Man-made Disasters

List of wars and disasters by death toll

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List of wars and disasters by death toll. (2009, June 25). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 01:27, June 25, 2009, from

This is a list of wars and human-made 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 war. Some events overlap categories.



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
&0000000015000000.00000015,000,000 &0000000025000000.00000025,000,000 World War I (High estimate includes Spanish flu deaths)[11] Worldwide 1914 1918 World War I casualties
&0000000010000000.00000010,000,000[12] &0000000020000000.00000020,000,000[12] Conquests of Timur Middle East, India, Asia, Russia 1369 1405 List of wars in the Muslim world[13]
&0000000008000000.0000008,000,000 &0000000012000000.00000012,000,000 Muslim Rebellion China 1855 1877 Panthay Rebellion
&0000000005000000.0000005,000,000 &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 &0000000006500000.0000006,500,000 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 &0000000007000000.0000007,000,000 Yellow Turban Rebellion China 184 205 Part of Three Kingdoms War
&0000000002500000.0000002,500,000 &0000000003500000.0000003,500,000[18] Korean War Korean Peninsula 1950 1953 Cold War
&0000000002495000.0000002,495,000 &0000000005020000.0000005,020,000 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

Crimes against humanity

A list of court cases where persons known or unknown have been found guilty of one or more crimes against humanity which caused a substantial loss of life.

Lowest Estimate Highest Estimate Case Perpetrators Date of crime ? Location Notes
~8,000 ~8,000 ICTY, Prosecutor, Vidoje Blagojevic & Dragan Jokic Dragan Jokic 1995 Bosnia Dragan Jokic was found guilty, of extermination as a crime against humanity, for his part in supporting the Srebenica massacre, and on appeal was found to have been “integrally involved in the murder operation, spanning multiple mass killing sites”[23][24]

Genocides and alleged genocides

Main article: Genocides in history

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 clear-cut 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
10,000,000[ 20,000,000 European colonization of the Americas The Americas 1492 1900 From when Christopher Columbus set foot onto American land, to the various colonization from empires abroad, to the Battle at Wounded Knee, it is estimated between 10 and 20 million native Americans were killed. Early on, the most common amount of deaths came from disease that carried from Europe hitting the less immune natives, this weakness was even used as a method of biological warfare. As colonization continued starvation and disease caused by displacement became prevalent. Towards the end, native Americans faced heavily armed soldiers in battle over land disputes and suffered terrible losses. However, even with all this killing, it was justified by the Manifest Destiny.[citation needed]
5,830,000[25] 11,000,000[26] 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 10,000,000[27] 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 3,000,000 Famine, political repression Cambodia 1975 1979 As of September 2007[update], 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.[28]
26,000 [29] 3,000,000[29] 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.
800,000 3,000,000 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 [30] 655,000[31] 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 Depopulation of Australian aborigines[32][33] Australia 1788 1888 No academic consensus that this was a genocide, see Australian genocide debate
200,000 400,000[34] Darfur conflict Sudan Early 2003 present See International response to the Darfur conflict
130,000] 200,000 Massacres of Mayan Indians Guatemala 1962 1996 Genocide according to the Historical Clarification Commission.[35][36]
117,000[37] 500,000[37] Revolt in the Vendée France 1793 1796 Described as genocide by some historians. See also French Revolution
150,000 300,000 Political repression of East Timorese East Timor 1975 1990s Commonly referred to as genocide by media, scholars.
100,000 400,000 Political repression of West Papuans Indonesia 1961 present Genocide according to some sources, see Genocide in West Papua
100,000[38] 200,000[39] Al-Anfal Campaign Iraq 1986 1989 Ba’athist Iraq destroys over 2,000 villages and commits genocide on their Kurdish population.
50,000[40] 100,000[40] Massacres of Hutus Burundi 1972 1972 Tutsi government massacres of Hutu, see Burundi genocide
50,000 50,000 Massacres of Tutsis Burundi 1993 1993 Hutu government massacres of Tutsi, see Burundi genocide
40,000 100,000 Herero and Namaqua genocide Namibia 1904 1908 Generally accepted. See also Imperial Germany
~8,000 ~8,000[41] Srebenica massacre Srebenica 1995 1995 A genocidal massacre according to the ICTY. See also Bosnia war.

