The origins of World War I begin in the Balkans, the region of southeastern Europe that today includes parts or all of the following countries: Turkey, Greece, Bulgaria, Romania, Albania, Macedonia, Serbia, Kosovo, Croatia, Montenegro, Slovenia, and Bosnia-Herzegovina. A hodgepodge of national and religious divisions, the Balkans prior to World War I were marked by a rising sea of nationalist fervor that led to occasional wars and threatened to tear apart the two empires in the region, the ottoman and the Austro-Hungarian. Only in the last months of the war, after dramatic improvements in armor and firepower, did the tank finally change battlefield dynamics. The year 1916 would be remembered for two battles, Verdun and the Somme River, which nearly destroyed the armies involved and left long-lived scars on the landscape and people of Western Europe. The Ludendorff Offensive would end the war and leave Germany the master of Europe.