26 cities destroyed by war in the past 200 years – 24/7 Wall St.
At the beginning of March this year, just a week after the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, two towns in Ukraine’s Donbass region – Volnovakha and Schastia – were completely destroyed after days of shelling that targeted civilian infrastructure. By mid-April, the bombs had destroyed 95% of the port city of Mariupol. Russian airstrikes, bombings and missiles have also devastated hundreds of buildings in Kharkov, Kyiv, Odessaand many other cities and suburbs, leading to more than 4,800 civilian casualties to date, and more 12 millions displaced persons.
Civilian deaths, displacement, and damage to residential and commercial neighborhoods are common consequences of war. Entire cities are sometimes wiped out as a side effect of a bombardment intended to destroy enemy infrastructure, including railways, ports, military bases, industrial centers and government buildings. Other times, civilian areas are intentionally targeted as part of a morale-damaging tactic, as in the US atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki – among the 17 cities destroyed by the United States in World War II.
To determine the most war-damaged cities in history, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed historical reports of cities that have been decimated by conflict, limiting our research to the past 200 years. A disproportionate number of cities on the list were destroyed during World War II, which marked the height of the era of aerial bombardment of populated areas. This list is not exhaustive. For example, the US firebombing campaign in Japan resulted in the burning down of an average of 40% of the 60 major cities targeted.
While a few of these towns were destroyed in a single day, many faced months or years of siege, airstrikes and fierce urban fighting that slowly turned them to rubble. Some cities, including Beirut, Dresden and Ypres, were known for their exquisite historic architecture before being decimated by war. Others, including Mosul, Aleppo and Timbuktu, housed irreplaceable ancient buildings and artifacts that were burned, looted or destroyed.
Click here to see 26 cities destroyed by war over the past 200 years.
Most of the bustling urban centers were rebuilt – sometimes retaining the same architectural style as the destroyed area – while a few small villages were left in ruins as war memorials. The ongoing conflicts in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan have prevented the reconstruction of some towns in these countries and many of their inhabitants are currently displaced. (Some refugees from war-torn countries have come to the United States Here are the countries from which most refugees arriving in the United States come.)
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