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Millennium: 3rd millennium

2001 (MMI) was a common year starting on Monday of the Gregorian calendar, the 2001st year of the Common Era (CE) and Anno Domini (AD) designations, the 1st year of the 3rd millennium and the 21st century, and the 2nd year of the 2000s decade.

The year's most prominent event was the September 11 attacks against the United States by Al-Qaeda, which killed 2,977 people and instigated the global war on terror.[1][2] The United States led a multi-national coalition in an invasion of Afghanistan after the Taliban government was unable to extradite Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden within 24 hours.[3] Other international conflicts in 2001 were the standoff between India and Pakistan as well as the Second Intifada between Israel and Palestine. Internal conflicts began in Macedonia, in the Central African Republic, and in Guinea. Political challenges or violent conflicts caused changes in leadership in Argentina, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Nepal, and the Philippines.

2001 was the second hottest year on record at the time, which was amplified by the end of a years-long La Niña. The Atlantic and Pacific tropical storm seasons were both more active than usual. The deadly Bhuj Earthquake took place in Gujarat on January 26, while the strongest earthquake in 36 years took place in Peru on June 23. A potential health crisis occurred when a major outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease spread among British livestock, bringing about the deaths of millions of animals. Four hominid species were described or proposed, and several major archaeological finds took place, including a set of terracotta citizens near the Terracotta Army. The pygmy three-toed sloth was also first described in 2001. The year had the fewest successful orbital spaceflights since 1963, with eight crewed missions. Successes in space exploration included the landing of NEAR Shoemaker on an asteroid and the arrival of 2001 Mars Odyssey on Mars.

Politics and religion in the final months of 2001 focused intently on the Muslim world and Islamic terrorism after the September 11 attacks, in response to which the United States passed the controversial Patriot Act as an anti-terrorist measure. The Catholic Church was active in 2001, as Pope John Paul II went on several goodwill trips to meet with non-Catholic religious groups and investigations of sexual abuse cases among the church's priests began. Former Serbian president Slobodan Milošević was arrested and became the first head of state to be charged with crimes against humanity by an international body. The 27th G8 summit took place in Genoa and was met by 200,000 protestors, where one was killed. 2001 took place during a minor recession among developed and developing nations, with only middle income nations avoiding an economic downturn. The recession saw economic crises take place in Argentina and in Turkey. American energy company Enron and the European airlines Sabena and Swissair all ended operations in 2001. Popular culture in 2001 saw the beginnings of the Harry Potter and The Lord of the Rings film franchises, the development of the iPod and iTunes for music, and the release of three major video game systems. The year also saw the release of Mac OS X and Windows XP.


The world population on January 1, 2001, was estimated to be 6.190 billion people and increased to 6.272 billion people by January 1, 2002.[4] An estimated 133.9 million births and 52.1 million deaths took place in 2001.[4] The average global life expectancy was 66.8 years, an increase of 0.3 years from 2000.[4] The rate of child mortality was 7.32%, a decrease of 0.26pp from 2000.[5] 28.25% of people were living in extreme poverty, a decrease of 0.88pp from 2000.[6]

There were approximately 12 million global refugees in 2001. 500,000 were settled over the course of the year, but about the same number of people were displaced in other locations, causing the number of refugees to remain largely unchanged. The largest sources of refugees were from Afghanistan and Macedonia. The number of internally displaced persons decreased from 21.8 million to 19.8 million in 2001, with the most affected areas being Afghanistan, Colombia, and Liberia.[7]


There were 34 active armed conflicts in 28 countries in 2001, the total numbers remaining unchanged from 2000. The majority of these conflicts took place in Africa and Asia: 14 occurred in Africa and 13 occurred in Asia.[8] 15 were classified as "major armed conflicts"[a] by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.[9]: 21  Four new armed conflicts emerged in 2001: the insurgency in Macedonia, the attempted coup in the Central African Republic, the United States invasion of Afghanistan, and the entry of Sierra Leone's Revolutionary United Front into the RFDG Insurgency in Guinea.[8] The Sierra Leone Civil War was the only conflict that ended in 2001.[9]: 21 

Internal conflicts[edit]

DRC President Laurent-Désiré Kabila (left) was assassinated on January 16. Burundi President Pierre Buyoya (top) and CAR President Ange-Félix Patassé both faced coup attempts.