Individual extermination camps


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[49] 43,000,000[49] 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[50] Famine in the Soviet Union, under the leadership of Joseph Stalin, including Holodomor Soviet Union 1932 1933 As of November 2006[update], 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.[50]
4,000,000 4,000,000 Bengal famine in British-ruled India India 1943 1943
1,000,000 3,000,000 Iraqi famine in Iraq, UN economic sanctions Iraq 1990 2003
500,000 2,000,000 Great Irish Famine United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland 1846 1849 [51]

Human sacrifice and ritual suicide

This section lists deaths 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[52] 13,000 Human sacrifice Shang dynasty China BC1300 BC1050 Last 250 years of rule
3,912 3,912 Kamikaze suicide pilots, see note [53] Imperial Japanese air forces Pacific theatre 1944 1945
7,941[54] 7,941 Ritual suicides Sati Bengal, India 1815 1828
913 913 Jonestown Revolutionary Suicide Followers of The Peoples Temple cult Jonestown November 18 1978 November 19 1978 The Event was the largest loss of American civilian life until the September 11th 2001 attacks.

See also

Other lists organized by death toll

Other lists with similar topics

Topics dealing with similar themes


  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. ^ Summary of Appels of Judgement for Vidoje Blagojevic and Dragan Jokic UN Pres report, 9 May 2007
  24. ^ International Justice Tribune – Lettre d’information
  25. ^ The Holocaust
  26. ^ [1],[2]
  27. ^ Ukraine remembers famine horror. BBC News. November 24, 2007.
  28. ^ Staff, Senior Khmer Rouge leader charged, BBC 19 September 2007
  29. ^ 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. 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
  30. ^ Jasenovac
  31. ^ Twentieth Century Atlas – Death Tolls
  32. ^ The Statistics of Frontier Conflict
  33. ^ Smallpox Through History
  34. ^ Debate over Darfur death toll intensifies
  35. ^ Press conference by members of the Guatemala Historical Clarification Commission, United Nations website, 1 March 1999
  36. ^ Staff. Guatemala ‘genocide’ probe blames state. BBC. 25 February 1999. Retrieved from
  37. ^ 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
  38. ^ David McDowall, A Modern History of the Kurds, 504 pp., I.B. Tauris, 2004, ISBN 1850434166, pp. 359
  39. ^ William Ochsenwald & Sydney N. Fisher, The Middle East: A History, 768 pp., McGraw Hill, 2004, ISBN 0072442336, pg 659
  40. ^ a b Power, Samantha,A Problem From Hell: America and the Age of Genocide ISBN 0-06-054164-4 pp.82-4
  41. ^ 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
  42. ^ Brian Harmon, John Drobnicki, Historical sources and the Auschwitz death toll estimates
  43. ^ Encyclopedia Americana
  44. ^ Jewish virtual library
  45. ^ Vladimir Dedijer – The Yugoslav Auschwitz and the Vatican Buffalo (NY) 1992 ISBN 978-0-87975-752-6
  46. ^ 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
  47. ^ Raul Hilberg, The Destruction of the European Jews, Yale University Press, 2003, revised hardcover edition, ISBN 0-300-09557-0
  48. ^ Yitzhak Arad, Belzec, Sobibor, Treblinka. The Operation Reinhard Death Camps, Indiana University Press, Bloomington and Indianapolis, 1987, NCR 0-253-34293-7
  49. ^ a b Stéphane Courtois (ed.), 1999: The Black Book of Communism: Crimes, Terror, Repression, Harvard University Press, ISBN 0-674-07608-7
  50. ^ a b Helen Fawkes Legacy of famine divides Ukraine BBC News 24 November 2006
  51. ^ 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.
  52. ^ National Geographic, July 2003, cited by White
  53. ^ 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).
  54. ^ 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).

External links

Updated: December 11, 2012 — 2:46 pm

The Author

Rich Fleetwood

Rich is the founder of SurvivalRing, now in it's 24th year, author of multimedia CDs and DVDs, loves the outdoors, his family, his geeky skill-set, and lives in rural southern Wyoming, just below the continental divide (long story, that...). Always ready to help others, he shares what he learns on multiple blogs, many social sites, and more. With a background in preparedness and survival skills, training with county, state, and national organizations, and skills in all areas of media and on air experience in live radio and television, Rich is always thinking about the "big picture", when it comes to helping individuals and families prepare for life's little surprises.

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