List of wars and disasters by death toll

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This is a list of wars and human-made disasters by death toll. Some events overlap categories.


[edit] Wars and armed conflicts

These figures of one million or more deaths include the deaths of civilians from diseases, famine, etc., as well as deaths of soldiers in battle and possible massacres and genocide.

Where only one estimate is available, it appears in both the low and high estimates. This is a sortable table. Click on the column sort buttons to sort results numerically or alphabetically.

Lowest Estimate Highest Estimate Event Location From To See also
&0000000040000000.00000040,000,000[1] 72,000,000[2] World War II Worldwide 1939 1945 World War II casualties and Sino-Japanese War[3]
&0000000033000000.00000033,000,000[4] &0000000036000000.00000036,000,000[5] An Shi Rebellion China 756 763 Medieval warfare
&0000000030000000.00000030,000,000[6] 60,000,000[7] Mongol Conquests Asia, Europe, Middle East 1207 1472 Mongol invasions and Tatar invasions
&0000000025000000.00000025,000,000[8] &0000000025000000.00000025,000,000 Manchu conquest of the Ming Dynasty China 1616 1662 Qing Dynasty
&0000000020000000.00000020,000,000[9] &0000000030000000.00000030,000,000+[10] Taiping Rebellion China 1851 1864 Dungan revolt
&0000000019000000.00000019,000,000 &0000000059000000.00000059,000,000 World War I (High estimate includes Spanish flu deaths)[11] Worldwide 1914 1918 World War I casualties
&0000000007000000.0000007,000,000[12] &0000000020000000.00000020,000,000[12] Conquests of Timur Middle East, India, Asia, Russia 1369 1405 List of wars in the Muslim world[13]
&0000000005000000.0000005,000,000[citation needed] &0000000009000000.0000009,000,000[14] Russian Civil War Russia 1917 1921 List of civil wars
&0000000003800000.0000003,800,000[15] &0000000005400000.0000005,400,000[16] Second Congo War Democratic Republic of the Congo 1998 2003 First Congo War
&0000000003500000.0000003,500,000[citation needed] &0000000016000000.00000016,000,000[citation needed] Napoleonic Wars Europe, Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Ocean 1804 1815 Napoleonic Wars casualties
&0000000003000000.0000003,000,000 &0000000011500000.00000011,500,000[17] Thirty Years' War Holy Roman Empire 1618 1648
&0000000003000000.0000003,000,000[citation needed] &0000000007000000.0000007,000,000[citation needed] Yellow Turban Rebellion China 184 205 Part of Three Kingdoms War
&0000000002500000.0000002,500,000[citation needed] &0000000003500000.0000003,500,000[18] Korean War Korean Peninsula 1950 1953 Cold War
&0000000002495000.0000002,495,000[citation needed] &0000000005020000.0000005,020,000[citation needed] Vietnam War South East Asia 1959 1975 Indochina War
&0000000002000000.0000002,000,000 &0000000004000000.0000004,000,000[19] French Wars of Religion France 1562 1598 Religious war
&0000000002000000.0000002,000,000[20] &0000000002000000.0000002,000,000 Shaka's conquests Africa 1816 1828
&0000000001500000.0000001,500,000[21] &0000000002000000.0000002,000,000[22] Afghan Civil War Afghanistan 1979 present

[edit] Political violence

This section lists notable examples of state-sanctioned violence against civilian populations, exclusive of genocides (unless they are part of a larger total). Genocides and alleged genocides are listed in a separate section.

Note that this section does not include victims of collateral damage from warfare, nor does it generally include individual massacres, which can found at List of events called massacres.