The Second Congo War continued with the assassination of President Laurent-Désiré Kabila on January 16.[9]: 29  The 1999 ceasefire was mostly respected by the government and the various rebel groups, and United Nations ceasefire monitors established a presence throughout the year.[9]: 30  The Algerian Civil War, the Angolan Civil War, and the Burundian Civil War all saw continued fighting between governments and rebels in Africa.[9]: 24–29  The latter began the peace process through a provisional government on November 1.[9]: 27  The Second Sudanese Civil War between the ruling National Islamic Front and various other groups escalated in 2001.[9]: 37  This included a sub-conflict, the War of the Peters, which continued into 2001 until a ceasefire was negotiated in August.[10]

Two failed coup attempts took place in 2001: a group of junior officers sought to overthrow President Pierre Buyoya in Burundi while he was out of the country on April 18,[11]: 218  and André Kolingba, a former president of the Central African Republic, led a military coup against his successor Ange-Félix Patassé on May 28, causing several days of violence.[11]: 249 

Several conflicts continued in Indonesia, though the insurgency in Aceh between the Indonesian government and the Free Aceh Movement was the only one to see widespread violence in 2001, as the war significantly escalated after the end of a ceasefire and breakdown of peace talks.[9]: 46–47  The New People's Army rebellion saw two ceasefires between the Philippine government and the New People's Army, separated by a brief surge of heavy fighting after the assassination of a member of parliament. A ceasefire was also established with the nation's other insurgent group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.[9]: 49  In Myanmar, the Karen conflict continued, and the insurgency of the Shan State resumed hostilities after a temporary peace in 1999.[8] The Tamil Tigers declared a ceasefire and requested peace talks during the Eelam War III in Sri Lanka,[9]: 50  but hostilities resumed on April 25, and the Tamil Tigers launched several suicide attacks in July, including the Bandaranaike Airport attack.[9]: 51  The Nepalese Civil War also saw increased hostilities in 2001.[8]

The only major conflict in Europe was the Second Chechen War between the Russian government and the separatist Chechen Republic of Ichkeria. Russian forces controlled the republic's population centers, but Chechen forces continued to use guerrilla warfare.[9]: 53  Macedonia saw a smaller scale conflict between the Macedonian government and the National Liberation Army (NLA), which sought reform for the status of Albanian people in Macedonia.[12] The deployment of NATO peacekeeping forces to Macedonia was authorized on August 21.[13] Yugoslavia similarly saw an insurgency by Albanian rebels, but the conflict did not escalate.[9]: 53  The only major conflict in South America was the Colombian conflict between the Colombian government and various far-left and far-right groups.[9]: 58  The United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia expanded into Ecuador in 2001 and carried out attacks on Ecuadorian citizens.[9]: 60 

International conflicts[edit]

The 2001–2002 India–Pakistan standoff was the only conflict between two national governments in 2001.[8] The territorial dispute over the region of Kashmir consisted primarily of small scale attacks by militant groups until two attacks on Indian legislature buildings: one in October and one in December. The latter provoked a major escalation of troop deployments with preparations for a major war.[9]: 46 

The Second Intifada continued from the previous year between Israel and Palestine.[9]: 55  The conflict escalated into an undeclared war in which Palestinian militants targeted Israeli civilians with weapons and suicide bombers with the Israeli military responding with fighter jets and missile strikes against Palestinians.[14]: 279  Every ceasefire ended within a day of its establishment.[9]: 56 

September 11 attacks and invasion of Afghanistan[edit]

Shortly after the September 11 attacks, the United States led a multinational coalition in an invasion of Afghanistan.

The September 11 attacks were carried out by Al-Qaeda when 19 terrorists hijacked four commercial airplanes and crashed two of them into the World Trade Center, one into the Pentagon, and one near Stonycreek Township, Pennsylvania. 2,977 people were killed;[1][2][15] the attacks and the subsequent global war on terror are widely recognized as events that defined 2001.[citation needed] This was internationally recognized as an armed attack against the United States under the UN charter, and NATO invoked Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty for the first time in its history.[16]: 491 

The Afghan Civil War between the de jure Northern Alliance government and the de facto Taliban government continued from previous years.[9]: 39  When the Taliban refused to extradite Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, the United States led a multi-national coalition in an invasion of Afghanistan on 7 October.[9]: 41  The American-led coalition and the Northern Alliance captured Afghan cities until the Taliban surrendered to the Northern Alliance in Kandahar on December 6.[9]: 42  The American-led coalition attacked the Al-Qaeda headquarters in Tora Bora in December, but Al-Qaeda's leadership had gone into hiding. An interim government of Afghanistan led by Hamid Karzai was formed on December 22.[9]: 42–43 



