World War I, which is known by many as the Great War officially began on June 28, 1914 with the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria-Hungary and officially ended with the signing of the Treaty of Versailles in 1919. Although the assassination is known as the "spark" that ignited the war, the conflict had been brewing for almost 100 years prior to this. During the 19th and 20th centuries many of the countries of Europe were taking part in colonizing Africa (imperialism), military build up (militarism), and as a result were experiencing a feeling of great pride in their own countries (nationalism). The Austrian-Hungary Empire played a significant role in World War I, primarily because it initiated the war itself. Many nations and empires contributed to World War I through imperialism, militarism, and nationalism, including Austria-Hungary, which caused extreme complications in its nationalism and instigation of alliances.
Imperialism is when a country takes over a land and colonizes it, subjecting the people who lived their previously to live under their rule, and it became one of the main causes of World War I. In the late 19th and early 20th century, European powers, including Britain, France, Germany, Austria-Hungary, and Russia, were colonizing Africa in order to benefit their economies by obtaining materials necessary for their industries. For example, countries in northeast Africa, including Egypt and Ethiopia, produced mass amounts of gold, ivory, and palm oil, which was appealing to European colonists, and because these African countries were underdeveloped, they were easy to fall victim to the powerful Europeans (Duffy). Additionally, industrialism was on the rise during this time, and countries were pressed to find new markets, so their economies could continue to thrive (Laugen). By 1914, almost the entire continent (the exceptions being Libya and Ethiopia) was colonized by various European countries, who had full political and military control. European countries colonized Africa extensively they became increasingly competitive. By the year 1914, imperialism had developed in such a way that the Western powers had established themselves competitively on every continent, and some European nations had empires that were as much as 140 times its size (Laugen). Despite the presence of various European nations on other continents, their presence in Africa is what caused problems. European countries colonized almost all of Africa, however the British and French obtained the most land. The desire for control caused enormous tension between nations, which many people argue caused imperialism to be one of the main factors that led to World War I. However, some historians dispute this, arguing that imperialism actually delayed the war, because European countries were so occupied with colonizing Africa that conflicts did not begin until Africa was conquered and the powers were focused on each other, rather than Africa (The Origins).
The military was also built up, causing militarism which is the use of military power to solve diplomatic crises, and was also significant cause of World War I. Militarism was primarily caused by the Franco-Prussian War, during which the Germans defeated the French due to their superior military organization (The Cause). Individual military professionals were no longer effective, and other European nations saw this and all developed their military to create a Nation of Arms. Nations felt threatened by each other and also provoked by the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand. Between 1870 and 1914, the armies of France and Germany doubled in size, and naval expansion was also occurring (The Origins). International rivalry was at its highest, and nations felt that military success was the primary element in national preservation and the military class was to be highly revered.
By 1914, many federal governments were