It May Be Surprising To Learn That These Countries Are Still At War

yeowatzup - CC BY 2.0
yeowatzup - CC BY 2.0

North & South Korea

When WWII ended, Korea was divided. The Soviets controlled the area north of the 38th parallel, while the US controlled south of it until 1948. The Koreans wanted to reunite their country, but the North wanted to maintain communism, while the South wanted a capitalist system.

On June 25, 1950 the North invaded the South. The US and its allies, together with the UN fought on the South’s side, while the Soviets and China sided with the North – leading to the Korean War. It ended on July 27, 1953, with an armistice; they are still at war.


Yemen rejoiced in November 2011 when it toppled President Ali Abdullah Saleh. Power went to his deputy – Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi. Sadly, the jubilation was short-lived because Hadi faced serious problems, including forces loyal to Saleh, separatist movements, corruption, and food shortages.

Disappointed, the Houthi movement (which favors Yemen’s Zaidi Shia Muslim minority) rebelled, supported by other disillusioned Yemenis. In September 2014, they took the capital at Sanaa, and in January 2015, placed Hadis’ government under house arrest. He escaped, but Saudi Arabia (backed by the US) became involved as they believe that Iran (their enemy) are backing the Houthis.

Old City of Sana’a. Photo: By Ferdinand Reus from Arnhem, Holland, CC BY-SA 2.0.
Old City of Sana’a. Photo: By Ferdinand Reus from Arnhem, Holland, CC BY-SA 2.0.


Mohamed Siad Barre seized power over the Somali Democratic Republic in 1969. He remained president until 1991 when he was finally ousted as the Somalis had had enough. Various rebel groups then fought among themselves until two major clan lords emerged.

The result was a humanitarian crisis which forced the US to send in military aid. Two US helicopters were shot down in 1993, forcing America to pull out in 1994. The Federal Government of Somalia, established in 2012, has brought some stability, but the fighting continues in some areas.


The Colombian Conflict began on May 27, 1964. Officially between the Columbian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), it involved other combatants such as the National Liberation Army (ELN), crime syndicates, multinational firms, and the US.

Its roots go back to 1948 when the US supported repressive anti-communist measures that resulted in the assassination of a popular politician. That led to the rise of various anti-government factions who all claim to fight for different things, and a government trying to stay in power with US backing. A ceasefire was signed in 2016, but fighting continues.

Protest march against ELN kidnapping: “So, what about the [people] kidnapped by the ELN?” Photo: equinoXio20080720 – CC BY 2.0.
Protest march against ELN kidnapping: “So, what about the [people] kidnapped by the ELN?” Photo: equinoXio20080720 – CC BY 2.0.

Central African Republic

In 1894 France controlled the Central African Republic and parcelled it out to various companies which used the locals as slaves. In 1920, protests broke out against the companies, forcing France to finally grant the Central African Republic (CAR) independence in 1960. The resulting power vacuum led to a series of political struggles between various ethnic and religious groups.

In 2013, minority Seleka Muslim rebels seized power in the predominantly Christian country, leading to violent conflict which forced France and the UN to become involved. Although UN forces occupied the country in 2014, ethnic tensions and violence persist.


Myanmar (formerly called Burma) used to be under British rule, so in WWII they sided with Japan to kick the British out. They later sided with Britain to oust the Japanese and gained their independence in 1948. Myanmar is made up of many different ethnic and religious groups – each demanding a say in government.

A military coup in 1962 made things worse. Various groups fought back and carved out vast swathes of Myanmar for themselves which they administer as independent states. They fight not just each other, but government forces – leading to the longest civil war in modern history.

Ne Win, leader of the coup.
Ne Win, leader of the coup.

Uganda & Democratic Republic of Congo

The Allied Democratic Forces Insurgency is the ongoing war between Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). It began in 1995 but escalated the following year when the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF – a Ugandan rebel group) attacked various Ugandan towns. The DRC was next.

Other rebel groups from both countries joined in as did mercenaries and international firms determined to exploit the DRC’s vast resources. The Ugandan and DRC forces also fought. The conflict spilled over to nine other African countries. Although the war formally ended in 2003, it continues with a death toll in the millions.

Japan & Russia

The Soviet Union was an Allied power during WWII, so they fought the Japanese. On August 9, 1945 the Soviets invaded the Japanese puppet state of Manchukuo (in China). Next up was the Japanese-controlled territories of Mengjiang (inner Mongolia); Northern Korea, and the Karafuto and Chishima islands. It took Japan by surprise as it had signed a neutrality pact with the Soviets in 1941.

North Korea became independent, Manchukuo was returned to China, and the rest remain under Russian control as of May 2017. There is still the unresolved Kuril Islands Dispute between Japan and Russia.

Soviet sailors are hoisting the banner in Port Arthur (present Lüshunkou, China), 1945. Photo: RIA Novosti archive, image #834147 / Haldei / CC-BY-SA 3.0.
Soviet sailors are hoisting the banner in Port Arthur (present Lüshunkou, China), 1945. Photo: RIA Novosti archive, image #834147 / Haldei / CC-BY-SA 3.0.


The Boko Haram insurgency is Nigeria’s latest in a long series of violent conflicts. In the 1980s, the country became completely dependent on oil revenues without reaping the same benefits as oil-rich Arab states. Then in 1992 foreign companies found rich oil deposits in the Ogoni region – home of the Ogoni and Ijaw people.

Fed up with poverty, they fought back – against the companies and each other. The country is split between Christians and Muslims among 250 tribes – each vying for a share of the oil wealth. The result is an ongoing conflict among many sides that still continues.

Ukraine & Russia

Not everyone was happy with the breakup of the Soviet Union as some felt close to Russia. Ukraine, located between Russia and Europe, was therefore divided among pro and anti-Russians. When the pro-Russian president rejected a deal with Europe in February 2014, protests erupted, and demonstrators ousted the president – resulting in harsh countermeasures.

Russia responded by sending troops into the country – ostensibly to restore order. As a result, the country is now split between the eastern pro-Russian half, and the rest who are pro-Europe. Other nations have protested about the occupation, although Russia denies it has forces still in Ukraine.

Shahan Russell

Shahan Russell is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE