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Depiction of victims of the Great Irish Famine, 1845–1849

This is a selective list of known major famines, ordered by date.

Between 108 BC and 1911 AD, there were no fewer than 1,828 major famines in China, or one nearly every year in one or another province; however, the famines varied greatly in severity.[1][2]

There were 95 famines in Britain during the Middle Ages.[3][4]

Date Event Location Death toll (estimate)
2200–2100 BC The 4.2 kiloyear event caused famines and civilizational collapse worldwide global
441 BC The first famine recorded in ancient Rome. Ancient Rome[5]
26 BC Famine recorded throughout Near East and Levant, as recorded by Josephus Judea 20,000+
400–800 AD Various famines in Western Europe associated with the Fall of the Western Roman Empire and its sack by Alaric I. Between 400 and 800 AD, the population of the city of Rome fell by over 90%, mainly because of famine and plague.[6] Western Europe
535–536 AD Extreme weather events of 535–536 global
639 Famine in Arabia during the Caliphate of Umar ibn al-Khattab[7] Arabia
750s Islamic Spain (Al-Andalus)[8]
800–1000 Severe drought killed millions of Maya people due to famine and thirst and initiated a cascade of internal collapses that destroyed their civilization[9] Mayan areas of Mesoamerica 1 million+
875–84 Peasant rebellion in China inspired by famine;[10][11] Huang Chao captured capital China
927–28 Caused by four months of frost[12][13] Byzantine Empire
1005 England[14]
1016 Famine throughout Europe[15] Europe
1051 Famine forced the Toltecs to migrate from a stricken region in what is now central Mexico[16] Mexico (present day)
1064–72 Seven years' famine in Egypt [17][18] Egypt 40,000 [17]
1097 Famine and plague [19] France 100,000
1181 Yōwa famine (ja) Japan 42,300
1230 Famine in the Republic of Novgorod[citation needed] Russia
1229–32 The Kangi famine, possibly the worst famine in Japan's history.[20] Caused by volcanic eruptions.[21] Japan
1235 Famine in England, 20,000 died in London alone[citation needed] England 20,000
1255 Portugal[22]
1275–99 Collapse of the Anasazi civilization, widespread famine occurred[23] United States (present day)
1315–17 Great Famine of 1315–1317 Europe[24]
1333–37 China[25]
1344–45 Famine in India, under the regime of Muhammad bin Tughluq[26] India
1387 After Timur the Lame left Asia Minor, severe famine ensued[citation needed] Anatolia
1396–1407 The Durga Devi famine India[27]
1441 Famine in Mayapan Mexico[28]
1450–54 Famine in the Aztec Empire,[29] interpreted as the gods' need for sacrifices.[30] Mexico (present day)
1460–61 Kanshō famine in Japan[citation needed] Japan 82,000
1504 Spain[31]
1518 Venice[citation needed] Italy (present day)
1528 Famine in Languedoc France[32]
1535 Famine in Ethiopia Ethiopia
1540 Tenbun famine (ja) Japan
1567–70 Famine in Harar, combined with plague[citation needed]. Emir of Harar died. Ethiopia
1586 Famine in England which gave rise to the Poor Law system[citation needed] England
1601–03 One of the worst famines in all of Russian history; famine killed as many as 100,000 in Moscow and up to one-third of Tsar Godunov's subjects; see Russian famine of 1601–1603.[33][34] Same famine killed about half Estonian population. Russia 2 million
1618–48 Famines in Europe caused by Thirty Years' War Europe
1619 Famine in Japan. During the Tokugawa period, there were 154 famines, of which 21 were widespread and serious.[35] Japan
1630–31 Deccan Famine of 1630–32 (Note: There was a corresponding famine in northwestern China, eventually causing the Ming dynasty to collapse in 1644) India
1640–43 Kan'ei Great Famine Japan 50,000-100,000
