintained relations over the Taiwan Strait.

The cautious opening was temporarily interrupted between 1995 and 1996, when a serious crisis in the Taiwan Strait reminded the outside world of the fundamental contradictions between China and Taiwan. The trigger was President Lee Teng-ho’s private visit to the United States in June 1995. Lee was considered too independent of Beijing. China conducted a series of demonstrative military exercises in the mainland-Taiwan strait.

The crisis gradually faded and when China returned to Hong Kong in 1997, Beijing reiterated its offer to apply the Hong Kong formula “one country, two systems” even in the case of Taiwan. However, the Taipei government emphasized that a reunion required a stable democracy with a functioning market economy on the mainland.

When Chen Shui-bian and DPP took power in 2000, relations with the mainland became more strained (see Modern History). In 2005, China passed a law that formally gave the country the right to take military means if Taiwan tried to declare its independence.

The approach to China

But despite the confrontations, cooperation was expanded across the strait. In 2005, the parties agreed to allow direct flights between China and Taiwan, for the first time since the end of the war in 1949.

The change of government in 2008, when Kuomintang returned to power, marked the beginning of a fast approach between Taiwan and China. A large number of agreements were entered into, among other things, airline connections were greatly expanded and investments across the strait grew. China sent panda bears to a zoo in Taipei, in a gesture of deep symbolic value, and in 2010, China and Taiwan signed a trade agreement, which in media was described as “historic” (see Foreign Trade).

In early 2014, the first official government-level talks between China and Taiwan were held since 1949 and in the fall of 2015, the presidents of China and Taiwan met for the first time in Singapore.

Tense position after change of power

After the change of power in Taiwan in January 2016, the climate between China and Taiwan became immediately cooler. DPP party leader Tsai Ing-wen said when she took office as president in May 2016 that she wanted a “positive dialogue” with the Chinese government. But she also stressed the importance of preserving Taiwan’s democracy and freedom, which was hardly appreciated by the Chinese leadership. Beijing highlighted its dissatisfaction with the new Taiwanese leadership by suspending official contacts with Taipei from the summer of 2016, while also beginning to counter Taiwan’s participation in international organizations and conferences. The main reason for Beijing’s dissatisfaction with Tsai Ing-wen has been her refusal to express her support for the one-China agreement.

Subsequently, the tension between Beijing and Taipei has increased. Beijing for a diplomatic war to isolate Taiwan, not least with the help of the wallet, which has led countries, which previously had official relations with Taiwan, terminated contact with Taipei to cultivate relations with the People’s Republic instead. In addition, Beijing has demanded that other countries send suspected Taiwanese to the People’s Republic instead of Taiwan and airlines, hotels, international clothing companies and others have been pressured not to list Taiwan as their own country outside China.

The security situation has also deteriorated and some observers again warn of the risk of a military conflict. China has conducted several military exercises near Taiwan and the Chinese aircraft carrier Liaoning has traveled in the Taiwan Strait. Beijing’s military demonstrations of power have, in turn, been met by military exercises from Taiwan and planned defense efforts.

Assessors have wondered how long Beijing is prepared to wait to achieve its reunification goal. The threat of military action remains. China has around 1,200 robots targeting Taiwan and has focused on extensive military armaments throughout the 2000s.

Chinese President Xi Jinping has warned Taiwan to act for independence, which would face a penalty “of historical proportions” and said it will not leave it to future generations to solve the Taiwan problem.

Relations with the United States

Until 1971, Taiwan was represented in the UN but was then forced to give up its place in the World Organization for the benefit of the People’s Republic of China. Most countries broke ties with the Taipei government at the same time, but its most important friend and ally, the United States, remained on Taiwan’s side for a few more years. However, in 1978, Washington also ended the diplomatic relations with Taipei and recognized the following year the People’s Republic of China. Despite this, ties between Taiwan and the United States remained strong. The US Embassy in Taiwan was replaced by the “American Institute”, which essentially functions in the same way, but lacks official status. Washington has been careful to highlight that hostile actions against Taiwan would be “a matter of concern” for the United States – without directly saying what that would mean. The United States has called on both Taipei and Beijing not to jeopardize the relative stability that currently exists. However, as China-US relations are strained by trade conflicts, China’s growing regional power and territorial claims in the South China Sea, concerns have increased in Taiwan for it to become a chip in a diplomatic game between the major powers.

Since the reciprocal security pact with the United States expired in 1979, Taiwan has been outside all military alliances but maintained close contact with the United States. The US Congress passed a special “Taiwan law” in 1979 that guarantees Taiwan’s security and continued arms supplies. The protests from China have been loud as the US conducted arms sales to Taiwan. The reactions in Beijing are considered by analysts to be one of the reasons why the US did not want to sell over-advanced weapons to Taiwan.

In connection with the US taking a more confrontational line with China under President Donald Trump towards the end of the 2010, Washington quickly approved two sales of military equipment – summer 2017 and autumn 2018 – to Taiwan. The business was heavily criticized by China.

Relations with Asian neighbors

Taiwan has a network of trade offices, cultural institutes, aviation and shipping offices and similar establishments abroad and is active in various forms of economic cooperation around the Pacific, such as the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the economic cooperation body Apec.

Taiwan, like China, is involved in border disputes in the South and East China Sea with other countries in the region. However, in the spring of 2013, Taiwan and Japan found a way to deal with tensions around the Senkaku archipelago (called Diaoyutai in Taiwan) when an agreement was reached that Taiwanese fishing boats would be allowed to fish near the archipelago controlled by Japan. The initiative could be interpreted as a way for the Taipei government to assert Taiwan’s position as an independent, separate actor. The fisheries agreement was sharply criticized by Beijing.

Taiwan wants a modern defense with a smaller, efficient military and well-functioning weapons technology. But the weak economic development in the 2010s has meant that the government has not reached the goal that defense spending should amount to 3 percent of GDP.

The goal is to withstand attacks from the militarily significantly stronger China long enough for the US to come to the rescue and for an invasion to have a high enough price to deter it.

FACTS – DEFENSE

Army: 130 000 men (2017)

The air Force: 45,000 men (2017)

The fleet: 40,000 men (2017)

Syria Defense and Foreign Policy

Syria Defense and Foreign Policy

Foreign policy and defense

Based on geographical map from Digopaul, Syria is a nation in Western Asia. Its capital city Damascus. Syria has long had conflicting relations with the outside world, but the Assad regime has also skillfully exploited Syria’s influence in neighboring countries, in order to gain support and financial assistance. Relations with Lebanon and the conflict with Israel have long characterized the government’s foreign policy. Since 2011, however, the focus has been entirely on finding allies in the ongoing civil war.

syria military spending and defense budget

Syria has fought three wars against Israel, 1948-1949, 1967 and 1973, and also fought against Israel inside Lebanon during the 1980s. Formally, wars still exist between them. Many Palestinian refugees from today’s Israel live in Syria. President Hafiz al-Assad strongly opposed Egypt’s peace treaty with Israel in 1979, and Syria has continued to support Palestinian organizations that do not recognize Israel’s existence and refuse to participate in peace talks.

  • Countryaah: Overview of business holidays and various national observances in Syria for years of 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023, 2024 and 2025.

The major dispute between Syria and Israel concerns the Golan Heights that Israel conquered in 1967. A total Israeli retreat from occupied territories is Syria’s basic requirement. There is also conflict between Lebanon, Syria and Israel about the so-called Sheba farms, which are at the intersection of southeastern Lebanon, southwestern Syria and northern Israel. The 25-square-kilometer area was occupied by Israel during the six-day war in 1967. Israel claims that the area belongs to the Golan Heights while the UN believes its maps show that Shebaa is Syrian territory, which Lebanon in turn questions.

During the 2011 civil war in Syria, Israel first pursued a cautiously neutral policy. Later, targets began to be bombed inside Syria, suspected of being Syrian and Iranian weapons deliveries to Lebanese Shiite Hezbollah, which occasionally conflicts with Israel and has also been actively involved in the civil war in Syria (see Calendar). Israel has also repeatedly opened fire on Syrian army forces following fires in the Golan area.

Long presence in Lebanon

Syria had long been unwilling to accept that Lebanon became a separate area of ​​mandate in 1920 (see Older History) and refused to diplomatically recognize the independent state of Lebanon in 1943. Not all parts of the common border are formally regulated either. In 1976, Syria intervened in Lebanon’s civil war and gradually strengthened the Syrian influence. In practice, no political decisions were made in Beirut that had not been approved by Syria. The Syrian security service persecuted and silenced oppositionists.