Lowest Estimate Highest Estimate Event Location From To Notes
27,000,000[23] 72,000,000[24] Cultural Revolution, Political repression & Great Leap Forward famine, see note[25] Peoples Republic of China 1958 1975 Mao Zedong, Communist Party of China
15,450,000[26] 21,000,000 Democides of Nazi Germany under Hitler, including the Holocaust Europe 1933 1945 See Holocaust and Consequences of German Nazism
6,000,000[27] 30,000,000[28] Imperial Japan's occupation of Asia Asia 1930s 1945 Japanese war crimes
4,000,000[29][30] 60,000,000[31] Atlantic slave trade (including African tribal warfare promoted by the trade and more than 1 million who died during the trans-Atlantic crossings[32]). Africa, Americas 17th century 19th century Christianity and Slavery
4,000,000 20,000,000[citation needed] Political repression, including (in larger figure) Holodomor famine Soviet Union 1932 1953 Number of Stalin's victims
3,600,000[33] 3,600,000 Arab slave trade Africa, Asia, Europe 9th century 21st century Islam and slavery and Slavery in modern Africa
3,000,000[34] 22,000,000[34] Depopulation (from forced labour & consequent spread of disease, massacres) Congo Free State 1877 1908 Leopold II of Belgium
1,000,000 5,000,000 [35] Democide of Chinese Muslims China 1856 1873 Panthay Rebellion Muslim Rebellion
26,000 [36] 3,000,000 [36] 1971 Bangladesh atrocities East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) 1971 1971 Atrocities against Bengalis and other ethnicities in East Pakistan by the Pakistani military, leading to the Bangladesh Liberation War and Indo-Pakistani War of 1971
500,000+[37] 3,000,000+[38] Indonesian killings of 1965-66 Indonesia 1965 1965
50,000 400,000 Nanking Massacre Nanking, China 1937 1938 See Nanking Massacre
300,000[39] 500,000[40] Democide Uganda 1971 1979 Idi Amin
300,000 300,000 Ethnic cleansing of Circassians Caucasus 1763 1864 Russian-Circassian War
150,000[41] 500,000[42] Mass killings, Genocide Ethiopia 1974 1991 Marxist regime of Mengistu Haile Mariam[43][44]
150,000 150,000 Harrying of the North England 1069 1070 William the Conqueror
80,000[45] 175,000[46] Mass executions during and after the Spanish Civil War Spain 1936 1940s Francisco Franco
80,000[47] 80,000 Mass killings[48][49] Equatorial Guinea 1968 1979 Francisco Macías Nguema
72,000+ 252,000 Pogroms Russian Empire 1881 1922 Revolution/Civil War
50,000 100,000 Taiwan under Japanese rule Taiwan 1895 1945
72,000 72,000 Executions England 1509 1547 Henry VIII
40,000 70,000 Political Repression Ecuador 1972 1976 Guillermo Rodríguez Lara
40,000 100,000[50] Massacres Wallachia 1448 1462 Vlad III the Impaler
18,000 60,000 Reign of Terror France 1793 1794 Jacobin Club
30,000 30,000 Political repression Haiti 1964 1971 "Papa Doc" Duvalier
10,000 30,000 The Dirty War Argentina 1976 1983
12,000 24,000 The 228 Incident Taiwan 1947 1947 Kwo Mintang (KMT)

[edit] Ethnic violence

This section lists notable examples of mass violence perpetrated by one ethnic group against another, not including individual massacres, which are listed at List of events called massacres.

Lowest Estimate Highest Estimate Event Location From To Notes
800,000 1,000,000 Partition of India India 1947 1948

[edit] Genocides and alleged genocides

The CPPCG defines genocide in part as "acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group".

Determining what historical events constitute a genocide and which are merely criminal or inhuman behavior is not a clearcut matter. In nearly every case where accusations of genocide have circulated, partisans of various sides have fiercely disputed the interpretation and details of the event, often to the point of promoting wildly different versions of the facts. An accusation of genocide therefore, will almost always be controversial.

The following list of genocides and alleged genocides should be understood in this context and not necessarily regarded as the final word on the events in question.

