The History of the 20th Century


I. The Early 20th Century: A World of Empires


In the early 20th century most of the people in the world lived in colonies ruled by European empires.


The British Empire around 1900

19th Century Slogan: "The sun never sets on the British empire."

Africa at the Outbreak of World War I



Asia in 1910


II. World War I


The major powers at the beginning of the war were the

Central Powers:  Germany, Austro-Hungary, and Turkey vs.

The Allied Powers: Britain, France, and Russia

In 1917, Russia quit the war and the U.S. joined on the Allied side



After the war the Austro-Hungarian Empire was broken up into several different states and several other states were created from German and Russian territory.


Europe before World War I


Europe after World War I

The Ottoman Turkish Empire was broken up and much of it was colonized by Britain and France.


The Ottoman Turk Empire before World War I



The Middle East after World War I



III. World War II


The alliance systems of World War II were similar to those of World War I.

The Allies were the same: Britain, France, Russia (USSR), and later the U.S. vs. Germany, now joined by Japan and Italy.


World War II in Europe



Asia before the World Wars



The Peak of Japanese Conquest in World War II


IV. Decolonization


After World War II, most of the European powers gradually lost their empires.  From the late 1940s-the late 1960s most of the current states in the international system were created.


Nations that Gained Independence from 1945-1999



V. The Cold War