The shortest war in history lasted only 38 minutes

Anglo-Zanzibar WarPhoto byWikipedia Public Domain

In the annals of military history, there have been numerous conflicts and wars that have raged on for months, even years. But there is one particular conflict that stands out as the shortest war in recorded history. This conflict, which lasted only 38 minutes, was fought between two countries in Africa, and it serves as a testament to the unpredictable nature of international relations.

The year was 1896, and the two countries in question were the United Kingdom and the East African sultanate of Zanzibar. At the time, Zanzibar was a British protectorate, but it still maintained a degree of autonomy under its sultan, Khalid bin Barghash. However, tensions between the sultan and the British authorities were high, as the former had seized power in a coup and was seen as a threat to British interests in the region.

On the morning of August 27, 1896, the British authorities gave the sultan an ultimatum: step down from power by 9:00 AM or face military action. The sultan refused to comply, and the British forces, which consisted of three cruisers and two gunboats, opened fire on the sultan's palace and other key targets in the city.

The Zanzibari forces, which were woefully outnumbered and outgunned, were no match for the British firepower. Within 38 minutes, the conflict was over, and the sultan's forces had suffered heavy casualties. The sultan himself fled the palace and sought refuge in the German consulate, but he was eventually captured and exiled to British-held Seychelles.

The casualty count on the British side was surprisingly low, with only one sailor being injured during the conflict. On the Zanzibari side, however, the casualty count is estimated to be around 500, with many of the casualties being civilians who were caught in the crossfire.

The conflict, while short-lived, had significant ramifications for the region. It served as a reminder of British dominance in East Africa and paved the way for increased British influence in the region. The sultanate of Zanzibar was eventually abolished in 1964, and the country became part of the newly-formed state of Tanzania.

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