History’s Most Infamous Invasions

History’s Most Infamous Invasions

The history of the world is full of famous invasions. Life as we know it today was shaped by many countries invading others, whether they were successful or not. While not always pleasant to think about, there have been many noteworthy invasions that have occurred since the beginning of time. It’s important to know about them because we need to learn about the past so we can better prepare for the future.

Invasions occur for many reasons. Most of the time, an invasion takes place so that one country can try to claim another. Sometimes, invasions happen because one party thinks that the other party is doing something bad to its citizens, so they want to put an end to it. Sometimes, as in the invasion of Haiti in 1915, it’s that a nation feels that its business interests may be at stake. There are many famous invasions that most people know about, like the Invasion of Normandy and the events during the Bay of Pigs invasion, but there are many others that are not covered as often, and you’ll find many of them here.

To determine the most famous invasions in world history, 24/7 Tempo scoured the internet to find the most accurate sources. We used educational websites, including Britannica, the Eisenhower Presidential Library, and the Truman Library, to find some of the most noteworthy confrontations, and we think you’ll find the topic interesting. In fact, learning about aggressive invasions may educate you about some of the unsavory characters over the course of mankind. If you want to learn more, check out this list of the 15 most hated people in world history.

Invasion of Ukraine

Ukraine | Ukraine flag. Ukrainian flag on black storm cloud sky. stormy weather
Source: Silent_GOS / iStock via Getty Images

Ukraine flag. Ukrainian flag on black storm cloud sky. stormy weather

Source: Silent_GOS / iStock via Getty Images
  • Year: 2022
  • Invading Force: Russia
  • Defending Force: Ukraine

Easily one of the most famous invasions in recent memory is the 2022 invasion of Ukraine, where Russia decided to launch a full-scale attack on Ukraine on February 24th. This was a major invasion and the largest on an European country since back in World War II. By June of 2022, Russian forces had occupied about 20% of Ukraine’s territory and taken tens of thousands of Ukrainian lives. The conflict is still ongoing.

Invasion of Afghanistan

Afghanistan, Bamiyan (Bamian or Bamyan), cultural landscape and archeological remains, UNESCO World Heritage site, overview of the valley, town and empty niches where Buddha statues were destroyed
Source: Pvince73 / Shutterstock.com

Source: Pvince73 / Shutterstock.com
  • Year: 2001
  • Invading Force: United States and Britain
  • Defending Force: Afghanistan

After the September 11 attacks, the U.S. declared the war on terror and a big step of that was the invasion of Afghanistan, which was ruled by the Taliban. This was a multinational invasion, and it began on October 7, 2001. The idea of the invasion was to try to restore peace and dismantle the terrorist group al-Qaeda, which was led by Osama Bin Laden. The invasion was rather successful. In November, the capital city of Afghanistan was captured, and then in December, the Taliban government collapsed.

Invasion of Normandy

U.S. Troops land at Normandy on D-Day. With the beach taken and barrage balloons deterring German aircraft, soldiers and supplies flooded into France in June 1944, during World War 2.
Source: Everett Collection / Shutterstock.com

Source: Everett Collection / Shutterstock.com
  • Year: 1944
  • Invading Force: America, Canada, France, Britain
  • Defending Force: Germany

D-Day is what most people think of first when they think about famous invasions. This was the invasion that began on the coast of Normandy, where German forces were stationed. The Allies had a major force of more than 150,000 soldiers, and the numbers made all the difference because the invasion was considered a success, and it was a turning point for World War II and the beginning of the end of Hitler’s plans. Much of the success was because of bad weather. The Germans didn’t really believe that the attack would happen, so they weren’t properly prepared.

Invasion of Kuwait

Waving flag of Kuwait in beautiful sky. Kuwait flag for independence day. The symbol of the state on wavy fabric.
Source: Mini Onion / Shutterstock.com

Source: Mini Onion / Shutterstock.com
  • Year: 1990
  • Invading Force: Iraq
  • Defending Force: Kuwait

In 1990, Iraq invaded Kuwait with a large force and made their way to Kuwait City, the capital. Compared to Iraq, Kuwait had a very small army, and they were quickly overtaken within 12 hours. The main reason that Iraq invaded is for power and money because Kuwait had a lot of oil, so they were very rich. With that money, leader Saddam Hussein would gain more power. This invasion is meaningful because it led to Operation Desert Storm, which included the army of several nations going in and trying to free Kuwait until there was a ceasefire in 1991.

