This step-through map shows the development of world-wide alliances during the years of the First World War, 1914–1918. The Allies are in dark green with their colonies in a lighter green, and the Central Powers are in blue with their colonies in a lighter blue. As can be seen, the conflict escalated rapidly from a dispute just involving Austria-Hungary and Serbia into a genuine world war. By December 1914 countries on every continent were involved.
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Source: World War I, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_War_I, last accessed 17 April 2012