21st century

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The 21st century is the current century in the Anno Domini or Common Era, in accordance with the Gregorian calendar. It began on 1 January 2001 and will end on 31 December 2100. It is the first century of the 3rd millennium.

The rise of a global economy and Third World consumerism marked the beginning of the century, along with increased private enterprise and deepening concern over terrorism after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.[1][2][3] The NATO interventions in Afghanistan and Iraq in the early 2000s, and the overthrow of several regimes during the Arab Spring in the early 2010s, led to mixed outcomes in the Arab world, resulting in several civil wars and political instability.[4] The 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine became the largest conventional military offensive in Europe since World War II, resulting in a refugee crisis and disruptions to global trade. The United States has remained the sole global superpower while China is now considered an emerging superpower.

In 2022, 45% of the world's population lived in "some form of democracy", although only 8% lived in "full democracies."[5] The United Nations estimates that by 2050, two thirds of the world's population will be urbanized.

The world economy expanded at high rates from $42 trillion in 2000 to $94 trillion in 2021, though many economies rose at greater levels, some gradually contracted.[a] The European Union greatly expanded in the 21st century, adding 13 member states, but the United Kingdom withdrew. Most EU member states introduced a common currency, the Euro. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) was also greatly expanded, adding 12 member states.

Effects of global warming and rising sea levels exacerbated the ecological crises, with eight islands disappearing between 2007 and 2014.[6][7][8]

From January 2020 to May 2023, the COVID-19 pandemic began to rapidly spread worldwide, killing over 15 million people around the globe,[9] and causing severe global economic disruption, including the largest global recession since the Great Depression.

Due to the sudden proliferation of internet-accessible mobile devices, such as smartphones becoming ubiquitous worldwide beginning in the early 2010s, more than half of the world's population obtained access to the Internet by 2018.[10] After the success of the Human Genome Project, DNA sequencing services became available and affordable.[11][12]

Pronunciation[edit]

There is a lack of general agreement over how to pronounce specific years of the 21st century in English. Academics have pointed out that the early years of previous centuries were commonly pronounced as, for example, "eighteen oh five" (for 1805) and "nineteen oh five" (for 1905).[13] Generally, the early years of the 21st century were pronounced as in "two-thousand (and) five," with a change taking place around 2010, when pronunciations often shifted between the early-years form of "two-thousand and ten" and the traditionally more concise form of "twenty-ten."

The Vancouver Olympics, which took place in 2010, was being officially referred to by Vancouver 2010 as "the twenty-ten Olympics".[further explanation needed]

Society[edit]

Shanghai has become a symbol of the recent economic boom of China.

Advances in technology such as ultrasound, prenatal genetic testing and genetic engineering are modifying the demographics and has the potential to change the genetic makeup of the human population. Because of sex-selective abortion, fewer girls have been born in the 21st century (and since the early 1980s) compared to past centuries, mostly because of son preference in East and South Asia. In 2014, only 47 percent of Indian births were of girls.[14] This has led to an increase in bachelors in countries such as China and India. The first genetically modified children were born in November 2018 in China, beginning a new biological era for the human species and raising great controversy.

Anxiety[15] and depression[16] rates have risen in the United States and many other parts of the world. However, suicide rates have fallen in Europe and most of the rest of the world so far this century, declining 29% globally between 2000 and 2018, despite rising 18% in the United States in the same period. The decline in suicide has been most notable among Chinese and Indian women, the elderly, and middle-aged Russian men.[17][18]

Knowledge and information[edit]

The entire written works of humanity, from the beginning of recorded history to 2003, in all known languages, are estimated to be at five exabytes of data.[19][20] Since 2003, with the beginning of social media and "user-generated content", the same amount of data is created every two days.[21] The growth of human knowledge and information continues at an exponential rate.[further explanation needed]

Telecommunications in the early 21st century are much more advanced and universal than they were in the late 20th century. Only a few percent of the world's population were Internet users and cellular phone owners in the late 1990s; as of 2023, 64.4% of the world's population is online, and as of 2019, an estimated 67% own a cell phone.[22] In the 2010s, artificial intelligence, mainly in the form of deep learning and machine learning, became more prevalent and is prominently used in Gmail and Google's search engine, in banking, with the military and other areas. In 2020, 9% of the world's population still lacked access to electricity.[23]

India's Prayag Kumbh Mela is regarded as the world's largest religious festival.

In 2001, Dennis Tito became the first space tourist, beginning the era of commercial spaceflight. Entrepreneurs Elon Musk and Richard Branson are working towards commercial space exploration, colonization and tourism, while China and India have made substantial strides in their space programs. On 3 January 2019, China landed a robotic spacecraft on the far side of the Moon, the first to do so.[24]

Culture and politics[edit]

War and violence have declined considerably compared to the 20th century, continuing the post-World War II trend called Long Peace. Malnourishment and poverty are still widespread globally, but fewer people live in the most extreme forms of poverty. In 1990, approximately one-in-four people were malnourished, and nearly 36% of the world's population lived in extreme poverty; by 2015, these numbers had dropped to approximately one-in-eight and 10%, respectively.[citation needed]

The Facebook–Cambridge Analytica data scandal drew international attention to the possible adverse effects of social media in influencing citizen's views, particularly regarding the 2016 United States presidential election.[further explanation needed]

Population and urbanization[edit]

The world population was about 6.1 billion at the start of the 21st century and reached 8 billion by November 2022. It is estimated to reach nearly 8.6 billion by 2030,[25] and 9.8 billion by 2050. According to the United Nations World Urbanization prospects, a 60% projection of the world's human population is to live in megacities and megalopolises by 2030, 70% by 2050, and 90% by 2080. It is expected by 2040, the investing of more than 5 times the current global gross domestic product is expected to be in urban infrastructure.[26]

