Imperialism and Nationalism Leading to World War I

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Imperialism: Great War

The 'Great War' was a conflict between the 'Great Powers' of Europe and their empires. The Ottoman Empire (Turkey) joined in 1914, Japan in 1914, and the USA in 1917. Key nations ruled vast empires, making the war global but centered in Europe. Imperial rivalries, such as France and Britain in North Africa, and Germany's annexation of Alsace-Lorraine, fueled tensions. Russia's colonial empire in Asia posed a threat to Britain and Japan, leading them to ally in WWI.

Imperialism/Industrialisation Rivalry

Rivalry over trade and markets drove all European powers to experience significant industrial growth. This growth led to military advancements, such as improved transport of troops and supplies through railways, iron, and steel. To protect their industries, countries introduced tariff barriers, potentially inciting war. Austria's invasion of Serbia triggered the conflict.


Great Britain, an island empire, faced internal issues like unemployment, strikes, riots, and the Irish desire for independence. Germany, a new empire formed in 1871, experienced population growth, economic development, and military expansion under Kaiser Wilhelm II. Russia, a giant empire, struggled with governance due to its size and poverty. Tsar Nicholas II aimed to expand borders and improve infrastructure, facing challenges from democratic beliefs and poor living conditions. Austria-Hungary, a diverse empire, and France, defeated by Germany and seeking revenge, also played significant roles in the lead-up to World War I.

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