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Word Count: 522
After the Franco Prussian War Europe and the United States experienced a period of relative peace There was rapid industrial and commercial progress The western powers expanded trade and colonies However national rivalries gradually grew and alliance camps emerged Economic competition and arms race also became intense The Balkans became a hot pot of western intervention as the Ottoman Empire declined Finally war broke out in 1914 a war which was unexpectedly disastrous and destructive in scale This war was caused by a number of interwoven factors One factor which contributed to the increase in rivalry in Europe was imperialism Great Britain German and France needed foreign markets after the increase in manufacturing caused by the industrial revolution These countries competed for economic expansion in Africa Although Britain and France resolved their differences in Africa several crises foreshadowing the war involved the clash of Germany against Britain and France in North Africa In the Middle East the crumbling Ottoman Empire was alluring to Austria-Hungary the Balkans and the Russians Strong Feelings of nationalism also fed the fires of hatred in pre-war Europe It turned Frenchman against German and Russian against Austrian Nationalistic speeches and writings hastened the war by painting it as the best test for proof of national superiority These general causes created an Atmosphere in Europe which made war likelihood The spark which ignited the flame and transformed these underlying problems into a frenzy of hostilities happened in the Balkans On June 28 1914 Archduke Francis Ferdinand of Austria was assassinated while visiting Serbia At first it appeared to be another Balkan crisis that might pass without a major disturbance but a month later Austria severed relations with Serbia a move that preceded war by only a few days All the countries within the hostile camps were building large armies and navies during the pre-war years As a by-product a class of professional and powerful military officers developed and tended to dominate
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