Life expectancy has increased as child mortality continues to decline. A baby born in 2019, for example, will, on average (globally), live to 73 years—27 years longer than the global average of someone born in 1950.[27] Ten million Britons (16% of the United Kingdom population) will, on average, live to 100 or older.[28]

Climate change remains a serious concern; UN Chief António Guterres, for instance, has described it as an "existential threat" to humanity.[29] Furthermore, the Holocene extinction event, the sixth most significant extinction event in the Earth's history, continues with the widespread degradation of highly biodiverse habitats as a by-product of human activity.[30]

A map of uncontacted tribes, around the start of the 21st century

Economics, education and retirement[edit]

Economically and politically, the United States and Western Europe were dominant at the beginning of the century; by the 2010s, China became an emerging global superpower and, by some measures, the world's largest economy. In terms of purchasing power parity, India's economy became more significant than Japan's around 2011.[31]

Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are decentralized currencies that are not controlled by any central bank. These currencies are increasing in popularity worldwide due to the expanding availability of the internet and are mainly used as a store of value.

There is an ongoing impact of technological unemployment due to automation and computerization: the rate at which jobs are disappearing—due to machines replacing them—is expected to escalate.[32] Automation alters the number of jobs and the skills demands of industries. As of 2019, the production output of first world nations' manufacturing sectors was doubled when compared to 1984 output; but it is now produced with one-third fewer workers and at significantly reduced operating costs.[33] Half of all jobs with requirements lower than a bachelor's degree are currently in the process of being replaced with partial- or full-automation.[34]

The World Economic Forum forecast that 65% of children entering primary school will end up in jobs or careers that currently do not yet exist.[35]

A rise in the retirement age has been called for in view of an increase in life expectancy and has been put in place in many jurisdictions.[36][37]

Linguistic diversity[edit]

As of 2009, Ethnologue catalogued 6,909 living human languages.[38] The exact number of known living languages will vary from 5,000 to 10,000, generally depending on the precision of one's definition of "language", and in particular, on how one classifies dialects.

Estimates vary depending on many factors, but the general consensus is that there are between 6,000 and 7,000 languages currently spoken. Between 50 and 90% of those will have become extinct by the year 2100.[39]

The top 20 languages spoken by more than 50 million speakers each, are spoken by 50% of the world's population. In contrast, many of the other languages are spoken by small communities, most of them with fewer than 10,000 speakers.[39]

Events[edit]

2000s[edit]

Belligerents of the Second Congo War
George W. Bush, the 43rd president of the United States, from 2001 to 2009
September 11 attacks
Angela Merkel and José Manuel Barroso
Barack Obama, the first African-American president of the United States, and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev after signing the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty
  • 1998–2003 – The Second Congo War continued into the early 21st century. A 1999 ceasefire quickly broke down and a UN peacekeeping mission, MONUC, was unable to control the fighting. Troops from Rwanda and Uganda continued to support rebel groups against the Democratic Republic of the Congo and rifts also grew between Rwanda and Uganda as they accused each other of supporting rival rebel groups as well. Laurent Kabila, president of the DRC, was assassinated in January 2001 and his son, Joseph Kabila, took power. Throughout 2002 steps were made towards peace and Rwanda and Uganda both removed their troops from the country. On December 17, 2002, a massive treaty officially ended the war. However, the DRC only holds power in less than half of the country, with most of the eastern and northern portions still controlled by rebel groups, where there is still significant infighting. In addition, Rwanda still supports anti-DRC rebels and anti-Rwandan rebels continue to operate from the DRC. The war killed an estimated 3.9 million people, displaced nearly 5.5 million, and led to a widespread and ongoing famine that continues to result in deaths. Severe human rights violations continue to be reported.[40]
  • 2000–2005 – The Second Intifada, a major Palestinian uprising against Israel, is estimated to have led to the deaths of approximately 3,000 Palestinians and 1,000 Israelis.

2001[edit]

2002[edit]

2003[edit]

  • 2003–present – In February 2003, a conflict in Darfur, Sudan begins and escalates into full-scale war. By 2008 it was believed that up to 400,000 people had been killed and over 2.5 million displaced. In 2005, the ICC decided that Darfur war criminals would be tried, and on July 14, 2008, Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir was charged with 5 accounts of crimes against humanity and 2 accounts of war crimes, even though the ICC had no power to enforce such charges.
  • 2003–2010 – The U.S.-led coalition invades Iraq on March 20, 2003, and overthrows the government of Saddam Hussein (who is executed by the Iraqi government on December 30, 2006). Coalition troops remain in the country to install a democratic government and fight an escalating insurgency. In addition to an insurgency against the American presence, Iraq also suffered from a civil war for several years. The war was soon seen as the central front of the War on Terror by many governments, despite growing international dissatisfaction with the war. The total death toll has been estimated at near 150,000 but these estimations are highly disputed, with one highly disputed study guessing even over 1 million.[58] After the U.S.-led coalition initiated a troop surge in 2007, casualty numbers have decreased significantly. Combat ended, at least officially, in August 2010.
  • 2003–2005 – A series of nonviolent revolutions known as the colour revolutions overthrow governments in Georgia, Ukraine, Kyrgyzstan, and Lebanon.
  • December – Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi announces that Libya would voluntarily eliminate all weapons of mass destruction.

2004[edit]

2005[edit]

2006[edit]

  • July 12Hezbollah crosses the border of Lebanon and captures two Israeli soldiers. Israel responds by sending troops across the border and bombing Hezbollah strongholds, while Hezbollah fires missiles on towns in northern Israel, approximately 6 each day. At the end of the war 1,200 Lebanese civilians, 500 Hezbollah fighters, 44 Israeli civilians and 121 Israeli soldiers die. A ceasefire is signed on August 14, after which Israeli troops withdrew from Lebanon.
  • October 9North Korea conducts its first nuclear test.[65] This was preceded by years of political wrangling with the U.S. over the status of their nuclear program.

