Difference Between Civil War and Revolution

Main Difference – Civil War vs Revolution

Civil War and Revolution are two important movements that have occurred throughout the human history. They have changed the direction of the world as their end results have a huge impact on the cultural, political, and economic aspects of society. A civil war can be defined as a war between citizens of the same country whereas a revolution is a forcible overthrow of a government or social order, in favour of a new system. This is the main difference between civil war and revolution. However, it is also important to note that a revolution can sometimes be defined as a civil war as well.

What is Civil War

A civil war can be defined as a war between organized groups within the same country or state. A war between two countries created from a formerly-united state can also be termed as a civil war.  In simple, the term civil war is used to refer to a war between the citizens of the same country. This type of war occurs for several reasons.  One side may want to take control of the entire country or region, to gain independence, or to change the policies of the government. American civil war (1861–1865) between the “Union” (a group of 24 Northern states) and the “Confederacy”  (a collection of 11 Southern states) is an example of civil war. Moreover, Korean civil war, Sri Lankan civil war, Spanish Civil war, Liberian civil war are some other examples of civil wars.

A civil war is a high-intensity conflict and often involves large-scale, organized, regular armed forces. Civil wars result in a large number of causalities and consume a significant amount of a countries resources. In the contemporary world, many civil wars involve the intervention of outside powers. Apart from the numerous causalities, forced displacements, civil wars also result in economic collapses. Somalia, Angola and Burma are examples of countries that had promising futures before the civil wars. A civil war can destroy the future of a country.Main Difference - Civil War vs Revolution

What is Revolution

A revolution is a forcible overthrow of a government or social order, in favour of a new system. It can be defined as a fundamental, sudden change in the political power or system when the general public rises up in revolt against the governing party. 

Revolutions have occurred in different periods of history, and they vary in terms of methods, duration and the motivating factor or ideology. The French Revolution, Chinese revolution, Russian revolution, Cuban revolution are some examples of well-known revolutions. A revolution brings about significant changes in the culture, economy and social- political context of a country.Difference Between Civil War and Revolution

Difference Between Civil War and Revolution


Civil War  is a war between citizens of the same country.

Revolution is a forcible overthrow of a government or social order, in favour of a new system.

Two parties

Civil War generally takes place between two groups of citizens of the same country.

Revolution generally takes place between the governing party and the general population.


In a civil war, the two warring parties are generally equal in power.

In a revolution, a smaller party rises against the governing party.Difference Between Civil War and Revolution - infographic

Image Courtesy:

“Sheridan’s final charge at Winchester (retouched)” by Sheridan’s_final_charge_at_Winchester.tif: Thure de Thulstrup for Louis Prang & Company.derivative work: Morgan Riley (talk) –  derived from  Sheridan’s final charge at Winchester.tif:.  (Public Domain) via  

“Wappers belgian revolution” by Egide Charles Gustave Wappers (Public Domain) via  

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