Weird History The Shortest Wars in History  

Mike Rothschild
49.6k views 25 items

While most the well-known wars in history dragged on for years, even decades, many wars in the last century were extremely short. Border disputes, tensions over ethnic populations, trade issues, hangovers from the two world wars or long-simmering pent-up hostilities have all exploded into shooting wars - many lasting just a few weeks or even a few days. In one case, the war was over in less than an hour.

Whether these shortest wars were low intensity conflicts with just a few casualties or brutal, bloody wars that were ended before they could get worse, these wars might have been short, but they were all historically important. The shortest wars in history have taken place on all different continents, between many different countries, over many historical eras. A short war is certainly better than a long, drawn-out war, so at least these historical battles and skirmishes were ended quickly.

What was the shortest war in history? Check out this list of short wars to find out!

Sources: Listverse, Oddee, Military History Now, World History Timeline

Anglo-Zanzibar War: 46 Minutes

Anglo-Zanzibar War: 46 Minutes is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Shortest Wars in History
Photo: via Wikimedia

Taking place between the United Kingdom and Zanzibar on August 27, 1896, the Anglo-Zanzibar War clocked in at anywhere between 38 and 46 minutes. The war broke out after Sultan Hamad bin Thuwaini, who had willingly cooperated with the British colonial administration in the tiny island of Zanzibar, died on August 25, and his nationalist nephew, Khalid bin Bargash, seized power. The British delivered an ultimatum ordering Bargash to abdicate. Bargash refused and ordered his troops to fortify the Royal Palace.

Britain would have none of this nonsense, and assembled a fleet, along with landing Marines outside the palace. The Royal Navy ships opened fire on the palace at 9 am, the moment the ultimatum ran out. Zanzibar suffered 500 casualties and surrendered after less than an hour. One British sailor suffered a minor injury.

2008 invasion of Anjouan: Two Days

2008 invasion of Anjouan is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Shortest Wars in History
Photo: Metaweb (FB)/Public domain

Fought between the government of the island of Coromos and a small breakaway republic on the island of Anjouan in March 2008, the Invasion saw Cormoros and African Union troops fight a band of about 500 rebels on the autonomous island measuring about 160 square miles.

Three rebel troops were killed before their leader, Mohamed Bacar, escaped via speedboat, and the fighting ended soon after.

Kuwait-Iraq War: Two Days

Kuwait-Iraq War: Two Days is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Shortest Wars in History
Photo: via Wikimedia

The inciting incident behind the Gulf War, Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait lasted only two days in August 1990. Iraqi troops, battle hardened and well-equipped from years of war against Iran, crossed the border in the middle of the night, destroyed most of Kuwait’s small army and air force, sacked Kuwait City, and drove the Emir into hiding.

After the fighting ended, Iraqi troops burned 600 oil wells and mercilessly looted the capitol. Even with their technical inferiority, Kuwait managed to destroy over 100 Iraqi vehicles and shot down close to 40 aircraft.

1961 Indian Annexation of Goa: Two Days

1961 Indian annexation of Goa is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Shortest Wars in History
Photo: Metaweb (FB)

The 1961 Indian annexation of Goa was a brief war fought between India and Portugal over the exclaves of Goa, Daman and Diu, all held by Portugal as remnants of colonial power grabs. The three exclaves held over 600,000 citizens, most of whom identified as Indian and were Hindu. India assembled a massive force to take them back, and launched a coordinated air, sea, and land attack on December 18, 1961.

A day later, Goa was mostly in Indian hands, and despite Portuguese warnings that they’d rather burn the entire exclave than give it up, the general in command of the Portuguese forces surrendered. Casualties were about 50 killed and 100 wounded in total.