Why was the anglo-Zanzibar war so short? It lasted 38 minutes because the Royal Navy defeated the Sultan of Zanzibar. However, there are many shortest wars in the history of mankind – overview of top 10.
War! There is so much pain, suffering, death in this world. Historically, people cannot live in peace all the time. There is always something to fight for: land, food, religion, ideas, national superiority. Long before our era, people fought and, unfortunately, continue to do so to this day.
Based on the calculations of historians, in the entire history of mankind, there have been more than fifteen thousand wars that have claimed the lives of more than three billion people. There were long wars that lasted tens, and even hundreds of years. And some ended before they could really begin. This article contains ten of the shortest wars in history.
Shortest wars in the history
1. Yom Kippur War (18 days)
The Yom Kippur War (October War) lasted from 6 to 23 October 1973. It was a military conflict between Israel and a coalition of Arab states. By the way, this is the fourth conflict in the Middle East in which Israel took part. The essence of the hostilities was the return of lands that the Jewish state had appropriated during the six-day war.
The coalition of Syria and Egypt prepared in detail for the attack, choosing the religious holiday of Israel – the Day of Judgment. During this holiday, the Jews pray all day, and also try to abstain from food. No one expected an attack, so Israel suffered casualties for the first two days. However, they soon managed to take the situation into their own hands, holding back the enemy’s advance.
Seeing the flaring up conflict, the USSR issued a statement of support for the Arab states and warned Israel about what consequences await them if hostilities continued. At that time, the Israeli armed forces were already standing near the capital of Syria and were on the way to the Egyptian capital. So Israel had to withdraw its soldiers.
The entire military conflict lasted 18 days. During this time, the army of the Jewish state lost about three thousand people, and from the side of Syria and Egypt – about twenty thousand.
2. Serbian-Bulgarian war (14 days)
In November 1885, the Serbian king declared war on Bulgaria. This was due to disputes over the territory, the annexation of the small Turkish province of Eastern Rumelia by Bulgaria. This fact could become a hindrance to the influence of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in the Balkans, so Serbia was chosen to eliminate Bulgaria.
The fighting between Serbia and Bulgaria took place from 14 to 28 November 1885. During the two weeks of the war, about two and a half thousand people died, and nine thousand were injured. The peace was officially signed the following year in Bucharest, as a result of which the European states recognized the unification of Bulgaria with Eastern Rumelia, although there was no redistribution of borders.
3. Third Indo-Pakistani War (13 days)
In December 1971, India intervened in the civil war that unfolded in East Pakistan, whose inhabitants desired independence. Due to the aggravation of the conflict and the difficult situation, there was a large influx of Pakistani refugees to India.
By order of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, Indian troops were sent to Pakistan because the country was beneficial to weakening its old adversary. In less than two weeks of war, India achieved its cherished goal: West Pakistan was defeated, and East, now called Bangladesh, gained its long-awaited independence.
4. Football war (6 days)
On 14 July 1969, a military conflict broke out on the border between El Salvador and Honduras. The outbreak of hostilities was preceded by a football qualifying match for the right to enter the World Cup. In the city where the matches were held, riots and violent fights broke out between the two countries’ fans.
Fierce by long-standing difficult territorial relations, neighboring countries began to shoot down planes and carry out bombing raids. After four days of fierce fighting, the warring countries agreed to negotiations. And on 20 July, all hostilities ceased.
In fact, there is no winner in this war because both countries suffered both from the economic side and in terms of human casualties. The loss of people has not yet been accurately calculated, but the figure is close to 6,000 dead, mostly civilians.
5. Six-day war
In the history of mankind, there have been quite a few conflicts between the Israelis and the Arab people. Another war unfolded in 1967 between Israel and its rivals: Egypt, Iraq, Syria, Jordan, and Algeria. The conflict, which became one of the most dramatic in the modern history of the Middle East, lasted from 5 to 10 June.
