What Were The Worst Famines In History?

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Three of the worst famines (food shortages) in history were the Great Famine of Bengal, India, that took place in 1769; the Great Irish Famine that began in 1845; and the Chinese famine of 1878. During the Great Famine of Bengal a total of 10,000,000 people died of starvation.

Although not so devastating, the Great Irish Famine is probably the most famous in history. This famine was the result of a potato blight (a disease caused by fungus). Because Irish farmers sold their grain to earn money, they depended on the potato crops as food until the next harvest. However, because the potato crop failed three years in a row (1845–48), between 700,000 and 1,000,000 people died of starvation. Another 2,000,000 people left Ireland to escape the famine, many emigrating (permanently settling) to the United States.

About thirty years after the Great Irish Famine, a severe famine hit China. This famine proved to be more deadly than both the Great Famine of Bengal and the Great Irish Famine combined. During a two-year drought 20,000,000 people died of starvation.

Further Information: Interpreting the Irish Famine. [Online] Available http://www.people.Virginia. EDU/~eas5e/Irish/Famine.html, October 18, 2000; Irish American Heritage Museum. [Online] Available http://www.irishamericanhermuseum.org/, October 18, 2000.

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