Bay of Pigs Invasion

Source: Central Press / Hulton Archive via Getty Images

Source: Central Press / Hulton Archive via Getty Images
  • Year: 1961
  • Invading Force: Cuban Democratic Revolutionary Front 
  • Defending Force: Fidel Castro’s Cuban Revolution

Another one of the most famous invasions occurred in 1961. That’s when the Cuban Democratic Revolutionary Front decided to fight back. They were a group of Cuban exiles that opposed the Cuban Revolution, which was headed up by Fidel Castro. The invasion was financed by the United States, and it took place during the height of the Cold War, but it ultimately failed. With a lack of strategic initiative, air support was withheld, and the invasion failed within three days.

Invasion of Haiti

Source: La_Corivo / Getty Images

Source: La_Corivo / Getty Images
  • Year: 1915
  • Invading Force: United States
  • Defending Force: Haiti

In 1915, there was unrest in Haiti after the President there made the decision to execute political prisoners. Because of this decision, he was lynched by an angry mob. To try to quell the unrest, the United States sent 330 Marines in to take control. The real reason they did so is because of American businesses who thought their business interests in Haiti would be compromised. The occupation went on until 1934, when President Franklin D. Roosevelt allowed a disengagement agreement.

Invasion of Tibet

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons
  • Year: 1910
  • Invading Force: China
  • Defending Force: Tibet

One of the famous invasions that often flies under the radar is the invasion of Tibet by the Chinese during the Qing dynasty. On February 12, the Chinese expedition took control of the Tibetan District of Lhasa. By February 25, the Chinese had deposed the Dalai Lama. They remained there until 1912 when the Xinhai Revolution officially ended the Qing dynasty and it became the Republic of China. The Dalia Lama returned, and all Qing forces were expelled from the area. 

Maryland Campaign

Source: Rischgitz / Hulton Archive via Getty Images

Source: Rischgitz / Hulton Archive via Getty Images
  • Year: 1862
  • Invading Force: Confederate Army
  • Defending Force: The North

The Antietam Campaign, otherwise known as the Maryland Campaign, was the first invasion of the North by General Robert E. Lee and the Confederate Army. The attempt to stop the invasion was led up by Union General George B. McClellan, who led his army to attack near Sharpsburg, Maryland. What resulted was one of the bloodiest battle days ever recorded in American history.

Operation Barbarossa

Source: Keystone / Hulton Archive via Getty Images

Source: Keystone / Hulton Archive via Getty Images
  • Year: 1941
  • Invading Force: Germany
  • Defending Force: Soviet Union

A real turning point for Germany during World War II began when Hitler decided to break the Nonaggression Pact of 1939 and try to invade the Soviet Union. This was a major invasion and operation, which consisted of three million troops. However, it was not enough. The frigid temperatures in Russia combined with a Soviet resistance that wouldn’t back down was too much for the Germans to take. They lost the invasion and the battle, and from there, they continued to fall apart until the war ended.

Six Day War

Merkava (Chariot) | Israeli Merkava tank on presentation
Source: Wirestock / iStock Editorial via Getty Images

Latrun, Israel – October 16, 2014: Israel Merkava tank in Israel Tank Museum

Source: Wirestock / iStock Editorial via Getty Images
  • Year: 1967
  • Invading Force: Israel
  • Defending Force: Egypt

One of the most interesting and famous invasions in world history is the notorious Six Day War. In this brisk confrontation, Israel launched a surprise attack against Arab forces and managed to eradicate 90% of the Egyptian air force. Because of the success, Israel was able to take over several key territories, including the Gaza Strip, Golan Heights, and the West Bank.  

Invasion of Russia

Sweden | Stockholm old town city skyline, cityscape of Sweden
Source: f11photo / iStock via Getty Images

Stockholm old town city skyline, cityscape of Sweden at sunset

Source: f11photo / iStock via Getty Images
  • Year: 1708
  • Invading Force: Sweden
  • Defending Force: Russia

One of the famous invasions of the 1700s took place when leader Charles XII of Sweden decided to invade Russia during the Great Northern War. The invasion began on January 1st of 1708, when they crossed the Vistula River, but it only lasted until July 8, 1709, when the Swedish were defeated. After that, the Swedish army continued to pose a military threat, but it ultimately didn’t go anywhere.

Invasion of Poland

Source: Keystone / Getty Images

Source: Keystone / Getty Images
  • Year: 1939
  • Invading Force: Germany, Soviet Union, Slovakia
  • Defending Force: Poland

This is easily one of the most famous invasions in world history because it sparked the beginning of World War II. The Germans took the Polish completely by surprise on September 1st, and then the Soviet Union’s Red Army came in from the east on September 17. Once the invasion was over, the country of Poland was partitioned between Germany and the Soviet Union according to a Nonaggression Pact they signed prior to the invasion. Want to learn more about World War II? Check out this list of the toughest World War II planes

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