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Fun Facts About World History

History is full of odd occurrences and random happenings, but put them all together and one will quickly come up with tons of fun facts about world history. For example, the world’s oldest, continuous democracy isn’t the United States, Britain, or even Greece. It’s tiny Iceland. Founded by the Vikings, the Icelandic Parliament, known as the Althing, was established in 930 A.D.

Fun Facts About World History

Islands in the Ocean

What country has the largest number of islands and how many of them are inhabited with a population? That claim to fame would belong to Indonesia. The country, with its huge island archipelago, has more than 17,000 individual islands and, of that number, about 6,000, or 35 percent, are populated.

Secret Service

Everyone thinks the Secret Service in the United States was created to protect the president and that is currently true. However, this agency of the government was initially founded in 1865, the year the Civil War ended, with the purpose of stopping and preventing the printing of counterfeit money.

Remember the Alamo!

General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna may have won at the Alamo but, days later, he and his Mexican army were defeated at the Battle of San Jacinto. Santa Anna was held as a prisoner and the Republic of Texas (soon to become part of the United States) separated permanently from Mexico as a free and independent state.

Santa Anna returned to Mexico a year later. He was given the chance to regain his former glory by leading the Mexican army again into battle, this time, against French soldiers at Veracruz, in what became known as the Pastry War. Again, the general met defeat, but not before a French cannon ball severely injured his hand and leg, the latter of which soon had to be amputated.

Never let it be said that even in the midst of pain and injury, Santa Anna wasn’t a man of showmanship. He ordered the amputated leg be given a full Mexican state funeral, complete with full military honors.

Later, Santa Anna had a cork leg fashioned as a replacement for the amputated one. American soldiers captured Santa Anna’s fake leg during the Mexican-American War in 1848. The leg is still on display in a military museum in Springfield, Illinois.

For more fun facts about world history, consider that to this day, the Mexican government has routinely asked for the leg to be sent back, but the museum has never complied.

Fun Facts About World History

War might be hell, but if you blinked your eyes in 1896, you might’ve missed the Anglo-Zanzibar War. The war began after the death of Zanzibar’s sultan, Hamad bin Thuwaini, in August 1896. Thuwaini was a pro-British monarch, a situation the Brits preferred to keep that way. Unfortunately, the sultan who assumed the throne after Thuwaini’s death was not to the British liking, and they demanded the new sultan, named Khalid bin Barghash, be removed.

The British government pointed to a clause in its treaty with Zanzibar that stated that any new holder of the throne had to be approved by the British consul. Khalid refused to step down and instead used 2,800 of his soldiers, servants, and slaves to surround his palace in anticipation of a British attack. Meanwhile, the British lined up gunboats, cruisers, artillery, machine guns, and sailors to bombard the new sultan’s palace.

The British fired a small fusillade at the palace and, about 40 minutes later, the flag of surrender was raised at the palace. Khalid’s forces sustained about 500 casualties, while only one British sailor suffered a minor injury. A new, favorable sultan was placed in power in Zanzibar, while Khalid escaped to more friendly quarters outside of Zanzibar.

At 40 minutes, the war between Zanzibar and Britain is the shortest war on record. While war might not be fun, the sheer brevity of this battle earns it a definite place in the list of unusual and fun facts about world history.