Wars are as old as mankind itself. The earliest recorded evidence of war belongs to the Mesolithic cemetery Site 117, which has been determined to be approximately 14,000 years old. Wars have occurred over much of the globe, causing deaths of hundreds of millions of people.
And though these devastating events are usually meant to be fought between nations’ armies, the violence often spills into the civilian realm resulting in the deaths of countless innocent lives (which is why the total numbers of war casualties are so large and heartbreaking).
Apart from direct battle results, the statistics from the deadliest wars in human history also include war-related deaths caused by side effects such as induced epidemics, diseases, famines, atrocities, genocides etc. In order to bring awareness as to the devastating impacts of wars, we have compiled a list ranking the 25 deadliest wars in human history.
No matter what caused the conflicts, one thing is for sure – these wars cannot be considered anything but absolutely horrifying human tragedies that should have never happened. Let’s hope that by remembering our past, we are not doomed to repeat it.
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Mexican Revolution (death toll: 1 - 2 million)
Lasting from 1910 to 1920, the Mexican Revolution was a major armed struggle that radically transformed Mexican culture and government. Out of the population of 15 million, the losses were high but numerical estimates vary greatly.
Perhaps 1.5 million people died in the revolt and nearly 200,000 refugees fled abroad. The Mexican Revolution is often categorized as the most important sociopolitical event in Mexico and one of the greatest upheavals of the 20th century.
Shaka´s Conquest (death toll: 2 million)
Shaka´s Conquest is a term used for a series of massive and violent conquests in Southern Africa led by Skaha, a prominent monarch of the Zulu Kingdom. In the first half of the 19th century, Shaka was in charge of a large army that invaded and plundered a number of regions in Southern Africa.
The kingdom destroyed tribe after tribe in a deadly cycle of fight and conquest. It is estimated that up to 2 million tribal people fell victim to the ravaging spree.
Goguryeo–Sui War (death toll: 2 million)
Another violent conflict declared on Korea, the Goguryeo–Sui War was a series of campaigns launched by the Sui dynasty of China against Goguryeo, one of the Three Kingdoms of Korea, between AD 598 and AD 614.
The war (that was eventually won by the Koreans) caused death of 2 million people but the total death toll was probably much higher as the number does not include Korean and civilian casualties.
French Wars of Religion (death toll: 2 – 4 million)
Also known as the Huguenot Wars, the French Wars of Religion (fought between 1562 and 1598) is the name of a period of civil infighting and military operations, primarily fought between French Catholics and Protestants (Huguenots).
The exact number of wars and their respective dates are still debated by historians but it is estimated that up to 4 million people died as a result of the war, famine and war-related diseases.
Second Congo War (death toll: 2.5 – 5.4 million)
Also known by several other names such as the Great War of Africa or the African World War, the Second Congo War is the deadliest war in modern African history. The war directly involved nine African countries, as well as approximately 20 separate armed groups.
The war was fought just for five years (from 1998 to 2003) but it caused up to 5.4 million deaths, principally through disease and starvation, making it the deadliest conflict worldwide since the World War II.