The map of Europe today looks more like the map of 1914 than it did the year I was born. Conversely, the 1914 map of the Middle East looks quite different. We sometimes think of countries’ names and national borders as being quite stagnant, but they are constantly changing
Changes for Europe and Back Again
Europe’s map was drastically altered by the fighting and bloodshed of World War One. Prior to that, however, it looks quite familiar with a few exceptions.
After the war, the map went through significant changes when ethnic groups demanded the right to rule themselves.
- The Austrian-Hungarian empire fell, replaced with Austria, Hungary and Czechoslovakia.
- Poland is formed.
- The Russian Empire becomes the USSR.
More recently, after the fall of communism, the European landscape changed yet again. The nations of Serbia, Montenegro, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia, which ceased to exist in the years following the war, were reborn. Germany, divided since the second World War, was again united.
And while Austria-Hungary and the Russian Empire did not return, Czechoslovakia ceased to exist and Russia was reborn, although a smaller version of itself.
The Middle East Divided
The map of the Middle East, meanwhile, was changed not by the fall of kingdoms but because of the Treaty of Versailles that ended the war in 1919.
Arabs had fought in the war hoping to gain self rule. However, the European powers drew on the map and established Middle Eastern countries that ignored ethnic groups and regional preferences. Many parts of the Middle East became mandates of France and Great Britain.
The mandates became the nations of
- Transjordan (modern Jordan)
Other areas received new names and new governments.
- Persia was renamed Iran.
- The area that is now Iraq was formerly called Mesopotamia.
- Nedj and Hejaz became Saudi Arabia.
- What is now Yemen and Oman were known as Hadhramaut.
European partition of the Middle East is blamed for the instability experienced in the region today. Some might even make the argument that the war never really did end in this region.
What do you think is the lasting legacy of World War One on the map? Leave a comment below.
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