2007[edit]

2008[edit]

2009[edit]

Reporter covering the death of Michael Jackson outside UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles

2010s[edit]

Julia Gillard was sworn in as the first female Prime Minister of Australia in 2010.
Americans celebrating the death of Osama bin Laden in front of the White House
Pope Francis in Poland
Ukraine, Euromaidan, people protesting in favor of Ukraine's European way.
Pro-Russian separatists in Donetsk, Ukraine
2015 European migrant crisis
Turkish anti-coup rally in support of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, 22 July 2016
Inauguration of Donald Trump
China's Xi Jinping has been the leader for life since 2018
Students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, parents, and others march in the March for Our Lives protest in Parkland, Florida in 2018
2018 Kerala floods, India
Notre-Dame fire

2010[edit]

2011[edit]

2012[edit]

2013[edit]

2014[edit]

2015[edit]

2016[edit]

2017[edit]

2018[edit]

2019[edit]

2020s[edit]

George Floyd protests in Miami during the COVID-19 pandemic in June 2020.[104]
Joe Biden, the 46th and current president of the United States.[105]
January 6 United States Capitol attack
Fall of Kabul
2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine
Crowds at Buckingham Palace following the death of Elizabeth II
Death and funeral of Pope Benedict XVI
2023 Brazilian Congress attack
2023 Turkey–Syria earthquake
Collapse of Silicon Valley Bank
Coronation of Charles III and Camilla
Wagner Group rebellion
2023 Israel–Hamas war

2020[edit]

2021[edit]

2022[edit]

2023[edit]

2024[edit]

Politics, wars and states[edit]

Russian President Vladimir Putin with George W. Bush and other Western leaders in Moscow, 9 May 2005
Protesters try to stop members of the G8 from attending the summit during the 27th G8 summit in Genoa, Italy by burning vehicles on the main route to the summit.

New countries and territorial changes[edit]

Some territories and states have gained independence during the 21st century. This is a list of sovereign states that have gained independence in the 21st century and have been recognized by the UN.

Celebration of the Declaration of Independence of Kosovo

These nations gained sovereignty through government reform.

The Union of the Comoros replaced the Federal Islamic Republic of the Comoros

The Transitional Islamic State of Afghanistan replaced the Islamic State of Afghanistan.

The State Union of Serbia and Montenegro replaced the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.

The Islamic Republic of Afghanistan replaced the Transitional Islamic State of Afghanistan

The Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal replaced the Kingdom of Nepal.

The National Transitional Council of Libya replaced the Great Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya.

The State of Libya replaced the National Transitional Council of Libya.

The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan replaced the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.

These territories have declared independence and secured relative autonomy but they have only been recognized by some UN member states:

These territories have declared independence and secured relative autonomy but they have been recognized by no one:

These territories were annexed from a sovereign country, the action has only been recognized by some UN member states:

These territories were ceded to another country:

Science and technology[edit]

Space exploration[edit]

NASA successfully lands the Curiosity rover on the surface of Mars.
Artist's impression of New Horizons' close encounter with the Pluto–Charon system.
  • 2001 – Dennis Tito becomes the first space tourist by paying $19 million to board the International Space Station.
  • 2003 – Space Shuttle Columbia disaster on 1 February.
  • 2003 – The Chinese space program launches its first crewed space flight, Shenzhou 5, on 15 October. This made China the third country in the world to have indigenous crewed space capability.
  • 2004 – Mars Exploration Rovers land on Mars; Opportunity discovers evidence that an area of Mars was once covered in water.
  • 2004 – SpaceShipOne makes the first privately funded human spaceflight, on 21 June.
  • 2005 – The Huygens probe lands on Titan, the largest of Saturn's moons, on 14 January.
  • 2006 – The New Horizons probe is launched to Pluto, on 19 January.
  • 2006 – Pluto is reclassified from a planet to a dwarf planet, leaving the solar system with eight planets.
  • 2007 – China launches its first lunar mission with the Chang'e 1, on 24 October.
  • 2008 – India launches its first lunar mission Chandrayaan-1 which included a remote sensing orbiter and impactor on 22 October 2008. It made India the third nation to place its flag on Moon.
  • 2008 – Chinese space program launches its third crewed space flight carrying its first three-person crew and conducts its first spacewalk that makes China the third nation after Russia and USA to do that, Shenzhou 7, on 25 September.
  • 2008 – Phoenix discovers water ice on Mars.
  • 2009 – Iran launches its first satellite, Omid, on 2 February.
  • 2011 – NASA retires the last Space Shuttle, Atlantis, marking an end to its three-decade shuttle program.
  • 2012 – SpaceX successfully delivers cargo to the International Space Station.
  • 2012 – NASA successfully lands the Curiosity rover on the surface of Mars, on 6 August.
  • 2014 – India's Mars Orbiter Mission, the nation's first attempt to send a spacecraft to Mars, successfully entered orbit on 24 September, making India the fourth nation in the world to reach that goal.
  • 2014 – The European Space Agency robotic spacecraft Philae landed successfully on the comet 67P, the first cometary landing ever.
  • 2015 – On 14 July, NASA's New Horizons spacecraft became the first to fly by Pluto, on a mission to photograph and collect data on its planetary system. No other spacecraft has yet performed such a mission so far from Earth.
  • 2015 – On 28 September, NASA announces that liquid water has been found on Mars.[136]
  • 2015 – SpaceX launches and lands a Falcon 9 into orbital space on 21 December, becoming the first reusable rocket to do so.
  • 2016 – SpaceX lands the first orbital rocket, a CRS-8, on a drone platform at sea on 8 April.
  • 2016 – On 4 July, NASA's Juno space probe maneuvered into a polar orbit to study the planet Jupiter.[137]
  • 2016 – On 26 July, Solar Impulse 2 becomes the first solar-powered aircraft to circumnavigate the world.
  • 2016 – On 24 August, an Earth-sized exoplanet is discovered around Proxima Centauri, 4.2 light years away, which is potentially habitable.
  • 2016 – On 8 September, NASA's ORIRIS-Rex space probe is launched as the first asteroid sample return mission to collect samples from Bennu.
  • 2019 – On 3 January, Chinese probe Chang'e 4 becomes the first human-made object to land on the far side of the Moon.[138]
  • 2019 – NASA concludes the 15-year Opportunity rover mission after being unable to wake the rover from hibernation.[139]
  • 2019 – Israel launched its first spacecraft, Beresheet, towards the Moon on 7 April; after two months of journey, the spacecraft failed to land and crashed on the surface of the Moon, making Israel the seventh country to orbit the Moon.
  • 2019 – The first image of the supermassive black hole inside galaxy Messier 87 was captured by the Event Horizon Telescope.[140]
  • 2021 – NASA's Perseverance rover, carrying the Ingenuity helicopter, successfully lands on Mars.
  • 2021 – NASA's James Webb Space Telescope is successfully launched into orbit.
  • 2022 – The first image of the supermassive black hole inside Milky Way was captured by the Event Horizon Telescope.
  • 2022 – The first image from the James Webb Space Telescope is published.[141]
  • 2022 – NASA successfully launches the Artemis 1 Moon mission on the SLS spacecraft after multiple delays.
  • 2023 – India successfully touched down near the south pole of the Moon with Chandrayaan-3's lander on August 23, making it only the fourth country to achieve the feat of reaching lunar surface after the US, China and the erstwhile Soviet Union.[142]