Lowest Estimate Highest Estimate Event Location From To Notes
under 15,000,000[51] close to 100,000,000[52] European colonization of the Americas North America, South America 1492 1890 While conceding that the vast majority of indigenous peoples fell victim to the ravages of European disease, historian David Stannard estimates that almost 100 million Aboriginal Americans died at the hands of Europeans and their descendants, amounting to the most massive act of genocide in world history. In response to Stannard's figure, political scientist R. J. Rummel has estimated that under 15 million American indigenous people were the victims of what he calls democide. Rummel's estimate is presumably not a single democide, but a total of multiple democides, since there were many different governments involved[53] See Population history of American indigenous peoples
3,500,000[54] 11,000,000[55] Genocides of Nazi Germany Europe 1941 1945 With around 6 million Jews murdered, many scholars define the Holocaust as a genocide of European Jewry alone. Broader definitions include up to 1,500,000 Romani because, like the European Jewry, the Roma were also targeted for total annihilation due to their race. A broader definition includes political and religious dissenters, 200,000 handicapped, 2 to 3 million Soviet POWs, 5,000 Jehovah's Witnesses, and 15,000 homosexuals, bringing the death toll to around 9 million. The number rises to 11 million if the deaths of 2 million ethnic Poles are included. See Holocaust, Consequences of German Nazism
2,500,000 5,000,000 Holodomor, famine, political repression Ukrainian SSR 1932 1933 Famine in Ukraine caused by the government of Joseph Stalin, a part of Soviet famine of 1932-1933. Holodomor is claimed by contemporary Ukrainian government to be a genocide of the Ukrainian nation.
1,700,000[citation needed] 3,000,000[citation needed] Famine, political repression Cambodia 1975 1979 As of September 2007, no one has been found guilty of participating in this genocide, but on 19 September 2007 Nuon Chea, second in command of the Khmer Rouge and its most senior surviving member, was charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity. He will face Cambodian and United Nations appointed foreign judges at the special genocide tribunal.[56]
26,000 [36] 3,000,000[36] 1971 Bangladesh atrocities East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) 1971 1971 Atrocities in East Pakistan by the Pakistani military, leading to the Bangladesh Liberation War and Indo-Pakistani War of 1971, are widely regarded as a genocide against Bengali people, but to date no one has yet been indicted for such a crime.
200,000[57] 900,000[58] Armenian genocide Turkey 1895 1923 By 2003, fifteen national assemblies had voted to recognise that this was a genocide, (Turkey was condemned without any court decision)[59] but the Turkish government while accepting that many died does not recognize the episode as a genocide but a consequence of civil war in the decomposition period of Ottoman Empire.[60]
500,000[citation needed] 3,000,000[citation needed] Rwandan genocide Rwanda 1994 1994 Hutu killed unarmed men, women and children. Some perpetrators of the genocide have been found guilty by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, but most have not been charged due to no witness accounts.
400,000 [61] 655,000[62] Ustashe massacres of Serbs, Jews, Roma Balkans 1941 1945 No academic consensus if this was persecution or genocide during period of Independent State of Croatia
100,000 300,000 Nanking Massacre Nanking 1937 1938 The Nanking Massacre, commonly known as the Rape of Nanking, was an infamous genocidal war crime committed by the Japanese military in Nanjing, then capital of the Republic of China, after it fell to the Imperial Japanese Army on 13 December 1937.
225,000 650,000[citation needed] Depopulation of Australian aborigines[63][64] Australia 1788 1888 No academic consensus that this was a genocide, see Australian genocide debate
200,000 400,000[65] Darfur conflict Sudan Early 2003 present See International response to the Darfur conflict
130,000[citation needed] 200,000[citation needed] Massacres of Mayan Indians Guatemala 1962 1996 Genocide according to the Historical Clarification Commission.[66] [67]
117,000[68] 500,000[68] Revolt in the Vendée France 1793 1796 Described as genocide by some historians. See also French Revolution
150,000[citation needed] 300,000[citation needed] Political repression of East Timorese East Timor 1975 1990s Commonly referred to as genocide by media, scholars.
100,000[citation needed] 400,000[citation needed] Political repression of West Papuans Indonesia 1961 present Genocide according to some sources, see Genocide in West Papua
100,000[69] 200,000[70] Al-Anfal Campaign Iraq 1986 1989 Ba'athist Iraq destroys over 2,000 villages and commits genocide on their Kurdish population.
50,000[71] 100,000[71] Massacres of Hutus Burundi 1972 1972 Tutsi government massacres of Hutu, see Burundi genocide
50,000[citation needed] 50,000[citation needed] Massacres of Tutsis Burundi 1993 1993 Hutu government massacres of Tutsi, see Burundi genocide
40,000[citation needed] 100,000[citation needed] Herero and Namaqua genocide Namibia 1904 1908 Generally accepted. See also Imperial Germany
2,000[citation needed] 8,000[72] Srebenica massacre Srebenica 1995 1995 A genocidal massacre according to the ICTY. See also Bosnia war.

