A civil war is a war between organized groups within the same nation state or republic, or, less commonly, between two countries created from a formerly united nation state. The aim of one side may be to take control of the country or a region, to achieve independence for a region, or to change government policies. The term is a calque of the Latin bellum civile which was used to refer to the various civil wars of the Roman Republic in the 1st century BC.
A civil war is a high-intensity conflict, often involving regular armed forces, that is sustained, organized and large-scale. Civil wars may result in large numbers of casualties and the consumption of significant resources.
Civil wars since the end of World War II have lasted on average just over four years, a dramatic rise from the one-and-a-half year average of the 1900-1944 period. While the rate of emergence of new civil wars has been relatively steady since the mid-19th century, the increasing length of those wars resulted in increasing numbers of wars ongoing at any one time. For example, there were no more than five civil wars underway simultaneously in the first half of the 20th century, while over 20 concurrent civil wars were occurring at the end of the Cold War, before a significant decrease as conflicts strongly associated with the superpower rivalry came to an end. Since 1945, civil wars have resulted in the deaths of over 25 million people, as well as the forced displacement of millions more. Civil wars have further resulted in economic collapse; Burma (Myanmar), Uganda and Angola are examples of nations that were considered to have promising futures before being engulfed in civil wars.
Famous quotes containing the words civil war, civil and/or war:
“He was high and mighty. But the kindest creature to his slavesand the unfortunate results of his bad ways were not sold, had not to jump over ice blocks. They were kept in full view and provided for handsomely in his will. His wife and daughters in the might of their purity and innocence are supposed never to dream of what is as plain before their eyes as the sunlight, and they play their parts of unsuspecting angels to the letter.”
—Anonymous Antebellum Confederate Women. Previously quoted by Mary Boykin Chesnut in Mary Chesnuts Civil War, edited by C. Vann Woodward (1981)
“The United States is just now the oldest country in the world, there always is an oldest country and she is it, it is she who is the mother of the twentieth century civilization. She began to feel herself as it just after the Civil War. And so it is a country the right age to have been born in and the wrong age to live in.”
—Gertrude Stein (18741946)
“Long accustomed to the use of European manufactures, [the Cherokee Indians] are as incapable of returning to their habits of skins and furs as we are, and find their wants the less tolerable as they are occasioned by a war [the American Revolution] the event of which is scarcely interesting to them.”
—Thomas Jefferson (17431826)