New buildings constructed or opened in 2001 include the Bibliotheca Alexandrina in Alexandria,[14]: 163  the Sendai Mediatheque in Sendai, the DG Bank building in Berlin, the SEG Apartment Tower [de] in Vienna, and Aurora Place in Sydney.[14]: 164  Museums that opened in 2001 include the Jewish Museum Berlin designed by Daniel Libeskind, the National Museum of Australia designed by Howard Raggatt in Canberra, the Changi Chapel and Museum in Singapore, the Neue Galerie New York, and the Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg.[14]: 233 

Prominent renovations made in 2001 include the Queen Elizabeth II Great Court in the British Museum[14]: 163  and the entrance wing of the Milwaukee Art Museum.[14]: 164  Preservation efforts were also completed on the Leaning Tower of Pisa, and it reopened to the public on December 15 after 12 years of reconstruction.[17] Damaged and destroyed buildings included the World Trade Center buildings which were destroyed in the September 11 attacks,[16]: 527  and the Biblioteca Gallardo in El Salvador, which was destroyed in an earthquake.[14]: 232 


The 49th Venice Biennale shifted from traditional paintings and sculptures in 2001, giving an increased focus to film and architectural sculpture.[16]: 525 [14]: 167  Among art sales, Avant-garde works sold well, with the highest earning being Gerhard Richter's painting of candles, which sold for US$5.4 million.[16]: 525  The fashion industry saw a decline that was exacerbated by the September 11 attacks. After the attacks and the subsequent war in Afghanistan, styles with military or otherwise violent iconography were phased out.[14]: 219–220 

Improvements in inkjet printing made high resolution photography more practical. Japanese photographer Hiroshi Sugimoto exhibited his photographs of wax statues of historical figures to provoke questions about the nature of artistic depiction.[14]: 171  Several iconic works of photojournalism were produced during the September 11 attacks, including The Falling Man and Raising the Flag at Ground Zero.[18] The Sphere was the only artwork to be recovered from the site, and the sculpture continued to be displayed in its damaged form as a memorial.[19]

The most popular exhibition in 2001 was artwork depicting Jacqueline Kennedy's time as first lady of the United States, followed closely by an exhibition for Johannes Vermeer and the Delft School, both at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Each saw over 500,000 visitors.[16]: 525  Other exhibitions in 2001 were held in honor of visual artists such as Jacob Lawrence, Clyfford Still, Thomas Eakins, Dan Graham, Henri Rousseau, Paul Signac, Gustav Klimt, Marc Chagall, Raymond Hains, Johannes Vermeer, William Blake; architects such as Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Rudolph Schindler, and Frank Gehry; and photographers such as Walker Evans and August Sander.[14]: 168–170  2001 was the first year in which architecture exhibitions saw major success in the art world.[16]: 525 


The highest-grossing films in 2001 were Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, and Monsters, Inc. The highest-grossing non-English film was Studio Ghibli's anime Spirited Away (Japanese), the 15th highest-grossing film of the year.[20] The inaugural entries in the Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings film franchises brought fantasy into mainstream culture, popularizing young adult novels and catering to fandom communities.[21][22]

2001 saw the release of the GameCube and Game Boy Advance by Nintendo, the Xbox by Microsoft, and the iPod by Apple.

In music, 3.2 billion units were sold with a value of US$33.7 billion. DVD-Audio and Super Audio CD rose to prominence, with approximately 600 titles available in these formats.[23] Portable music grew in popularity after Apple released the iTunes media library on January 9[24] and the first iPod music player device on October 23.[25] The music sharing program Napster ended its services after it was accused of facilitating music piracy, but it was replaced by other programs such as FastTrack.[14]: 177  Worldwide, the best-selling albums were Hybrid Theory (2000) by Linkin Park, No Angel (1999) by Dido, and Survivor (2001) by Destiny's Child.[26] The best-selling non-English album was Cieli di Toscana (transl.Tuscan Skies; 2001) by Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli, which topped the charts in the Netherlands and Sweden[27] and was the 23rd best-selling album globally.[26]

Three major video game systems were released in 2001: the GameCube and the Game Boy Advance by Nintendo and the Xbox by Microsoft. Meanwhile, Sega ended its involvement in the market after the failure of the Dreamcast.[14]: 181  The year 2001 is considered important in the video game industry, partly because of the release of many games recognized as classics.[28][29] Many video games released in 2001 defined or redefined their respective genres, including hack and slash game Devil May Cry,[30][31] first-person shooter game Halo: Combat Evolved,[32][33] and open world action-adventure game Grand Theft Auto III, which is regarded as an industry-defining work.[34][35]


