The First World War started in Europe in 1914. The battle field covered a large extension of land so it was also named the Great War. Contenders were organized in two alliances:
- Central Powers included Germany, Austria – Hungary, the Ottoman Empire and later other countries like Bulgaria joined the alliance.
- Allies of Triple Entente was made up of France, Russia, United Kingdom and Serbia. In 1917 United States entered the war joining the Triple Entente.
B) CAUSES OF THE CONFLICT
Long term causes were based in the tensions existing in Europe before 1914 and we can group them into:
- POLITICAL CAUSES between European countries could be classified into:
1) Territorial based French claims over Alsace and Lorrain taken by Germany after the battle of Sedan or the disputes between Austria and Italy about Istria and Trento.
2) Nationalistic such the Austro – Hungarian and the Ottoman Empires fought in the Balkan Wars in 1912-1913.
3) Colonial rivalries for the control of certain territories
- ECONOMIC RIVALRIES arose due to commercial competition and they increased at the beginning of the 20th century. France and the United Kingdom felt threaten by the growth of German economy and its presence in colonial markets.
- MILITARY ALLIANCE SYSTEMS The formation of military alliances like the Triple Entente and the Triple Alliance led to a new type of policy called peace through strength which was based in arms race; with this situation, any incident could cause a war.
Short term or immediate cause of the conflict was the assassination of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir of the Austro – Hungarian Empire in Sarajevo by a Serbian student who got support from Russia. This event started the system of alliances