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The First World War - who were the countries involved? 

About the Alliance System

The Triple Entente was an alliance between the Great Powers of Great Britain, France and Russia. This was primarily an alliance of empire the various territories of these empires came under threat from German expansionist policy after the Congress of Berlin and the removal of Bismarck from the German helm.

At this time what was originally a loose agreement between the powers to counter the triple alliance and to contain German aggression with a policy of encirclement became vital. With an increasingly powerful German navy the triple entente had good reason to fear European war. After the entrance of Russia into the conflict they were obligated by the alliance to deploy militarily against the central powers.

The Central Powers or the Triple Alliance consisted of Germany, Austro-Hungary and Italy; this alliance came into effect in 1891 and remained reasonably consistent until the outbreak of the First World War in 1914.

The Triple Alliance was created in an effort to protect the members from an attack by two or more great powers or in the case of Germany and Italy a single conflict with the then powerful France.

The Conflicts in the Balkans in 1913 and 1913 served to inflame Austro-Hungary and although it was the Ottoman empire that lost most of its territory in the uprising of Serbia, Greece and Bulgaria it was Austro-Hungary that lost the most in terms of power and prestige with Serbia doubling in size and becoming a severe threat to the stability of the empire.

This was a cause for conflict as when Austro-Hungary attacked Serbia in July 1914 Russia was obliged by alliance and as a Slav nation to step in on Serbia’s behalf this caused a chain reaction within the alliance system embroiling Europe in a full scale war between the Great Powers.

Since the Triple alliance was designed as a defensive alliance, when Germany and Austro-Hungary went on the offensive following the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand Italy withdrew from the alliance and did not support the Central Powers in the War and subsequently entered the conflict on the side of the Triple Entente in 1915.