The Deadliest Wars of the 1960s

The Vietnam War is largely remembered as the bloodiest war of the 1960s. Indeed, the prolonged armed conflict resulted in over 1 million casualties between 1965 and 1975. (Here are 29 horrifying images of the Vietnam War.)

Dozens of other countries, however, were also embroiled in war during that decade, leading to over a million battle-related deaths around the globe. To identify the deadliest wars of the 1960s, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the PRIO Battledeaths Dataset, produced by the Peace Research Institute Oslo, an independent conflict research and policy institute. We listed the 21 conflicts that began, but did not necessarily end, in the 1960s and during which at least 1,000 combat deaths occurred. (In the majority of cases, the death total listed is the PRIO best estimate. In the case of five wars on this list, 24/7 Wall St. averaged the high and low estimate provided by PRIO.)

The Vietnam war had its roots in an anticolonial uprising against French rule, and likewise, many of the wars of the ‘60s began as countries freed themselves from European imperialism. The majority of the deadliest wars took place in Africa, with a number being struggles to gain independence from Portugal, including wars in Angola, Mozambique, and Guinea-Bissau. 

Other deadly conflicts in Africa were civil wars that followed the withdrawal of European powers, including wars in Eritrea, Chad, and the Congo. The end of colonial rule in these countries often meant an abrupt withdrawal of governmental oversight – with minimal preparations or infrastructure that would allow for a harmonious transition to self-governance – leading to factional power struggles and civil wars.

Deadly Middle-Eastern wars that began in the ‘60s include the Iraqi-Kurdish conflict and the Six-Day War between Israel and an Arab coalition that included Egypt, Syria, and Jordan. In the Americas, bloody wars took place in Columbia, the Dominican Republic, and Central America between Honduras and El Salvador. (Here are the most devastating battles in recent history.)

Click here to see the deadliest wars of the 1960s.

Click here to see our detailed methodology.

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