According to the 1989 Taif Agreement in Saudi Arabia, which ended the civil war, the Syrian army would withdraw within two years to the Bekaa Valley in the east, but Syria did not follow the agreement. The government justified this with Israel occupying the disputed area of ​​the Sheba farms.

Following the assassination of Lebanese politician Rafiq al-Hariri in 2005, the demands of the UN and many states were tightened on a Syrian retreat from Lebanon (see Lebanon: Modern History). From several directions, Syria and pro-Syrian forces in Lebanon were accused of being behind the murder. Following Arab pressure, Syria accepted UN demands and in late April, the last soldiers left Lebanon after 29 years of presence. However, the UN continued to criticize Syria, which was accused of sending arms to Hezbollah.

Only after a multi-year political crisis in Lebanon had been resolved and a new unifying government formed could relations between Syria and Lebanon be improved, in principle by Syria’s opponents giving up and accepting continued influence for Bashar al-Assad in Lebanon. In October 2008, for the first time, full diplomatic relations were established between the countries. Syria has liaised with various groups in Lebanon for different periods, but since the beginning of the 21st century, it has relied primarily on Hezbollah and other Shiite groups, as well as on certain Christian groups. About half of Lebanon’s population supports Assad-friendly parties, while the other half supports Assad-hostile parties, including most Sunni Muslims. Hezbollah is actively involved in the Syrian civil war.

Relations with the great powers

Syria worked closely with Eastern Europe, not least militarily, until the collapse of the Soviet Union. Contacts with Russia have been maintained since 1991 and during the civil war of 2011, Russia has served as an important ally to the Syrian regime. In early autumn 2015, at the request of the Syrian government, Russia launched anti-rebel forces. For Russia, it was about guarding Syria as Moscow’s oldest ally in the Middle East (Russia’s only foreign war base is located in the Syrian port city of Tartus), but also about building up its own superpower role in the region. The Russian efforts have intensified during the war and helped the government side recover land from rebels.

Damascus has also sought better relations with the western countries, not least the former colonial power of France and the United States, but Syria is on the US list of states that support terrorism and was thus excluded from US aid even before the civil war. In 2004, the United States resumed sanctions on Syria for the Assad regime hosting Palestinian terror groups, but above all for Syrian “volunteers” crossing the border into Iraq and helping to fight the US occupation forces there after the fall of Saddam Hussein. Syria’s close friendship with Iran was also a red blanket for the United States.

However, Washington has not been able to completely ignore Syria. For the United States, cooperation with Syria was a key to initiating the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians in the 1990s and to stabilize the situation in Lebanon. After taking office as US President in early 2009, Barack Obama attempted to initiate a dialogue with Syria. In 2010, he decided to send a new ambassador to Damascus, the first in almost six years. When the Syrian civil war broke out in 2011, the United States first tried to call for a compromise solution, but Obama demanded in August 2011 Assad’s departure. Subsequently, the United States was drawn step by step into the conflict, but Obama resisted all demands for military intervention against Assad and tried to get the parties to conclude a unity government agreement. Since 2013, the United States has been openly supporting certain rebel groups to pressure Assad and try to increase its own influence over the rebels. In the fall of 2014, a US-led alliance began to bomb the Islamic State in both Iraq and Syria. IS has since been driven away from most of its holdings, prompting Obama’s successor Donald Trump to make a decision to take home the US squad (despite opposition from both the US Defense Headquarters and Trump’s own party). In both spring 2017 and spring 2018, the United States initiated the bombing of places where the Assad regime was supposed to store nuclear weapons or substances that could be used for combat gas. which prompted Obama’s successor Donald Trump to make a decision to take home the US troops (despite opposition both from the US Defense Headquarters and from Trump’s own party). In both spring 2017 and spring 2018, the United States initiated the bombing of places where the Assad regime was supposed to store nuclear weapons or substances that could be used for combat gas. which prompted Obama’s successor Donald Trump to make a decision to take home the US troops (despite opposition both from the US Defense Headquarters and from Trump’s own party). In both spring 2017 and spring 2018, the United States initiated the bombing of places where the Assad regime was supposed to store nuclear weapons or substances that could be used for combat gas.

The EU was previously Syria’s most important trading partner and an association agreement had been negotiated but not signed by Syria when the war broke out. In 2011, the EU imposed sanctions on Syria and from August that year demanded Assad’s departure. Britain and France have been pushing for support for Syria’s rebels, while the majority of EU states, including Sweden, have been pushing a more cautious line. Germany, which has received a large number of refugees from Syria, has become the arena for some of the judicial trials that are taking place. This applies to both crimes committed by the Assad regime and atrocities staged by the Islamic State (IS), see Calendar.

Disputes with neighboring states

Since the 1979 revolution, Iran has been Syria’s closest ally in the region, mainly because they have shared interests in the view of Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, Israel and Lebanon, among others. Both countries have also been subject to US sanctions. In the civil war, Iran supports the government side with money, weapons and soldiers. For the Iranian government, it is also important that Syria acts as a willing transit country for deliveries to Iran’s key allied Hezbollah militia in Lebanon.

Relations with Iraq have swung back and forth. Until 2003, Syria and Iraq were ruled by competing branches of the Baath Party and there was fierce rivalry between the countries. During the Iraq-Iran war in the 1980s, Damascus stood on Iran’s side. Syria also participated in the UN-backed alliance that drove Iraq’s occupation forces out of Kuwait in 1991.

For financial reasons, however, some trade with Iraq was resumed in 1998, including those that violated UN sanctions on Iraq. After the fall of Saddam Hussein, Syria received more than one million Iraqi refugees, including Saddam followers and Iraqi Christians. At the end of 2006, the states resumed diplomatic relations, which had been interrupted since 1982. Since 2011, Iraq’s Shiite-led and Iran-friendly government has kept a low profile on the Syrian issue, although over time its support for the Assad government has escalated. The two governments have been allied in the fight against the Sunni Muslim extremist group Islamic State (IS), which, having subjugated large areas in both Iraq and Syria, has now been displaced and lost most of its influence, although the group is still seen as a potentially threatening.

Relations with Turkey have long been strained for several reasons: Turkish irrigation projects that jeopardize the flow of water to Syria, the Kurdish issue and the role of Israel. Turkey’s military cooperation with Israel has been considered a threat in Syria. Turkey’s accusations against Syria for supporting the Kurdish guerrilla PKK, which operates in Turkey, threatened in 1998 to lead to armed conflict. Following pressure from the United States, Syria decided to stop PKK’s operations in the country and expel leader Abdullah Öcalan. Thereafter, relations between the countries improved significantly and Turkey sought to mediate between Syria and Israel. In 2011, however, Turkey swung and began to support the Syrian opposition. The divide between Turkey and the Syrian government increased when the Assad regime in 2012 allowed the Kurds to establish a zone in northern Syria where PKK-loyal Kurdish groups could operate (see Political system). The Turkish government has also aired claims on Assad’s case and the countries have been involved in several military incidents. Since Turkey began to engage militarily in the conflict on Syrian soil in 2014, including through air strikes, the country has focused primarily on fighting the PKK-loyal groups in Syria and the regions, called Rojava, where a form of Kurdish state building has been underway.. In 2019, Turkey’s defense force launched its third military offensive in northern Syria since 2016. However, the peace initiative with Russia and Iran that Turkey is involved in is in practice a support for the Assad government. Turkey’s efforts against Kurdish forces also benefit Assad, which has clearly stated its intention to reclaim the entire territory of Syria, including Rojava.

Jordan and Syria have historically often had tense relationships, as they have had different allies and belonged to different power blocks. Jordan has stood close to the United States, Saddam Hussein’s Iraq and the Sunni states of the Persian Gulf, and has pursued a cautious policy against Israel. During the 2011 civil war, Jordan has taken on a less prominent role than most of Syria’s neighboring countries, worrying about the large influx of refugees. However, the Jordanian leadership has accepted that the United States, Saudi Arabia and other countries finance and train rebels from Jordanian soil.

Defense

Before 2011, Syria’s defense force was one of the largest in the Arab world. Its leadership is closely linked to the political elite. From 1956 the defense was equipped almost entirely with weapons from the Soviet bloc and after the defeat of Israel in the October 1973 war, thousands of Soviet military advisers were stationed in Syria. After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Syria no longer has access to the most modern equipment but still buys weapons from Russia and to a certain extent also from Belarus, China and North Korea.

Tens of thousands of soldiers have been killed, wounded or deserted by the Syrian army since 2011. Conscription soldiers are still used, but Assad is increasingly forced to rely on loyal special forces and militia, not least those recruited among Alawites, the religious group he himself belongs to. Russia has continued to support the Syrian army following the outbreak of the war in 2011, not least through aerial bombings against both IS and the rebel strongholds. Iran has contributed weapons, military training and financing of Syrian weapons purchases, and by mobilizing Shiite Muslim militia forces from Iraq and Lebanon in support of Assad.

