Principal themes in modern European history include secularization, imperialism, nationalism, political reform and revolution, foreign policies and treaties, immigration, changing labor patterns, industrialization and the development of modern art forms. There are many topics that, while they may have their roots in earlier periods, played out mainly in the twentieth century, all of which are intriguing research paper topics.

Causes of the Rise and Fall of European Imperialism in Africa

Between 1860 and 1900, the continent of Africa was conquered and divided up by European nations competing to secure markets and raw materials. All but six African nations gained independence by nonviolent means between 1951 and 1966. The remaining six nations had to resort to armed struggles and were liberated between 1976 and 1980.

History of the European Union

The formation of the European Union was a process that began after World War II with the establishment of the European Coal and Steel Community in 1951 and the European Economic Community in 1957. Every decade that followed found new imperatives for Europeans to unite for joint enterprises and initiatives, including joint food production, free trade among its members, job creation and the building of infrastructure. More recently, the euro became the single currency for many European nations, and member countries are joining forces to fight crime and terrorism.

"The Troubles" in Northern Ireland

The period of violence in Northern Ireland, known as "The Troubles," spanned the from 1963 to 1985. The partition of Ireland in 1921 resulted in a power struggle for the control of Northern Ireland between the Catholic minority and the Protestant majority. Economic, social and political problems erupted into violent confrontations in 1966. These were followed by periods of violent social unrest and failed attempts to arrive at a peace accord until the November 1985 signing of the Anglo-Irish Agreement. Almost 3500 people died in the struggles.

The History of the Mafia in Italy

In August 2010, unknown arsonists set fire to the new Mafia Museum in Salemi, Sicily. In 2011, the art director of a museum in Naples decided to seek political asylum in Germany after receiving threats from unknown persons about an exhibit he was planning about a local mafia organization. While the mafia no longer has the power it used to in Italy, its reputation is still defended by some. The mafia's origins have been traced to the 1865 Italian Unification, but its roots go back further to a system of family rivalries that flourished in the absence of public authority.

The Gulag: History of Forced Soviet Labor Camps

Labor camps existed in Russia from the early twentieth century but were enlarged into an extensive system under Joseph Stalin, when the camps were harnessed to provide labor for collective farming and industrialization. People imprisoned in the gulags included common criminals, murderers, political prisoners and innocent people who were rounded up by paranoid secret police for crimes such as being late to work. Prisoners, both male and female, were sentenced for many years and the death rate in the camps was high. Though they were greatly reduced in number after Stalin's death, some gulags continued to operate until the 1980s.