Famine is often considered one of the worst natural disasters on Earth. Its effects are widespread, and the damage caused by a famine can last for months, if not years. Often times caused by other natural disasters, it can destroy whole villages, and cause mass exodus. Death by starvation and malnutrition is slow and painful, and often hits the youngest and the elderly the hardest. Unfortunately, at times it is brought upon by political incompetency, and cruelty towards others can exacerbate the situation. Below are 10 terrible famines experienced throughout human history.
10. Great Famine Ireland 1.5 million dead, 2 million emigrated
One of the most famous famines in history, the Great Famine was caused by a devastating potato disease. 33% of the Irish population relied on the potato for sustenance, and the onset of the disease in 1845 triggered mass starvations that lasted until 1853. The large Catholic population was suppressed by British rule, and left unable to own or lease land, or hold a profession. When the blight struck, British ships prevented other nations from delivering food aid. Ireland experienced a mass exodus, with upwards of 2 million people fleeing the country, many to the United States. At its conclusion in 1853, 1.5 million Irish were dead, and an additional 2 million had emigrated. In total, the population of Ireland shrunk by a resounding 25%.