Physics[edit]

Mathematics[edit]

Biotechnology and medicine[edit]

Telecommunications[edit]

Steve Jobs discussing the iPhone, an early smartphone, in 2008

The Digital Revolution continued into the early 21st century with mobile phone usage and Global Internet usage growing massively, becoming available to many more people, with more applications and faster speeds.

Worldwide Internet users[149]
Users 2005 2010 2017 2019 2021
World population[150] 6.5 billion 6.9 billion 7.4 billion 7.75 billion 7.9 billion
Worldwide 16% 30% 48% 53.6% 63%
In developing world 8% 21% 41.3% 47% 57%
In developed world 51% 67% 81% 86.6% 90%

Social networking emerged in the mid-2000s, as a popular social communication, largely replacing much of the function of email, message boards and instant messaging services. Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat and WeChat are all major examples of social media to gain widespread popularity. The use of webcams and front-facing cameras on PCs and related devices, and services such as Skype, Zoom, and FaceTime have made video calling and video conferencing widespread. Their use hugely increased during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Civil unrest[edit]

December 2001 riots in Argentina, also known as "Argentinazo".
2007 Georgian demonstrations against the government of president Mikheil Saakashvili.
Tahrir Square Protest during the Arab Spring in Egypt.
Peaceful protests in Madrid. In August 2011, Spain's unemployment reached 21.2% (46.2% for youths).
Protests in Ferguson, Missouri in 2014, after the shooting of Michael Brown.
2019–20 Hong Kong protests
"La marcha más grande de Chile" during the 2019–2020 Chilean protests.

Disasters[edit]

Natural disasters[edit]

The tsunami striking Ao Nang in Thailand on 26 December 2004.
New Orleans, Louisiana in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

2000s

  • 2001 Gujarat earthquake – An earthquake in Gujarat, India on 26 January 2001, killed approximately 20,000 people.
  • January 2001 El Salvador earthquake – A 7.9 earthquake in El Salvador shook the whole country on 13 January 2001, causing a major devastating landslide, hundreds dead, thousands injured and many homeless. A month later, on 13 February 2001, the country suffered a second earthquake – 6.7
  • 2003 European heat wave – Approximately up to 70,000 people were killed across Europe in a summer long heat wave.
  • 2003 Bam earthquake – An earthquake in Bam, Iran on 27 December 2003, killed more than 26,000.
  • 2004 Hurricane Jeanne – Over 3,000 people are killed by Hurricane Jeanne in Haiti in September 2004.
  • 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami – On 26 December 2004, a massive undersea earthquake resulted in a massive tsunami striking southeast Asia killing approximately 230,000.
  • 2005 Hurricane Katrina – The hurricane killed 1,836 in southeast Louisiana and Mississippi (mostly in New Orleans) and South Florida. A significant portion of the city, most of which sits below sea level, was submerged. Damages reached US$81.5 billion, making Katrina the costliest tropical cyclone ever recorded in the U.S.
  • 2005 Kashmir earthquake – An earthquake in Kashmir on 8 October 2005, killed at least 74,500 in India and Pakistan.
  • 2008 Cyclone Nargis – lead to catastrophic storm surge, leading to a death toll in excess of 100,000 and making millions homeless.
  • 2008 Sichuan earthquake – An earthquake between 7.9 and 8.0-magnitude struck Sichuan, China, on 12 May 2008, killing 68,712, with 17,921 missing.
  • 2009 Black Saturday bushfires – The Black Saturday bushfires were a series of bushfires that ignited or were burning across the Australian state of Victoria, Australia on and around Saturday, 7 February 2009. The fires occurred during extreme bushfire-weather conditions and resulted in Australia's highest ever loss of life from a bushfire; 173 people died and 414 were injured.
  • 2009 L'Aquila earthquake – A 6.3 magnitude earthquake strikes near L'Aquila (Italy) on 6 April 2009, one of the worst in Italian history. 308 were pronounced dead and more than 65,000 were made homeless.
  • 2009 flu pandemic – A worldwide outbreak of Influenza A virus subtype H1N1 spread around the world forming a pandemic by June 2009.