Many sports events were postponed in the final months of 2001 after the September 11 attacks, particularly in the United States. Other sports were postponed in the United Kingdom and Ireland because of foot-and-mouth disease. Throughout the year, Salt Lake City, Utah, prepared for the 2002 Winter Olympics, while Beijing was announced as the host of the 2008 Summer Olympics.[14]: 316 

Qualifications for the 2002 FIFA World Cup were the main football events in 2001.[16]: 534  The world record for largest victory in an international football match was set by Australia in a 0–22 victory against Tonga on April 9. Australia set this record again with a 31–0 victory against American Samoa on April 11. The unbalanced nature of these matches prompted changes to the FIFA qualification process.[36][37] In Europe, the UEFA Women's Cup began its first season, establishing a continent-wide women's league for association football under the UEFA.[38]

American tennis player Jennifer Capriati won both the Australian Open and the French Open for 2001.[14]: 316  NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt, described as the greatest driver in the sport's history, died in a crash during the 2001 Daytona 500 on February 18.[14]: 316 [39] In April, golf player Tiger Woods became the only player to achieve a "Tiger Slam" after winning the 2001 Masters Tournament, in which he consecutively won all four championship golf titles outside of a single calendar year.[40] The "Thunder in Africa" boxing match ended in a major upset after Hasim Rahman defeated champion Lennox Lewis on April 22. Lewis would go on to win a rematch on November 11.[16]: 536 [41] In cricket, Australia's record-setting streak of sixteen Test victories in a row was broken by India.[16]: 537 


A minor economic decline took place among many developed economies in 2001.[42] It was amplified by the dot-com crash, in which dot-com companies went out of business every day for much of the year due to an overvaluation of the tech industry.[42][43] Further economic disruption occurred in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks.[42] These factors gave the first major demonstration of globalization causing mutual downturn across nations rather than the more typical mutual growth.[44]: 7  Global growth in 2001 was the lowest in a decade, though middle income countries such as those in Eastern Europe were able to sustain growth despite the global downturn.[44]: 30  Unemployment and deflation became concerns across developed nations.[44]: 3  The year also marked a decline in international trade by about 1.5%, which contrasted with the 11% increase in 2000. This was the first negative change in international trade since 1982. IT industries and the dot-com crash are attributed for the decline in trade.[45]

Economic crises took place in Argentina and in Turkey.[44]: 16  The recession in Argentina negatively affected the economy throughout Latin America,[44]: 37  and the years-long economic crisis reached its peak in December, causing widespread social unrest and the resignation of the President of Argentina.[16]: 16 [46] America Online (AOL), a U.S. online service provider, was at the apex of its popularity and purchased the media conglomerate Time Warner. The deal was announced on January 10, in the largest merger in history at that time. AOL would rapidly shrink thereafter, partly due to the decline of dial-up and rise of broadband, and the deal would fall apart before the end of the decade, which would be regarded as one of the world's greatest business failures.[47][48]

Major businesses that ended operations in 2001 included the American energy company Enron and the national airlines of Belgium and Switzerland (Sabena and Swissair, respectively).[14]: 189  The Enron scandal took place in October 2001 when, Enron was found to be committing fraud, bringing about the criminal conviction of several executives and causing the company to undergo the largest bankruptcy at that point in U.S. history.[49] E-commerce declined in 2001, with the exception of eBay, which saw significant growth.[14]: 178 

Environment and weather[edit]

One of the landslides caused by the January 2001 earthquake in El Salvador

2001 was the second hottest year on record at the time, exceeded only by 1998.[50] The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released its Third Assessment Report on July 12.[14]: 213  It warned that climate change in the 21st century could cause decreases in crop yields and an increase in temperature-related ailments and deaths.[51] Droughts occurred in Australia, Central America, Kenya, and the Middle East, the latter continuing from years prior. Hungary, Russia and Southeast Asia experienced significant rains, causing flooding. North Asia underwent a severe winter.[50] La Niña, which had been ongoing since 1998, ended in the east Atlantic by April 2001.[14]: 186 

The Kyoto Protocol was weakened in March when President George W. Bush determined that the United States would relinquish its commitments to the agreement, but an effort to maintain the agreement in Europe was led by Germany.[16]: 486–487  There was an environmental scare in Europe during an investigation into depleted uranium from the Kosovo War, but it was shown to pose no threat.[16]: 485  The Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants, which restricted several organic pollutants, was signed on May 22 and 23.[16]: 491 

