The history of Berlin began with its foundation in the 12th century, and later became the capital of the small country of Prussia. Prussia grew rapidly in the 18th and 19th century, and formed the basis of the German Empire in 1871. Berlin became a major world city, known for its leadership roles in science, the humanities, music, museums, higher education, government, diplomacy and military affairs. During World War II, it was virtually destroyed by bombing, artillery, and ferocious street-by-street fighting. It was split between the victors, and lost its world leadership roles. With the reunification of Germany in 1990, Berlin was restored as a capital and as a major world city.