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The Influence of Imperialism on the Outbreak of World War I

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To what extent was imperialism a cause in the outbreak of World War I?

World War I, also known as the Great War, was a global war centered in Europe that lasted from July 28 1914 to November 11 1918. After the war the British Empire started to unravel and the German and, Austro-Hungarian empires were broken up. Imperialism was one significant cause in the outbreak of World War I because it started the major powers on a path of conflict. Equally significant were the alliance systems, which split Europe into two, and nationalism which created a desire for world recognition among people and nations.

Imperialism was an important factor in the outbreak of World War I because it created conflicts among European powers and led to a suspicious European environment. In the late 19th century European powers had established their political, military, economical, and cultural dominance in both Africa and Asia. Attracted by gold and diamonds, many European countries began to colonize Africa. Eventually, the British made their way into the Transvaal, disturbing the lives of the Boers who lived there. The result was resentment and raised hostilities between both sides. Finally, in 1899, the allied Boer States of the Transvaal Republic and the Orange Free State declared war on Great Britain. Seeing this as an opportunity to strengthen their own position in Africa, Germany provided the Boers with superior weaponry that allowed them to fight until their surrender in 1902. Shortly after the Boer War, fearful of German interference in her overseas possessions, Britain abandoned her policy of Splendid Isolation and signed a naval treaty with Japan. In 1904, Russia’s attempt to colonize Japanese controlled Korea led to Japan’s declaration of war o...

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... government calculated that Germany must engage the Triple Entente in battle before 1917 or else be defeated. As a result, knowing that Russia would intervene and that war would involve all of the Triple Entente, Germany gave the Austro-Hungarians the “blank check”. On July 28 1914 Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia. World War I had begun.

Although World War I began in the summer of 1914, the causes of this global war can be traced further back. Imperialism in Africa and the Balkans created tensions and conflict across Europe, leading to a hostile environment in Europe. The alliance systems created unalterable military plans that put more trust in armed force than diplomacy. Nationalism created an environment in Europe where nations and people were eager to gain world recognition and led to both a naval and army arms race between Britain and Germany.
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