List of wars and anthropogenic disasters by death toll

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This is a list of wars and anthropogenic disasters by death toll. It covers the lowest estimate of death as well as the highest estimate, the name of the event, the location, and the start and end of each event. Some events may belong in more than one category. In addition, some of the listed events overlap each other, and in some cases the death toll from a smaller event is included in the one for the larger event or time period of which it was part.

Wars, armed conflicts, and genocides[edit]

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 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.

The United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (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 clear-cut matter. In nearly every case where accusations of genocide have circulated, partisans of various sides have disputed the interpretation and details of the event, often to the point of promoting different versions of the facts. An accusation of genocide will almost always be controversial. Determining the number of persons killed in each genocide can be just as difficult, with political, religious and ethnic biases or prejudices often leading to downplayed or exaggerated figures. Some of the accounts below may include ancillary causes of death such as malnutrition and disease, which may or may not have been intentionally inflicted.

Lowest
estimate
Highest
estimate
EventLocationFromToDuration (years)Notes, See also
60,000,000[1]80,000,000[1]Muslim conquest of the Indian subcontinentSouth Asia10001525525Rajput resistance to Muslim conquests, Mahmud of Ghazni, Timur, Bakhtiyar Khilji
40,000,000[2]85,000,000[3]World War IIWorldwide193919457World War II casualties and Second Sino-Japanese War[4] (this estimate includes worldwide Holocaust and concentration camps deaths)
30,000,000[5]30,000,000Mongol conquestsEurasia12061368163Mongol Empire
25,000,000[6]25,000,000Qing dynasty conquest of the Ming DynastyChina1616166247Qing Dynasty
20,000,000[7]100,000,000[8][9][10][11][12]Taiping RebellionChina1851186414Dungan revolt
15,000,000[13]65,000,000
[14]
World War IWorldwide191419185World War I casualties
Upper estimate includes worldwide Spanish flu deaths.
15,000,000[15]20,000,000[15]Conquests of Timur-e-LangWest Asia, South Asia, Central Asia, Russia1369140537Timurid dynasty
13,000,000[16]36,000,000[17]An Lushan RebellionChina7557639Medieval warfare
8,000,000[18][19]12,000,000Dungan revoltChina1862187716Panthay Rebellion
5,000,000[citation needed]30,000,000[citation needed]Conquests by the Empire of JapanAsia1894194552
5,000,000
[citation needed]
9,000,000[20]Russian Civil WarRussia191719215Russian Revolution (1917), List of civil wars
4,194,200[21]17,000,000
[22][23][24]
HolocaustEurope194119454The low estimate only accounts for Jewish deaths.
3,500,000
[citation needed]
7,000,000[25]Napoleonic WarsEurope, Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Ocean1803181513Napoleonic Wars casualties
3,000,00011,500,000[26]Thirty Years' WarHoly Roman Empire1618164831Religious war
3,000,000[27]4,000,000[27]DelugePolish-Lithuanian Commonwealth165516606Second Northern War
3,000,000[28]7,000,000[28]Yellow Turban RebellionChina18420522Part of Three Kingdoms War
2,500,000[29]5,400,000[30]Second Congo WarDemocratic Republic of the Congo199820036First Congo War
2,582,000[31][32][33]8,000,000[34]Holodomor (and Soviet famine of 1932–1933)Ukrainian SSR (and other areas of southern USSR, western Siberia)193219331Targeted famine and forced relocation of Soviet ethnic groups, especially landed Ukrainian peasants, by Stalin Regime.
2,300,000[35]3,300,000[36]Hundred Years' WarWestern Europe13371443107Edwardian War (1337-1360), Caroline War (1369-1389), Lancastrian War (1415–53)
2,000,000
[37]
100,000,000
[38]
European colonization of the AmericasAmericas14921900408Colonization, disease, ethnic cleansing and war.
2,000,0004,000,000[39]French Wars of ReligionFrance1562159837Religious war
2,000,000[40]
[dubious ]
2,000,000
[dubious ]
Shaka's conquestsAfrica1816182813Ndwandwe–Zulu War
1,500,000[41]2,000,000[41]War in AfghanistanAfghanistan1979200022Soviet-Afghan War, Taliban Era. Death toll estimates through 1999 (2M) and 2000 (1.5M and 2M).
1,000,0003,000,000Nigerian Civil WarNigeria196619704Ethnic cleansings of the Igbo people followed by Civil War.
1,000,000[42]3,000,000[42]Cambodian GenocideCambodia197519794Political mass killings by communist forces.
1,000,000[43]3,000,000[44]CrusadesHoly Land, Europe10951291197Christian military excursions against the Muslim Conquests.
1,000,000[45]2,000,000Second Sudanese Civil WarSudan1983200523First Sudanese Civil War
900,0001,000,000Gallic WarsFrance58 BC50 BC9Roman Empire
800,0001,000,000Du Wenxiu RebellionChina1856187318
800,000[46]3,000,000[47]Vietnam WarSoutheast Asia1955197521Cold War and First Indochina War
600,000[41]2,000,000[41]Soviet War in AfghanistanAfghanistan198019889Cold War
500,000[48]3,000,000[49]Expulsion of Germans after World War IIEurope194519505Ethnic cleansing of Germans after the redrawing of post-WWII borders.
500,000[50]2,000,000[50]Mexican RevolutionMexico, United States1911192010Pancho Villa and Columbus Raid
500,000[51][52]2,000,000[citation needed]Iran–Iraq WarIran, Iraq198019889Al-Anfal Campaign and Invasion of Kuwait
500,000[53]1,000,000[53]Rwandan genocideRwanda199419941Tribal genocide.
500,0001,000,000Spanish Civil WarSpain193619394
400,000[54]4,500,000[54]Korean WarKorean Peninsula195019534Cold War
300,000[55]1,500,000[56]Armenian GenocideAnatolia191519238Usually called the First Genocide of the 20th century. Despite recognition by some twenty one countries as a genocide, Turkey disputes genocide by the Ottoman Empire.
300,000[57]1,200,000[58]Paraguayan WarSouth America186418707Military history of South America and Luís Alves de Lima e Silva, Duke of Caxias
200,000[59]1,000,000[59]Greek genocideAnatolia191519238Disputed by Turkey, but considered a genocide.
75,000[60][61]130,000[60][61]Massacres of Poles by the Ukrainian Insurgent ArmyVolhyn and Eastern Galicia194319441Killings conducted by the Ukrainian Insurgent Army on Polish civilians.
26,000[62]3,000,000[62]1971 Bangladesh genocideEast Pakistan (now Bangladesh)197119711Killings by the Pakistani Armed Forces in East Pakistan leading to the Bangladesh Liberation War and Indo-Pakistani War of 1971 Widely regarded as a genocide against Bengali people.