1648–60 Poland lost an estimated 1/3 of its population due to wars, famine, and plague[citation needed] Poland
1649 Famine in northern England [36] England
1650–52 Famine in the east of France [37] France
1651–53 Famine throughout much of Ireland during the Cromwellian conquest of Ireland[38] Ireland
1661 Famine in India, due to lack of any rainfall for two years[39] India
1670s – 80s Plague and famines in Spain[citation needed] Spain
1680 Famine in Sardinia[40] Italy (present day) 80,000 [41]
1680s Famine in Sahel[37]
1690s Famine throughout Scotland which killed 5–15% of the population [42] Scotland 60,000 - 180,000
1693–94 Between 1.3 and 1.5 million French died in the fr:grande famine de 1693-1694 France 1.5 million[43][44]
1695–97 Great Famine of Estonia killed about a fifth of Estonian and Livonian population (70,000–75,000 people). Famine also hit Sweden (80,000–100,000 dead) The Swedish Empire, of which Swedish Estonia and Swedish Livonia were dominions at that time 150,000–175,000
1696–97 Great Famine of Finland wiped out almost a third of the population[45] Finland, then part of Sweden proper
1702–04 Famine in Deccan [46] India 2 million [46]
1708–11 Famine in East Prussia killed 250,000 people or 41% of its population[47] East Prussia 250,000
1709–10 The fr:Grande famine de 1709 France[48] 600.000
1722 Arabia[49]
1727–28 Famine in the English Midlands[50] England
1732–33 Kyōhō famine Japan 12,172-169,000[51]
1738–56 Famine in West Africa, half the population of Timbuktu died of starvation[52] West Africa
1740–41 Great Irish Famine (1740–1741) Ireland
1750–56 Famine in the Senegambia region [53]
1764 Famine in Naples[54] Italy (present day)
1769–73 Great Bengal famine of 1770,[55] 10 million dead (one third of population) India, Bangladesh (present day) 10 million
1770–71 Famines in Czech lands killed hundreds of thousands people Czech Republic (present day) 100,000+
1771–72 Famine in Saxony and southern Germany[citation needed] Germany
1773 Famine in Sweden[56] Sweden
1779 Famine in Rabat Morocco[57]
1780s Great Tenmei famine Japan 20,000 – 920,000
1783 Famine in Iceland caused by Laki eruption killed one-fifth of Iceland's population[58] Iceland
1783–84 Chalisa famine India 11 million[59]
1784 Widespread famine throughout Egypt[60] Egypt
1784–85 Famine in Tunisia killed up to one-fifth of all Tunisians[citation needed] Tunisia
1788 The two years previous to the French Revolution saw bad harvests and harsh winters, possibly because of a strong El Niño cycle[61] or caused by the 1783 Laki eruption in Iceland.[62][63] France
1789 Famine in Ethiopia afflicted "amhara/tigray north"
1789–92 Doji bara famine or Skull famine India 11 million
1804-1872, 1913 A series of 14 famines in Austrian Galicia Poland, Ukraine (present day) 400,000-550,000
1810, 1811, 1846, and 1849 Four famines in China China 45 million.[64]
1811–12 Famine devastated Madrid[65] Spain 20,000[66]
1815 Eruption of Tambora, Indonesia. Tens of thousands died in subsequent famine Indonesia 10,000
1816–17 Year Without a Summer Europe 65,000
1830–33 Claimed to have killed 42% of the population Cape Verde 30,000[67]
1830s Tenpo famine Japan
1837–38 Agra famine of 1837–38 India 1 million
1845–57 Highland Potato Famine Scotland
1845–49 Great Famine in Ireland killed more than 1 million people and over 1.5–2 million emigrated[68] Ireland 1.5 million
1846 Famine led to the peasant revolt known as "Maria da Fonte" in the north of Portugal[citation needed] Portugal
1849–50 Demak and Grobogan in Central Java, caused by four successive crop failures due to drought. Indonesia 83,000[69]
1850–73 As a result of Taiping Rebellion, drought, and famine, the population of China dropped by more than 60 million[70] China 60 million
1860–61 Upper Doab famine of 1860–61 India 2 million
