The 21st century is the current century of the Anno Domini era or the Common Era, in accordance with the Gregorian calendar. It began on January 1, 2001, and will end on December 31, 2100. It is the first century of the 3rd millennium. It is distinct from the century known as the 2000s, which began on January 1, 2000 and will end on December 31, 2099.
The completion of the Human Genome Project in 2003 marks the continual rise of Life Sciences,which makes mankind's long-held dreams such as curing aging and cancer more and more realistic. While digital technology, in its early stages of mainstream use in the 1980s and 1990s, became widely accepted by most of the world, though concerns about stress from the overuse of mobile phones, the Internet and related technologies remains controversial.
Among experts and the general public, there is a debate as to how specific years of the 21st century should be pronounced in English. Regarding this, academics suggested that since former years such as 1805 and 1905 were commonly pronounced as "eighteen oh" or "nineteen oh" five, the year 2005 should naturally have been pronounced as "twenty oh-five". A less common variation would have been "twenty nought-five". Generally, the early years of the 21st century were pronounced as "two-thousand and five", with a change taking place in 2010, where pronunciations often shift between the early-year standard of "two-thousand and ten" and the common approach used in the late 20th-century of "twenty-ten".
The Vancouver Olympics, which took place in 2010, was being officially referred to by Vancouver 2010 as "the twenty-ten Olympics". The latest timeframes for change are usually placed at 2020.
According to The Stanley Kubrick Archives, in the press release for his film 2001: A Space Odyssey, film director Stanley Kubrick included specific instructions for journalists to refer to the movie as "two thousand and one" instead of the commonplace pronunciation of "twenty-oh-one". Kubrick said he did this in the hope that if the film became popular, it would influence the pronunciation of that year.
Politics and wars
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.
Genocide still remains a problem in this century with the concern of the war in Darfur and the growing concern in Sri Lanka. Low estimates on the deaths in Darfur stand around 200,000 deaths with 2.5 million in displacement, there has been much outcry against the perpetrators, the Sudanese government, and the very weak international response. Also controversies from past genocides remain commonplace in the minds of victims and average people alike.
1998–2002 – 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.
2001–present – The U.S. and NATO invaded Afghanistan on October 7, 2001, and overthrew the Al-Qaeda-supportive Taliban government. Troops remained to install a democratic government, fight a slowly escalating insurgency, and to hunt for Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden who was killed by American troops nearly 10 years later, on May 2, 2011.
2003–present – In February 2003, a conflict in Darfur, Sudan, began and soon escalated 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, although the ICC has no power to enforce these charges.
2003–2010 – The U.S.-led coalitioninvaded Iraq on March 20, 2003, and overthrew the government of Saddam Hussein (who was 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. 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.
2006 – On July 12, Hezbollah crossed the border of Lebanon and captured two Israeli soldiers. Israel responded by sending troops across the border and bombing Hezbollah strongholds, while Hezbollah fired missiles on towns in northern Israel, approximately 6 each day. At the end of the war 1,200 Lebanese civilians, 500 Hezbollah fighteres, 44 Israeli civilians and 121 Israeli soldiers died. A ceasefire was signed on August 14, after which Israeli troops withdrew from Lebanon. Many military sources in Israel have warned about the danger of a new Israeli-Lebanese conflict back in the year 2000, when Israel has withdrawn from Lebanon.
2006 – North Korea conducted its first nuclear test on October 9. This was preceded by years of political wrangling with the U.S. over the status of their nuclear program.
2007–2008 – Nepal's centuries-old monarchy is overthrown, and the country becomes a republic.
2007 – A civil war escalated in the Gaza Strip throughout June, which resulted in Hamas eventually driving most Fatah-loyal forces from the Strip. In reaction, Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas dismissed Hamas prime minister Ismail Haniyeh and dissolved the Hamas-ruled parliament. Scattered conflict continues.
2010 – The birth of the Arab Spring, on December 17, when several people begin protesting against the Tunisian government.
2011 – Norway is the victim of twin terror attacks, the first being a bomb blast which targeted government buildings in central Oslo, the second being a massacre at a youth camp on the island of Utøya.
2011 – Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, who was responsible for the development of the plans for the September 11 attacks, is killed in a raid on his compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan by Seal Team 6 of U.S. military Special Forces on May 2, 2011.
2007 – China launches its first lunar mission with the Chang'e 1 on October 24.
2008 – Chinese space program launches its third manned 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 September 25.
The World Wide Web and websites becomes a major new medium for storing files and information.
Since the introduction of smartphones and tablets with 3G and 4G, mobile devices are connected with the internet. These gradually start to replace desktop and laptop computers in the early and mid 2010s, although laptop and desktop computers are still common in business, financial, medical, governmental, and educational settings. The smartphone and tablets become standard for consumers.
The Digital Revolution continued into the early 21st century with mobile usage and Internet access growing massively in the early 21st century. By the 2010s, the majority of people in the developed world had Internet access and the majority of people worldwide had a mobile phone.
