What Were the Causes of the First World War?

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The First World War broke out in 1914, originally involving Great Britain, France, Germany, Austria-Hungary and Russia. There were many reasons why the war started; some were long term causes related with the tensions between the countries of Europe, such as the conflicts between Britain and Germany and Russia and Austria-Hungary. However there was one short term cause which invoked all the existing tensions to break out in war, the assassination of the Archduke and Prince of Austria, Franz Ferdinand.

There were five Great Powers in Europe in 1914, Britain, France, Russia, Germany and Austria-Hungary. There were many existing conflicts and tensions between these countries. Britain, for one, was becoming increasingly powerful and Germany was determined to catch up with her power by building more factories and having a bigger navy and was also aiming to have a worldwide empire. Both countries were also competing to control the European sea-trade. Furthermore, Germany was not only afraid of Britain’s gain in power but also that she was becoming encircled by enemy alliances, such as France, Britain and Russia. France had recently lost a war against Germany, resulting in losing some land to the Germans. France wanted her land back as well as revenge but she were afraid that she would lose another war if she didn’t have strong enough allies. To resolve this problem, France united with Russia, both countries agreeing to help each other at their time of need. This was beneficial for Russia too, because Russia was in conflict with Austria-Hungary over who controlled the Balkans and additionally wanted to have a higher influence over South-East Europe. Austria-Hungary wanted to stop Russia from gaining control over South-East Europe and the Balkans, and was equally anxious that their large empire would break up into smaller countries.

The Balkans was a region residing between the Mediterranean and Black Seas, consisting of several small countries; Serbia, Bosnia,...
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