17. The Spanish Flu pandemic was truly global in its scope
Of the areas of the world which were populated at the time of the pandemic only one – an island in the delta of the Amazon River near Brazil known as Marajo – did not report an outbreak of the Spanish Flu. Even the remote South Atlantic island of St. Helena, where Napoleon had spent his last years of exile a century earlier, was stricken by the Spanish Flu, though no deaths were reported there. The French colony of New Caledonia, similarly to American Samoa, imposed a blockade of its shores and prevented any deaths to the flu. Other areas seemed to be particularly vulnerable despite efforts to prevent the spread of the flu. Casualties around the world were staggering.
In the United States alone up to 675,000 fatalities were attributed to Spanish Flu and the secondary infections it caused, more than died in the four years of the American Civil War a half-century earlier. Native American tribes suffered a disproportionate number of deaths, and in Alaska entire communities of Inuit natives were wiped out. Great Britain suffered 228,000 dead. Brazil lost its President, Francisco de Paula Rodrigues Alves, and over 300,000 of its citizens. Iran lost almost 22% of its total population during the pandemic. Even the tropical paradise of Tahiti was stricken, so severely that it was estimated to have lost up to a quarter of its population when the pandemic struck there, as with so many locations, brought to the isolated island by a visiting ship.