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Secondary IV • 2yr.


I have a history exam soon and I would like to know how imperialism and nationalism are causes of the First World War?

Thank you,


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Explanations (1)

  • Explanation from Alloprof

    Explanation from Alloprof

    This Explanation was submitted by a member of the Alloprof team.

    Team Alloprof • 2yr.

    Hi, that's a great question you're asking! 

    Before we begin, here are some definitions that will be useful to you : 

    • Imperialism refers to the cultural, economic or military domination of one state over another. 
    • Colonialism is a policy of occupation and economic, political or social exploitation of a territory by a foreign state. 

    Now, let's move on to the historical part : 

    Due to the imperialism shown by the great European powers of the time (desire to conquer everything), they seeked to take possession of several territories that haven’t been conquered. This is how they decided to colonize and divide Africa, for example, towards the end of the 19th century.

    This search for power by the European powers (Germany, France, Great Britain, etc.) caused tensions between them. Germany, for example, took more power with its new territories and created an army which was threatening for the other powers. These tensions embodied the First World War.

    There was also the rise of nationalisms that were observed in these same European countries : Having your own territory, being proud of your nation, protecting it and putting it forward, sometimes in a way that is too extreme. This rise mostly was in Italy and Germany.

    Therefore, everything was in place for it to ‘explode’ during the first incident that led to the First World War. The European powers had already turned against each other and were looking for a pretext to regain power and territories.

    I hope this will help you! If you ever have any other questions don't hesitate to write to us again. It will be our pleasure to answer you! :)

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