For decades, Syria had built up a large stockpile of weapons of mass destruction in the form of nerve gases. Following reports that nerve gas was used against the rebels in 2013, the United States threatened to intervene, which led Syria to abandon chemical weapons in the fall of 2013 and spring of 2014. However, the government has been accused of using both sarin and improvised chlorine gas bombs even after this. Syria has also been accused of wanting to develop nuclear weapons. In 2007, Israel bombed what was claimed to be a nuclear reactor under construction in eastern Syria.

During the Civil War, a large number of militia forces have also emerged on the government side, many but far from all recruited from the religious minorities. The largest umbrella group that gathers such forces is called the National Defense Forces and consists of a variety of regional groups, which in many cases appear to have been funded and trained with the help of Iran. Other groups include, for example, the Baath Battalions, which fall under the ruling Baath Party. Foreign Shiite Muslim militias from Iraq and Iraq, such as Hezbollah, are also fighting the Syrian government, as well as some small Christians and other groups. Together, these militia forces now constitute a very significant part of the troops that Assad relies on.

Mandatory military service applies to all men from 18 years. The length of military service has been gradually reduced since the 1990s and in 2011 it was reduced to one and a half years.

For the rebel forces, see Political system.

FACTS – DEFENSE

Army: 105,000 men (2017)

The air Force: 15,000 men (2017)

The fleet: 2,500 men (2017)

Military expenditure’s share of GDP: 4.1 percent (2010)

Military spending’s share of the state budget: 13.6 percent (2010)

Sri Lanka Defense and Foreign Policy

Sri Lanka Defense and Foreign Policy

Foreign policy and defense

Based on geographical map from Digopaul, Sri Lanka is a nation in Southern Asia. Its capital city is Colombo; Sri Jayewardenepura Kotte. Under the leftist Rajapaksa government (2005–2015), Sri Lanka gradually approached China and eventually became heavily indebted to Beijing. Cooperation continued under President Sirisena, who, however, initially sought to reduce dependence on China. After the end of the civil war in 2009, Sri Lanka has been on a collision course with the UN and the Western world, demanding that the country go to the bottom with allegations of serious war crimes.

sri lanka military spending and defense budget

During the Cold War, Sri Lanka was a leading country in the so-called alliance-free movement, although the principle of freedom of alliance has been interpreted in different ways by different governments. Right-wing UNP governments have usually had a more Western-friendly attitude than the more left-leaning SLFP governments, which have won a friendly relationship with China, among others.

  • Countryaah: Overview of business holidays and various national observances in Sri Lanka for years of 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023, 2024 and 2025.

After the end of the Cold War, the importance of alliance-free status diminished. Instead, Sri Lanka’s main foreign policy issue was to try to persuade the outside world to distance itself from the separatists in the country, the so-called Tamil Liberation Tigers (LTTE).

Tight relationship with the western world

In the US, Canada and the EU, there were large groups of exile Tamils ​​during the war, and the Lankan government believed that many of them contributed financially to the LTTE guerrillas. The United States labeled the “Tamil Tigers” as a terrorist group in 1997 and the EU followed after 2006. The terrorist stamp was a financial setback for LTTE, as economic assets were frozen and guerrilla leaders were barred from entering the countries in question.

After the war, the suspicions of war crimes have, above all, negatively affected Sri Lanka’s traditionally good relations with the United States, as the United States has been driving behind resolutions adopted by the UN Human Rights Council. In the spring of 2012, the United Nations Human Rights Council adopted a resolution calling on Sri Lanka to conduct an independent investigation into the allegations of war crimes at the end of the civil war. Since Rajapaksa rejected the UN injunction, the Council repeated its call for new resolutions in 2013 and 2014. When these were also rejected by Sri Lanka, the Council proposed an international investigation. Sri Lanka dismissed the claims as “neo-colonialism”.

When the Sirisena government took office in 2015, the US and the rest of the Western world came closer. On a visit to Sri Lanka in May of the same year, US Secretary of State John Kerry praised Sirisena’s quest for reconciliation with the Tamils. But despite promises of war crimes investigations, nothing concrete has happened during the time of the Sirisans in power.

Strong ties to India

Sri Lanka has strong historical and cultural ties to India which has a large Tamil population. Among the Indian Tamils ​​who mainly live in the state of Tamil Nadu in southern India, many are committed to the cause of the Tamil people.

Relations between the countries were long strained by India supporting the struggle of the Sri Lankan Tamils. However, after India’s failed involvement in the Sri Lankan civil conflict in the late 1980s (see Modern History), the New Delhi government took a more cautious stance. When the LTTE then ordered the assassination of the former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in 1991, the guerrillas lost their support and the two countries saw a common enemy in the Tamil extremist group.

After the war, India has been heavily involved in rebuilding the Tamil-dominated areas in the north, among other things by financing house construction and lending money for road, bridge and other infrastructure repairs. India is Sri Lanka’s largest trading partner and has also invested in the energy sector.

In 2012-2013, the condition was strained by India voting for the UN resolutions mentioned above. India’s position was decided by then a Tamil Nadu-based party sitting in the Indian coalition government. India now stands on Sri Lanka’s side in the UN Human Rights Council polls.

President Sirisena’s first state visit in February 2015 went to India, and diplomatic and trade relations between the two countries have been strengthened during Sirisen’s time in power. India maintained a low profile during the political crisis that erupted in Sri Lanka in the fall of 2018, when a power struggle at the highest political level paralyzed large parts of the state leadership (see Current Politics).

Dependent on China

When relations with the West deteriorated during the Rajapaksa government, Sri Lanka turned its eyes on other countries, primarily China but also Russia and Iran.

Relations with China were significantly strengthened during Rajapaksa’s time as president. China has invested a lot of money in Sri Lanka, especially in the energy and infrastructure sectors. Among other things, a harbor and an airport have been built in President Rajapaksa’s home province of Hambantota.

The Sirisena government first tried to distance itself from China, including interrupting a major Chinese-funded infrastructure project in the port of Colombia. In 2016, however, the project was resumed, which was completed in 2019. At the end of 2017, China was allowed to lease the port of Hambantota for 99 years as part of Beijing’s major infrastructure initiative BRI (Belt and Road Initiative, or New Silk Road). In exchange, Sri Lanka got some of its loans to Beijing renegotiated.

When it comes to conflict with the UN, China is a reliable partner. China, as a rule, emphasizes the right of all countries to manage their own affairs without external interference. Consequently, China has voted against the resolutions adopted by the UN Human Rights Council on Sri Lanka.

Good relationship with Pakistan

Pakistan, too (like Russia) has stood on Sri Lanka’s side in the conflict with the UN. Pakistan assisted the Lankan government with large quantities of weapons during the war and, after the end of the war, has focused on strengthening ties with Colombo. Trade between Pakistan and Sri Lanka is great. The countries have also agreed to cooperate in export, education and research on agriculture.

Defense

Military service is optional. During the Civil War, defense spending was high and in connection with the final offensive many new soldiers were recruited. According to estimates, around 150,000 army soldiers participated in the battles against the LTTE guerrillas in 2009. The Tamil guerrillas are estimated to have had around 10,000 men under arms. After the war there were plans to lose the armed forces, but they have remained relatively large.

The military is not just devoted to defense. In the Northern Province, the military regulates large parts of daily life and throughout the country the military has obtained employment and extra income by engaging in tourism, agriculture and infrastructure projects. Since 2013, the army can be deployed to maintain the general order.

FACTS – DEFENSE

Army: 200,000 Men (2017)

The air Force: 28 000 men (2017)

The fleet: 15,000 men (2017)

Military expenditure’s share of GDP: 2.2 percent (2017)

Military spending’s share of the state budget: 11.0 percent (2017)

South Korea Defense and Foreign Policy

South Korea Defense and Foreign Policy

Foreign policy and defense

Based on geographical map from Digopaul, South Korea is a nation in Eastern Asia. Its capital city is Seoul. The Cold War between the East and the West and the Korean Peninsula have characterized South Korea’s foreign policy since the state was founded in 1948. The Korean Peninsula is one of the most militarized areas in the world. Formally, war permits still exist between North and South Korea, as the 1953 ceasefire agreement was not followed by any peace agreement.

south korea military spending and defense budget

Both South Korea and North Korea aim to reunite the Korean peninsula. However, the political and military contradictions have been too great, and in South Korea the enormous financial burden it would take to take responsibility for the poor North Korea’s development.

