List of famines

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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)
441 BC The first famine recorded. Ancient Rome[5]
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
639 Famine in Arabia during the Caliphate of Umar ibn al-Khattab[citation needed] Arabia
750's Spain[7]
800–1000 AD Severe drought killed millions of Maya people due to famine and thirst and initiated a cascade of internal collapses that destroyed their civilization[8] Mayan areas of Mesoamerica millions
809 Frankish Empire[9][unreliable source?]
875–884 Peasant rebellion in China inspired by famine[citation needed]; Huang Chao captured capital China
927–928 Caused by four months of frost[10][11] Byzantine Empire
1005 England[12]
1016 Famine throughout Europe[13] Europe
1022, 1033, 1052 Great famines in India, in which entire provinces were depopulated[citation needed] India
1051 Famine forced the Toltecs to migrate from a stricken region in what is now central Mexico[14] Mexico (present day)
1064–1072 Seven years' famine in Egypt[citation needed] Egypt
1097 Famine and plague[citation needed] France 100,000
1230 Famine in the Republic of Novgorod[citation needed] Russia
1229–1232 The Kangi famine, possibly the worst famine in Japan's history.[15] Caused by volcanic eruptions.[16] Japan
1235 Famine in England, 20,000 died in London alone[citation needed] England 20,000
1255 Portugal[17]
1275–1299 Collapse of the Anasazi civilization, widespread famine occurred[18] United States (present day)
1315–1317 Great Famine of 1315–1317 Europe[19]
1333–1337 China[20]
1344–1345 Great famine in India, under the regime of Muhammad bin Tughluq[21] India
1387 After Timur the Lame left Asia Minor, severe famine ensued Anatolia
1396–1407 The Durga Devi famine India[22]
1441 Famine in Mayapan Mexico[23]
1450–1454 Famine in the Aztec Empire,[24] interpreted as the gods' need for sacrifices.[25] Mexico (present day)
1460–1461 Kanshō famine in Japan[citation needed] Japan
1504 Spain[26]
1518 Venice[citation needed] Italy (present day)
1528 Famine in Languedoc France[27]
1535 Famine in Ethiopia Ethiopia
1567–1570 Famine in Harar, combined with plague. Emir of Harar died. Ethiopia
1586 Famine in England which gave rise to the Poor Law system[citation needed] England
1601–1603 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.[28][29] Same famine killed about half Estonian population. Russia 2 million
1618–1648 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.[30] Japan
1630–1631 Deccan Famine of 1630–32 (Note: There was a corresponding famine in northwestern China, eventually causing the Ming dynasty to collapse in 1644) India 2 million
1648–1660 Poland lost an estimated 1/3 of its population due to wars, famine, and plague[citation needed] Poland
1649 Famine in northern England[citation needed] England
1650–1652 Famine in the east of France[citation needed] France
1651–1653 Famine throughout much of Ireland during the Cromwellian conquest of Ireland[31] Ireland
1661 Famine in India, when not a drop of rain fell for two years[32] India
1669 Famine in Bengal India, Bangladesh (present day)
1670s and 1680s Plague and famines in Spain[citation needed] Spain
1680 Famine in Sardinia[33] Italy (present day) 80,000 [34]
1680s Famine in Sahel[citation needed]
1690s Famine throughout Scotland which killed 15% of the population[citation needed] Scotland
1693–1694 France 2 million[35][36]
1695–1697 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
1696–1697 Great Famine of Finland wiped out almost a third of the population[37] Finland, then part of Sweden proper
1702–1704 Famine in Deccan[citation needed] India 2 million
1708–1711 Famine in East Prussia killed 250,000 people or 41% of its population[38] East Prussia 250,000
1709–1710 France[39]
1722 Arabia[40]
1727–1728 Famine in the English Midlands[41] England
1738–1756 Famine in West Africa, half the population of Timbuktu died of starvation[42] West Africa
1740-1741 Great Irish Famine (1740–1741) Ireland
1750–1756 Famine in the Senegambia region [43]
1764 Famine in Naples[44] Italy (present day)
1769–1773 Bengal famine of 1770,[45] 10 million dead (one third of population) India, Bangladesh (present day) 10 million
1770–1771 Famines in Czech lands killed hundreds of thousands people Czech Republic (present day) hundreds of thousands
1771–1772 Famine in Saxony and southern Germany[citation needed] Germany
1773 Famine in Sweden[citation needed] Sweden
1779 Famine in Rabat Morocco[46]
1780s Great Tenmei famine Japan 20,000 - 920,000
1783 Famine in Iceland caused by Laki eruption killed one-fifth of Iceland's population[47] Iceland
1783–84 Chalisa famine India 11 million[48]
1784 Widespread famine throughout Egypt[49] Egypt
1784–1785 Famine in Tunisia killed up to one-fifth of all Tunisians Tunisia
1788 The two years previous to the French Revolution saw bad harvests and harsh winters, possibly because of a strong El Niño cycle[50] or caused by the 1783 Laki eruption in Iceland.[51][52] France
1789 Famine in Ethiopia afflicted "amhara/tigray north"
1789–92 Doji bara famine or Skull famine India
1810, 1811, 1846, and 1849 Four famines in China China 45 million.[53]
1811–1812 Famine devastated Madrid[54] Spain 20,000[55]
1815 Eruption of Tambora, Indonesia. Tens of thousands died in subsequent famine Indonesia 10,000
