Visualizing The Global Weapons Trade

Tyler Durden's picture

The following visualization sums up the global weapons trade during the Obama era. It was created by data scientist Hai Nguyen Mau, and each relationship plots the value of the weapons trade between two countries based on data from SIPRI.

As VisualCapitalist's Jeff Desjardins points out, it’s important to note that while this data includes major weaponry transfers such as tanks, jets, missiles, and ships, it excludes guns and ammunition or military aid. Lastly, the thickness of each line represents the total value of each trade relationship, while the proximity of two linked countries shows how close each relationship is. (i.e. if a country only imports from Russia, they will be much closer to Russia than the U.S.)

The above visualization sums up the global weapons trade during the Obama era, minus data from 2016. It was created by data scientist Hai Nguyen Mau, and each relationship plots the value of the weapons trade between two countries based on data from SIPRI.

To see the full version of this visualization click here.


The global weapons trade is dominated by a few major exporters, such as United States, EU, and Russia:

Together, the United States, European Union, and Russia combine for over 80% of weapons exports, while the rest of the world fills out the “longtail” of the exporter distribution.

From the perspective of imports, the field is much more equal because almost every country aims to spend at least some money on defense. India is the largest importer of weapons in the world with a 14% share of the market.


The picture behind the global weapons trade gets much more interesting as it is broken up into relationships. It’s easy to see that there are two distinct blocs of trade:

  • The West: United States, United Kingdom, Canada, most of the EU, and other countries
  • The East: Russia, China, India, Nigeria, and other countries

As an example, Singapore imports 71% of its weapons from the United States along with significant amounts from Germany (10%) and Sweden (6%). As such, it is very close to the United States in these visualizations.

Meanwhile, India imports 70% of its arms from Russia, with the U.S. (12%) and Israel (7%) as other major partners.

Here’s another look from Hai Nguyen Mau that just focuses on U.S. and Russian relationships:

An oversimplication, to be sure – but these visualizations hint at the broader tensions that have recently surfaced to the forefront of geopolitical discourse.

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pachanguero's picture

Nice the Death Star is selling pain and suffering under the Red, White and Blue....

mantrid's picture

"Nice the Death Star is selling pain and suffering under the Red, White and Blue..."

You mean American flag, Russian flag or UK flag? :P

The Navigator's picture

We sell death everywhere.

Where ever it's profitable.

See General Smedly Butlers "War is a Racket"


doctor10's picture

The market for these weapons is dependent upon the globalist driven chaos we see all around us;

shit can the globalists-

Most countries just want to be left alone to trade peacefully with one another

besnook's picture

USA!USA!USA! death and destruction is what makes america exceptional and the greatest nation in the history of the world.......for now.

davidnv's picture

Is it just me or is it unfuckingly ironic that all of this goes on in the name of some form of perceived security?

DuneCreature's picture

Owning weapons and staying proficient with them is one thing.

Owning weapons and using them aggressively to take what you want from others is quite a different animal.

An armed world is a civilized and polite world, just like my neighborhood. ... We have a bustling arms trade here and not a speck of trouble 99.9% of the time.

Live Hard, Keeping Ammo In Stock Is A Bitch If Your Good Buddies Can Find It, Be Sure To Keep A Spare Supply In Various Unmarked Containers, Die Free

~ DC v4.0

holdbuysell's picture

How many Americans are dying from American-made weapons sold abroad?

Unconscionable. How is this not treason?

Is-Be's picture

Treason is a word not often heard these days of multi culti Ideals.

For good reason. Treasonous bastards.

desertboy's picture

One LOOMING over-simplification is Taiwan.    

SirBarksAlot's picture

Hillary's living in her own little world. Shouldn't she and her boys in ISIS be on that map?

blindman's picture

it appears india, saudi arabia and china
are being fools for usa, eu and uk and russia.
not for nuthin'.

brianshell's picture

Mama take this badge off me...knockin on heavens door.

rahrog's picture

America is covered in the blood of its innocent victims.


You reap what you sow.


onmail1's picture

The entire mankind is slowly getting enlightened to
the idea that
(1)keeping deadly arms is the measure for security
(2) Selling arms leads to boost in economy

Ultimately these arms are used by mankind against mankind
leading to death, destruction, poverty , hunger & homelessness

Wake up humanity
by killing each other
we only eliminate
exterminate & make us extinct

then who will enjoy this world?

Fireman's picture

You can hardly blame evil, psychopathic filth for using ignorant, redneck and ethnic mutts poisoned with idiotic "patriotic" hubris for killing foreigners, destroying their countries and stealing their resources. Or?

onmail1's picture

America has millions of veterans
They stood for america
pledged their life , limbs & blood
now they stand homeless
& live on donations

And the def. corporations & politicians
got richer & richer
not by millions , not by billions
but by trillions

Fireman's picture

“Military men are just dumb, stupid animals to be used as pawns in foreign policy.” Hank Kissenger (Nobel "peace" prize laureate and infamous war criminal.


Pentacon Kill Industries Inc thanks these peons for their "service".

SmittyinLA's picture

Show the weapons trade map by religion of seller and creditor

photonsoflight's picture

Those that live by the sword shall die by the sword.

turing's picture

What this fails to show is how the value of the arms is determined. A simple conversion is almost impossible. Also, we need to know the sophistication of the arms, that is, the level of technolgy. Surplus and out of date technology means little.

Dead Indiana Sky's picture

That chart re-defines vampire squid.  Our tentacles sucking life out of every corner of the globe.