  • Countryaah: Overview of business holidays and various national observances in South Korea for years of 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023, 2024 and 2025.

Attempts to dialogue between South and North Korea in the 1970s and 1980s produced poor results. After the end of the Cold War around 1990, a cautious approach began and in 1991 North Korea gave up its opposition to UN membership for both countries, and the two Koreas were elected to the World Organization. The following year, a broad cooperation agreement came into force.

Kim Dae-Jung, president of South Korea in 1998–2003, worked purposefully for better relations with North Korea despite a series of North Korean cross-border intrusions. In 1999, however, North Korean and South Korean naval vessels fired at each other for the first time since the Korean War, with many casualties as a result. Nevertheless, contacts between the two countries were not interrupted. In June 2000, a summit was held between Kim Dae-Jung and North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il in Pyongyang. Among other things, they decided on financial cooperation and meetings for families who lived apart for half a century. At the Sydney Olympics that same year, South and North Korea’s participants marched in together.

New tensions

After the turn of the millennium, tension in the Korean Peninsula increased. Many deaths were claimed in 2002 during a fire in the Yellow Sea. Following an apology from North Korea for provocation, work began on restoring road and rail links. Click Songaah to find songs associated with South Korea and printable song lyrics.

The international six-party talks on North Korea’s nuclear weapons program begun in 2003 between North Korea and South Korea, China, Japan, Russia and the United States broke down in 2006, and the same year North Korea conducted its first nuclear test. Despite tensions, the countries’ economic cooperation projects in North Korea continued: the Kaesong industrial zone and the tourist resort on Kumgang Mountain.

The second Korea summit held in Pyongyang in 2007 paved the way for better relations, but promises of peace talks ran out in the sand. Under the conservative president Lee Myung-Bak, from 2007 a new hard line was launched against North Korea. South Korea demanded that the nuclear agreement be complied with in order to provide assistance and support. North Korea responded by closing the border between the countries, stopping tourist travel and freight by rail and expelling South Koreans from Kaesong.

North Korea lowers ships

North Korea’s second nuclear test in 2009 escalated war rhetoric between the countries. The situation worsened the following year when the South Korean warship Cheonan dropped after an explosion and 46 people were killed. After an international investigation, South Korea declared that a North Korean torpedo attack was behind. Trade with North Korea was frozen, and North Korean merchant vessels were banned in South Korean waters. President Lee declared that future attacks would be met directly with military response. Later in the year, North Korea shot down the South Korean island of Yeonpyeong, near the disputed sea border between the countries. Two South Korean soldiers and two civilians were reported to have been killed in the attack. North Korea accused South Korea of ​​starting the fire. South Korea denied this but admitted that missiles had been tested in the area.

Following North Korea’s rocket launch in December 2012 and the third nuclear test in February 2013, relations between Seoul and Pyongyang deteriorated again. In connection with North Korea being punished at the beginning of March of the same year with new harsh UN sanctions, Pyongyang threatened with a nuclear attack on South Korea (and the US). The South Korean Defense Ministry responded by promising immediate merciless retaliation to North Korea’s highest military leadership. In the following years, the grim climate between the Korean states persisted as North Korea stepped up its missile and nuclear test (see Calendar).

Approaching the Olympics in South Korea

However, in January 2018, for the first time since Kim Jong-Un’s accession as North Korean leader, countries held high-level bilateral talks. The official reason for the talks was to discuss North Korea’s possible participation in the Winter Olympics in South Korean Pyeongchang in February of the same year. During the meeting, North Korea announced that it intended to send a delegation to the sporting event.

During the inaugural ceremony, North and South Korean competitors competed together and later met with President Moon Jae-In North Korea’s Former Head of State Kim Yong-Nam and North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un’s sister Kim Yo-Jong. It was the first time since the end of the Korean War that so high-ranking North Koreans visited South Korea.

In April, a historic meeting was then held in the border village of Panmunjom, in the demilitarized zone along the 38th latitude, between North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-Un and South Korea’s President Moon Jae-In. At the summit, the two leaders agreed to work to reach a peace agreement in 2018 and for total nuclear disarmament on the Korean Peninsula. However, the process has stalled towards the end of the 2010s.

Relationship with the United States

South Korea has been heavily dependent on the United States since the Korean War. In 1954, Seoul and Washington signed an agreement to defend common security interests, and throughout the post-war era, the United States has had major troops in South Korea. At the same time, South Korea has been an important ally for the United States in Asia and the only country there that had major alliances in the Vietnam War.

Following the US-led alliance invasion of Iraq in 2003, South Korea sent troops to Iraq for five years. The operation was wound up after a South Korean interpreter was kidnapped and murdered. The last soldiers were taken home in 2008.

South Korea also contributed up to 2007 with a few hundred engineer soldiers and doctors to the NATO led Isaf force in Afghanistan.

The relationship between the United States and South Korea has been subject to both political and economic strain, including through large student demonstrations against the US military presence in South Korea. In 2007, both countries signed a free trade agreement, which in South Korea was seen as the most important event between them after the 1954 military agreement.

South Korea’s dependence on military strategic cooperation with the US declined over a period of time. North Korea’s nuclear weapons program forced Seoul to turn to China in 2002 to ask Beijing for help to influence Pyongyang, as US policy was considered too harsh. Since then, however, South Korea has sharpened its own line and once again approached the United States. North Korea has reacted sharply to South Korea’s annual military exercises with the US and the decision to set up the US missile defense system THAAD in South Korea (see below).

China and Japan

Relations with China have developed strongly, primarily through growing trade and investment. However, the relationship became colder after the 2016 joint decision by Seoul and Washington to deploy a US missile defense system THAAD in South Korea (see below). Beijing vigorously protested the decision, which is believed to disrupt the security balance in the region. South Korean commodity chain Lotte had to close almost all its stores, while sales of South Korean Hyundai were also reported to have hit sharply declining sales in 2017. When THAAD began to set up in South Korea in the spring of 2017, Beijing demanded that it be removed immediately. Chinese tourist trips to South Korea were suspended and Chinese authorities also imposed restrictions on South Korean group trips to China, which hit South Korean airlines and tour operators.

South Korea’s relationship with neighboring Japan has been complicated. The harsh colonial rule and subsequent occupation during the Second World War (see Older History) caused deep and long-lasting wounds in Koreans, who are still alive today. It was not until 1993 that the Japanese government acknowledged that many Korean women and girls were exploited as prostitutes on Japanese field brothels. Later, reports of continued discrimination against Koreans in Japan have rioted in South Korea. In 2015, an agreement was reached with Japan on financial compensation for the exploited women and the Japanese Prime Minister apologized for what had happened. Thus, the problem would be solved, one hoped not least from the Japanese side.

But after conducting an evaluation of the agreement, the new president Moon Jae-In decided three years later that it would be demolished because it had “major flaws”. The South Korean government would replace the fund set up with financial support from Japan to provide compensation to affected women and their families for their own funding. The decision helped to re-establish relations between the two countries.

In 2001, South Korea called home its ambassador from Japan in protest at the Japanese schools’ new history books smoothing over Japanese abuse during the occupation. Japan’s Prime Minister visited South Korea the same year and apologized for “the pain and sorrow” that Japan inflicted on the Korean people during the Japanese colonial empire.

An unresolved dispute over the sea border and the right to an uninhabited small archipelago (Dokdo; in Japanese Takeshima) flares up now and then. The area has rich fishing waters and in the depths of the sea there are large deposits of methane hydrates that are expected to be an important future energy source. As the first South Korean president, Lee visited Dokdo in August 2012. The visit led to a diplomatic protest from Japan as well as tensions between the two countries. South Korea’s critical attitude to Japan continued during the 2010s, but despite this line, South Korea and Japan’s cooperation has been strengthened in several areas, especially in the North Korea issue.

Defense

After the Korean War, South Korea was equipped with US assistance. The military was then ordained under UN command, and for a quarter of a century the UN command in South Korea was responsible for the country’s defense. The armed forces have since been subordinated to American control in the event of war.

In 2003 it was decided that the US ground alliance would be pulled south and that the South Korean army would take over at the front line to the north. By the end of the 2010, the United States had more than 30,000 people in South Korea. In the demilitarized zone there is a small base for neutral Swedish and Swiss officers who monitor the 1953 standstill agreement (see Modern History).

The defense was modernized in the 1980s and became one of Asia’s best-equipped military forces. North Korea has more soldiers and more weapons, but South Korea has just over 650,000 men under arms and a qualitatively stronger defense than its neighbor in the north. However, concern is high over North Korea’s nuclear weapons program, missile holdings and suspected stockpiles of biochemical weapons.