Deadly prisons and camps[edit]

DeathsNameRun byLocationDateNotes, References
800,000–1,500,000Auschwitz-BirkenauNazi GermanyOświęcim, Poland1940–1945[63][64]
700,000–1,000,000TreblinkaNazi GermanyTreblinka, Poland1942–1943[65][66]
480,000–600,000BełżecNazi GermanyBełżec, Poland1942–1943[67][68][69]
130,000–500,000Kolyma GulagSoviet UnionKolyma, Soviet Union1932–1954[70]
82,600-100,000JasenovacNDH UstašeCroatia1941–1945[71][72][73]
12,790–75,000Stara GradiškaNDH UstašeCroatia1941–1945primarily for women and children[74][75]
17,000Tuol SlengDemocratic KampucheaPhnom Penh, Cambodia1975–1979[76]
13,171Camp SumterConfederate States of AmericaAndersonville, Georgia, USA1864–1865[77]
12,000Crveni KrstNazi regime, Nedić's SerbiaNiš, Serbia1941[78]
12,000GakovoYugoslavianorthern Serbia1944[79]
9,000–10,000OmarskaBosnian Serb forcesOmarska, Bosnia and Herzegovina1992[80][81]
2,963Elmira PrisonUnited States of AmericaElmira, New York, USA1864–1865[82]
>1,800KrugersdorpUnited KingdomKrugersdorp, Transvaal Republicc. 1900–1902Second Boer War, primarily for women and children[83]

Famine[edit]

Main articles: Famine and List of famines

Note: Some of these famines were partially caused by nature.
This section includes famines that were caused or exacerbated by the policies or actions of the ruling regime.

