Throughout the forty years before 1914 the world had changed dramatically. It was now on the brink of the First World War. There was much hostility amongst the leading world powers of the world. Many factors contributed to this hostility. These factors include anarchism, militarism, nationalism, imperialism and the alliance system. By 1914 the world was so ready for war that they needed something to ignite it and that came in the form of the assassination of Arch Duke Ferdinand.
Imperialism was one of these contributing factors to the state of play in 1914. Imperialism refers to the term "world power" as being defined as land ownership. Basically, countries went around and claimed pieces of land as their own and "pinned" them onto their empire. There were many examples of this throughout the forty years before the First World War. These include such things as the carving up of Africa, the annexation of Bosnia-Herzegovina by Austria-Hungary, civilising policies made by the powers, Prussian states unite are called Germany, exploitation of resources, huge land of empires established and subjugation of indigenous groups. These all contributed to the rise in tensions between the world powers because they were all vying for supreme power and they thought they needed a large empire to do this. As countries found more land other countries became jealous and this caused the tension.
Nationalism was another factor that contributed to the state of play in 1914. Nationalism is the belief that your culture is more superior to any other. Some examples of this include Russia supporting the Serbs against Austria-Hungary, Germany despising the French, the Franco-Prussian war, development of Pan Nationalism, Slav League forming, France resentful of Germany, Prussian states uniting and being called Germany and the Balkan League wanting to join all states together and calling it Yugoslavia. These factors all contributed to the situation in 1914 in that countries thought that they should impose their superior culture on others to make the world a better place.