Did You Know? The shortest war in history was between Britain and Zanzibar on August 27, 1896. The war lasted just 38 minutes. Zanzibar was a small East African country that was a protectorate of Britain at the time. The war began when the British demanded that the Sultan of Zanzibar sign a treaty ceding control of the country’s foreign affairs to Britain. The Sultan refused, and the British launched a naval attack on the capital of Zanzibar. The attack was successful, and the Sultan was forced to sign the treaty, ending the war.