[edit] Individual extermination camps

[edit] Famine

This section includes famines that according to some scholars were caused or exacerbated by the policies of the ruling regime.

See also Famine and List of famines

Lowest Estimate Highest Estimate Event Location From To Notes
20,000,000[80] 43,000,000[80] Great Leap Forward famine under the Chinese Communist Party led by Mao Zedong People's Republic of China 1959 1962
6,000,000 10,000,000[81] Famine in the Soviet Union, under the leadership of Joseph Stalin, including Holodomor Soviet Union 1932 1933 As of November 2006, the Ukraine government was trying to get this mass starvation recognised by the United Nations as an act of genocide, with Russian government and many members of the Ukrainian parliament opposing such a move.[81]
4,000,000 4,000,000 Bengal famine in British-ruled India India 1943 1943
1,000,000[citation needed] 3,000,000[citation needed] Iraqi famine in Iraq, UN economic sanctions Iraq 1990 2003
500,000 2,000,000 Great Irish Famine Ireland 1846 1849 [82]

[edit] Human sacrifice and ritual suicide

This section lists tolls from the systematic practice of human sacrifice or suicide. For notable individual episodes, see Human sacrifice and mass suicide.

Lowest Estimate Highest Estimate Description Group Location From To Notes
300,000 unknown Human sacrifice Aztecs Mexico 14th century 1521 Human sacrifice in Aztec culture
13,000[83] 13,000 Human sacrifice Shang dynasty China BC1300 BC1050 Last 250 years of rule
3,912 3,912 Kamikaze suicide pilots, see note [84] Imperial Japanese air forces Pacific theatre 1944 1945
7,941[85] 7,941 Ritual suicides Sati Bengal, India 1815 1828

