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NewsWhat was the Shortest War in History

What was the Shortest War in History

This confrontation was rooted in a power struggle over Zanzibar, an island country in the Indian Ocean, following the sudden death of the pro-British Sultan. The war ended with a decisive British victory, marking a significant shift in Zanzibar’s governance and the eventual abolition of the slave trade on the island.

Key Points of Anglo-Zanzibar War:

Historical Background:

  • Zanzibar was an island under Oman’s control, rich in strategic and resource value.
  • British interest in Zanzibar grew due to its strategic location and resources.
  • Sultan Said bin Sultan of Oman was a formidable ruler, known as the Lion of Oman.

Rise to Conflict:

  • In 1856, Oman’s control was divided: Thuwaini bin Said became Sultan of Oman, and Majid bin Said established an independent Zanzibar.
  • The British Empire supported Majid bin Said, recognizing Zanzibar as a separate entity.
  • Zanzibar’s economy heavily relied on the slave trade, which the British later sought to abolish.

The Spark of War:

  • Sultan Khalid bin Barghash ascended to the throne without British approval, following the previous Sultan’s mysterious death.
  • The British issued an ultimatum demanding Khalid’s surrender by 9 am on August 27, 1896.
  • As the deadline expired, British forces commenced an attack on the Sultan’s palace.

The War and Its Aftermath:

  • The conflict lasted only 38 minutes, with British forces quickly overpowering the Sultan’s defense.
  • Sultan Khalid fled, seeking refuge in German East Africa, while the British installed Hamoud bin Mohammed as the new Sultan.
  • The war led to the closure of the slave market in 1873 and marked the beginning of British indirect rule over Zanzibar.

Questions and Answers:

What was the shortest war in history?

  • The shortest war in history was the Anglo-Zanzibar War.

Between which two countries did the Anglo-Zanzibar War occur?

  • The war occurred between Britain and the Zanzibar Sultanate.

How was the war decided in just under forty-five minutes?

  • British naval and military superiority quickly overcame the Sultan’s defenses, leading to a swift victory.

What were the main reasons for the British interest in Zanzibar?

  • Britain was interested in Zanzibar for its strategic location, resources, and to abolish the slave trade.

What was the outcome of the Anglo-Zanzibar War?

  • The war ended with a British victory, Sultan Khalid’s flight, the installation of a pro-British Sultan, and the beginning of British indirect rule over Zanzibar.

As we look back on this pivotal moment in history, one can’t help but wonder: Did the British intervention ultimately benefit or harm the course of human civilization in Zanzibar?

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