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Europe in the 19th century

European and Ottoman heads of stateEuropean and Ottoman heads of state The world in the century between 1815 and 1914 was largely dominated by European powers. Germany and Italy, previously made up of a number of small states or kingdoms, finally became single, united nations. Britain, France, Russia and, later, Germany built empires that extended across the world. Europeans dominated world trade. The exception to this European dominance was the United States, which came through a civil war in the 1860s to emerge as a major industrial and military nation, and Japan, which was fast becoming the dominant force in the Far East. While still a major European power, Russia's stability was undermined by authoritarian rule, discontent from defeats by Japan and unrest among its vast population of workers and peasants. Great powers of earlier centuries, such as China and the Ottoman Empire, declined and eventually collapsed.

Keeping the peace

Europe after the Congress of Vienna, 1815Europe after the Congress of Vienna, 1815After the long years of war against France, the victorious European nations met in Vienna in 1814–15 to agree a peace settlement. The old monarchies were restored, Sweden’s acquisition of Norway from Denmark was confirmed, and Belgium was united with Holland. Most importantly, all the European states, including France, agreed to hold regular congresses (high level meetings) to deal with any threats to their political stability. Five such congresses were held by 1830. At these, the European nations agreed to put down revolts in Naples and Portugal, support French intervention to suppress a liberal revolt in Spain, support Greek independence from the Ottomans and allow Belgium to become independent. The Congress system worked to suppress uprisings by the people in Europe—but it did help to keep the peace.

In May 2016 the Italian Emma Morano, born 29th November 1899, became the last living person known to have been born in the 1800s. She died on 15th April 2017 at the age of 117 years 137 days.

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