South Korea’s previous plans to develop a nuclear weapons program were abandoned following pressure from the United States.

In July 2016, South Korea and the United States signed an agreement to place the US missile defense system THAAD in South Korea. It could shoot down short and medium-range missiles from North Korea, which by the mid-2010s significantly increased its missile and nuclear weapons tests. The system began to be deployed in the spring of 2017 on a former golf course, owned by the Lotte department store, in the Seongj district south of the capital.

READ TIP – read more about South Korea in UI’s web magazine Foreign Magazine :
The shadows of history rest heavily on South Korea (2019-09-23)

DEEP on South Korea also available in World Politics Day Issues Korean Reunification: An Impossible Dream (No 9 2019) South Korea and the Presidential Crisis: Opening for Reform (No 6 2017)

FACTS – DEFENSE

Army: 495 000 men (2017)

The air Force: 65,000 men (2017)

The fleet: 70,000 men (2017)

Military expenditure’s share of GDP: 2.6 percent (2017)

Military spending’s share of the state budget: 12.1 percent (2017)

Singapore Defense and Foreign Policy

Singapore Defense and Foreign Policy

Foreign policy and defense

Based on geographical map from Digopaul, Singapore is a nation in Southeastern Asia. Its capital city is Singapore. Singapore has long had a complicated relationship with Malaysia in the north, but relations have improved since Lee Hsien Loong became Singaporean Prime Minister in 2004. Previously strained relations with Indonesia in the south have also become warmer. Singapore has a close relationship with the United States, while contacts with China are good on the economic level but tense on the political.

singapore military spending and defense budget

Relationship with Malaysia has been complicated since Singapore left the neighboring country and became an independent nation in 1965. The proximity means that mutual dependence is great and cooperation exists in many areas. The security services of both countries have cooperated in the arrest of suspected terrorists. However, conflicts over, for example, water supply, passport control, territorial water boundary, airspace and bridges across the Johor Strait have caused irritation.

  • Countryaah: Overview of business holidays and various national observances in Singapore for years of 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023, 2024 and 2025.

A meeting between Lee and Malaysia’s then Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak in 2010 led, among other things, to a solution to the water problem and exchanged land areas were exchanged, which in turn laid the foundation for a common zone for passport control. However, the warmer relations became a thorn in 2013 when it emerged in leaked US intelligence documents that Singapore was intercepting the Malaysian telephone network.

Improved relations with Indonesia

After bad relations in the 1960s, when Indonesia strongly opposed the Federation with Malaysia, Singapore invested in developing good relations with the then Indonesian President Suharto. After Suharto’s fall in 1998, relations became worse again. One source of conflict was the lack of a foreign exchange agreement, which resulted in Singapore not disclosing corruption-accused Indonesian businessmen who fled to Singapore during the Asian crisis of 1997-1998. Indonesia, in turn, has not disclosed persons accused of terrorism.

Relations deteriorated in 2013 when it emerged in leaked US intelligence documents that Singapore was spying on Indonesia. In February 2014, Indonesia renamed two warships after Indonesian militias carried out a bomb attack in Singapore in 1965, which led to protests from Singapore. Click Songaah to find songs associated with Singapore and printable song lyrics.

Indonesia’s inability to put a stop to the forest fires that sometimes ravage within the country, and to the health-hazardous smoke that develops from these, has caused irritation in neighboring countries such as Singapore as the smoke spreads throughout the region.

Since Joko Widodo became president of Indonesia in 2014, relations have improved significantly. A border conflict has been resolved and collaborations have been deepened in trade, higher education, counter-terrorism and disaster preparedness. The countries are now also cooperating in the fight against smoke development from the Indonesian fires.

Singapore attaches great importance to cooperation with the other Southeast Asian countries within ASEAN. This cooperation is considered to create such cohesion between the countries that the existing political contradictions between them can be kept under control. During the 2010 century, the Asean countries created a common free trade area. The membership of Apec is also of great importance. In 1993, Apec established a permanent secretariat in Singapore.

China and the United States

Singapore established diplomatic relations with China in 1990. Singapore primarily sees China as a market for trade and investment, but it also sees concerns about China’s growing economic and military influence in Southeast Asia. Singapore has extensive bilateral relations with China, as well as cooperation through ASEAN. In 2008, the two countries signed a free trade agreement and they cooperate in infrastructure development. China is today Singapore’s largest trading partner. China, however, disapproves of Singapore’s good relations with Taiwan as well as Singapore’s military and security cooperation with the United States in Southeast Asia.

Singapore is investing in good relations with Europe and the United States, partly as a counterbalance to China and Japan’s influence in the region. Cooperation with the US is particularly important. But especially during the 1990s, the United States criticized the Singaporean government’s lack of respect for human rights. At the same time, the US military has access to facilities in Singapore for maintenance, and after the terrorist attacks against the US in 2001, security cooperation has been strengthened as part of the fight against terrorism.

During the Obama administration in the United States, relations were very good. Among other things, a decision was made to base four American warships in Singapore. The decision was seen as part of the US’s increased interest in Asia and was taken at a time when regional tensions in the South China Sea were strong. In 2004, the two countries signed a free trade agreement.

In 2017, Singapore suspended its trade relations with North Korea as part of the UN sanctions against the Pyongyang regime and its efforts to develop its nuclear arsenal. The initiative for the new sanctions was taken by the United States.

Defense

As a small, mainly Chinese, state surrounded by Malays and Muslims, Singapore feels security policy vulnerable. The country is investing heavily in a strong and modern defense. Military duty is mandatory for 24 months and annual training camps are conducted for reservists. Military exercises are done together with the UK, Australia, New Zealand and Malaysia.

Cooperation between Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia since 2004, and with Thailand since 2005 and India since 2006, has led to virtually all piracy operations in the Strait of Malacca. It was previously a major regional security problem.

In 2015, Singapore signed an agreement with the United States on enhanced defense cooperation. The agreement was a result of rising tensions in the region over China’s territorial demands in the South China Sea. For the first time, the United States sent a spy plan to Singapore for a week.

FACTS – DEFENSE

Army: 50,000 men (2017)

The air Force: 13,500 men (2017)

The fleet: 9,000 men (2017)

Military expenditure’s share of GDP: 3.3 percent (2017)

Military spending’s share of the state budget: 17.2 percent (2017)

Saudi Arabia Defense and Foreign Policy

Saudi Arabia Defense and Foreign Policy

Foreign policy and defense

Based on geographical map from Digopaul, Saudi Arabia is a nation in Western Asia. Its capital city is Riyadh. The status of Saudi Arabia as the place of Islam is characterized by relations with the outside world. Solidarity with other Muslim countries has long been a cornerstone of foreign policy. At the same time, the country is a regional superpower with Shia Muslim Iran as its counterpart. Security aspects and financial interests lie behind Saudi Arabia’s strategic and economically close cooperation with the United States.

saudi arabia military spending and defense budget

Tensions have recently intensified in the region. Oppositions between Sunni and Shi’a Muslims, but also between authoritarian regimes and both liberal reformers and fundamentalist warriors, make the situation in the immediate area extremely unstable. In recent years, Saudi Arabia has actively participated in both Shiite and jihadist adversaries by assisting the government of Bahrain, participating in US-led air strikes in Syria and conducting air strikes in Yemen.

  • Countryaah: Overview of business holidays and various national observances in Saudi Arabia for years of 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023, 2024 and 2025.

The development is partly due to the popular democracy uprising in North Africa and the Middle East from 2011. The uprising caused domestic political unrest in Saudi Arabia and presented the country with a new security policy situation. An important ally was lost when Egypt’s authoritarian regime fell and for a time was replaced by a government dominated by the Islamic Muslim Brotherhood, which Saudi Arabia regards with suspicion. The relationship has improved since the Brotherhood overthrew in 2013 and Egypt was again given a military-controlled regime.

In the bloody uprising that began in Syria against President Bashar al-Assad, Saudi Arabia has supported arms rebels. Assad belongs to a Shiite Muslim minority and is closely allied with Iran, which competes with Saudi Arabia for dominance in the region. When the Islamic State (IS) extremist group – also opponents of Assad – took up large parts of Syria and Iraq in 2014, Saudi Arabia joined the US-led alliance that took up arms against IS. The development led to wear and tear in the relationship with the US. For the Saudi government, it was disappointing that the United States did not wholeheartedly endorse the Assad regime.

