World War I (WWI) was a global war concentrated in Europe that began in July 1914 and lasted until November 1918. It was also termed the World War or the Great War until WWII. The war was comprised of all the world 's great powers, which were collected in two contrary alliances: the Allies (based on the Triple Entente of the United Kingdom, France and Russia) and the Central Powers (originally the Triple Alliance of Germany, Austria-Hungary and Italy). The appearance of the Triple Entente as a counterbalance to the Triple Alliance clearly shaped a conceivably dangerous component in European power politics. The Great War is branded a war of alliances, but the presence of the two competing groups, and the assortment of alliances did not make war unavoidable. The more immediate cause for the war were the tensions over terrain in the Balkans – Austria-Hungary’s tension and competition with Serbia and Russia for land and power in the region, in addition to the numerous alliances and treaties that drew the rest of the Great Powers into the battle. Tensions had escalated until they finally reached their boiling points, and eventually as expected they boiled over between countries resulting in a global war. Specifically, the tensions between Austria-Hungary and Russia were in fact most critical to the outbreak of war in 1914 because of their desires to prove their Great Power status in the Balkans, and their divergent relationships with Serbia.
“…It came not as a result of imperialistic bickering over Africa and Asia but because of continuing animosity between Austria-Hungary and Russia in the Balkans. Their old rivalry became dangerously intertwined with the ambitions of the small state of Serbia, which seemed to threaten the very existence of the Dual Monarchy. It was this lethal combination that ultimately led to the outbreak of World War I” (Lyons 31). Ongoing hostility between Austria-Hungary, and Russia in the Balkans was one of the chief causes of the war.
Cited: Lyons, Michael J. World War I: A Short History. 2nd ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2000. Print.