There were four earthquakes in 2001 that caused significant casualties. El Salvador was struck by two of them: a 7.6-magnitude earthquake on January 13 and a 6.6-magnitude earthquake on February 13, which resulted in the deaths of at least 944 and 315 people respectively.[52][53] The Bhuj earthquake, a 7.7-magnitude earthquake in Gujarat, India, on January 26 killed between 13,805 and 20,023 people, and destroyed nearly 340,000 buildings.[54][55] An 8.4-magnitude earthquake, then the strongest that had occurred globally since 1965, killed at least 77 people in Peru on June 23.[56] A 7.8-magnitude earthquake struck China with an epicenter near Kokoxili, close to the border between Qinghai and Xinjiang, on November 14, but it occurred in a sparsely populated mountainous region and there were no casualties.[57] Sicily saw the eruption of Mount Etna, beginning on July 17 and continuing into the next month.[14]: 185 

The 2001 Atlantic hurricane season was slightly more active than normal, including 15 tropical storms and hurricanes. The deadliest storms were Tropical Storm Allison in June, Hurricane Iris in October, and Hurricane Michelle in November. All three of these storms had their names retired by the World Meteorological Organization. Tropical Storm Allison was the deadliest tropical storm to hit the United States without reaching hurricane strength.[58] The 2001 Pacific typhoon season was slightly larger than average, including 28 tropical storms, 20 typhoons, and 11 intense typhoons. The most powerful storms were Typhoon Podul in October and Typhoon Faxai in December.[59]


Cattle being burned to prevent spread of foot-and-mouth disease: millions of cattle died during the 2001 outbreak

The World Health Organization (WHO) began a five-year program to reduce road injury fatalities following a warning of the problem's severity by the Red Cross the previous year.[60] The WHO's Commission on Macroeconomics and Health released a report in 2001 detailing how spending by developed nations could protect health in developing nations.[61] New drugs developed in 2001 include imatinib to treat cancer, and nateglinide to treat diabetes.[14]: 224  2001 saw the first self-contained artificial heart implanted in a patient.[14]: 25 

Outbreaks of cholera occurred in Chad, India, Pakistan, Tanzania, South Africa, and throughout Western Africa; outbreaks of yellow fever took place in Brazil, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Liberia, and Peru; and outbreaks of meningococcal disease occurred in the African meningitis belt as well as Angola, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Ethiopia. Other major disease outbreaks included Crimean–Congo hemorrhagic fever in Kosovo and Pakistan, measles in India and South Korea, Legionnaires' disease in Spain and Norway, dengue fever in Venezuela, and plague in Zambia.[14]: 223  Spain's outbreak of Legionnaires' disease was the largest ever recorded, with 449 confirmed cases and more than 800 suspected ones.[62] An ebola outbreak continued from 2000 in Uganda until the final case was diagnosed on January 16.[63] Another outbreak occurred in Gabon and the Republic of the Congo in October, which continued until July 2002.[64] An outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease occurred among livestock in the United Kingdom in 2001, resulting in millions of farm animals being slaughtered to prevent spread.[65][14]: 153–155 

Approximately 400,000 people in New York City were exposed to air pollution by carcinogens and other harmful particles such as asbestos and metals as a result of the September 11 attacks, and many would go on to suffer chronic illness as a result of exposure.[66] A series of anthrax attacks against American government and media figures in October further spurred precautions against bioterrorism.[14]: 222 

Politics and law[edit]

Freedom House recognized 63% of national governments as electoral democracies by the end of 2001, with the Gambia and Mauritania being recognized as democracies following peaceful transfers of power. Peru also saw a significant expansion of civil rights after emerging from the authoritarian rule of Alberto Fujimori. Argentina, Liberia, Trinidad and Tobago, and Zimbabwe underwent significant democratic backsliding in 2001, with Liberia and Zimbabwe recognized as authoritarian governments by the end of the year. 64.65% of the world's population lived in countries that generally respected human rights, while 35.35% lived in countries that denied political rights and civil liberties.[67]

Islamic terrorism became the predominant global political concern amidst the September 11 attacks and the War on Terror. Islamic extremism was identified as a major threat to democracy and human rights, both in the Muslim world through the implementation of Islamism and in the rest of the world through terrorism.[67] Racial discrimination, the ability to prosecute human rights violators, the number of refugees, and the problems of economic disadvantage were among the global human rights concerns that were given the most attention in 2001.[14]: 312 

Domestic politics[edit]