1866 Orissa famine of 1866 India 1 million[71]
1866–68 Finnish famine of 1866–1868. About 15% of the entire population died Finland, northern Sweden 150,000+
1869 Rajputana famine of 1869 India 1.5 million[71]
1870–72 Persian famine of 1870–1872 Iran (present day) 2 million[72]
1873–74 Famine in Anatolia caused by drought and floods[73][74] Turkey (present day)
1879 1879 Famine in Ireland. Unlike previous famines, this famine mainly caused hunger and food shortages but little mortality. Ireland
1873–74 Bihar famine of 1873–74 India
1876–79 Famine in India, China, Brazil, Northern Africa (and other countries). Famine in northern China killed 13 million people.[75] 5.25 million died in the Great Famine of 1876–78 in India India, China, Brazil, Northern Africa (and other countries). 18.25 million in Northern China and India alone. British policies and drought were responsible for the deaths in India.[76][77] The famine in China was a result of drought influenced by the El Niño-Southern Oscillation.[78]
1878–80 Famine in St. Lawrence Island, Alaska[79] United States
1888–89 Famine in Orrisa, Ganjam and Northern Bihar India
1888–92 Ethiopian Great famine. About one-third of the population died.[80][81] Conditions worsen with cholera outbreaks (1889–92), a typhus epidemic, and a major smallpox epidemic (1889–90). Ethiopia
1891–92 Russian famine of 1891–92. Beginning along the Volga River and spreading to the Urals and the Black Sea. Russia 375,000–500,000[82][83]
1896–97 Famine in northern China leading in part to the Boxer Rebellion China
1896–1902 Series of famines in India due to drought and British policies.[77][84][85] India 6 million (British Territories), Mortality unknown in Princely States
1904–06 Famine in Spain.[86][87][88] Spain
1907, 1911 Famines in east-central China China 25 million [89]
1914–18 Mount Lebanon famine during World War I which was caused by an Entente powers and Ottoman Turk blockade of food and to a swarm of locusts which killed up to 200,000 people, estimated to be half of the Mount Lebanon population[90] Lebanon 200,000
1914–19 Famine caused by the Allied blockade of Germany during World War I until Germany signed the Treaty of Versailles. Germany 424,000–763,000
1916–17 Winter famine in Russia[citation needed] Russia
1917–19 Persian famine of 1917-1918. As much as 1/4 of the population living in the north of Iran died in the famine.[91][92] Although the research of Mohammad Gholi Majd alleges as many as 8–10 million killed, this is based on an original population estimate of 19 million. Other estimates place the original population at only 11 million, calling Majd's numbers heavily into question.[93][94] The Iranian government has stated that the famine was caused by the British (this is disputed) and that 8–10 million people died, this death toll also being in the American Archives[citation needed]. Iran (present day) As high as 8–10 million[95]
1918–19 Rumanura famine in Ruanda-Burundi, causing large migrations to the Congo Rwanda and Burundi (present day)
1917–21 A series of famines in Turkestan at the time of the Bolshevik revolution killed about a sixth of the population[96] Turkestan
1921 Russian famine of 1921 Russia 5 million[97]
1921–22 1921–1922 famine in Tatarstan Russia 500,000–2,000,000[98]
1924–25 Famine in Volga German colonies in Russia. One-third of the entire population perished[99] Russia
1924–25 Minor famine in Ireland due to heavy rain Irish Free State
1928–29 Famine in Ruanda-Burundi, causing large migrations to the Congo Rwanda and Burundi (present day) a
1928–30 Famine in northern China. The drought resulted in 3 million deaths China 3 million
1932–33 Soviet famine of 1932–1933 and Soviet-related famine in Ukraine Soviet Union and Ukraine 7–10 million in Ukraine, millions in Russia[100]