Approaching Trump

The cautious thunderstorm that arose between the US and Iran after the change of presidential post in Iran 2013 also worried. Saudi Arabia’s decision in October 2013 to reject the offer of a rotating seat in the UN Security Council was interpreted as indirect criticism of Washington and was seen as a signal that the country has now begun to pursue a more independent foreign policy. However, Donald Trump’s takeover as President of the United States in 2017 meant a new shift with strong mutual support. Trump’s first trip abroad began in Saudi Arabia and both he and King Salman then pointed out Iran as the center of Islamist terrorism.

Cooperation with the United States has been crucial since modern Saudi Arabia was founded and oil was found in the 1930s. The US has bought a large part of its oil from Saudi Arabia, which in turn is dependent on the US for its security. US strong support for Israel has not hindered cooperation. But the state of opinion at home and the development of the region made relations with the United States an increasingly difficult balancing act for the Saudi government after the turn of the millennium.

Disbelief against Iran goes way back in history. When the western-friendly regime in Tehran in 1979 fell for a US-hostile revolution that resulted in a Shi’ite regime in Iran, it was a blow to the US and Saudi Arabia’s joint strategy in the region. The government in Riyadh shares the Western world’s concern for Iran to develop nuclear weapons. When Iran signed agreements with the United States and other major powers on its nuclear energy program in 2015 (see Iran: Foreign Policy and Defense), Saudi Arabia worries that the arch rival would strengthen its role internationally. In 2016, Riyadh severed diplomatic relations with Tehran, since protesters in the Iranian capital stormed the Saudi embassy (see Calendar).

Concerns after the Iraq invasion

During the war between Iran and Iraq from 1980 to 1988, Saudi Arabia supported Iraq. But when Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990 and positioned troops at the Iraqi-Saudi border, the situation changed. The Saudis requested international assistance, and the United States responded with military charging in the area. In February 1991, a US-led UN force had expelled Iraqis from Kuwait. Saudi Arabia broke with Iraq and resumed relations with Iran. Only in 2015 did relations with Iraq resume.

The war of 1990-1991 meant a severe loss of prestige for the Saudi regime because it had to ask the West for help. Several thousand American soldiers remained after the war, with the good memory of the government. Many Saudis and Muslims in other countries were upset that the soldiers were allowed to be stationed near Islam’s most sacred sites.

The terrorist attacks against the United States in 2001 and the subsequent US-led global war on terrorism further complicated the situation. Under US pressure, the Riyadh regime promised to cooperate against terrorism without formally joining the US-led anti-terror alliance. The US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 also had a major impact on Saudi Arabia. The Saudi regime had to deal with a growing hatred of the US at home; during the invasion, Americans were not allowed to attack from Saudi soil. After the war, US soldiers left the country. Riyadh feared a growing influence for the previously powerless Shiite majority in Iraq. Saudi Arabia has since seen Shiite government officials in Iraq almost like Iranian lackeys.

Following Saudi Arabia’s handling of the mildly oppositional journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who was brought to life at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul in October 2018, cooperation between Washington and Riyadh has instead been questioned from the US. Not least, President Trump’s friendship with the Crown Prince and Trump’s defense of the major contracts between Saudi Arabia and the US defense industry have been criticized.

Cooperation and cracks on the Arabian Peninsula

Out of concern for Shiite Muslim expansion, Riyadh took the initiative of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) in 1981, in which five other Arab states in the Persian Gulf are also included – Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, United Arab Emirates and Oman. The organization’s joint military force was used in neighboring Bahrain in 2011 to, at the request of the Sunni-dominated government, defeat Shiite Muslim insurgents.

A serious crack occurred in the GCC after the Arab Spring because of Qatar’s open support for the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. In 2014, Riyadh stamped the Brotherhood, which has branches in several Arab countries, and brought home its ambassador from Qatar. So did the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain. In June 2017, the conflict intensified sharply, when Saudi Arabia accused Qatar of supporting terrorists and breaking diplomatic relations. Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and other countries in the region followed the Saudi example and Qatar was isolated. Consequently, GCC was also paralyzed.

Border disputes that go back decades have even to some extent disturbed relations with Qatar, as well as with the United Arab Emirates. A rapprochement between Kuwait and Turkey, which led to a joint defense plan for 2019, is also reported to have led to disapproval. Saudi Arabia and Kuwait disagree on two common oil fields.

Support to Muslim countries

Saudi Arabia has increased its influence in other countries in recent decades, including through large financial contributions and favorable loans to poor countries. The recipients are found mainly in the Arab world and Africa but also further afield. The Prime Minister of Malaysia was released in 2016 from suspicions of corruption in his home country, after it was found that the $ 681 million he received prior to a 2013 election was a gift from the Saudi royal house. A Saudi source stated that the purpose was to counteract the influence of the Muslim Brotherhood in Malaysia, and noted that this kind of payments to other countries were not uncommon.

The Palestinians have received much financial assistance, but at the same time, Saudi Arabia has countered Arab demands for total isolation of Israel. In 2002, Saudi Arabia presented a peace plan that offered normalized Arab-Israeli relations in exchange for Israeli withdrawal from occupied territories. An attempt to breathe new life into the plan was made in 2007, with clear results. Riyadh has also sought to mediate between rival Palestinian groups Hamas and Fatah, and in the domestic conflict in Lebanon. A certain rapprochement between Saudi Arabia and Israel has been observed, especially as a result of both countries’ distrust of Iran. One question is how far that thawing weather can go. The US initiative during Trump’s presidency to push through a peace plan that strongly favors Israel has upset Arab countries,

Saudi Arabia’s relationship with neighboring Yemen in the south deteriorated after the Kuwaiti war in 1991, when Yemen did not support the Allies. Saudi Arabia expelled some 800,000 Yemenites and in the 1994 Yemeni Civil War, Riyadh supported the uprising in the south. Hostile Saudis find a sanctuary in the neighboring country, where al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (Aqip) has its stronghold. But in the increasingly unstable situation in Yemen from 2011, it is especially the Shiite Muslims who are concerned about the Saudis. When the rebels pushed the president away and took control of much of the country (see Yemen: Current Politics) in March 2015, Riyadh launched air strikes against them along with several other Arab countries and with indirect support from the United States. Later in the year, the Saudis also joined ground troops in Yemen. Saudi Arabia accuses Iran of supporting the Huthir rebels and the war in Yemen has come to be seen as an indirect war, partly through agents, between Saudis and Iranians. The war has led to a severe humanitarian crisis in the already poor neighboring country.

In the United Nations, Saudi Arabia has repeatedly opposed reports of global warming, as the texts usually contain conclusions that Member States are not taking adequate action against climate change emissions. Climate scientists argue that it is necessary to drastically reduce emissions from fossil fuels – Saudi Arabia’s most important export commodity.

Defense

Political unrest in the Middle East has fueled a military upheaval in Saudi Arabia. The country had the largest military spending in the region and the third largest in the world in 2018, according to the Peace Research Institute Sipri. Military spending amounted to 8.8 percent of GDP, and they had nevertheless declined compared to the previous year. The weapons are mainly purchased from the US but also from Europe. In recent years, the country has put more resources on border guard and on counterterrorism forces.

Under the royal house is the National Guard, which is almost as large as the army. The National Guard will protect the royal family and defeat coup attempts or rebellions. An industrial security force was established in 2007 to protect primarily the oil industry. There is also a semi-military border force. The regional cooperation organization GCC had in 2014 At least 30,000 soldiers in a joint force, and according to a decision the year before, the force would be expanded to about 100,000 men, of which a large proportion of Saudis. However, the break with Qatar 2017 means that the future of GCC cooperation is unclear.

Military service is optional.

The United States no longer has troops stationed in Saudi Arabia, but there are a number of US military advisers. In 2013, it was revealed that for two years the United States had a secret air base in Saudi Arabia from which driverless aircraft, so-called drones, could attack targets in neighboring countries.

FACTS – DEFENSE

Army: 75,000 men (2017)

The air Force: 2,000 men (2017)

The fleet: 13,500 men (2017)

Military expenditure’s share of GDP: 10.3 percent (2017)

Military spending’s share of the state budget: 30.4 percent (2017)

Qatar Defense and Foreign Policy

Qatar Defense and Foreign Policy

Foreign policy and defense

Based on geographical map from Digopaul, Qatar is a nation in Western Asia. Its capital city Doha. It is important for Qatar to maintain stability around the Persian Gulf. The country seeks to increase its influence internationally and at the same time calls for good relations with as many states as possible; among other things, Qatar maintains close political and military contacts with the West, especially the United States. The regime is considered more liberal and Western-friendly in foreign affairs than many of the more conservative countries in the region.

qatar military spending and defense budget

Qatar joined the GCC in 1981, but the relationship with other members has sometimes been frosty. After a period of heightened tensions with mainly Saudi Arabia and its close allies, relations in June 2017 became directly hostile. Several countries in the region broke diplomatic relations and, among other things, banned Qatari flights from using surrounding airspace (see Calendar).