Former Argentine president Fernando de la Rúa leaving the Casa Rosada after resigning on December 21

The Islamic State of Afghanistan was the de jure government of Afghanistan in 2001, but for several years it had operated as a government in exile while the Taliban-led Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan held de facto control over most of the country.[68] The Islamic State of Afghanistan was restored to power following the invasion of Afghanistan with the appointment of president Hamid Karzai on December 22.[9]: 43 

Joseph Kabila became president of the Democratic Republic of the Congo following the assassination of his father, President. Laurent-Désiré Kabila.[69]: 77  President Abdurrahman Wahid of Indonesia was removed from office after thousands of protesters stormed the parliament building, and he was replaced by Vice President Megawati Sukarnoputri, daughter of former president Sukarno.[70][69]: 77  The Second EDSA Revolution took place in the Philippines in January when President Joseph Estrada resigned amid an impeachment, and he was succeeded by Vice President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.[69]: 77  The Argentine great depression escalated with rioting in December, prompting President Fernando de la Rúa to resign on December 20 and the fall of the interim government soon after.[16]: 16 [46]

Kosovo and East Timor both held elections for the first time in 2001 as they sought independence.[16]: 18  Other changes in leadership included the inauguration of George W. Bush as President of the United States, the election of Alejandro Toledo as President of Peru,[16]: 16  the selection of Junichiro Koizumi as Prime Minister of Japan,[16]: 19  and the election of Ariel Sharon as Prime Minister of Israel. Other leaders saw reconfirmation, including the reelection of Mohammad Khatami as President of Iran and the victory of the United Kingdom's Labour Party led by Tony Blair in the 2001 election.[69]: 77 

In response to the September 11 attacks, the United States passed the controversial Patriot Act that granted the U.S. government significant surveillance powers.[43] Ghana underwent its first peaceful transfer of power since 1979 when John Kufuor was sworn in as President of Ghana on January 7.[71] The Netherlands became the first modern country to legalize same-sex marriage on April 1.[72] The royal family of Nepal was killed on June 1 by Crown Prince Dipendra, who became king upon his father's death. Dipendra fell into a coma after shooting himself, and he died days later. He in turn was succeeded by his uncle Gyanendra.[69]: 72–73  The Constitution of the Comoros was amended on December 24, creating a federal government with a rotating presidency and granting increased autonomy to the three island administrations.[73]

International politics[edit]

Anti-globalization activists burning a military vehicle outside of the 27th G8 summit

Two major regional organizations were announced in 2001. The African Union was established on May 26 as a pan-African forum to promote unity between African countries, including cooperation in economic and security issues, and would replace the Organisation of African Unity in 2002.[74] The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation was announced on June 15 to facilitate political and economic cooperation between Asian countries.[75] Three countries joined the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 2001: Lithuania on May 31,[76] Moldova on July 26,[77] and China on December 11.[78] The WTO began the Doha Development Round in November to negotiate lower trade barriers between countries and integrate developing nations into the global economy.[44]: 18 

The World Conference against Racism 2001 began on August 31, in Durban, South Africa, under the auspices of the United Nations.[79] Israel and the United States withdrew from the conference on September 3 over objections to a draft resolution document equating Zionism with racism and singling out the Jewish state for war crimes.[80] The Aarhus Convention took effect on October 30, establishing the right to environmental information and environmental justice for European and Central Asian countries.[81] The 27th G8 summit was marred by anti-globalization protests in Genoa, Italy. Massive demonstrations, drawing an estimated 200,000 people, were held against the meeting. One demonstrator, Carlo Giuliani, was killed by a policeman, and several others were injured.[69]: 76 [failed verification] The September 11 attacks demonstrated a need for international law to address terrorism and other non-state actors, and a push by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan in November saw progress in multiple international treaties.[16]: 491  The Convention on Cybercrime, the first international treaty to address cybercrime, was signed on November 23.[82]

Diplomatic disputes in 2001 included a diplomatic incident when an American spy plane and a Chinese fighter plane collided over the South China Sea,[69]: 70–71  and a dispute between Japan and North Korea when the North Korean leader's son, Kim Jong-nam, attempted to sneak into Tokyo Disneyland.[69]: 76  Achievement tests and stricter penalties against delinquent students became controversial educational practices in several countries.[14]: 206 


Former Serbian President Slobodan Milošević and general Radislav Krstić both faced prosecution in 2001 by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.