It all started when Gamal Abdel Nasser, the leader of Egypt, called for the destruction of the Jewish nation and declared it publicly. Israel’s response was not long in coming; a month later, it struck an airstrike on Egyptian airfields and began to attack. In just six days of the aggressive attack, Israel occupied Judea, Samaria, the Golan Heights, the Gaza Strip, as well as the territory of East Jerusalem, along with its shrines and the famous Wailing Wall.
Israel’s losses were insignificant in comparison with the Arab side, 679 people against 70,000 killed. The Arabs also lost a huge amount of military equipment. As a result, Israel began to control an area more than three times its pre-war area. In the fall of 1980, the Jerusalem Law was passed, which states that East Jerusalem is now the sovereign territory of Israel.
6. Agasher war (6 days)
This military conflict, which erupted over the Agasher strip, rich in minerals and natural gas, has another name – “Christmas war”. Two states, Mali and Burkina Faso, wanted to seize such useful territory. It all started with the usual disputes, but in December 1974, the new leader of Burkina Faso decided to move from words to action, launching an offensive on Agasher.
Troops on both sides began to suffer losses. On 30 December, the parties decided on negotiations, a ceasefire, as well as an exchange of prisoners, but they could not agree on the cherished territory. However, a year later, the UN court ruled to divide the disputed territory equally between the two states.
7. Egyptian-Libyan War (4 days)
The military confrontation between Libya and Egypt in 1977 lasted only four days without giving any changes to any of the conflicting parties. Libyan leader Gaddafi embarked on a course of uniting Libya with neighboring Arab countries, the same applies to Egypt.
During the four days of the war, Egypt and Libya made several tanks and air battles. A couple of Egyptian divisions entered the Libyan city of Musaid. The hostilities were over, and in the presence of third parties, the warring parties concluded peace. After the conflict, the borders of states did not change, and agreements were never reached.
8. US invasion of Grenada (3 days)
On 25 October 1983, the United States launched a military operation called “Flash of Rage”. The reason for it was the restoration of stability in the region and the protection of American citizens. In fact, the United States was afraid of a repetition of the history of Cuba, since Grenada moved closer to the USSR, sharing their communist sentiments. After the coup in Grenada and the seizure of power by the Marxists, the United States began its invasion.
Fortunately, there were less than a hundred casualties on both sides, but the infrastructure of Grenada has suffered significantly. However, the United States paid Grenada $110 million a month later. But, unfortunately, the lives of those killed cannot be returned for any money.
9. Indian annexation of Goa (36 hours)
The Portuguese-Indian War unfolded on 18 December 1961, when India invaded the Portuguese colony in the south of the Indian subcontinent by military operations.
Portugal still believes that India attacked them, and that, in turn, considers it not an invasion but a liberation. So the Indian army, in less than two days, put an end to Portuguese rule in exclaves on the territory of the Indian subcontinent.
10. Anglo-Zanzibar War (38 minutes)
On 27 August 1896, the shortest war in the history of mankind took place between Great Britain and the Sultanate of Zanzibar. It lasted only 38 minutes, getting into the Guinness Book of Records for this.
This war began because Great Britain disliked its new ruler, the Sultan of Zanzibar, who seized power after the death of his cousin. The state demanded that the ruler transfer his powers to their English protégé. After his refusal, the British navy approached the island in the early morning, awaiting the ultimatum’s expiration. At exactly 9:00 am, a couple of cruisers and several small warships opened fire.
Like his only warship, the Sultan’s palace was engulfed in fire, and the newly-minted ruler himself fled. The British admiral fired at the island’s flag in one shot, which meant surrender according to international standards. All these actions took only 38 minutes: from the first explosion to the fall of the national flag. However, such a small amount of time was enough to claim the lives of almost 600 citizens of Zanzibar.
Unfortunately, the duration of the war is not connected either with its victims or with its impact on life inside the country and around the world. War is always a terrible tragedy in which everyone is involved: people, animals, birds.