2010s

Damaged buildings in Port-au-Prince as a result of the 2010 Haiti earthquake
Hurricane Maria destruction in Dominica in 2017.
  • 2010 Haiti earthquake – At least 230,000 are killed in Haiti after a massive earthquake on 12 January 2010. Three million people were made homeless.
  • 2010 Chile earthquake – A massive earthquake, magnitude 8.8, strikes the central Chilean coast on 27 February 2010.
  • 2010 Yushu earthquake – A large 6.9 magnitude earthquake struck the Yushu region of China in Qinghai near Tibet, on 14 April 2010, killing over 2,200 people.
  • 2010 eruption of Eyjafjallajökull – A massive ash cloud is formed by the eruption of the Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajökull, on 14 April 2010, grounding flights across northwest Europe. Scientists began recording volcanic activity there in 2009 which increased through March 2010 culminating in the second phase eruption in April.
  • 2010 Pakistan floods – Began in July 2010 after record heavy monsoon rains. The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan was worst affected. At least 1,600 people were killed, thousands were rendered homeless, and more than thirteen million people were affected.[151][152][153][154][155] Estimates from rescue service officials suggest the death toll may reach 3,000 victims.[156]
  • 2011 Queensland floods – Began in December 2010 primarily in Queensland. The flood causes thousands of people to evacuate. At least 200,000 people were affected by the flood. The flood continued throughout January 2011 in Queensland, and the estimated reduction in Australia's GDP is about A$30 billion.
  • Cyclone Yasi – A category 5 (Australian Scale) cyclone hits North Queensland with winds as strong as 290 km/h (197 miles/hr) and devastates the residents of North Queensland.
  • February 2011 Christchurch earthquake – 185 people died in New Zealand after a 6.3-magnitude earthquake hit Christchurch on 22 February 2011, making it New Zealand's second-deadliest natural disaster after the 1931 Hawke's Bay earthquake.
  • 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami – On 11 March 2011, a catastrophic undersea earthquake of magnitude 9.0 occurred offshore of eastern Japan, the greatest in the country's history and created a massive tsunami which killed 15,894; it also triggered the Fukushima I nuclear accidents. The overall cost for the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear accidents reached up to US$235 billion, making it the costliest natural disaster on record.
  • 2011 Super Outbreak – Regarded as the deadliest tornado outbreak ever recorded and dubbed the 2011 Super Outbreak, a catastrophic tornado outbreak on 25–28 April affected the Southern United States and killed over 330 people, most of whom were in or from Alabama. Damages are expected to be near or over $10 billion.
  • 2011 Joplin tornado – On 22 May 2011, a devastating EF5 tornado struck Joplin, Missouri resulting in 159 casualties, making it the deadliest tornado to hit the United States since 1947.
  • Tropical Storm Washi – Locally known as Sendong, it caused catastrophic flooding in the Philippine island of Mindanao on the night of 16 December 2011. The hardest hits were in Cagayan de Oro and Iligan City. Almost 1000 people perished, most of whom were sleeping, and President Benigno Aquino III declared a state of calamity four days later.
  • Hurricane Sandy – 24–30 October 2012 – kills at least 185 people in the Caribbean, Bahamas, United States and Canada. Considerable storm surge damage causes major disruption to the eastern seaboard of the United States.[157][158][159]
  • 2013 Bohol earthquake - An earthquake of magnitude 7.2 that killed 22 people and destroyed a total worth of ₱2.25 billion,
  • Typhoon Haiyan 2013 – kills more than 6,000 people in central Philippines. Considered to be one of the strongest storms ever, it brought major damage and loss of life to the Philippines, especially the islands of Leyte and Samar. A worldwide humanitarian effort began in the aftermath of the typhoon.
  • 2014 Southeast Europe floods – kill at least 80 people in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia. Floodwaters caused over 2,000 landslides across the Balkan region, spreading damage across many towns and villages.
  • April 2015 Nepal earthquake – An earthquake of 7.8 magnitude kills almost 9,000 people, injures another 22,000 and leaves nearly 3 million people homeless in Central Nepal. The earthquake was so strong it was felt in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.
  • 2016 Taiwan earthquake – An earthquake of 6.4 magnitude kills 117 people, injures 550, and 4 people were left missing. The earthquake resulted in 3 executives of the Weiguan developer being arrested under charges of professional negligence resulting in death.
  • August 2016 Central Italy earthquake – A 6.2 magnitude earthquake killed 299 people and severely damaged Amatrice, Accumoli and Arquata del Tronto.

2020s

  • Unprecedented flooding displaces millions and threatens famine in Sudan and South Sudan in 2020–2021.[160][161]
  • On 12 January 2020, the Taal Volcano erupted for the first time in 43 years.
  • The 2020 Atlantic hurricane season, the most active regional season on record with 30 total named storms, results in over 400 fatalities across parts of the United States, Central America and the Caribbean.
  • At least 20 people are killed in 2021 Henan floods in China after heavy rainfall (at least 20c per hour) exacerbated by the approach of Typhoon In-fa breaks existing records.
  • The 2021 European floods kill over 188 people and devastate Belgium, Germany, Austria, the Netherlands, Croatia, Switzerland, Italy and Luxemburg. Floods in Germany prove to be the deadliest since the North Sea Flood of 1962.
  • On 27 July 2022, a magnitude-7.0 earthquake hit Luzon, causing 11 deaths and ₱1.88 billion of property damage.
  • In September 2022, Hurricane Ian hit the west coast of Florida as a Category 4 Atlantic hurricane, becoming the deadliest hurricane to hit Florida since the 1935 Labor Day hurricane.