1936 Famine in China China 5 million[101]
1940–48 Famine in Morocco between 1940–48, because of refueling system installed by France.[102] Morocco 200 000
1940–45 Famine in Warsaw Ghetto, as well as other ghettos and concentration camps (note: this famine was the result of deliberate denial of food to ghetto residents on the part of Nazis). Occupied Poland
1941–44 Leningrad famine caused by a 900-day blockade by German troops. About one million Leningrad residents starved, froze, or were bombed to death in the winter of 1941–42, when supply routes to the city were cut off and temperatures dropped to −40 °C (−40 °F).[103] Russia 1 million
1941–44 Famine in Greece caused by the Axis occupation.[104][105] Greece 300,000
1942–43 Chinese famine of 1942–43 Henan, China 2–3 million
1943 Bengal famine of 1943 Bengal, India 1.5-2.1 million
1943 Ruzagayura famine in Ruanda-Urundi, causing emigrations to Congo Rwanda and Burundi (present day)
1944–45 Java under Japanese occupation Java, Indonesia 2.4 million[106]
1944 Dutch famine of 1944 during World War II Netherlands 20,000
1944 Rwanda famine of 1944 Rwanda
1945 Vietnamese Famine of 1945 Vietnam 400,000–2 million
1947 Soviet Famine of 1947 Soviet Union 1–1.5 million[107][108]
1946-47 German "Hungerwinter" Germany several 100,000
1958 Famine in Tigray Ethiopia 100,000
1959–61 The Great Chinese Famine. According to government statistics, there were 15 million excess deaths. China 15–43 million[109]
1966–67 Lombok, drought and malnutrition, exacerbated by restrictions on regional rice trade Indonesia 50,000[110]
1967–70 Biafran famine caused by Nigerian blockade Nigeria
1968–72 Sahel drought created a famine that killed a million people[111] Mauritania, Mali, Chad, Niger and Burkina Faso 1 million
1972–73 Famine in Ethiopia caused by drought and poor governance; failure of the government to handle this crisis led to the fall of Haile Selassie and to Derg rule Ethiopia 60,000[112]
1974 Bangladesh famine of 1974 Bangladesh 27,000-1.5 million
1975–79 Khmer Rouge. An estimated 2 million Cambodians lost their lives to murder, forced labor and famine Cambodia 2 million
1980–81 Caused by drought and conflict[112] Uganda 30,000[112]
1984–85 1984–1985 famine in Ethiopia Ethiopia 400,000[113]
1991–92 Famine in Somalia caused by drought and civil war[112] Somalia 300,000[112]
1996 North Korean famine.[114][115] Scholars estimate 600,000 died of starvation (other estimates range from 200,000 to 3.5 million).[116] North Korea 200,000 to 3.5 million
1998 1998 Sudan famine caused by war and drought Sudan 70,000[112]
1998–2000 Famine in Ethiopia. The situation worsened by Eritrean–Ethiopian War Ethiopia
1998–2004 Second Congo War. 3.8 million people died, mostly from starvation and disease Democratic Republic of the Congo 3.8 million
2005–06 2005–06 Niger food crisis. At least three million were affected in Niger and 10 million throughout West Africa Niger and West Africa
2011–12 Famine in Somalia, brought on by the 2011 East Africa drought[117] Somalia 285,000
2012 Famine in West Africa, brought on by the 2012 Sahel drought[118] Senegal, Gambia, Niger, Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso
2016–present Famine in Yemen, arising from the blockade of Yemen by Saudi Arabia Yemen At least 50,000 children[119] Unknown number of adults
2017–present Famine in South Sudan[120]. Famine in Somalia, due to 2017 Somalian drought. Famine in Nigeria South Sudan, Unity State, Somalia, Nigeria

See also[edit]

Main article lists[edit]

Other articles[edit]


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External links[edit]

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