The First World War, also called the Great War, is one of the most defining conflicts in history. It began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918. It involved the countries of Russia, the United States, and many others. It also affected parts of Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. There were millions of casualties and countless civilian casualties, and the war ultimately cost the lives of approximately 50 million people. To learn more about the war, check out our World Factbook.
Before the outbreak of the war, two major European conflicts were referred to as world wars, including World Wars I and II. Later, a variety of global conflicts were referred to as world wars. As of 1917, the Germans and British used the term “World War” to describe their conflict, while the French and British called it “La Grande Guerre” and “The Great Peace.” The British and American governments later standardized the term to make it more recognizable to both sides.
At the start of World War I, the Central Powers, led by Germany and Austria-Hungary, and the Allied nations, led by France and Britain, were battling for the world. The United States, on the other hand, had declared neutrality, which put the country in a precarious position, while the Germans were able to use advanced weapons and tactics. But at the same time, the U.S. and other Western nations were strained to the breaking point.