Since December 17, 2010 and until the present a revolutionary wave of demonstrations and protests, dubbed Arab Spring, have been taking place throughout the Arab world
As the century began, the generations which had experienced the crises of the mid and late 20th century (the Great Depression, World War II and the Cold War) as adults, were retiring from leadership positions and public life. Taking their places were members of the postwar "Boom" generations, whose formative experiences were the social upheavals (and, in the Western world, relative prosperity) of the 1960s and 1970s.
AIDS which emerged in the 1980s continued to spread yet more treatment of AIDS made the disease less of a deadly threat to those with access to treatment. A cure was still not found in the '00s despite expectations.
Same-sex marriage has slowly become more accepted, and has become legal in some countries. In 2001 the Netherlands became the first nation in the world to legalize this type of marriage. The 2000s decade saw significant change surrounding this social issue and the change has continued into the 2010s.
By 2001 most Western countries had removed the remaining racial language in their laws.
The early 21st century was marked by the Arab Spring, a revolutionary wave of demonstrations and protests occurring in the Arab world that began in December 2010. The results of these demonstrations have been mixed in outcome.
As of 2009, SIL Ethnologue catalogued 6909 living human languages. The exact number of known living languages will vary from 5,000 to 10,000, depending generally 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 6000 and 7000 languages currently spoken, and that between 50-90% of those will have become extinct by the year 2100. The top 20 languages spoken by more than 50 million speakers each, are spoken by 50% of the world's population, whereas many of the other languages are spoken by small communities, most of them with fewer than 10,000 speakers.
2001 El Salvador Earthquake – 7.9 earthquake in El Salvador shook the whole country on January 13, 2001, causing a major devastating landslide, hundreds dead, thousands injured and many homeless. A month later, on February 13, 2001 the country suffered a second earthquake – 6.7
2004 Asian Tsunami – On December 26, 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 recorded.
2008 Cyclone Nagris – 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 May 12, 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, February 7, 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 April 6, 2009, one of the worst in Italian history. 308 were pronounced dead and more than 65,000 were made homeless.
2010 Haiti earthquake – At least 230,000 are killed in Haiti after a massive earthquake on January 12, 2010. As of late February 2010, the death toll is expected to rise. Three million people were made homeless.
2010 Chile earthquake – A massive earthquake, magnitude 8.8, strikes the central Chilean coast on February 27, 2010.
2010 Yushu earthquake – A large 6.9 magnitude earthquake struck the Yushu region of China in Qinghai near Tibet, on April 14, 2010, killing over 2200 people.
2010 eruption of Eyjafjallajökull – A massive ash cloud is formed by the eruption of the Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajökull, on April 14, 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.
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 Queenland with winds as strong as 290 km/hr (197 miles/hr) and devastates the residents of North Queensland.
2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami – On March 11, 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 over 15,000; it also triggered the Fukushima I nuclear accidents. The overall cost for the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear accidents could reach $300 billion, making it the costliest natural disaster on record.
April 25–28, 2011 tornado outbreak – Regarded as the deadliest tornado outbreak ever recorded and dubbed the 2011 Super Outbreak, a catastrophic tornado outbreak on April 25–28 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 May 22, 2011, a devastating EF5 tornado struck Joplin, Missouri resulting in 159 casualties, making it the deadliest tornado to hit the United States since 1947.
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.
On April 10, 2010, Polish President Lech Kaczyński, his wife and 95 other people, including dozens of government officials are killed in a plane crash.
On April 20, 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 that may become one of the worst environmental disasters in United States history. On June 18, 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. On June 20 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 the April 20 blowout.
Both Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal 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 ever match. Isner won 6–4, 3–6, 6–7(7), 7–6(3), 70–68.
In 2013, Rafael Nadal became the first male player to win a single Grand Slam tournament (French Open) 8 times.
Serena Williams wins five Australian Opens (2003, 2005, 2007, 2009 and 2010).
Sebastien Loeb becomes the most successful rally driver ever, winning the World Rally Championship a record 9 consecutive times between 2004-2012. He also sets new records for the most wins, podium finishes and points scored.
Casey Stoner wins his second MotoGP world title (2007 and 2011) before announcing 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 is effective at the end of the 2012 MotoGP season. Stoner has won every MotoGP-branded race at least once.
The 2002 Ryder Cup was won by Europe 15 and a half to USA's 12 and a half.
The 2004 Ryder Cup was won by Europe 18 and a half to USA's 9 and a half.
The 2006 Ryder Cup was won by Europe again 18 and a half to USA's 9 and a half.
The 2008 Ryder Cup and last this decade was won by 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 USA's 13 and a half.
The 2012 Ryder Cup was won by Europe 14 and a half to USA's 13 and a half.
Wheelchair DanceSport is continuing to increases in importance worldwide and is now recognized as an official international paralympic sport.
Periodically are organized regional competitions, World championships (for example 2010 in Hannover) and European championships.