[edit] See also

[edit] Other lists organized by death toll

[edit] Other lists with similar topics

[edit] Topics dealing with similar themes

[edit] References

  1. ^ Wallinsky, David: David Wallechinsky's Twentieth Century : History With the Boring Parts Left Out, Little Brown & Co., 1996, ISBN 0316920568, ISBN 978-0316920568 - cited by White
  2. ^ Brzezinski, Zbigniew: Out of Control: Global Turmoil on the Eve of the Twenty-first Century, Prentice Hall & IBD, 1994, ASIN B000O8PVJI - cited by White
  3. ^ BBC - History - Nuclear Power: The End of the War Against Japan
  4. ^ Sorokin, Pitirim: The Sociology of Revolution, New York, H. Fertig, 1967, OCLC 325197 - cited by White
  5. ^ "Death toll figures of recorded wars in human history". 
  6. ^ Mongol Conquests
  7. ^ The world's worst massacres Whole Earth Review
  8. ^ McFarlane, Alan: The Savage Wars of Peace: England, Japan and the Malthusian Trap, Blackwell 2003, ISBN 0631181172, ISBN 978-0631181170 - cited by White
  9. ^ Taiping Rebellion - Britannica Concise
  10. ^ "Emergence Of Modern China: II. The Taiping Rebellion, 1851-64". 
  11. ^ 1918 Influenza: the Mother of All Pandemics, CDC
  12. ^ a b Timur Lenk (1369-1405)
  13. ^ Matthew's White's website (a compilation of scholarly estimates) -Miscellaneous Oriental Atrocities
  14. ^ Russian Civil War
  15. ^ Inside Congo, An Unspeakable Toll
  16. ^ [ "Congo war-driven crisis kills 45,000 a month-study" - Reuters, 22 Jan 2008.
  17. ^ The Thirty Years War (1618-48)
  18. ^ Cease-fire agreement marks the end of the Korean War on 27 July 1953.
  19. ^ Huguenot Religious Wars, Catholic vs. Huguenot (1562-1598)
  20. ^ Shaka: Zulu Chieftain
  21. ^ Fueling Aghanistan's War
  22. ^ Afghanistan's Endless War
  23. ^ John Heidenrich, How to Prevent Genocide: A Guide for Policymakers, Scholars, and the Concerned Citizen, cited by White
  24. ^ Rummel - China's Bloody Century.
  25. ^ The estimates listed here include 20-43 million victims of the Great Leap Forward famine. RJ Rummel believes the regime knew about and tolerated the famine, which would thus in his opinion make it a democide. The famine high estimate of 43 million is therefore included as a component of the table's high estimate. The table's low estimate similarly includes a famine component, but since it has not been established whether the source in this case also regards the famine as a wilful crime, the estimate is subject to revision and should be treated with particular caution.
  26. ^ R J Rummel, Democide: Nazi Genocide and Mass Murder Transaction Publishers 1992, extract.
  27. ^ Rummel - Democides of Imperial Japan.
  28. ^ Johnson, Chalmers, London Review of Books:The Looting of Asia
  29. ^ The Slave Trade; On Both Sides, Reason for Remorse
  30. ^ A. Greebaum, Is the Holocaust Unique, 1996, cited by White
  31. ^ David Stannard, American Holocaust 1992, cited by White
  32. ^ Quick guide: The slave trade
  33. ^ Rummel - Oriental slave trade (see line 74).
  34. ^ a b White - Congo Free State
  35. ^ Rummel - [ Chapter 3 Pre-Twentieth Century Democide]
  36. ^ a b c d While the official Pakistani government report estimated that the Pakistani army was responsible for 26,000 killings in total, other sources have proposed various estimates ranging between 200,000 and 3 million. Indian Professor Sarmila Bose recently expressed the view that a truly impartial study has never been done, while Bangladeshi ambassador Shamsher M. Chowdhury has suggested that a joint Pakistan-Bangladeshi commission be formed to properly investigate the event.
    Chowdury, Bose comments - Dawn Newspapers Online.
    Hamoodur Rahman Commission Report, chapter 2, paragraph 33 (official 1974 Pakistani report).
    Death Tolls for the Major Wars and Atrocities of the 20th Century: Bangladesh - Matthew White's website
    Virtual Bangladesh: History: The Bangali Genocide, 1971
  37. ^ Forbes, Mark: Indonesian academics fight burning of books on 1965 coup, Sydney Morning Herald, 9 August 2007, accessed 22 August 2007.
  38. ^ Twentieth Century Atlas - Death Tolls and Casualty Statistics for Wars, Dictatorships and Genocides
  39. ^ Obituary: The buffoon tyrant
  40. ^ Idi Amin: 'Butcher of Uganda', CNN, 16 August 2003
  41. ^ Ethiopian Dictator Sentenced to Prison
  42. ^ Zimbabwe won't extradite former Ethiopian dictator
  43. ^ Mengistu, the Butcher of Addis, guilty of genocide
  44. ^ Mengistu found guilty of genocide
