Did you know that the shortest war in history lasted only 38 minutes? The Anglo-Zanzibar War occurred on August 27, 1896, when the British Empire declared war on the Sultanate of Zanzibar, a small island nation off the coast of East Africa. The cause of the conflict was a dispute over the succession of the sultanate's ruler, with the British supporting one candidate and the Zanzibaris supporting another.
The British had a superior naval force, consisting of three cruisers, two gunboats, and 150 marines, while the Zanzibaris had only one old warship and around 2,800 soldiers and civilians. The British demanded that the Zanzibaris surrender and depose their sultan within 15 minutes, but the Zanzibaris refused.
At 9:02 a.m., the British opened fire on the Zanzibari palace and sunk their only warship. The palace was set on fire and the sultan's flag was shot down. The Zanzibaris returned fire, but their guns were no match for the British naval guns. After just 38 minutes, the Zanzibaris surrendered, and the British installed a new sultan who was more favorable to their interests.
This brief but decisive conflict has gone down in history as the shortest war ever fought. It also highlights the power imbalance that existed between European colonial powers and African nations in the late 19th century.
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