The Resource Wars (Leading to The Great War)
The Great War grew out of heightened tensions between the nations of the world as fossil fuels began to be depleted in the mid 21st century. Technology in the Fallout universe was very energy inefficient, requiring large amounts of resources (mainly fossil fuels) to be consumed to function. The major nations of the world began to scramble to secure the dwindling supply of resources for themselves, leading to several military conflicts stretching across the world, collectively known as the Resource Wars. The United Nations intervened to rein in the growing hostility, but after trying and failing to maintain peace and order, on July 26th, 2052 the UN was officially disbanded.
The first major conflict of the Resource wars was a clash over oil, between a united Europe and countries in the Middle East, which began in 2052 and served as the impotence for the U.N. to be disbanded. After 8 years of conflict, in 2060 the oil fields of the middle east were depleted, and the war ended. At the end of the war, Europe broke apart into quarreling nation-states that fought with themselves over the last scraps of resources.
in 2054, a limited nuclear exchange destroyed countries in the middle east, and provided a wake-up call for the higher ups in the United States. This event was one of the major catalysts for the creation of Project Safehouse, otherwise known as the Vaults.
In 2066, the Resource Wars finally found their way to the united States when the Chinese invaded Alaska, one of the last remaining sources of oil in the world, touching off the Sino-American War. In response to the invasion, the United States vigorously defended Alaska, and eventually pushed the Chinese out of the territory with the use of infantry equipped with suits of newly developed Power Armor.
The United States also launched campaigns mainland in China, the success of which put extreme pressure on the Chinese, and was the main contributing factor to the Great War.
During this war, China also launched biological attacks on the United States, dubbed the New Plague, which killed thousands of people. This biological attack provided the impotence for the creation of the FEV Virus, in an attempt to provide a widespread cure for the plague.
In 2072, as a result of the war with China, the United States began to annex Canada, using the dwindling supplies of Oil, and attempted sabotage of the Alaskan oil pipeline, and the war with China as an excuse. The project is complete by 2076.
The Great War
On October 23, 2077, the Resource Wars ended as nuclear bombs began falling from the sky. It is not known who launched the first nuke, although President Dick Richardson claims it was the People's Republic of China. The Great War only lasted two hours, but it was enough to decimate the entire planet and drive it into a permanent scorching wasteland. However, some cities such as Washington D.C. and Las Vegas were not completely flattened, and the Metro tunnels in the D.C. remained relatively intact after the atomic explosions ended.
When the air raid sirens were first heard, many people shrugged it off as a drill. Those that did not have access to a Vault were forced to retreat to shelters and subways. However, these did not provide adequate protection against the radiation and explosive power unleashed by the bombs; almost everyone that was not inside a Vault was either vaporized or turned into a Ghoul.
All of the Fallout games take place long after the Great War.