Belgium set precedent when the government prosecuted crimes of the Rwandan genocide, invoking a 1993 law that gave Belgian courts jurisdiction over Geneva Conventions violations that take place anywhere in the world.[14]: 226  In another first for international law, the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia determined that wartime sexual violence was a war crime.[14]: 374  President Slobodan Milošević of Serbia (1997–2000) was arrested on April 1 for his role in the Srebrenica massacre and other crimes against humanity committed during the Bosnian War. He was the first head of state to see trial for war crimes in this manner.[83]: 230  The tribunal also prosecuted general Radislav Krstić, bringing its first conviction for genocide.[84]: 18 

The International Court of Justice heard two new cases in 2001: Liechtenstein challenged Germany's claim that Lichtenstein property had been seized from Germany during World War II, and Nicaragua brought a challenge against Colombia regarding maritime borders. It delivered judgement in a 1991 case of a territorial dispute between Bahrain and Qatar, and it ruled in a German challenge against the United States that the court's own provisional orders are binding.[16]: 492 


Two women walk past the cavity where the Buddhas of Bamiyan used to stand before being destroyed by the Taliban.

The religiously-motivated September 11 attacks came to dominate global discourse about religion in 2001.[14]: 300  Following the attacks, both religious tolerance and religious intolerance came to the fore, with an increase in Islamophobia, particularly in the United States and Europe.[85][86] The imposition of religious law became a major subject of debate, particularly in Afghanistan, where the perpetrators of the attacks were protected by the fundamentalist Taliban, as well as Nigeria, where conflict between Christians and Muslims escalated amid the implementation of Islamic law.[14]: 300  Prior to the attacks, the Taliban had incited a different religious controversy by destroying the Buddhas of Bamiyan despite the international community's pleas.[69]: 76  Another religious conflict took place in Khartoum, Sudan, when Christians were forcibly expelled from the Anglican cathedral during Easter services.[16]: 470 

Pope John Paul II made trips throughout 2001 to preach for good relations with other religions: he became the first pope to visit a mosque in Syria to build relations with Muslims, and he visited Greece to build relations with Orthodox Christians. Relations between Catholicism and Judaism were strained following a dispute over the release of Holocaust records held by the Vatican.[14]: 300–301  The Pope named 37 cardinals on January 21, bringing the total number to 128.[16]: 469  The Catholic Church also began investigations of sexual abuse cases among its priests in 2001, with 3,000 cases being considered over the following decade.[87] The subject of women's ordination was also a subject of debate within the Catholic Church.[16]: 470 

The duodecennial Hindu pilgrimage and festival Kumbh Mela was held for 42 days in January and February 2001.[14]: 308  A 50-square-mile (130 km2) tent city was created within Allahabad to support the festival.[16]: 471  The Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque in Oman was completed in May. At the time, its chandelier was the largest in the world.[88] Jediism became a social phenomenon in 2001 after a movement to self-report as Jedi caused it to become the fourth largest religion in the United Kingdom and the second largest religion in New Zealand.[89]


The pygmy three-toed sloth was first described in 2001

Several anthropological and archaeological developments were made in 2001, including the extraction of mtDNA from prehistoric skeletons[14]: 158  and the discovery of an arrowhead lodged in the shoulder of Ötzi, a 5,300-year-old mummy, after a CT scan was performed on him.[69]: 128  Newly described hominids included Sahelanthropus[90] and Ardipithecus, while two additional hominids, Kenyanthropus and Orrorin, were proposed.[14]: 158–159  January saw the extraction of DNA from a 60,000-year-old skeleton, the oldest human DNA to be studied to that point.[16]: 480  In October, the discovery of a prehistoric Sarcosuchus skeleton was announced after digging began the previous year.[69]: 125  Archaeological discoveries include rock art in Andros, 40,000-year-old tools in Mamontovaya Kurya, terracotta citizens in a pit adjacent to the Terracotta Army, a walled city at Dholavira, and a 2,900-year-old sweat lodge in Cuello.[14]: 160–162 

Two different groups, the Human Genome Project and Celera Genomics, published the first maps of the human genome on February 15 and 16, respectively. Human cloning was a controversial subject in 2001, and opponents called for bans on human cloning internationally.[16]: 477–478 : 215  Other developments in genetics included a completed sequencing of the oryza sativa genome and an experiment saw the successful creation of tomatoes genetically modified to survive in saltwater.[14]: 237  The pygmy three-toed sloth was among the animals first described in 2001.[91] Birds discovered include the Mishana tyrannulet, the Chapada flycatcher, the Vanuatu petrel, and the chestnut-eared laughingthrush.[14]: 215  The Ruizia parviflora tree was rediscovered on Maritius when it was thought extinct since 1863.[14]: 238  Conversely, the 1993 discovery of pseudonovibos spiralis was determined in February 2001 to be unfounded.[14]

