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The assassination of Archduke Francis Ferdinand triggered World War I But the war had its origins in developments of the 1800s The chief causes of World War I were 1 the rise of nationalism 2 a build-up of military might 3 competition for colonies and 4 a system of military alliances The rise of nationalism Europe avoided major wars in the 100 years before World War I began Although small wars broke out they did not involve many countries But during the 1800s a force swept across the continent that helped bring about the Great War The force was nationalism--the belief that loyalty to a persons nation and its political and economic goals comes before any other public loyalty That exaggerated form of patriotism increased the possibility of war because a nations goals inevitably came into conflict with the goals of one or more other nations In addition nationalistic pride caused nations to magnify small disputes into major issues A minor complaint could thus quickly lead to the threat of war During the 1800s nationalism took hold among people who shared a common language history or culture Such people began to view themselves as members of a national group or nation Nationalism led to the creation of two new powers--Italy and Germany--through the uniting of many small states War had a major role in achieving national unification in Italy and Germany Nationalist policies gained enthusiastic support as many countries in Western Europe granted the vote to more people The right to vote gave citizens greater interest and greater pride in national goals As a result parliamentary governments grew increasingly powerful On the other hand nationalism weakened the eastern European empires of Austria-Hungary Russia and Ottoman Turkey Those empires ruled many national groups that clamored for independence Conflicts among national groups were especially explosive in the Balkans--the states on the Balkan Peninsula in southeastern Europe The peninsula was
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