Human-made disasters[edit]

Deepwater Horizon offshore drilling unit in the Gulf of Mexico on fire in 2010
  • On 27 July 2002, a Sukhoi Su-27 fighter crashes at an air show in Ukraine, killing 77 and injuring more than 100, making it the worst air show disaster in history.
  • On 1 February 2003, at the conclusion of the STS-107 mission, the Space Shuttle Columbia disintegrates during reentry over Texas, killing all seven astronauts on board.
  • The Black Saturday bushfires – the deadliest bushfires in Australian history took place across the Australian state of Victoria on 7 February 2009, during extreme bushfire-weather conditions, resulting in 173 people killed, more than 500 injured, and around 7,500 homeless. The fires came after Melbourne recorded the highest-ever temperature (46.4 °C, 115 °F) of any capital city in Australia. The majority of the fires were ignited by either fallen or clashing power lines or deliberately lit.
  • On 10 April 2010, Polish President Lech Kaczyński, his wife and 94 other people, including dozens of government officials, are killed in a plane crash.
  • On 20 April 2010, an explosion on the Deepwater Horizon offshore drilling rig, operating in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Louisiana, left eleven crewmen dead and resulted in a fire that sank the rig and caused a massive-scale oil spill[162] that may become one of the worst environmental disasters in United States history.[163] On 18 June 2010, oceanographer John Kessler said that the crude gushing from the well contains 40 percent methane, compared to about 5 percent found in typical oil deposits. Methane is a natural gas that could potentially suffocate marine life and create "dead zones" where oxygen is so depleted that nothing lives. "This is the most vigorous methane eruption in modern human history," Kessler said.[164] On 20 June an internal BP document was released by Congress revealing that BP estimated the flow could be as much as 100,000 barrels (4,200,000 US gallons; 16,000 cubic metres) per day under the circumstances that existed since 20 April blowout.[165][166]

Pandemics and epidemics[edit]

Western African Ebola virus epidemic
U.S. yearly overdose deaths. More than 70,630 Americans died from drug overdoses in 2019.

Economics and industry[edit]

Sports[edit]

Association football is the most popular sport worldwide with the FIFA World Cup being the most viewed football event. Other sports such as rugby, cricket, baseball, basketball, ice hockey, tennis, and golf are popular globally. In cricket, the emergence of the Twenty20 format and the creation of the Indian Premier League led to changes in the nature of the sport. American swimmer Michael Phelps won an Olympic record setting 8 Gold medals at the 2008 Summer Olympics.

The Beijing Bird's Nest Stadium during the 2008 Summer Olympics.

Olympics[edit]

Association football (Men)[edit]

Association football (Women)[edit]

Cricket[edit]

Gridiron football[edit]

Quarterback Tom Brady played in 10 Super Bowls, the most ever.
  • In the National Football League, the New England Patriots were the dominant franchise of the first two decades of the 21st century, winning six Super Bowls between their first, in 2001, and their most recent, in 2018 and appearing in an additional three others. Head Coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady led the team during the stretch, with Brady also leading the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to an additional Super Bowl following the 2020 season. Other teams with multiple Super Bowl appearances over that time period include the Philadelphia Eagles, New York Giants, Kansas City Chiefs, Seattle Seahawks, and Carolina Panthers. Besides Brady, who also won three Associated Press NFL Most Valuable Player Award (MVP), other highly recognized players include quarterback Peyton Manning, who won five MVP awards, the most in history, and quarterback Aaron Rodgers who won three MVPs, who in 2011 set the NFL record for season passer rating. Successful offensive players at other positions include wide receiver Randy Moss, who set the record for most receiving touchdowns in a season with 23 in 2007, wide receiver Michael Thomas, who set the NFL record for most receptions in a season with 149 in 2019, tight end Rob Gronkowski, who became the first tight end to lead the league in receiving touchdowns in 2011, and running back Adrian Peterson, who set the all-time NFL record for rushing yards in a game with 296 in 2007, his rookie year. Key defensive players of the century include safety Ed Reed, who led the league in interceptions three times, linebacker Ray Lewis, who set the career tackles record when he retired in 2012, and linebacker J. J. Watt, who is the only player to record more than 20 quarterback sacks in two different seasons.
  • In American college football, the sport saw the creation of the College Football Playoff, the first playoff for NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision, the highest level of college football in the U.S. The series was dominated by two teams, the Clemson Tigers and Alabama Crimson Tide, at least one of which has played in every Playoff since its inception in 2014 and between them have won all but one of said championships. Prior to 2014, the method of determining the champion was done via the Bowl Championship Series (BCS), a single championship game that attempted to match the top two teams in the country using a series of polls and computer rankings to choose the top two teams. In the BCS era, the top teams were Alabama, which won three BCS Championships, and Florida State, LSU, and Oklahoma, which won two BCS Championships each. Nick Saban, who led both LSU and Alabama to one and seven national championships respectively, was the most dominant coach of his era, while quarterbacks dominated the Heisman Trophy, winning 16 of 20 during the first two decades of the 21st century. Several controversies over the payment of athletes dominated the sport, with Heisman Trophy winner Reggie Bush being forced to return his award over receiving improper benefits while maintaining amateur status, while officials and media continued to debate the possibility of paying athletes at all levels of college athletics.
  • In Canadian football, the league opened the 21st century facing an uncertain financial future, suffering from the failures of the experiment of trying to field Canadian football teams in the United States and having to contract a large number of teams at the end of the 20th century. The league fluctuated between eight and nine teams as two different Ottawa-based franchises failed during the first decade of the 21st century. The league found stability during the 2010s, and showed surprising parity between the teams, with all nine teams appearing in at least one Grey Cup during the 2000s and 2010s, and with only the Montreal Alouettes winning back-to-back titles during those two decades, in 2009 and 2010. Quarterback Anthony Calvillo of the Alouettes was the face of the league during his career, winning three Most Outstanding Player Awards and setting several passing records in the process.