1816–1817 Year Without a Summer Europe 65,000
1830–1833 Claimed to have killed 42% of the population Cape Verde 30,000[56]
1830s Tenpo famine Japan
1837–1838 Agra famine of 1837–38 India
1845–1857 Highland Potato Famine Scotland
1845–1849 Great Famine in Ireland killed more than 1 million people and over 1.5–2 million emigrated[57] Ireland 1.5 million
1846 Famine led to the peasant revolt known as "Maria da Fonte" in the north of Portugal Portugal
1849–1850 Demak and Grobogan in Central Java, caused by four successive crop failures due to drought. Indonesia 83,000[58]
1850–1873 As a result of Taiping Rebellion, drought, and famine, the population of China dropped by more than 60 million[59] China 60 million
1866 Orissa famine of 1866 India 1 million[60]
1866–1868 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[60]
1870–1871 Famine in Persia Iran (present day) 2 million[61]
1873–1874 Famine in Anatolia caused by drought and floods[62][63] 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. Mortality was avoided in a massive relief campaign India Thought to be as low as zero
1876–1879 ENSO Famine in India, China, Brazil, Northern Africa (and other countries). Famine in northern China killed 13 million people.[64] 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
1878-1880 Famine in St. Lawrence Island, Alaska[65] United States
1888–1892 Ethiopian Great famine. About one-third of the population died.[66][67] Conditions worsen with cholera outbreaks (1889–92), a typhus epidemic, and a major smallpox epidemic (1889–90). Ethiopia
1891–1892 Russia 375,000–500,000[68][69]
1896–1897 ENSO famine in northern China leading in part to the Boxer Rebellion China
1896–1902 ENSO famine in India[70] India
1907, 1911 Famines in east-central China[citation needed] China
1914–1918 Mount Lebanon famine during World War I which was caused by an Ottoman Turk blockade of food which killed up to 450,000 Lebanese Maronite Christians about a third of the population[71] Lebanon 450,000
1916–1917 Famine caused by the British blockade of Germany in WWI Germany
1916–1917 Winter famine in Russia[citation needed] Russia
1917–1919 Famine in Persia. As much as 1/4 of the population living in the north of Iran died in the famine[72] [73] Iran (present day)
1918–1919 Rumanura famine in Ruanda-Burundi, causing large migrations to the Congo Rwanda and Burundi (present day)
1917–1921 A series of famines in Turkestan at the time of the Bolshevik revolution killed about a sixth of the population[74] Turkestan
1921 Russian famine of 1921 Russia 5 million[75]
1921–1922 1921–1922 famine in Tatarstan Russia
1924–1925 Famine in Volga German colonies in Russia. One-third of the entire population perished[76] Russia
1928–1929 Famine in Ruanda-Burundi, causing large migrations to the Congo Rwanda and Burundi (present day)
1928–1930 Famine in northern China. The drought resulted in 3 million deaths China 3 million
1932–1933 Soviet famine of 1932–1933 and Soviet-related famine in Ukraine Soviet Union and Ukraine 7–10 million in Ukraine, millions in Russia[77]
1936 China 5 million[78]
1940–1945 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).[79] Russia 1 million
1941–1944 Famine in Greece caused by the Axis occupation.[80][81] Greece 300,000
1942-43 Chinese famine of 1942–43 Henan, China 2-3 million
1943 Bengal famine of 1943 Bengal, India 1.5-7 million
1943 Famine in Ruanda-Urundi, causing migrations to the Congo Rwanda and Burundi (present day)
1944-45 Java during World War II Indonesia 2.4 million[82]
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[83][84]
1958 Famine in Tigray Ethiopia 100,000
1959–1961 The Great Chinese Famine. According to government statistics, there were 15 million excess deaths. China 15–43 million[85]
1966–1967 Lombok, drought and malnutrition, exacerbated by restrictions on regional rice trade Indonesia 50,000[86]
1967–1970 Biafran famine caused by Nigerian blockade Nigeria
1968–1972 Sahel drought created a famine that killed a million people[87] Mauritania, Mali, Chad, Niger and Burkina Faso 1 million
1972–1973 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[88]
1974 Bangladesh famine of 1974 Bangladesh 1 million
1975–1979 Khmer Rouge. An estimated 2 million Cambodians lost their lives to murder, forced labor and famine Cambodia 2 million
1980–1981 Caused by drought and conflict[88] Uganda 30,000[88]
1984–1985 1984–1985 famine in Ethiopia Ethiopia
1991–1992 Famine in Somalia caused by drought and civil war[88] Somalia 300,000[88]
1996 North Korean famine.[89][90] Scholars estimate 600,000 died of starvation (other estimates range from 200,000 to 3.5 million).[91] North Korea 200,000 to 3.5 million
1998 1998 Sudan famine caused by war and drought Sudan 70,000[88]
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
2011-2012 Famine in Somalia, brought on by the 2011 East Africa drought[92] Somalia
2012 Famine in West Africa, brought on by the 2012 Sahel drought[93] Senegal, Gambia, Niger, Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso

See also[edit]

Main article lists[edit]

Other articles[edit]


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    For a summary of other estimates, please refer to this link
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External links[edit]

Media related to famines at Wikimedia Commons