The world's largest armies from antiquity to the present

Mapmaking graphic artist Martin Vargic’s has made an amazing graphic tracking the size of the world’s largest armies at different points in time.

The graphic gives an understanding of the just how mobilized the human race was during World War II — and shows how the size of the wold’s largest armies has shrunk over time as interstate warfare becomes less common and technology surpasses sheer manpower in military importance.

It also gives us a chance to compare the size of some of the largest armies at different points in history with one another: the US had about as many troops in 1950, for instance, as China’s Ming Dynasty had in 1400.

One loaded choice Vargic made is splitting the world between East and West. The graphic doesn’t depict the world’s single biggest army at any given time, but the biggest armies in two halves of a divided and sometimes antagonistic world.

In his research, Vargic drew from Encyclopedia Britannica, British think tank IISS, and Wikipedia. The first project listed on his website is a humorous map showing the Internet’s biggest traffic drivers as countries drawn to scale.

Another project of his shows what would be left of the world should sea levels rise by 250 to 300 feet, which the Slovakian artist said is realistic should the polar ice caps melt completely.

An earlier version of this story was written by Armin Rosen and Pierre Bienaimé.

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