Uk Fun Facts: Shortest War In History

One of the most funnier stories about English history is the fact that the Brits were part of the shortest war in history. Did you know that? Yes, the Anglo-Zanzibar War is the shortest recorded war of all times which lasted only 40 minutes! Let's find out more details.



England has a rich history, and there is something historic and interesting in almost every single city across the country. Shakespeare, Stonehenge, Big Ben, The Roman Baths, are just a couple of examples of how great English history is. 

In addition, many great cities such as London, Manchester or Liverpool offer amazing history museums where we can see pieces of the greatest stories about England.

In addition, one of the most funnier stories about English history is the fact that the Brits were part of the shortest war in history. Did you know that? Yes, the Anglo-Zanzibar War is the shortest recorded war of all times which lasted only 40 minutes! 

The little-known Anglo-Zanzibar War took place in 1896 and England has become one of the countries that recorded the shortest war ever.

How it all began

It all began in 1890, with the signing of the Heligoland-Zanzibar treaty between Britain and Germany. This treaty drew up spheres of influence between the imperial powers in East Africa. Therefore, Zanzibar was surrendered to British influence, while Germany has taken control over mainland Tanzania. 

This new influence made Zanzibar a protectorate of the British Empire and Hamad bin Thuwaini was placed to look after it. He was a supporter of the British Empire and was given the position in 1893.

Everything was peaceful for about three years until, on August 25, 1896, Hamad suddenly died in his palace. It was believed that his cousin, Khalid bin Barghash had him poisoned, however, the real reason for Hamad’s death will never be fully known. 

According to the story, a few hours after Hamad’s death, his cousin moved into the palace and taken over the position of Sultan without British approval. And of course, Brits were not happy about it!

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The start of the Anglo-Zanzibar War

When they heard what happened to the Sultan Hamad bin Thuwaini, British diplomats were not happy at all with the turn of events. The chief diplomat in that area, Basil Cave, quickly declared that Khalid has to stand down. 

However, Khalid ignored the diplomat’s declarations and started gathering his forces around the palace. By the end of the day, Khalid secured the palace with almost 3,000 men and with weapons that were gifted by Britain to the former Sultan.

At the same time, the British had two warships placed in the harbour, and troops were sent to protect the British Consulate. On August 26, 1896, the Brits sent the final ultimatum to Khalid demanding that he has to leave the palace by 9 am the following day. 

However, at 8 am the next morning, Khalid sent a reply to the Brits saying that he has no intention of leaving the palace. And then, on August 27, 1896, at 9 am, the Anglo-Zanzibar War started by Brits giving orders for bombarding the palace.

The end of the Anglo-Zanzibar War

After the orders for bombarding the palace were issued, the majority of Khalid’s artillery has been destroyed by 09:02 am. After that, the palace’s wooden structure has been destroyed, together with the 3,000 men inside. 

It is also around this time when it is said that Khalid has escaped through a back exit of the palace, leaving his men to fight alone. By 09:40 am, the shelling had ceased, the Sultan’s flag has been pulled down, and the Anglo-Zanzibar War ended. With about 40 minutes of lasting, this war has become the shortest war ever recorded in history.

Even if this war lasted only 40 minutes, more than 500 of Khalid’s fighters were killed or wounded, due to the high-explosive shells that exploded on the palace. On the British side, only one officer was injured but recovered in hospital.

With Khalid escaped, Britain placed Sultan Hamud on the throne of Zanzibar who ruled on behalf of Britain for six years. When it comes to Khalid, he escaped to the local German Consulate, was smuggled out on October and taken to Tanzania. He was finally captured in 1916 and has been taken for exile. Later, he returned to East Africa where he died in 1927.

In conclusion

The Anglo-Zanzibar War has gone down in history as one of the shortest and the most lopsided conflicts in history. It’s interesting when we learn some fun facts about our history, just like the story about this war. Some of you might have known about this, but some of you have not. That’s why we are here to share interesting stories with you, as well as to have fun and play bingo!

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