10 Wars Throughout History That Left Behind Devastating Death Tolls

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

Biafran war

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


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


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

mexican revolution

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

french war

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.

  • Think these were something? The next one will be a real hoot, easily surpassing them all.

    • Eric Johnston

      I hope that the next hot war will be the US government against the American people – with special effort going towards targeting White Americans.

      • BravoKilo24

        yea the US govt is just gonna genocide its majority population sounds real likely. Its like China starting a civil war against all the Asian people…baseless.

      • VladTepesDracul

        How long have you had this sickness?

      • theThinker

        So you are a sociopathic racist.

        … and I prefer the term “European-American”, since “White” is offensively racist.

        • HisMajestyOKeefe

          I prefer Caucasian which covers everyone who migrated north of the Caucasus Mountains and became paler and paler via natural selection caused by low light conditions in the environment.

      • HisMajestyOKeefe

        Eric: get back on your medication

  • Badger

    The death toll attributable to muslim imperialism, which is still ongoing, is 270 million

    • The JMAN


  • Yes, why are the Islamic wars of conquest under Muhammad, the first four caliphs, the Umayyads, the Abbasids, and later the Ottoman Turks not included here? Death toll from those–even if broken down chronologically into smaller conflicts–were certainly in the millions, if not tens of millions.

  • Reiver

    Politically correct history. Comparing Biafra to WWII? 500k casualties compared to over 60 million.

  • Thomassen Bart

    WWII figures are double what is accepted. 40 million dead is closer to the truth. Also the Mongol invasions of the 13th century was a series of wars not a single one. The Korean War death toll is low and only refers to battle deaths. 2-3 million civilians were killed as a direct consequence of the war.