The discovery of the Lost City Hydrothermal Field on the Atlantis Massif was formally announced in 2001.[14]: 183  The phenomenon of neutrino oscillation was confirmed in 2001, while the 1999 discovery of element 118 was retracted.[14]: 263  The University of the Arctic was founded in 2001 as a joint project between several northern countries.[14]: 210 

Technology and transportation[edit]

Crew of Soyuz TM-32: (L-R) Dennis Tito, Talgat Musabayev, and Yuri Baturin

The computer industry saw major decline during the recession in 2001.[14]: 175  Apple Computer Inc. released the Mac OS X operating system for Mac computers on March 24,[14]: 176 [92] and it discontinued the Power Mac G4 Cube.[14]: 176  3G wireless technology first became available on October 1 when it was adopted by Japanese telecommunications company NTT Docomo with its Freedom of Mobile Multimedia Access service.[14]: 182  Microsoft released the Windows XP operating system to retail on October 25.[14]: 175 [93] The most powerful supercomputer as of 2001 was designed by IBM for the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in the United States. Several malware scares took place in 2001, including the Code Red, Nimda, and Sircam worms.[14]: 180 

There were only 57 successful orbital spaceflights in 2001, the fewest since 1963. Eight of these launches were crewed missions. Two failed spaceflights also took place.[94] The NEAR Shoemaker made the first successful landing of a spacecraft on an asteroid on February 12, and the Destiny module was connected to the International Space Station the same month.[16]: 474–475  The Russian Mir space station was deorbited and destroyed on March 23, landing in the Pacific Ocean.[69]: 126  The 2001 Mars Odyssey orbiter was launched on April 7 and arrived at Mars on October 24.[95] American entrepreneur Dennis Tito became the first space tourist on April 28 aboard the Russian Soyuz TM-32.[96] 28978 Ixion was discovered on May 22.[97] The Genesis probe was launched on August 8 to collect solar wind samples.[98] Deep Space 1 carried out a flyby of Comet Borrelly on September 22,[99] and Galileo carried out a flyby of Io on October 15.[100] An atmosphere was discovered on an exoplanet for the first time on November 27.[101]

Air travel in the United States and worldwide was heavily affected by the September 11 attacks. Commercial flights in the United States were grounded for three days,[102] and air travel then became subject to significantly increased security measures.[103] Incheon International Airport opened in Incheon on March 22, and the TGV Mediterranee railway opened in France.[14]: 166  The K-141 Kursk nuclear submarine was lifted from the Barents Sea after the Kursk submarine disaster of the previous year.[69]: 74–75  The Segway, a self-balancing personal transporter invented by Dean Kamen, was unveiled on December 3 after months of public speculation and media hype,[104] on the ABC News morning program Good Morning America.[105] The reveal that it was a self-balancing transporter was seen as a disappointment.[16]: 477 



Map of the 2001 insurgency in Macedonia, part of the Yugoslav Wars


433 Eros as seen from the NEAR spacecraft



Two men marrying in Amsterdam on April 1, the first day in which the possibility to marry was opened to same-sex couples



Buffalo Bayou and White Oak Bayou at Main Street after Tropical Storm Allison hit Houston, Texas, U.S.


Photo session of the G8 leaders in Genoa, 2001: (L-R) Junichiro Koizumi, Tony Blair, George W. Bush, Jacques Chirac, Silvio Berlusconi, Vladimir Putin, Jean Chretien, Gerhard Schroeder, Guy Verhofstadt, and Romano Prodi


A Genesis collector array in the clean lab at Johnson Space Center. The hexagons consist of a variety of ultra-pure, semiconductor-grade wafers, including silicon, corundum, gold on sapphire, diamond-like carbon films,[166] and other materials.[167]


The World Trade Center and the Statue of Liberty just after the September 11 attacks in New York City


Swissair Airbus A321-100 (2001)
First generation iPod


Size comparison of HD 209458 b with Jupiter (left)


ZPU-2 anti-aircraft gun that was mounted on the North Korean vessel sunk in the Battle of Amami-Ōshima

Nobel Prizes[edit]


  1. ^ SIPRI defines a major armed conflict as "the use of armed force between two or more organized armed groups, resulting in the battle-related deaths of at least 1000 people in any single calendar year and in which the incompatibility concerns control of government, territory or communal identity".


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