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The Surprising Countries That Get The Most U.S. Foreign Aid, Mapped

The top recipient isn’t a struggling developing country in need of food or medicine, but Israel, which will get around $3.1 billion in military aid this year.

Americans don’t know much about foreign aid. When asked to guess how much the U.S. spends helping other countries, the average person thinks it’s about 26% of the total federal budget. It’s actually less than 1%.

Most people also probably don’t know where that aid goes. The top recipient isn’t a struggling developing country in need of food or medicine, but Israel, which will get around $3.1 billion in military aid this year. Afghanistan receives about half that amount; a country like South Sudan gets about 11 times less. A new interactive map shows exactly where foreign aid goes.

USAID Flickr

Clicking through the map, you can see where U.S. dollars are helping in different categories like health or humanitarian assistance, and how that breaks down into programs for HIV and AIDS (which gets the most support, by far) versus something like water supply and sanitation, which has a paltry $192 million in funding.

That might sound generous–and most Americans think we spend too much on foreign aid–but by comparison, $192 million is roughly the cost of a single F-22 fighter jet.

About 3% of foreign aid goes to education and about 2% to the environment (about seven times less than we spend incarcerating prisoners).

Visit the map to explore more.

About the author

Adele Peters is a staff writer at Fast Company who focuses on solutions to some of the world's largest problems, from climate change to homelessness. Previously, she worked with GOOD, BioLite, and the Sustainable Products and Solutions program at UC Berkeley.

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