Lowest estimateHighest estimateEventLocationFromToNotes
15,000,000[84]55,000,000[85]Great Chinese FaminePeople's Republic of China19581962During the Great Leap Forward under Mao Zedong tens of millions of Chinese starved to death.[86] State violence during this period further exacerbated the death toll, and some 2.5 million people were beaten or tortured to death in connection with Great Leap policies.[87]
5,000,000[88]10,000,000[88]Russian famine of 1921Soviet Russia19211922See also: Droughts and famines in Russia and the Soviet Union and Russian Civil War with its policy of War communism, especially prodrazvyorstka
4,000,0004,000,000Bengal famine of 1943British India19431943The Japanese conquest of Burma cut off India's main supply of rice imports[89]

However, administrative policies in British India ultimately helped cause the massive death toll.[90]

2,400,000[91]2,400,000Japanese occupation of the Dutch East IndiesIndonesia19441945An estimated 2.4 million Indonesians starved to death during the Japanese occupation of Indonesia. The problem was partly caused by failures of the main 1944–45 rice crop, but mainly by the compulsory rice purchasing system that the Japanese authorities put in place to secure rice for distribution to the armed forces and urban population.[91]
800,000[92]950,000[93]Cambodian GenocideCambodia19751979An estimated 2 million Cambodians lost their lives to murder, forced labor and famine from the Cambodian Communist government, of which nearly half was caused by forced starvation. Came to an end due to invasion by Vietnam in 1979.
750,000[94][95]1,500,000[96]Great Irish Famine[97]United Kingdom18461849Although blight ravaged potato crops throughout Europe during the 1840s, the impact and human cost in Ireland—where a third of the population was significantly dependent on the Irish Lumper potato for food—was exacerbated by a host of political, social and economic factors which remain the subject of historical debate.[98][99]
400,000[100]2,000,000[101]Vietnamese Famine of 1945Vietnam19441945The Japanese occupation during World War II caused the famine in North Vietnam.[101]
400,000[102]1,000,000[103]1983–85 famine in EthiopiaEthiopia19831985The famines that struck Ethiopia between 1961 and 1985, and in particular the one of 1983–5, were in large part created by government policies.[102]
70,000[104]70,000Sudan famineSudan19981998The famine was caused almost entirely by human rights abuse and the war in Southern Sudan.[105]

Floods and landslides[edit]

Note: These floods and landslides will have been partially caused by humans, for example by failure of dams, levees, seawalls or retaining walls.

RankDeath tollEventLocationDate
1.2,500,000–3,700,000[106]1931 China floodsChina1931
2.900,000–2,000,0001887 Yellow River (Huang He) floodChina1887
3.500,000–700,0001938 Yellow River (Huang He) floodChina1938
4.26,000[107]-230,000[108]The failure of 62 dams in Zhumadian Prefecture, Henan, the largest of which was Banqiao Dam, caused by Typhoon Nina.ChinaAugust 1975
5.145,0001935 Yangtze river floodChina1935
6.more than 100,000St. Felix's Flood, storm surgeNetherlands1530
7.100,000Hanoi and Red River Delta floodNorth Vietnam1971
8.100,0001911 Yangtze river floodChina1911
9.50,000–80,000St. Lucia's flood, storm surgeNetherlands, England1287
10.10,000–50,000Vargas Tragedy, landslideVenezuela1999
11.2,400North Sea flood, storm surgeNetherlands, Scotland, England, Belgium31 January 1953
12.2,209Johnstown FloodPennsylvania31 May 1889

Human sacrifice and ritual suicide[edit]

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

Lowest estimateHighest estimateDescriptionGroupLocationFromToNotes
300,000[citation needed]1,500,000[citation needed]Human sacrifice in Aztec cultureAztecsMexico14th century1521Up to 3,000 sacrificed yearly[109]
13,000[110]13,100Human sacrificeShang dynastyChinaBC1300BC1050Last 250 years of rule
7,941[111]7,941Ritual suicidesSatiBengal, British India18151828
3,9123,912Kamikaze suicide pilots, see note [112]Imperial Japanese air forcesPacific theatre19441945
913913Jonestown murder-suicide[113]Followers of The Peoples Temple cultJonestownNovember 18, 1978November 19, 1978
967967Mass suicide motivated religious and political.Judean rebelsMasadaspring 73

Other deadly events[edit]

Events with a large anthropogenic death toll not fitting any of the above classifications. May include deaths caused by famine, genocide, etc. as a portion of the total.

