The Top Ten: Shortest wars


John Rentoul
Sunday 24 May 2015 16:14 BST
An Israeli tank advances into Syria during the Six Day War
An Israeli tank advances into Syria during the Six Day War (Getty Images)

'The belief in the possibility of a short, decisive war appears to be one of the most ancient and dangerous of human illusions.'

My Quotation of the Day by Robert Lynd prompted James Worron to observe that short wars are quite common – there are just fewer of them than people hope for.

1. Anglo-Zanzibar War, 1896

The Royal Navy defeated the Sultan of Zanzibar in 38 minutes. Holds the record, thinks Alan Beattie.

2. Football War, 1969

Between El Salvador and Honduras, lasting 100 hours. Triggered by rioting during a play-off in the 1970 World Cup (El Salvador won 3-2 after extra time). From Stephen Fahey.

3. Six-Day War, 1967

Israel defeated Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Iraq. Nominated by Harris.

4. Russo-Georgian War, 2008

Six days, 7 to 12 August. Russian victory, occupying South Ossetia and Abkhazia. A late nomination from Martin Heneghan.

5. Slovenian Independence War, 1991

Lasted 10 days from 27 June to 7 July after Slovenia declared independence from Yugoslavia. Ended with the signing of the Brioni Agreement. Thanks to David Beckingham.

6. War of the Stray Dog, 1925

The Incident at Petrich, an 11-day conflict between Greece and Bulgaria, 19 to 29 October, in some accounts caused when Bulgarian border guards shot and killed a Greek soldier who ran after his dog. Greeks withdrew and paid an indemnity to Bulgaria by decision of the League of Nations. Thanks to Mr Ceebs.

7. Indo-Pakistani War, 1971

Thirteen days. Hard to separate from the Bangladeshi war of independence, but Jamie Frater, who compiled a Listverse list, has this as a distinct conflict.

8. Serbo-Bulgarian War, 1885

One day longer at 14 days. The Kingdom of Serbia objected to the unification of Bulgaria, but was defeated.

9. Norman Conquest, 1066

Seventeen days. William landed on 28 September and won the Battle of Hastings on 14 October.

10. Georgian-Armenian War, 1918

Border dispute after Ottoman withdrawal at the end of the First World War led to 24 days of war, ending in a ceasefire and joint administration. From Jamie Frater's list.

Next week: Terrible technology predictions, such as 'The New York Times' in 1985 on how laptop computers would never catch on

Coming soon: Familiar phrases that don't mean what people think ("Wherefore art thou, Romeo?"). Send your suggestions, and ideas for future Top 10s, to

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