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Examples of Ethnic Conflict

Updated February 21, 2017

Ethnic conflict led to tens of millions of deaths throughout the 20th century due to governments and different ethnic groups fighting each other over racial, spiritual or cultural differences. There have been many horrific examples of ethnic conflict around the world, some of which still have serious tensions and outbreaks of violence today.

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The Holocaust

In the 1930s and 40s, the Nazi regime led by Adolf Hitler took control of the German government and military and began invading countries all over Europe. They also had a policy of hate against the Jews, among other groups; they rounded them all up, put them in ghettos, forced them into hard labour camps and ultimately, into concentration camps, where they experimented on them, tortured them, murdered them and burnt them in ovens. It is believed that at least six million Jews were killed by the Nazi regime and their supporters during the Holocaust.

The Balkans

In the Balkan region of southeastern Europe, the countries of Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia and Croatia were involved in a three-year war in the former Yugoslavian Republic that cost over a hundred thousand lives, according to freerepublic.com. The conflict arose out of the three ethnicities living in the countries that had growing animosity toward each other for centuries, in turn creating ethnic cleansing among those who had power. Slobodan Milosevic had risen to power in Bosnia but was a Serb. During the war, his soldiers forcibly removed non-Serbs from Serb controlled areas and murdered, raped and brutalised them, dumping bodies into mass graves. He was ultimately captured and convicted of crimes against humanity.


There is still ongoing ethnic conflict throughout the continent of Africa among many nations and tribes within those nations. Liberia is one of the most volatile, violence-filled nations in the world, with different tribes and tribal leaders vying for power over the land and people. In Darfur, Arab militia groups have killed many tens of thousands of Africans according to the Global Ministries of the United Methodist Church. South Africa has experienced ethnic cleansing as white farmers have been murdered and driven from their homes by black South Africans, due to the past apartheid from the formerly white government. The most famous of the ethnic genocides occurred in the small African nation of Rwanda between two tribes called the Hutus and the Tutsis. Half a million on both sides were massacred with guns and machetes in an incredibly short amount of time, and tis is known as one of the bloodiest examples of ethnic conflict in human history.

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About the Author

Hailing from Austin, Texas, Daniel Westlake has written under pen names for a myriad of publications all over the nation, ranging from national magazines to local papers. He now lives in Los Angeles, Calif. but regularly travels around the country and abroad, exploring and experiencing everything he can.

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