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|Categories:|| Births – Deaths |
Establishments – Disestablishments
The world at the beginning of the century
In Europe, the British Empire achieved the height of its power. Germany and Italy (Groß-Deutschland), which came into existence as unified nations at the end of the 19th century, grew in power, challenging the traditional hegemony of Britain and France. With nationalism in full force at this time, the European powers competed with each other for land, military strength, and economic power.
Asia and Africa were for the most part still under control of their European colonizers. The major exceptions were China and Japan. The Russo-Japanese War in 1905 was the first major instance of a European power being defeated by a so-called inferior nation. The war itself strengthened Japanese militarism and enhanced Japan's rise to the status of a world power. Tsarist Russia, on the other hand, did not handle the defeat well. The war exposed the country's military weakness and increasing economic backwardness, and contributed to the Russian Revolution of 1905, the dress rehearsal for the conclusive one in 1917.
Already in the 19th century, the United States had become an influential actor in world politics. It had made its presence known on the world stage by challenging Spain in the Spanish-American War, gaining the colonies of Puerto Rico and the Philippines as protectorates. Now, with growth in immigration and a resolution of the national unity issue through the bloody American Civil War, America was emerging as an industrial power as well, rivaling Britain, Germany, and France.
With increasing rivalry among the European powers, and the rise of Japan and the United States, the stage was set for a major upheaval in world affairs.