Serve logo

38 Minutes of Infamy: The Shortest War in History between Britain and Zanzibar

Have you ever heard of a war that lasted just 38 minutes?

By @patrickjamesncPublished 8 months ago 3 min read
38 Minutes of Infamy: The Shortest War in History between Britain and Zanzibar
Photo by British Library on Unsplash

Have you ever heard of a war that lasted just 38 minutes? It sounds like a myth, but it is a true story. On 27 August 1896, the small island nation of Zanzibar was thrust into the world stage when it declared war against the mighty British Empire. What followed was a military showdown that lasted just 38 minutes, becoming the shortest war in recorded history.

At the time, Zanzibar was a major hub for the spice trade and a crucial stop for ships traveling between Asia and Europe. The island was ruled by Sultan Khalid bin Barghash, who had seized the throne after the death of his uncle, Sultan Hamad bin Thuwaini. However, Britain, with its imperial ambitions, had other plans for the island. They demanded that Khalid step down and hand over the reins of power to Sultan Hamoud bin Mohammed, a British-backed candidate.

The morning of 27 August 1896 was tense. Sultan Khalid had barricaded himself in the palace, while the British naval ships in the harbor trained their guns on the royal palace. The deadline given to Sultan Khalid to step down had passed, and the British decided to take action. At 9 am, the British launched their attack, and within minutes, the island was a warzone.

The battle was brief but intense. Sultan Khalid's forces, consisting of just a few hundred soldiers, were no match for the well-equipped British military. The palace was quickly surrounded, and Sultan Khalid was forced to flee. By 9:38 am, the battle was over, and Britain declared victory. The island of Zanzibar was now a British protectorate, and Sultan Hamoud was installed as the new ruler.

The 38-minute war was a significant moment in world history. It marked the end of the era of the slave trade and marked the beginning of Britain's imperial ambitions in East Africa. The war also marked the first time that British troops had used machine guns in combat, signaling a new era of modern warfare.

The aftermath of the war was not without controversy. Sultan Khalid was eventually captured and exiled, while Sultan Hamoud's reign was marred by corruption and mismanagement. The island became a focal point for anti-colonial movements, and the legacy of the 38-minute war lives on to this day.

In conclusion, the 38-minute war between Britain and Zanzibar may have been brief, but its impact was far-reaching. It was a defining moment in the history of imperialism and a testament to the brutal efficiency of the British military. The war may have lasted just 38 minutes, but its legacy endures, reminding us of the ruthless ambitions of empires past.

So next time you hear someone claim that wars can't be won in just 38 minutes, tell them the story of the shortest war in history and how it forever changed the world.


Hey there! Are you looking for inspiration and motivation in your daily life? Look no further! I am excited to share my thoughts and experiences through my short articles. I believe that we can all learn from one another, and I am eager to share my perspective with you.

By subscribing to my content, you'll have access to a wealth of knowledge and inspiration. Whether you're looking to improve your relationships, career, or overall well-being, I have something for you.

So, take a moment to sit back, relax, and enjoy the read. If you found value in my words, don't forget to follow me and give a like. You'll be the first to know when I have new content.

Thanks for your support,


veteranhistoryfact or fictionarmy

About the Creator


Teacher, father &, married, with degrees in psychology, criminology, neuro-linguistic programming & sophrology, I voluntarily write short articles about life.

Consider following me if my posts can help you to have a better and positive life.

Reader insights

Be the first to share your insights about this piece.

How does it work?

Add your insights


There are no comments for this story

Be the first to respond and start the conversation.

Sign in to comment

    Find us on social media

    Miscellaneous links

    • Explore
    • Contact
    • Privacy Policy
    • Terms of Use
    • Support

    © 2023 Creatd, Inc. All Rights Reserved.