STOCKHOLM - World military spending grew 45 percent in the past decade, with the United States accounting for nearly half of all expenditures, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) said Monday.
Military spending grew six percent last year alone, according to SIPRI's annual report.
In 2007, 1,339 billion dollars (851 billion euros) was spent on arms and other military expenditures, corresponding to 2.5 percent of global gross domestic product, or GDP, and 202 dollars for each of the world's 6.6 billion people.
The United States spends by far the most towards military aims, dishing out 547 billion dollars last year, or 45 percent of global expenditure.
Britain, China, France and Japan -- the next in line of big spenders -- lag far behind, accounting for just four to five percent of world military costs each.
"The factors driving increases in world military spending include countries' foreign policy objectives, real or perceived threats, armed conflict and policies to contribute to multilateral peacekeeping operations, combined with the availability of economic resources," the SIPRI report said.
Registering the greatest regional growth was Eastern Europe, which saw its military spending skyrocket 162 percent between 1998 and 2007 and 15 percent from 2006 to 2007.
Russia, whose expenditures ballooned 13 percent last year, was responsible for 86 percent of the growth in the region, according to SIPRI.
North America meanwhile saw its military spending swell 65 percent, largely driven by the United States, which has seen its costs grow 59 percent since the September 11, 2001 attacks in New York and Washington.
"By 2007, US spending was higher than at any time since World War II," the SIPRI report said.
In the past decade, the Middle East has boosted military expenditures by 62 percent, South Asia by 57 percent and Africa and East Asia by 51 percent each.
Western Europe was the region with the least military spending growth at just six percent, followed by Central America at 14 percent.
At a national level, "China has increased its military spending threefold in real terms during the past decade," SIPRI said, adding however that "due to its rapid economic growth, the economic burden of military spending is still moderate, at 2.1 percent of GDP".
As a direct result of the increased military outlay, sales by the world's 100 leading arms producing companies (excluding in China) jumped nearly nine percent in 2006 compared to the year before to 315 billion dollars, SIPRI said.
Sixty-three of the 100 top weapons firms are based in the United States and Western Europe, accounting alone for 292.3 billion dollars in sales in 2006, the last year for which SIPRI has numbers.
© 2008 Agence France Presse