Entertainment during the 21st century had evolved from the same types of entertainment which emerged around the middle of the 20th century. Sports, films, music, TV series' and books remained popular into the early 21st century but new forms of entertainment including social networking & internet accessed videos became popular. Video games had emerged from a childhood pastime in the 20th century to an fully grown adult pastime by the beginning of the 21st century. The most popular mediums of entertainment in the first decade at least were via televisions, the internet, CDs, DVDs and paper. Digital information begins to complete its succession over analog information and storage techniques.
2000s (decade) – The early 21st century has had a profound impact on the condition of music distribution. Recent advents in digital computing & storage technology have fundamentally altered industry and marketing practices as well as players in heretofore unusual rapidity.
Dhaka, Bangladesh in 2006. Almost 97% of future population growth will occur in developing countries.
Overpopulation. The United Nationsestimates that world population will reach 9.2 billion by mid-century. 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. Considerable 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. Evidence suggests that developed countries (such as Japan) suffer population implosion, and the population debate is strongly tied with discussions about the distribution of wealth.
Abortion. Debates between "Pro-choice" and "Pro-life" factions on the controversial procedure continue. The approximate number of induced abortions performed worldwide in 2003 was 42 million.
Gay rights are a major political issue in many places, with same sex marriage being legalized in several jurisdictions during the first two decades of the century, but outlawed by constitutional amendment in other places. Meanwhile, some countries such as Uganda and Russia moved to toughen their laws against any sort of homosexual behavior or expression. Political battles over pro- or anti-gay legislation provoked much activism in the streets and on the Internet.
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 (for instance, poverty can make education an unaffordable luxury, which tends to result in continuing poverty) that various aid groups hope to rectify in this century. Microcredit lending has also started to gain a profile as a useful anti-poverty tool.
Global warming. Climate scientists have postulated that the earth is undergoing significant anthropogenic (human-induced) global warming. The resulting economic and ecological costs are hard to predict. Some scientists argue that human-induced global warming risks considerable losses in biodiversity and ecosystem services unless considerable sociopolitical changes are introduced, particularly in patterns of mass consumption and transportation.
Global Peak Oil forecast. Virtually all economic sectors rely heavily on petroleum.
Fossil fuels are becoming scarce and more expensive, due to the escalating demand for petroleum ("oil") and oil-based products such as gasoline and kerosene, unmatched by production. Discovery of new oil fields has not been sufficient to sustain current levels of production, and some fear that the earth may be running out of economically viable oil, pressing for alternatives. As Agrofuel, one possible alternative, yields further hazards for the environment and endangers food security, debate is far from over. Electric cars such as the Nissan Leaf have been built to address the problem of peak oil.
Power in international relations. Issues surrounding the cultural, economic, and military dominance of the United States and its role in the world community have become even more pointed given its recent military activities, problematic relations with the United Nations, disagreement over several international treaties, and its economic policies with regard to globalization. Integration of the European Union and the African Union have proceeded.
Intellectual property. The increasing popularity of digital formats for entertainment media such as movies and music, and the ease of copying and distributing it via the Internet and peer-to-peer networks, has raised concerns in the media industry about copyright infringement. Much debate is proceeding about the proper bounds between protection of copyright, trademark and patent rights versus fair use and the public domain, where some argue that such laws have shifted greatly towards intellectual property owners and away from the interests of the general public in recent years, while others say that such legal change is needed to deal with a perceived threat of new technologies against the rights of authors and artists (or, as others put it, against the outmoded business models of the current entertainment industry). Domain name "cybersquatting" and access to patented drugs and generics to combat epidemics in third-world countries are other IP concerns.
Technology developments show no sign of slowing. Communications and control technology continues to augment the intelligence of individual humans, collections of humans, and machines. Cultures are forced into the position of sharply defining humanity and determining boundaries on desire, thought, communication, behavior, and manufacturing. Some, notably Ray Kurzweil, have predicted that by the middle of the century there will be a Technological Singularity if artificial intelligence that outsmart humans is created.
NATO–Russia relations seem to remain strained as the "Western Alliance" and NATO square off with Russia and other nations over international policy and the future of the ex-Soviet sphere. An Eastern Europe Missile Defense Shield, military and social conflicts in former Yugoslavia and the Caucasus (particularly Georgia and Chechnya), fossil fuel infrastructures like the Nabucco pipeline and the future of nuclear arsenals are among the topics that have strained the relations between the two sides with eerie reminders reminiscent of the Cold War.
Water crisis. As the human population increases, so has the demand for water. Desalination has been used more and more to address this issue.
November 22, 2065: At 12:45 UTC, Venus will occult Jupiter. This event will be the first occultation of a planet by another since January 3, 1818. This event will be very difficult to observe from Earth's surface, because the elongation of Venus and Jupiter from the Sun on that date will be only 7 degrees.
2066: Triple conjunction Jupiter-Uranus.
July 15, 2067: At 11:56 UTC, Mercury will occult Neptune. This rare event will be very difficult to observe from Earth's surface, because of the constant low elongation of Mercury from the Sun, and the magnitude of Neptune always under the limit of visibility with the naked eye.
Friday, November 10, 2084: Transit of Earth as seen from Mars, the first and the only one in this century.