  • Countryaah: Overview of business holidays and various national observances in Qatar for years of 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023, 2024 and 2025.

In addition to Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt, Yemen, the Maldives, Mauritania and – to some extent – Lebanon, Senegal and Chad joined the boycott.

In the past, contradictions with the neighboring countries have been due to border problems or that countries such as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have seen with unblinking eyes on Qatar’s will to reform. The al-Jazira TV channel, which is based in Qatar, has caused irritation as it was considered the regime’s foreign language channel, rather than an independent broadcaster. The channel’s news offering includes inconvenient events for power holders in neighboring countries, such as extensive surveillance of the assassination of Saudi regime critic Jamal Khashoggi at Saudi Arabia’s Consulate in Istanbul 2018. Among the demands that Qatar’s neighboring countries made in connection with the crisis that broke out in 2017 were -Jazira would be closed.

After the Arab Spring of 2011, relations with the other countries in the region deteriorated due to Qatar’s support for and al-Jazira’s reporting on the Muslim Brotherhood, which several countries considered to be a threat to their security. Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain called home their ambassadors in 2014 after accusations that Qatar had joined the countries’ domestic politics, but the dispute was resolved after Qatar agreed to cushion the Brotherhood’s operations in the country. However, dissatisfaction persisted and was one of the reasons behind the new break in 2017.

Qatar, on the other hand, has very friendly relations. Turkey has promised military and other support since the conflict with neighboring countries arose.

Qatar’s close relations with Shia Muslim Iran disturb the Sunni Muslim royal houses in neighboring countries. Several of the countries, mainly Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, have partially Shiite people who feel discriminated against and the authorities hold a high suspicion of Iran’s actions in the region.

American airbase

Following the terrorist attacks against the United States on September 11, 2001, Qatar gave up its territory to the Americans in the ensuing war against the Taliban regime in Afghanistan. Qatar, on the other hand, opposed US plans for a unilateral attack on Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, but when the Iraq war began in 2003, US, British and Australian aircraft were stationed in Qatar, as well as the US Combat Command Center. After the war, the US forces and the US regional headquarters were moved from Saudi Arabia to Qatar. The air base in al-Udayd is now the United States largest military facility in the region with an American staff of about 9,000 people and about 90 fighter aircraft. At the end of 2014, the US lease of the base was extended by ten years. Today, Qatar belongs to a small crowd close to US allies outside NATO cooperation.

Both Qatar and the United States have chosen not to speak so highly of their close cooperation, as there is criticism within Qatar against it. It is also known that groups in Qatar have contributed to funding more extreme Islamist groups, and that some of the cash flows to the Islamic State (IS) have been able to pass through the country. Yet, like other countries in the region, Qatar has supported the US fight against IS. Among other things, Qatar has participated in air strikes against IS positions in Syria. It has also been promised to stop recruits from going to IS and to stop making money contributions to the jihadist group. However, support for extreme groups was a major reason stated by Saudi Arabia and its allies to break relations in 2017.

Qatar signed a bilateral trade agreement with Israel in 1996. However, after the Israeli offensive in Gaza in 2008-2009, Qatar broke off trade contacts. At the same time, Qatar has always maintained good relations with Israel’s worst enemies: Palestinian Hamas and Lebanese Hezbollah. In 2018, a collaboration that attracted attention was reported when Qatar, with the Israeli government’s consent, was allowed to finance fuel for Gaza’s power plant and salaries to public servants in the Hamas-controlled area. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu suffered a minor government crisis, but earlier in the year had declared openly that he saw better relations with Arab countries as a target, and as a possible path to a settlement with the Palestinians.

The good relations with Iran mean, among other things, that Qatar has declared that the country would never agree to allow US flights to use its base in Qatar for a possible attack on Iran.

mediating Efforts

Qatar has mediated between warring factions from Afghanistan and hosted talks between the Taliban movement and the United States, which sought ways to end their efforts in Afghanistan after a war started in 2003 (in pursuit of the al-Qaeda terror network) that lasted longer than Washington imagined. On March 1, 2020, the United States and the Taliban signed an agreement in Qatar with the intention of withdrawing from Afghanistan for the US soldiers.

Doha has also tried to mediate in other disputes in the region: in 2008, the government hosted a successful mediation between disputed Lebanese politicians. In 2007 and 2008, Qatar brokered peace between government and rebels in Yemen, but failed to stop the fighting. In 2014, an attempt was made to mediate in a war between Israel and radical Palestinian groups in the Gaza Strip and hosted meetings between Palestinian factions. Qatar also claimed the same year to have helped to release the release of 45 Fiji UN soldiers captured by Syrian rebels at the Golan Heights.

In addition, through “soft diplomacy”, Qatar has tried to put the country on the map, among other things by ensuring that a number of major international sporting events have been placed in Qatar, such as the short course World Cup in swimming 2014, the World Cup in handball 2015, the World Cup in athletics 2019 and football World Cup 2022. Not least the latter has been criticized for the poor working conditions for the many guest workers who build the arenas (see also Labor Market). Information that wealthy Qatar has defected to the host, since the hot and humid summer climate really makes the country unsuitable for many types of competition, is being investigated in, among others, France.

Relations with Russia deteriorated after the Chechen president Zelimtjan Jandarbijev was killed in 2004 by a car bomb in Qatar, which said this was done with the approval of the Russian leadership, which Moscow denied. However, in 2008, Qatar and Russia together with Iran – the world’s three largest gas exporting countries – formed the Gas Exporting Countries Forum (GECF) whose secretariat was placed in Doha.

General military duty was introduced in 2014 for men between the ages of 18 and 35. Anyone who has completed an academic degree is required to serve three months, the rest for four months. The military duty for men was extended in 2018 to a year at the same time as voluntary community service was introduced for Qatari women.

In 2019, Qatar received the first of 36 Rafale fighter aircraft ordered from French manufacturer Dassault. Previously, Qatar’s air force had, among other things, Mirage Plan. France’s interest in selling weapons to Qatar has been cited as the backdrop for Qatar’s applications for hosting major sports competitions to receive French support.

FACTS – DEFENSE

Army: 8,500 men (2017)

The air Force: 1,500 men (2017)

The fleet: 1 800 men (2017)

Military expenditure’s share of GDP: 1.5 percent (2010)

Military spending’s share of the state budget: 4.9 percent (2010)

Philippines Defense and Foreign Policy

Philippines Defense and Foreign Policy

Foreign policy and defense

Based on geographical map from Digopaul, Philippines is a nation in Southeastern Asia. Its capital city is Manila. The strong ties to the US dominate foreign policy. The Americans had military bases in the country for a long time, but were forced to leave them in 1992, but military cooperation continued even after that. At the same time, contacts with other Asian countries have become more important. However, relations with China in particular are disturbed by a dispute over an island group in the South China Sea. After the change of power in 2016, President Rodrigo Duterte has both ended up on a collision course with the US and China, which has adopted a more conciliatory line vis-à-vis the two major powers. The Philippines has also approached Russia.

philippines military spending and defense budget

Assessors pointed out that the president often acted to try to gain benefits by playing the United States, China, and to some extent, Russia against each other.

  • Countryaah: Overview of business holidays and various national observances in Philippines for years of 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023, 2024 and 2025.

As long as Barack Obama remained as US president, contacts between the Philippines and the US were complicated, as Duterte reacted negatively to all criticism of the human rights crimes committed in the country. After Donald Trump took over as US President in 2017, relations improved, but even then, Duterte quickly swung between positions.

Since 2002, the United States has been military advisers in the country to assist the Philippine Army in its offensive against Abu Sayyaf and other militant Islamist groups (see Muslim separatists). However, the American soldiers have no right to participate in fighting. The soldiers also assist in development projects. Joint military exercises have also been held annually at various locations in the Philippines (see below). The Philippines also participated with a small force in Iraq in 2003, but it was withdrawn in 2004 a month earlier than planned, despite criticism from the United States.

When Benigno Aquino took over as president in 2010, in September / October he made his first official trip to the United States, signaling that he wanted even closer contacts with Washington, in an attempt to balance China’s growing influence in the region. During his US visit, Aquino was promised more aid and investment. American soldiers also assisted in the rescue work after the typhoon Haiyan 2013.