Golf[edit]

Tiger Woods was the most successful male golfer of the first two decades of the 21st century.
  • The 2002 Ryder Cup was won by Europe 15 and a half to the USA's 12 and a half.
  • The 2004 Ryder Cup was won by Europe 18 and a half to the USA's 9 and a half.
  • The 2006 Ryder Cup was won by Europe again 18 and a half to the USA's 9 and a half.
  • The 2008 Ryder Cup was won by the USA 16 and a half to Europe's 11 and a half.
  • The 2010 Ryder Cup was won by Europe 14 and a half to the USA's 13 and a half.
  • The 2012 Ryder Cup was won by Europe 14 and a half to the USA's 13 and a half.
  • The 2014 Ryder Cup was won by Europe 16 and a half to the USA's 11 and a half.
  • The 2016 Ryder Cup was won by USA 17 to Europe's 11.
  • The 2018 Ryder Cup was won by Europe 17 and a half to the USA's 10 and a half.
  • The 2021 Ryder Cup was won by USA 19 to Europe's 9.
  • The 2023 Ryder Cup was won by Europe 16 and a half to the USA's 11 and half.

Motorsport[edit]

The start of a race during the 2016 Supercars Championship in Australia
  • Dale Earnhardt died after a last-lap crash during the Daytona 500 in February 2001.
  • Michael Schumacher broke many records in the first few years of the century, including the record for most races won (91), most World Championships (7), and most pole positions (68) by the time he retired in 2006. In 2010, he announced his comeback to Formula One after three years out of the sport, retiring again in 2012.
  • Sebastian Vettel broke numerous records on his way to becoming Formula One's youngest ever world champion, in 2010 at age 23, and then the youngest ever double world champion, in 2011 at age 24.
  • Sébastien Loeb became the most successful rally driver ever, winning the World Rally Championship a record 9 consecutive times between 2004 and 2012. He also set new records for the most wins, podium finishes and points scored.
  • Casey Stoner won his second MotoGP world title (2007 and 2011), and announced his retirement from the sport at just 27 years of age, citing disagreement with the direction of the sport and a desire to spend more time with his family. His retirement became effective at the end of the 2012 MotoGP season. Stoner has won every MotoGP-branded race at least once.
  • Craig Lowndes became the first driver to reach 100 race wins in the V8 Supercars Championship.
  • Lewis Hamilton broke the record for most career pole positions in Formula One in 2019, and the record for most career wins in 2020.

Rugby Union[edit]

Tennis (Men)[edit]

  • Roger Federer won 20 Grand Slam titles (6 Australian Opens, 1 French Open, 8 Wimbledons, and 5 US Opens) to surpass Pete Sampras' record of 14.
  • Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic each completed a Career Grand Slam, winning the singles championships in the Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon and US Open; Nadal also won the Olympic Singles gold medal in the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics to complete a Golden Career Slam.
  • At the 2010 Wimbledon Championships, John Isner and Nicolas Mahut completed the longest tennis match ever. Isner won 6–4, 3–6, 6–7(7), 7–6(3), 70–68.
  • In 2019, Rafael Nadal became the first male player to win a single Grand Slam tournament (French Open) 12 times.

Tennis (Women)[edit]

  • Serena Williams won 23 Grand Slam titles (7 Australian Opens, 3 French Opens, 7 Wimbledons, and 6 US Opens) in the 21st century, to add to her 1999 US Open title. Including a 2017 Australian Open win whilst 8 weeks pregnant
  • Maria Sharapova became the first female Russian player to reach No.1 on 22 August 2005. She also retired in 2020.
  • China's Li Na won the 2011 French Open, becoming the first player, male or female, from that country to win a Grand Slam.
  • Belarusian Victoria Azarenka won the 2012 Australian Open, becoming the first player, male or female, from that country to win a Grand Slam, and also hold the No.1 ranking (taking over from Caroline Wozniacki).

Arts and entertainment[edit]

Arts[edit]

Music[edit]

The Eras Tour of Taylor Swift

At the beginning of the century, the compact disc (CD) was the standard form of music media, but alternative forms of music media started to take it place such as music downloading and online streaming. A resurgence in sales of vinyl records in the 2010s was driven by record collectors and audiophiles who prefer the sound of analog vinyl records to digital recordings. In 2020, for the first time since the 1980s, vinyl surpassed CDs as the primary form of physical media for consumers of music, though both were still surpassed by online streaming, which by the 2020s became the predominant way that people consumed music.[169] As of 2020, the most active music streaming services were YouTube (1 billion monthly music users, 20 million premium subscribers), Tencent Music (657 million monthly users, 42.7 million premium subscribers), 130 million premium subscribers), SoundCloud (175 million monthly users), Gaana (152 million monthly users), JioSaavn (104 million monthly users), Spotify (286 million monthly users), Pandora (60.9 million monthly users), and Apple Music (60 million subscribers).[170]

Television[edit]

As with music, the story of the first two decades of the 21st century was the growth of streaming television services in competition with older forms of television, such as Terrestrial television, cable television, and satellite television. The first major company to dominate the streaming service market was Netflix, which began as a DVD-delivery service in the late 1990s, transitioned into an online media streaming platform initially focused on delivering content produced by studios, then began to produce its own content, beginning with the popular and critically acclaimed series House of Cards in 2013. Netflix's success encouraged the creation of numerous other streaming services, such as Hulu, YouTube Premium, Amazon Prime Video, and Disney+, which within a year of its launch overtook Netflix as the most downloaded television streaming application.[171]

Issues and concerns[edit]

