World War I, also known as the First World War, the Great War, or the War to End All Wars, was a global war originating in Europe that lasted from 28 July 1914 to 11 November 1918.
Europe is a continent that comprises the westernmost part of Eurasia.
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More than 70 million military personnel, including 60 million Europeans, were mobilised in one of the largest wars in history.
Military personnel are members of the armed forces.
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Over nine million combatants and seven million civilians died as a result of the war, a casualty rate exacerbated by the belligerents' technological and industrial sophistication, and the tactical stalemate caused by gruelling trench warfare.
Trench warfare is a type of land warfare using occupied fighting lines consisting largely of military trenches, in which troops are well-protected from the enemy's small arms fire and are substantially sheltered from artillery.
In general, a civilian is "a person who is not a member of the military or of a police or firefighting force", as defined by Merriam Webster's Dictionary.
A combatant is a person who takes a direct part in the hostilities of an armed conflict.
It was one of the deadliest conflicts in history, and paved the way for major political changes, including revolutions in many of the nations involved.
Unresolved rivalries still extant at the end of the conflict contributed to the start of the Second World War only twenty-one years later.
The war drew in all the world's economic great powers, assembled in two opposing alliances: the Allies versus the Central Powers of Germany and Austria-Hungary.
Austria-Hungary, often referred to as the Austro-Hungarian Empire in English-language sources, was a constitutional union of the Austrian Empire and the Kingdom of Hungary that existed from 1867 to 1918, when it collapsed as a result of defeat in World War I. The union was a result of the Austro-Hungarian Compromise of 1867 and came into existence on 30 March 1867.
The Central Powers, consisting of Germany, Austria-Hungary, the Ottoman Empire and Bulgaria – hence also known as the Quadruple Alliance – was one of the two main factions during World War I. It faced and was defeated by the Allied Powers that had formed around the Triple Entente, after which it was dissolved.
A great power is a sovereign state that is recognized as having the ability and expertise to exert its influence on a global scale.
Although Italy was a member of the Triple Alliance alongside Germany and Austria-Hungary, it did not join the Central Powers, as Austria-Hungary had taken the offensive against the terms of the alliance.
Italy, officially the Italian Republic, is a unitary parliamentary republic in Europe.
These alliances were reorganised and expanded as more nations entered the war: Italy, Japan and the United States joined the Allies, while the Ottoman Empire and Bulgaria joined the Central Powers.
The Ottoman Empire, also known as the Turkish Empire, Ottoman Turkey, was an empire founded at the end of the thirteenth century in northwestern Anatolia in the vicinity of Bilecik and Söğüt by the Oghuz Turkish tribal leader Osman.
The United States of America, commonly referred to as the United States or America, is a federal republic composed of 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories, and various possessions.
The trigger for the war was the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, heir to the throne of Austria-Hungary, by Yugoslav nationalist Gavrilo Princip in Sarajevo on 28 June 1914.
The assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, heir presumptive to the Austro-Hungarian throne, and his wife Sophie, Duchess of Hohenberg, occurred on 28 June 1914 in Sarajevo when they were mortally wounded by Gavrilo Princip.
Franz Ferdinand Carl Ludwig Joseph Maria was an Archduke of Austria-Este, Austro-Hungarian and Royal Prince of Hungary and of Bohemia and, from 1896 until his death, heir presumptive to the Austro-Hungarian throne.
Gavrilo Princip was a Bosnian Serb member of Young Bosnia, a Yugoslavist organization seeking an end to Austro-Hungarian rule in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
This set off a diplomatic crisis when Austria-Hungary delivered an ultimatum to the Kingdom of Serbia, and entangled international alliances formed over the previous decades were invoked.
The Kingdom of Serbia, often rendered as Servia in English sources during the time of its existence, was created when Prince Milan I of Serbia, ruler of the Principality of Serbia, was proclaimed king in 1882.
Within weeks the major powers were at war, and the conflict soon spread around the world.
Russia was the first to order a partial mobilization of its armies on 24-25 July, and when on 28 July Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia, Russia declared general mobilization on 30 July.
Germany presented an ultimatum to Russia to demobilise, and when this was refused, declared war on Russia on 1 August.
Being outnumbered on the Eastern Front, Russia urged its Triple Entente ally France to open up a second front in the west.
The Triple Entente was the understanding linking the Russian Empire, the French Third Republic, and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland after the signing of the Anglo-Russian Entente on 31 August 1907.
France, officially the French Republic, is a unitary sovereign state and transcontinental country consisting of territory in western Europe and several overseas regions and territories.
Over forty years earlier in 1870, the Franco-Prussian War had ended the Second French Empire and France had ceded the provinces of Alsace-Lorraine to a unified Germany.
The Franco-Prussian War or Franco-German War, often referred to in France as the War of 1870 or in Germany as 70/71, was a conflict between the Second French Empire of Napoleon III and the German states of the North German Confederation led by the Kingdom of Prussia.
The Imperial Territory of Alsace-Lorraine was a territory created by the German Empire in 1871.2 after it annexed most of Alsace and the Moselle department of Lorraine following its victory in the Franco-Prussian War.
Prussia was a prominent historical German state originating out of the Duchy of Prussia and the Margraviate of Brandenburg, and centred on the region of Prussia.
Bitterness over that defeat and the determination to retake Alsace-Lorraine made the acceptance of Russia's plea for help an easy choice, so France began full mobilisation on 1 August and, on 3 August, Germany declared war on France.
The border between France and Germany was heavily fortified on both sides so, according to the Schlieffen Plan, Germany then invaded neutral Belgium and Luxembourg before moving towards France from the north, leading the United Kingdom to declare war on Germany on 4 August due to their violation of Belgian neutrality.
The Schlieffen Plan was the name given after World War I to the thinking behind the German invasion of France and Belgium on 4 August 1914.
After the German march on Paris was halted in the Battle of the Marne, what became known as the Western Front settled into a battle of attrition, with a trench line that changed little until 1917.
On the Eastern Front, the Russian army led a successful campaign against the Austro-Hungarians, but the Germans stopped its invasion of East Prussia in the battles of Tannenberg and the Masurian Lakes.
East Prussia was a province of the Kingdom of Prussia from 1773 to 1829 and again from 1878 ; it also briefly formed part of the Weimar Republic's Free State of Prussia until 1945.
In November 1914, the Ottoman Empire joined the Central Powers, opening fronts in the Caucasus, Mesopotamia and the Sinai.
Mesopotamia was a historical region situated within the Tigris–Euphrates river system, in modern days roughly corresponding to most of Iraq plus Kuwait, the eastern parts of Syria, Southeastern Turkey, and regions along the Turkish-Syrian and Iran–Iraq borders.
The Sinai Peninsula or simply Sinai is a peninsula in Egypt, situated between the Mediterranean Sea to the north and the Red Sea to the south, serving as a land bridge between Asia and Africa.
The Caucasus is a region at the border of Europe and Asia, situated between the Black and the Caspian seas.