The World's Most War-Torn Countries

A tank sits in front of a mosque that has been destroyed by civil war in Syria. Editorial credit: Christiaan Triebert /
A tank sits in front of a mosque that has been destroyed by civil war in Syria. Editorial credit: Christiaan Triebert /

The World’s Most War-Torn Countries


Beginning in 2001, U.S. forces raided Afghanistan to first topple the Taliban and then gradually ensure the complete eradication of the Taliban from Afghan territory while rebuilding core institutions in the country. The U.S. also implemented counter-insurgency troops in the country to protect the civilians from Taliban attacks, and to allow the Afghan government to establish it's position in the country in a steady manner. However, despite all of the measures undertaken, insurgency clashes and Taliban attacks continue to persist in the country. The current war situation in Afghanistan continues to claim civilian lives through bombings, crossfires, assassinations, and improvised explosive devices.


The long history of Iraq has been marred several times by the ravages of war. The Second Kurdish–Iraqi War (1974–1975), the Iran–Iraq War (1980–1988), and the Gulf War (1990–1991) are some of the major wars fought by Iraq in the past century. In 2003, U.S. forces invaded Iraq to overthrow the Iraqi government led by Saddam Hussein, and the war that ensured ultimately led to Saddam’s defeat in the war and his consequent death. War and conflict also appears to haunt the country in the present time, as much of the country is in the grip of the Iraqi Civil War. In 2014, the Iraqi insurgency achieved the status of a Civil War when the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) conquered major areas in northern Iraq. The ISIS militants, not limiting their actions to only Iraq, have also terrorized much of the world with their acts of extreme violence. This has forced countries like the U.S., Iran, Syria, and other countries to aid the Iraqi Government to resist the growth and spread of ISIS militants. A shocking study reveals that around half a million Iraqis, including those killed directly or indirectly, lost their lives to warfare between 2003 and 2011.


Currently, the gravity of the civil war situation in Syria is drawing attention from across the globe. The war started with the spread of the wave of Arab Spring protests in Syria in the early spring of 2011. The revolutionary wave of demonstrations and protests swept across Syria, demanding the eradication of President Bashar al-Assad’s government. The government’s forces meted out a violent response to these protests, which were heavily criticized by the European Union and the United Nations. The civilian protests soon transformed into an armed rebellion, and escalated into the Syrian Civil War of the present day. The war has displaced more than 11 million Syrians from their homelands, and claimed the lives of at least 250,000 people. Although peace initiatives have been attempted, fighting continues on as of the end of 2017.

Countries Currently Experiencing War


Ukraine stands torn apart between the influences of the Russian government in the east and the European Union in the west. After Russia’s annexation of Crimea in March of 2014 and a cease-fire violation in Ukraine in September of the same year, Ukraine decided in June of 2015 to ban Russian flights from flying into the country, and also suspended gas purchases from Russia. In 2017, war in Ukraine still rages on, in a conflict known as the War in Donbass. Communities such as Marinka and Avdiivka, in eastern Ukraine, are amongst the country’s most war torn areas.


Since 2015, Yemen has been involved in a Civil War. The war is being fought between two sides, both of which claim to be the legitimate Yemeni government. These sides are the forces associated with Ali Abdullah Saleh, who are based in Sana’a, and the forces loyal to Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi, who are based in the port city of Aden. To make matters work, deadly attacks have also been carried out in Yemen by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (or ISIS), as well as Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).

Democratic Republic of the Congo

There are a number of ongoing conflicts currently happening in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), some of which have been going on since as early as the 1970s. These include the guerilla campaign of the Lord’s Resistance Army Insurgency, the Batwa-Luba Clashes, the Kivu Conflict, and the Ituri Conflict – although this has been defined as “low-level conflict” since 2003. Due to the presence of armed groups, the United States government currently warns against all travel to the Democratic Republic of the Congo.


Mexico may stand out as an interesting inclusion on this list. Although the country is not currently engaged in any formal war or civil war, the Mexican Drug War remains one of the deadliest conflicts of the current age. The war has officially been ongoing since 2006, and it is estimated that as many as 120,000 people have lost their lives as a result of it. An additional number of people, estimated to be around 27,000, have been characterized as missing as a result of the war.

Central African Republic

The Central African Republic, a landlocked country in Africa, has for long been involved in a series of military coups and rebellions that have ravaged the economy of the nation, causing widespread instability in the country. Currently, the country is in the grip of an ongoing civil war being fought between the government forces and the Séléka rebel coalition. The war, which started on December 10th, 2012, has witnessed the rapid growth of the Séléka rebels who were held responsible for the wanton destruction of a large number of towns and villages in the country and the murder of thousands of innocent civilians.

The World's Most War-Torn Countries

RankCountryConflict Related Fatalities
8South Sudan3,544
12Democratic Republic of the Congo1,565

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