After a 44-day bloody civil war in 1948, the rebel fighters of Costa Rica banned the country from having a standing army. Other than conquered nations under the dominion of another, is there any self-ruling nation that has ever fully disbanded its armed forces?

  • Any state that uses a defense militia has no standing army but has not disbanded its armed forces. Republican Rome, for example. – Oldcat Jul 7 '14 at 23:40

There is a current List of Countries with no Armed Forces on Wikipedia.

Before the 20th century, most armies were private or answerable to only individuals, not the state. You assume men fight for "countries", but even today many armies fight for a leader, not a country. To enumerate some of the armies or non-armies of the past:

(1) The Constitution of the United States forbids maintenance of standing armies and until the time of the Civil War, the United States had no standing army.

(2) Many small principalities like Ragusa, San Marino, Andorra, etc. have or had little or no army. Lichtenstein has had no army at all since 1939.

(3) Until about the time of the English Civil War, England had no standing army. The king relied on the fealty of his subjects. He would have to raise an army if he wanted to start a war. Moreover, the army was considered the army of the king, not of England.

(4) In Europe the situation was the same. Different princes would raise armies at different times for different purposes, but if a state was at peace, then often there was no army. Once again, when armies were raised, they answered to the prince or king or to whoever paid them.

(5) In ancient Greece, none of the city states had armies. If a war occurred, an army would be formed and a strategos would be appointed to lead it. After the war was over, all the men would go home.

(6) Ancient Rome was the same way. Until the time of Marius, about 100 B.C., Rome had no permanent legions, and only formed them at such time as they were needed.

(7) A book written in England in 1727 listed the following as the nations without standing armies: "Poland, Biscay, Switzerland, the Grisons, Venice, Holland, Genoa, Geneva, Ragusa, Algiers, Tunis, Hamborough, Lubeck, all the free towns in Germany, and England and Scotland until the late reigns."

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    The US had a standing army before the Civil War. It was known as the "Regular Army" when Militia were raised. Founded in 1784. The Bill of Rights forbids quartering troops on the civilian population in a time of peace. – Oldcat Jul 8 '14 at 17:51
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    Next year, when my unit celebrates the US Army's birthday of 14 June, 1775, I'll have to tell my Colonel that they are all wrong. – CGCampbell Jul 8 '14 at 18:15
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    @CGCampbell The army of the Continental Congress, which dates to 1775, was functionally disbanded with the resignation of its commander in 1783. It was fully and totally disbanded and dissolved in 1784 after the Treaty of Paris by an act of the Continental Congress which created it. Also, per its name, it was the army of the Continental Congress, not of the United States. So, yes, your colonel is wrong if he thinks he is serving in a unit of the army of the Continental Congress or if he thinks his army dates to 1775. – Tyler Durden Jul 8 '14 at 18:35
  • @CGCampbell or at least if he thinks there has been a US Army continuously since 1775... – jwenting Jul 9 '14 at 9:26
  • @TylerDurden you forget to mention the Vatican, which has no armed forces of its own despite being an independent country, relying rather on Swiss mercenaries and Italian regulars to provide for its defense. – jwenting Jul 9 '14 at 9:27

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