Global Peak Oil forecast. Virtually all economic sectors rely heavily on petroleum.
Dhaka, Bangladesh in 2006. Almost 97% of future population growth is expected to occur in developing countries.[174]
  • Population. The world's population demographics will shift considerably, with the population of Europe and East Asia predicted to decline considerably and the population of Africa, and to a lesser extent South Asia, to grow considerably, unless there are policy changes. The United Nations estimates world population will reach 9.7 billion by 2050.[175] Most growth will take place in the world's poorer countries, which may slow down the reduction of poverty and combined with the effects of global warming, may lead to large migrations.
    • Overconsumption and overpopulation. Such growth raises questions of ecological sustainability and creates many economic and political disruptions. In response, many countries have adopted policies which either force or encourage their citizens to have fewer children, and others have limited immigration. Debate exists over what the ultimate carrying capacity of the planet may be; whether or not population growth containment policies are necessary; to what degree growth can safely occur thanks to increased economic and ecological efficiency; and how distribution mechanisms should accommodate demographic shifts. Many developed countries (most notably Japan) will experience population decline, and the population debate is strongly tied with discussions about the distribution of wealth.
  • Poverty. Poverty remains the root cause of many of the world's other ills, including famine, disease, and insufficient education. Poverty contains many self-reinforcing elements (e.g. it can make education unaffordable, which results in continuing poverty) that aid groups hope to rectify. Progress has been made in reducing poverty, especially in China and India, but increasingly in Africa as well. Microcredit lending has started to prove useful as an anti-poverty tool.[citation needed]
In early 2019, more than 90% of world's 13,865 nuclear weapons were owned by Russia and the United States.[176]
  Marriage open to same-sex couples

Astronomical events[edit]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

References[edit]

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Further reading[edit]

  • Allitt, Patrick N. America after the Cold War: The First 30 Years (2020).
  • Andersson, Jenny. The future of the world: Futurology, futurists, and the struggle for the post cold war imagination (Oxford UP, 2018).
  • Ahram, Ariel I. War and Conflict in the Middle East and North Africa (John Wiley & Sons, 2020).
  • Asare, Prince, and Richard Barfi. "The Impact of Covid-19 Pandemic on the Global Economy: Emphasis on Poverty Alleviation and Economic Growth." Economics 8.1 (2021): 32-43 online.
  • Aziz, Nusrate, and M. Niaz Asadullah. "Military spending, armed conflict and economic growth in developing countries in the post–Cold War era." Journal of Economic Studies 44.1 (2017): 47–68.
  • Brands, Hal. Making the unipolar moment: U.S. foreign policy and the rise of the post-Cold War order (2016).
  • Brügger, Niels, ed, Web25: Histories from the first 25 years of the world wide web (Peter Lang, 2017).
  • Cameron, Fraser. US foreign policy after the cold war: global hegemon or reluctant sheriff? (Psychology Press, 2005).
  • Cassani, Andrea, and Luca Tomini. Autocratization in post-cold war political regimes (Springer, 2018).
  • Clapton, William ed. Risk and Hierarchy in International Society: Liberal Interventionism in the Post-Cold War Era (Palgrave Macmillan UK. 2014)
  • Dai, Jinhua, and Lisa Rofel, eds. After the Post–Cold War: The Future of Chinese History (Duke UP, 2018).
  • Duong, Thanh. Hegemonic globalisation: U.S. centrality and global strategy in the emerging world order (Routledge, 2017).
  • The Economist. The World in 2020 (2019)
  • The Economist. The Pocket World in 2021 (2020) excerpt
  • Gertler, Mark, and Simon Gilchrist. "What happened: Financial factors in the great recession." Journal of Economic Perspectives 32.3 (2018): 3-30. online
  • Harrison, Ewam. The Post-Cold War International System: Strategies, Institutions and Reflexivity (2004).
  • Henriksen, Thomas H. Cycles in US Foreign Policy Since the Cold War (Palgrave Macmillan, 2017) excerpt.
  • Howe, Joshua P. Behind the curve: science and the politics of global warming (U of Washington Press, 2014).
  • Jackson, Robert J. and Philip Towle. Temptations of Power: The United States in Global Politics after 9/11 (2007)
  • Lamy, Steven L., et al. Introduction to global politics (4th ed. Oxford UP, 2017)
  • Mandelbaum, Michael The Rise and Fall of Peace on Earth (Oxford UP, 2019) why so much peace 1989–2015. excerpt
  • Maull, Hanns W., ed. The rise and decline of the post-Cold War international order (Oxford UP, 2018).
  • Pekkanen, Saadia M., John Ravenhill, and Rosemary Foot, eds. Oxford handbook of the international relations of Asia (Oxford UP, 2014), comprehensive coverage.
  • Ravenhill, John, ed. Global political economy (5th ed. Oxford UP, 2017) excerpt
  • Reid-Henry, Simon. Empire of Democracy: The Remaking of the West Since the Cold War (2019) excerpt
  • Rosenberg, Jerry M. (2012). The Concise Encyclopedia of The Great Recession 2007–2012 (2nd ed.). Scarecrow Press. ISBN 978-0-8108-8340-6.
  • Rubin, Robert, and Jacob Weisberg. In an uncertain world: tough choices from Wall Street to Washington (2015).
  • Rudolph, Peter. "The Sino-American World Conflict" (German Institute for International and Security Affairs. SWP Research Paper #3, February 2020). doi: 10.18449/2020RP03 online
  • Schenk, Catherine R. International economic relations since 1945 (2nd ed. 2021).
  • Smith, Rhona K.M. et al. International Human Rights (4th ed. 2018)
  • Smith, Rhona KM. Texts and materials on international human rights (4th ed. Routledge, 2020).
  • Strong, Jason. The 2010s: Looking Back At A Dramatic Decade (2019) online
  • Taylor-Gooby, Peter, Benjamin Leruth, and Heejung Chung, eds. After austerity: Welfare state transformation in Europe after the great recession (Oxford UP, 2017).
  • Tooze, Adam (2018). Crashed: How a Decade of Financial Crises Changed the World. New York: Viking. ISBN 978-0-670-02493-3.
  • Tooze, Adam. Shutdown: How Covid Shook the World's Economy (2021).
  • United Nations. World Economic Situation and Prospects 2020 (2020) online annual reports
  • United Nations. World Economic and Social Survey 2010 - Retooling Global Development (2010) online

External links[edit]