The Worst Droughts and Famines in History Historical Events
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The Worst Droughts and Famines in History

Wiping out portions of the populations in these unfortunate areas, the worst droughts and famines in history date back several centuries and chronicle some of the worst natural disasters on record. What are the worst droughts in history? Sadly, droughts and famines still occur to this day with starvation and malnutrition an unfavorable reality in many parts of the world.

What are the worst famines of all time? Famine and drought differ from other devastating natural disasters like the worst earthquakes and the most destructive tornadoes in the length of time of the suffering. Tornadoes, earthquakes, and tsunamis last a matter of minutes, while famine and drought can last years at a time. Similarly, as many other natural disasters are considered acts of God, many of these historical famines were party caused by poor policies by local governments.

To put things in perspective a bit more, the deaths from the worst famine in history greatly exceed all the deaths in the worst earthquakes of the 21st century combined. Affecting China from 1958 to 1961, the recent Great Chinese Famine claimed an estimated 43 million lives. That is more than the entire modern population of Canada.

As sad as it is, if nothing else, this history of famine and drought has brought awareness to the ongoing issues of malnutrition and starvation. While both continue to this day, there are also organizations and charities trying their best to end this unfortunate reality.

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  1. 1

    Great Chinese Famine

    Lasting three years from 1958 to 1961, the Great Chinese Famine is the worst on record. While statistics of the loss of life are disputed, as few as 15 million and as many as 43 million were killed as a result.

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    Chinese Famine of 1907

    Coming in second, a brief but deadly famine hit China in 1907 and is accordingly known as the Chinese Famine of 1907. In a matter of months an estimated 24 million people were killed.

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    Indian Famine

    Affecting the presidencies and provinces of British India, the Indian Famine was a six-year event that took place between 1896 and 1902. One of many famines to hit India throughout the years, this one was the worst, claiming an estimated 19 million lives.

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    Bengal Famine of 1770

    Killing one-third of the population of Bengal over a five-year period, the Bengal Famine of 1770 took place between 1969 and 1773 in what is now parts of Bangladesh. An estimated 15 million perished in the famine, which was blamed on greedy principles from the British East India Company's rule.

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    Northern Chinese Famine

    As the name suggests, the Northern Chinese Famine affected the northern portion of the country of China. As the fifth-worst famine in history, this disaster lasted from 1876 to 1879 and is believed to have killed 13 million people.

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    Indian Great Famine of 1876-–78

    Known simply as the Great Famine of 1876–78, this tragedy that took the lives of as many as 10.3 million, affected over 250,000 square miles in India. The two-year famine also distressed over 58 million in the Madras, Mysore, Hyderabad and Bombay areas.

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