The long term (ones that were going on for a long time) causes of World War One can be easily remembered by the acronym MAIN
M – Militarism
A – Alliances
Formal agreements between countries to protect each other in times of war. If one an allied country declares war, the other is automatically involved in the war because of the alliance. There were two military alliances in Europe by 1914:
Triple Entente or “Allies” – Britain, France, Russia and later Italy
Central Powers – Austria-Hungary, Germany
I – Imperialism
When a country takes over lands to gain more territory. England had a huge empire which included Canada, Jamaica and India. Germany was beginning to grow her empire too. This made Germany more powerful, and France and Britain felt threatened by how much power Germany had.
N – Nationalism
Extreme pride in your country. It is different from patriotism (love of country) because nationalism is really about having all ethnically similar people together in a country and governing that country independently. Many national groups were controlled by empires at this time, so they were fighting for independence. Also, some countries unified as a stronger political unit and brought together national groups like Germany and Italy.