10 Wars Throughout History That Left Behind Devastating Death Tolls

10 Wars Throughout History That Left Behind Devastating Death Tolls

Maria - June 10, 2016

Despite the hope for lasting peace among nations, society always somehow falls into conflict. Some of the world’s greatest wars have left evidence of the destruction and tragic loss of life resulting from people unable to compromise, and the effects of a few decisions can spell disaster for the lives of thousands.

Read on and reflect on some of the deadliest wars in history, many of which ended up taking the the lives of too many soldiers, not to mention innocent civilians.

10. The Biafran War (Nigerian Civil War): 1967-1970


The late 1960’s was a perilous time for many nations, including Nigeria. The country was rife with conflict due to political, economic and cultural clashing that had run rampant throughout the nation even before the British decolonization of Nigeria from 1960-1963. Tensions boiled over and inevitably came to a head over the secession of Biafran.

Unfortunately, many of those affected weren’t even directly involved in the war itself. Many died as a result of starvation and various diseases, which combined with the tragic result of combat, left the country with a death toll of over one million people.

9. The Iran-Iraq War: 1980-1988

10 Wars Throughout History That Left Behind Devastating Death Tolls

Wars are raging in the Middle East even to this day, but the years between 1980 and 1988 proved a long and perilous decade for the two countries. Known as the 20th Century’s longest conventional war, this armed conflict began when Iraq invaded Iran using air and land military forces, which wasn’t even concluded by 1988 – the war ended in a stalemate.

However, this didn’t mean lives were affected any less. Carried out in similar fashion to WWI, each country attacked with large-scale trench warfare, charges with bayonets, machine gun posts armed with soldiers, and eventually heavy use of chemical weapons that brought about another one million lives lost during wartime.

8. The Korean War: 1950-1953

10 Wars Throughout History That Left Behind Devastating Death Tolls

North and South Korea have, to this day, never truly signed a peace treaty over the events that occurred during this war. North Korea made the decision to invade South Korea, and the ensuing armed conflict even brought in some help along the way. The UN (United Nations), with the United States at the helm, were supporting South Korea while the Soviet Union and China had backed North Korea.

An armistice did end the brutal onslaught at this time, which led to the agreement regarding the Korean Demilitarized Zone separating the two rival countries. While surviving prisoners had been released to return home – a small silver lining among the carnage – the result of this war ended in a death toll of 1.2 million people.

7. The Mexican Revolution: 1910-1920

10 Wars Throughout History That Left Behind Devastating Death Tolls

Now known as one of the greatest upheavals of the 20th century, the Mexican Revolution was one of the most crucial sociopolitical events to ever occur in Mexico. The battles waged here led to a major transformation in Mexican government and culture.

Sadly, such radical changes generally come at a cost, and many gave up their lives to defend their country. Although experts are aware of a significant loss of life, the actual numbers of the deceased are still actually quite vague. It’s estimated that perhaps one and a half million died during the revolt, but another 200,000 may have fled the country. The number of refugees that survived will always probably always remain unknown.

6. French Wars of Religion: 1562-1598


No issue has been the precursor to more wars than religion, and the French Wars of Religion (also called the Huguenot Wars) stand out as one of the largest examples of this constant conflict. This period of civil unrest and military operations transpired between French Catholics and Protestants, and the endless battles made figuring out the exact number of wars that occurred hard to grasp. Historians still remain uncertain.

However, what was obvious was the absolute devastation that fell upon the French population. It’s been calculated that up to four million people lost their lives, not only to the war effort but also as a result of famine and other related diseases of the era.

5. The Thirty Years War: 1618-1648


Clearly, the length of this war could cause mass amounts of death and destruction, but that doesn’t make the conclusion any less devastating. Another war waged over religion, this armed conflict that took place all over Central Europe arose between Catholic and Protestant states, after the fragmentation of the Holy Roman Empire.

As the years went on, the war only continued to deepen and grow, with the majority of the greater powers of Europe stepping into the fray. While the death toll has never been able to be accurately pinned down, estimates regarding the death toll vary as widely as three million to 11.5 million (though many have agreed on eight million as the most probable number).

4. World War One: 1914-1918


Undoubtedly the World Wars would leave behind the most damage. WWI was a global event that began in Europe and expanded outwards, gaining support from all of the major economic powers. They banded together in two separate alliances, the Allies and the Central Powers, and countless battles ensued through the use of trench warfare.

The death toll rounded out to about 18 million, 11 million of which were in the military and another seven million civilians. Whereas many earlier wars had high death rates due to famine and disease, WWI saw many of its deceased come from the battlefield.

3. The Taiping Rebellion (Taiping Civil War): 1850-1864

10 Wars Throughout History That Left Behind Devastating Death Tolls

This massive rebellion in China saw action between the Qing Dynasty, led my Manchu, and the Heavenly Kingdom of Peace, a Christian millenarian movement. A reliable census was not available, but the death toll was believed to have skyrocketed to somewhere near 20-30 million soldiers and civilians.

Again, as with many earlier century wars, more of the deaths were believed to be the product of both plague and famine, as opposed to merely military deaths.

2. Mongol Conquest: 13th Century

10 Wars Throughout History That Left Behind Devastating Death Tolls

Various Mongol invasions and conquests were carried out over the course of the 13th century, amassing a large Mongol Empire that spanned across most of Asia and Eastern Europe. The Bubonic Plague also attributed to the overwhelmingly large death toll, spreading the “Black Death” across the globe as the Mongols fought for more territory.

This period became what historians call one of the deadliest conflicts in human history. The death toll reached an unfathomable 40-70 million people.

1. World War II: 1939-1945


WWII was the most widespread war to ever occur in history, involving over 100 million people over a stretch of 30 countries. The devastating mass civilian deaths during the Holocaust and the advent of airpower defense strategies dropping endless bombs in heavily-populated areas led to the most unbelievable death toll the world had ever seen.

Currently the deadliest war in human history, WWII brought about an estimated 60-85 million fatalities.