  45. ^ Spain torn on tribute to victims of Franco
  46. ^ Spanish Civil War: Casualties
  47. ^ Coup plotter faces life in Africa's most notorious jail
  48. ^ True hell on earth: Simon Mann faces imprisonment in the cruellest jail on the planet
  49. ^ If you think this one's bad you should have seen his uncle
  50. ^ Vlad II the Impaler
  51. ^ [1]
  52. ^ Stannard, American Holocaust, p. 150 [2]
  53. ^ [3]
  54. ^ The Holocaust
  55. ^ [4],[5]
  56. ^ Staff, Senior Khmer Rouge leader charged, BBC 19 September 2007
  57. ^ Armenian Genocide: Encyclopedia - Armenian Genocide, Turkey believes the number of Armenian deaths to be ranging from 200,000 to 600,000. Most historians estimate that up to 1.5 million Armenians were killed by Ottoman Turks around the time of World War I. Turkish historian Yusuf Halacoglu maintains that over 500,000 Turks were killed by Armenians.
  58. ^ Bush reiterates opposition to Armenian genocide measure in Congress, The Associated Press Published: 5 October 2007
  59. ^ Swiss accept Armenia 'genocide', BBC 16 December 2003
  60. ^ Armenian issue allegations-facts
  61. ^ Jasenovac
  62. ^ Twentieth Century Atlas - Death Tolls
  63. ^ The Statistics of Frontier Conflict
  64. ^ Smallpox Through History
  65. ^ Debate over Darfur death toll intensifies
  66. ^ Press conference by members of the Guatemala Historical Clarification Commission, United Nations website, 1 March 1999
  67. ^ Staff. Guatemala 'genocide' probe blames state. BBC. 25 February 1999. Retrieved from
  68. ^ a b
    Three State and Counterrevolution in France - Charles Tilly.
    Vive la Contre-Revolution! - New York Times, 11 October 2007.
    A French Genocide: The Vendée - book review by Peter McPhee of Melbourne University, H-France Review Vol. 4 (March 2004), No. 26
  69. ^ David McDowall, A Modern History of the Kurds, 504 pp., I.B. Tauris, 2004, ISBN 1850434166, pp. 359
  70. ^ William Ochsenwald & Sydney N. Fisher, The Middle East: A History, 768 pp., McGraw Hill, 2004, ISBN 0072442336, pg 659
  71. ^ a b Power, Samantha,A Problem From Hell: America and the Age of Genocide ISBN 0-06-054164-4 pp.82-4
  72. ^ While the ICJ found that "genocidal acts" had been carried out throughout the war, the court was able to definitely establish genocidal intent in only one case, the Srebenica massacre: Serbia found guilty of failure to prevent and punish genocide, Sense Agency 26 Feb 2007, accessed 29 August 2007
  73. ^ Brian Harmon, John Drobnicki, Historical sources and the Auschwitz death toll estimates
  74. ^ Encyclopedia Americana
  75. ^ Jewish virtual library
  76. ^ Vladimir Dedijer - The Yugoslav Auschwitz and the Vatican Buffalo (NY) 1992 ISBN-13: 978-0-87975-752-6
  77. ^ Peter Witte and Stephen Tyas, A New Document on the Deportation and Murder of Jews during "Einsatz Reinhardt" 1942, Holocaust and Genocide Studies, Vol. 15, No. 3, Winter 2001, ISBN 0-19-922506-0
  78. ^ Raul Hilberg, The Destruction of the European Jews, Yale University Press, 2003, revised hardcover edition, ISBN 0-300-09557-0
  79. ^ Yitzhak Arad, Belzec, Sobibor, Treblinka. The Operation Reinhard Death Camps, Indiana University Press, Bloomington and Indianapolis, 1987, NCR 0-253-34293-7
  80. ^ a b Stéphane Courtois (ed.), 1999: The Black Book of Communism: Crimes, Terror, Repression, Harvard University Press, ISBN 0-674-07608-7
  81. ^ a b Helen Fawkes Legacy of famine divides Ukraine BBC News 24 November 2006
  82. ^ The Great Irish Famine Approved by the New Jersey Commission on Holocaust Education on 10 September 1996, for inclusion in the Holocaust and Genocide Curriculum at the secondary level. Revision submitted 11/26/98.
  83. ^ National Geographic, July 2003, cited by White
  84. ^ This toll is only for the number of Japanese pilots killed in Kamikaze suicide missions. It does not include the number of enemy combatants killed by such missions, which is estimated to be around 4,000. Kamikaze pilots are estimated to have sunk or damaged beyond repair some 70 to 80 allied ships, representing about 80% of allied shipping losses in the final phase of the war in the Pacific (see Kamikaze).
  85. ^ Sakuntala Narasimhan, Sati: widow burning in India, quoted by Matthew White, "Selected Death Tolls for Wars, Massacres and Atrocities Before the 20th Century", p.2 (July 2005), Historical Atlas of the 20th Century (self-published, 1998-2005).

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