Czechoslovakia Prior to World War I

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Prior to World War One, Czechoslovakia was not a country. The area of land that became Czechoslovakia was the empire of Austria-Hungary prior to 1918. Austria-Hungary was located in central Europe and was the second largest country in Europe, second only to Russia. It is also the third most populous country in Europe preceded by Russia and Germany. In 1900, the population of Austria-Hungary was 45.2 million and in 1914, right before World War One, the population was 52.5 million.

This empire was composed of Austria, Hungary and other small countries that came together to form one of the largest European empires. It was ruled by the Austrian government, the Hungarian government and common foreign and military policy under the monarch. The monarch’s common government had responsibility for the army, the navy, foreign policy and the customs union. Overlapping responsibilities between Austria, Hungary and the monarch caused friction in the nation.

The capital of the Austria-Hungary Empire is the city of Vienna, located almost directly on the border between Austria and Hungary, putting it in a very central location. With modernization increasingly growing in Austria-Hungary, naturally this growth centered around Vienna, its major city. Budapest, another main city within the Austria-Hungary Empire, was a key city for trade. Austria had a lot of coast which helped it trade with many Mediterranean countries and Hungary’s access to the Danube was essential for trade. The southeast portion of Hungary was perfect for harvesting wheat and Hungarian agriculture was focused around this region.

Austria’s economy really took off in the late 18th century, during the Dual Monarchy. Hungary’s economy really didn’t take off until the 19th century. Even though both countries had booming economies, they were still behind compared to the other powers.

As Austria-Hungary grew, so did its rail transportation. Between 1879 and 1900 over 25,000 kilometers of rail were...
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