The Shortest War In History- The Zanzibar War

The war between the sultan of Zanzibar and the British Empire lasted just 38 minutes.

Karthick Nambi
Lessons from History


Photo by Javi Lorbada on Unsplash

It was the lovely palace of the sultan of Zanzibar off the coast of Africa. On 27 August 1896, the palace was carnage as it faced one of the strangest battles in human history. A battle that lasted just 38 minutes.


Photo by Martijn Vonk on Unsplash

In the 19th century, European countries took the world by storm with their guns and diplomacy.

The Europeans started their interaction with trade. Spices were in high demand in Europe, and Europeans needed them to preserve meat. With stiff competition from fellow European countries, the trading companies of the respective countries started to get involved in local politics. The involvement included taking sides and supplying weapons.

Germany was a latecomer to the colonization stage but was swift with its African expansion. The Imperial German government wanted to limit the British presence in Africa and to increase its hold on the mineral-rich continent. Zanzibar was one such strategic location.