Lowest
estimate
Highest
estimate
EventLocationFromToNotes
49,000,00078,000,000Mao Zedong era 1949–1976People's Republic of China19491976Millions of people died as a result of Mao Zedong's reforms,[114] with most of these deaths due to the Great Chinese Famine caused by mismanagement of agricultural resources during the Great Leap Forward. Millions more died as a result of human rights abuses. The total includes those who died during the Campaign to Suppress Counterrevolutionaries, the Three-anti and Five-anti Campaigns, human rights abuses in Tibet, The Great Leap Forward (especially the resulting famine), and the Cultural Revolution. See also Mass killings under communist regimes.
8,000,00061,000,000Soviet crimes 1917–1953Soviet Republics (1917–1922), the Soviet Union (1922–1953), the East and Center of Europe, Mongolia19171953War, forced collectivization, and poor central planning in the Soviet Republics and Soviet Union led to enormous famines in 1921, 1932–33, and 1946–47. Mass murders were also perpetrated by the Communist leaders of the Soviet Republics between 1917 and 1922 and later on in The Soviet Union during a period of 1922–1953 (until the death of Joseph Stalin). This includes terrors unleashed by Cheka during the Russian Civil War against nations and 'enemies of The Revolution',[115] deaths in Gulags,[116] forced resettlement,[117] Holodomor,[118] Dekulakization,[119] Great Purge,[120] National operations of the NKVD.[121] See also Mass killings under communist regimes.
5,000,000[122]22,000,000[123]Crimes during Congo Free State 1885–1908Now the Democratic Republic of the Congo18851908Private forces under the control of Leopold II of Belgium carried out mass murders, mutilations, and other crimes against the Congolese in order to encourage the gathering of valuable raw materials, principally rubber. Significant deaths also occurred due to major disease outbreaks and starvation, caused by population displacement and poor treatment.[124] Estimates of the death toll vary considerably because of the lack of a formal census before 1924, but a commonly cited figure of 10 million deaths was obtained by estimating a 50% decline in the total population during the Congo Free State and applying it to the total population of 10 million in 1924.[125]
175,000[126]576,000[127]Sanctions against IraqIraq19901998Sanctions imposed by the United Nations Security Council caused excess deaths of young children.
100,0002,000,000Indonesian killings of 1965–1966Indonesia19651966Massacres of people connected to the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) were carried out in 1965 and 1966. Death tolls are difficult to estimate.[128]
100,000[129][130]250,000[131][132]War in the VendéeFrance17931796Described as genocide by some historians[130] but this claim has been widely discounted.[133] See also French Revolution.
100,000200,000Bosnian genocideBosnia19921995During the Bosnian War, at least 100,000 people were killed.
100,000[134]120,000Manila MassacreManila, Philippines19451945During the Battle of Manila, at least 100,000 civilians were killed.
90,800202,600Indonesian occupation of East TimorEast Timor19741999Civilian deaths under the Indonesian occupation of East Timor, including killings, disappearances, and deaths caused by conflict-related hunger and illness.[135]
50,00080,000[136]Operation CondorSouth America19751983A campaign of political repression by right-wing dictatorships in South America, sponsored by the United States
40,000[137]350,000[138]Nanking MassacreNanking, China19371938The Nanking Massacre, commonly known as the Rape of Nanking, was a 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.
15,00015,000[139]First Sack of ThessalonicaByzantine Empire904904The sack of the second city of the Byzantine Empire by a Muslim fleet under the command of Leo of Tripoli. In addition to the thousands killed the Saracen fleet also took 20,000 Greek slaves.
10,000[140][141]100,000[142][143]Great Fire of SmyrnaTurkeySeptember 9, 1922September 24, 1922Fires set during attacks on Greeks and Armenians by Turkish mobs and military forces in Smyrna at the end of the Greco-Turkish War (1919–22). The violence and fires resulted in the destruction of the Greek and Armenian portions of the city and the evacuation of their former populations by British and American military forces. After the attacks 30,000 Greek and Armenian men left behind were deported by Turkish forces, many of whom were subsequently killed.
9,000[144]30,000[145]Dirty WarArgentina19761983At least 9,000 people were tortured and killed in Argentina from 1976 to 1983, carried out primarily by the Argentinean military Junta (part of Operation Condor).

See also[edit]

Other lists organized by death toll[edit]

Other lists with similar topics[edit]

Topics dealing with similar themes[edit]

References[edit]

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  61. ^ a b Rzeź wołyńska (pl)
  62. ^ a b 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
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  112. ^ 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).
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  139. ^ Warren T. Treadgold (1997). A History of the Byzantine State and Society. Stanford University Press. p. 572. ISBN 0-8047-2630-2. 
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