In 2014, the countries renewed their defense agreement. The new Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA)), gives the United States greater access to Philippine military bases. In the Philippines, the agreement has been criticized mainly by left-wing politicians. However, Duterte said in September 2016 that he wanted the United States to bring in his military advisers from Mindanao in the southern Philippines, as they contributed to tensions in the region rather than counteracting them. He also announced a stop for joint marine exercises. The course change was welcomed by China. However, the joint exercise was held as planned in 2016. One of the exercises was canceled the following year, but was not completely stopped. However, when a new Islamist group entered the city of Marawi in May 2017, the Philippine army was assisted by US military advisers. Duterte claimed he did not know this, but at the same time thanked the United States for the help.

Duterte has also made several drastic statements about breaking ties with the United States, including a state visit to China in October 2016, but the importance of this was later downplayed by several of his ministers. In early 2020, however, the Philippines announced that it would terminate one of the military agreements, the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), which, if nothing new, would end within six months, hamper any continued military cooperation between the countries (see also Calendar). The agreement, which enables military cooperation and states that US military cannot be prosecuted in the Philippines. was terminated via a document signed by Foreign Minister Teddy Locsin, who at the same time claimed that it was about getting a revision, not ending it. At the same time, Defense Minister Delfin Lorenzana had briefly stated beforehand that all talk of terminating the agreement was “fake news”. It was pointed out that VFA was the basis for maintaining other defense agreements between the Philippines and the United States and that the decision to terminate it could have serious consequences. In addition, the Philippines continues to depend on the United States, not least because almost all defense equipment is American. Islamist terrorist groups. In June 2020, the government made a reversal, saying that no decisions on the issue would be made until the earliest. It is likely that China’s increasingly aggressive actions in the South China Sea are behind the turnaround.

The Philippines also has defense cooperation with Australia.

Conflict over the Sprat Islands

Relations with China, Taiwan, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei are disturbed by the countries claiming, in whole or in part, the Spratly Islands (in the Philippines called the Kayalaan archipelago), which is located in an area of ​​the South China Sea (which the Philippines began calling the West Philippine Sea in 2011) which is believed to be rich in oil. Tensions have emerged several times between the Philippines and China, despite pledges that the countries should try to find peaceful solutions in regional conflicts. The United States supports the Philippines’ demands on the Sprat Islands. The two countries have conducted several military exercises near the islands.

The unrest area has been growing since 2011. The Philippines has accused China of entering the oceans on several occasions known as Filipino. China, for its part, has criticized the Philippines for starting to search for oil and gas in areas claimed by the Chinese. One of the most serious incidents occurred in April 2012, near Scarborough Shoal, when a Philippine naval ship attempted to intervene on Chinese fishing vessels which they claimed were not allowed to fish in the area. In June, however, the Philippines decided to withdraw its vessels from the area, which was welcomed by China. Shortly thereafter, the Chinese fishing boats also left the area.

In 2013, the Philippines said that the diplomatic channels had been exhausted to resolve the dispute and that they had asked the UN to mediate between the parties. Both countries have signed the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). The stance between the countries continued to be high and China threatened to impose financial sanctions on the Philippines. In 2014, President Aquino compared China’s actions with Hitler’s. His tough line against China received strong support at home.

After four years of work, the United Nations Permanent Arbitration Tribunal in The Hague in July 2016 announced its ruling in the Philippines-China conflict over China’s claim of 85 percent of the territorial waters of the South China Sea. The Court went on the Philippines’ line and ruled that the Chinese claims “have no legal basis”. Chinese President Xi Jinping announced that China rejected the verdict and would not accept any documents based on this decision. China also said it had the right to set up an air defense zone in the conflict area and announced that it would now begin regular air surveillance there.

The Philippines is approaching China

Having previously threatened to hold a hard line against China, Duterte announced at a summit in Asean in September 2016 that the Philippines would no longer patrol the waters around the Sprat Islands with ships of foreign power, that is, the United States. Duterte also tried in other ways to approach China. He tried to persuade the Chinese to slow down in the development of the Scarborough Shoal and to try to agree on common fishing rights.

He approached Beijing further in connection with a state visit to China in the fall of 2016. At that time, the countries signed 13 cooperation agreements dealing with coordination of coastguard, drug trafficking, infrastructure and more. In addition, China pledged $ 24 billion in loans. The following year, President Duterte made several statements suggesting a closer relationship between the countries. In November 2017, Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang visited the Philippines and promised new Chinese loans for several infrastructure projects, later promises of even more money for various infrastructure projects. China also helped the Philippines with weapons and ammunition in connection with the Islamist siege of the city of Marawi in Mindanao (see Muslim separatists). The countries also agreed on a proposal on how bilateral Disputes in the South China Sea would be resolved, but nevertheless new word wars have flared up.

Relations with other Asian countries

The Philippines is part of ASEAN which has gradually developed into a significant political and economic force. Cooperation is important for the Philippines as it gives the country a regional identity that has nothing to do with the United States.

In 2013, tensions also increased between the Philippines and Taiwan since the Philippine Coast Guard shot to death a Taiwanese fisherman who they claimed had entered Philippine waters. President Aquino apologized for the shooting, which he said was unintentional, but Taiwan highlighted that the apology was insufficient. Taiwan took several measures, including stopping all new work permits for Filipino workers (about 87,000 Filipinos lived and worked in Taiwan) and a travel alert to the Philippines was issued. Taiwan also recalled its envoy to the Philippines.

Relations with Malaysia have been strengthened through the neighboring country’s role as mediator between the Philippine government and the Milf guerrilla. The relationship between the countries has been complicated to some extent by the so-called Sultanate of Sulu, in the southern Philippines, claiming the Malaysian state of Sabah. A Filipino clan’s attack on a village in Sabah was quickly defeated by the Malaysian military in early 2013. At least 70 people were killed. The Government of the Philippines highlighted that it had nothing to do with the attack. Concerns were then high about how the event would affect the approximately 800,000 Filipinos working in Sabah. In 2016, nine Filipinos were sentenced by a Sabah court to life imprisonment for their role in the attack.

Japan is also an important partner country and several large Japanese companies have interests in the Philippine industry. Japan is also an important aid provider, and in recent years, the countries have increased their cooperation on security and organized crime. In January 2017, Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was the first foreign head of government to visit the Philippines after Duterte came to power.

In 2014, after many years of negotiations, the Philippines and Indonesia concluded a settlement as to where the sea border between the countries would go. A few years later, they started a collaboration, together with Malaysia, to better protect themselves from terrorist and pirate attacks. The following year they began to jointly patrol the Sulus and Celebs. In 2018, the three countries, Thailand, Singapore and Brunei, began to share intelligence reports.

In recent years, the Philippines has concluded a number of trade agreements with Myanmar.

In connection with the murder of a Filipino woman in Kuwait in 2020, the Philippine government decided to prevent its citizens from visiting guests in the country. A similar stop was introduced in connection with another murder of a Filipino guest worker in Kuwait (see Calendar).

Defense

Alongside the Army (Armed Forces of the Philippines, AFP) is the National Police (Philippine National Police, PNP) which also belongs to the defense.

In the mid-1990s, large parts of the defense equipment were old, some of the navy vessels were from World War II, and helicopters used by the United States during the Vietnam War were used. A modernization of the defense was initiated by Benigno Aquino, but although the appropriations for the military increased sharply, there was not enough money to complete the plans. However, since 2000, the Philippines has received military support for about $ 800 million from the United States, in the form of military equipment (including drones, helicopters and automatic carbines). Under Duterte, further defense efforts have been announced, and in 2018 submitted a five-year plan with a budget of $ 5.6 billion for the purchase of new equipment, including from South Korea and Israel.

Defense-political cooperation began with Russia in the fall of 2017. In connection with a Russian warship visiting Manila in October that year, the Philippines received 5,000 automatic carbines (kalashnikovs) and 20 army vehicles. The Philippines also signed an agreement to buy Russian grenade launchers, but no mention was made of the quantities involved. China, too, has donated weapons to the Philippines.

Both the army and the PNP are accused of human rights violations and corruption. This also applies to militia groups such as Citizen Armed Forces Geographical Units (CAFGU), which are formally controlled by the military, and Civilian Volunteers Organizations (CVO) that are under police control.

There are also a large number of private armies, most of them in Mindanao, usually formed to protect the interests of provincial politicians and powerful landowners (both Muslim and Christian). Periodically, private armies have been able to register as CAFGU or CVO militia, which has meant that they have been able to obtain weapons from the government army.

FACTS – DEFENSE

Army: 86 000 men (2017)

The air Force: 15,000 men (2017)

The fleet: 24 000 men (2017)

Military expenditure’s share of GDP: 1.4 percent (2017)

Military spending’s share of the state budget: 6.9 percent (2017)