The Shortest War of All Time


August 25, 1896 - The Zanzibar Sultanate is in chaos after the death of Sultan Hamad bin Thuwaini. His 29 year old nephew, Khalid bin Barghash, declares himself sultan in violation of a treaty signed with Britain that requires their approval. The British issue an ultimatum, requiring Khalid to step down, but he chooses to stand his ground and barricades himself inside the palace. On August 27, 1896, at 9:02am, the Royal Navy begins a bombardment from the harbor, setting the palace on fire and disabling the sultan’s defenses. The British engage in a small naval battle and sink three Zanzibari vessels. By 9:40am, the conflict is over, with Zanzibar suffering 500 casualties, and the British reporting only one injured sailor. Sultan Khalid escapes and receives political asylum from Germany and the British install Sultan Hamud at the head of a puppet government. At 38 minutes long, the Anglo-Zanzibar War is the shortest war in history.

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