21st century

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For other uses, see 21st century (disambiguation).
For a timeline of 21st-century events, see Timeline of modern history.
Millennium:3rd millennium
Decades:2000s 2010s 2020s 2030s 2040s
2050s 2060s 2070s 2080s 2090s

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.[1][2] 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.

Transitions and changes[edit]

The Digital Revolution continues into the early 21st century. Steve Jobs (1955-2011) is shown here holding the first generation Apple iPad.

The first years of the 21st century have thus far been marked by the rise of a global economy and Third World consumerism, mistrust in government, deepening global concern over terrorism and an increase in the power of private enterprise.[3] The Arab Spring of the early 2010s led to mixed outcomes in the Arab world. The Digital Revolution which began around the 1980s also continues into the present. The world population began the century at 6.1 billion and grew to about 7 billion within a decade. The youngest Millennials (born c. 1981-2001) having been born at the turn of the century give way to the rise of Generation Y & Generation Z in Western countries.

In contemporary history, the 21st century began with the United States as the sole superpower in the absence of the Soviet Union, while China, with its confirmed overlook of human rights issues, began its rise to becoming a superpower and the BRIC countries aim to create more balance in the global political and economic spectrum.

Shanghai becomes a symbol of the recent economic boom of China.

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.[4]

As of 2013, about 80 percent of the world's population uses mobile phones.[5]


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".[6] 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.[6]

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.[7]

Politics and wars[edit]

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.

In 2009, Barack Obama became the first African-American president of the United States.

New countries[edit]

South Sudan gained its independence on July 9, 2011.
Kosovo declared independence on February 17, 2008.

Some territories 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.

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

Science and technology[edit]

Space exploration[edit]




Storage and mediums[edit]

Social technology[edit]


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.


Civil unrest[edit]

Linguistic diversity[edit]

As of 2009, SIL Ethnologue catalogued 6909 living human languages.[14] 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.[15] 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.[15]


Natural disasters[edit]

The tsunami striking Ao Nang in Thailand on December 26, 2004.



The eye of Hurricane Irene as viewed from the International Space Station on August 24, 2011

Man-made disasters[edit]

Economics and industry[edit]


At the start of the 21st century sports were very popular. The IOC's Modern Olympic Games was the most viewed sporting event. Association football is the most popular sport worldwide with the FIFA World Cup the most viewed football event. Other sports such as rugby, cricket, baseball, basketball, ice hockey, tennis, and golf were popular globally. In cricket the emergence of the Twenty20 format as well as 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 Birds Nest Stadium during the 2008 Summer Olympics.

International tournaments[edit]

Modern Olympic Games

Association Football





Rugby Union

Tennis (Men)

Tennis (Women)



Wheelchair DanceSport


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.

Mark Zuckerberg co-created Facebook in his Harvard dorm room.



A. R. Rahman, an Indian composer became the first ever from the sub-continent to have won double Oscars for his Original score and soundtrack in 2009.

Social networking[edit]

Issues and concerns[edit]

There are several points-of-view pertaining to the following items, all of which should be considered accordingly.

Issues that have been frequently discussed and debated so far in this century include:

The United Nations lists global issues on its agenda and lists a set of Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) to attempt to address some of these issues.

Astronomical events[edit]

List of the long central solar eclipses[edit]

Other phenomena[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "The 21st Century and the 3rd Millennium When Did They Begin?". United States Naval Observatory. Retrieved 2013-06-07. 
  2. ^ "When and where did the new Millennium officially start, and why?". Royal Observatory Greenwich
  3. ^ http://www.globescan.com/news_archives/GIM_globalization.pdf
  4. ^ "Workplace trends: Technology increases workplace stress". Office World News. 1999. 
  5. ^ "The growth of mobile". Techi.com. Retrieved 6 October 2014. 
  6. ^ a b Experts clash over millennium bugbearThe Times
  7. ^ TASCHEN. "The Stanley Kubrick Archives". Retrieved 6 October 2014. 
  8. ^ "Estimated casualties in Iraq". Retrieved 6 October 2014. 
  9. ^ O'Neil, John; Onishi, Norimitsu (October 15, 2006). "US confirms nuclear claim". New York Times. Archived from the original on October 30, 2006. Retrieved October 16, 2006. 
  10. ^ Grolier- the new book of knowledge, section "E"
  11. ^ "Higgs boson-like particle discovery claimed at LHC". BBC News. Retrieved 6 October 2014. 
  12. ^ "Total mobile subscribers top 1.8 billion". MobileTracker Cell Phone News and Reviews. May 18, 2005. Archived from the original on January 19, 2008. Retrieved December 31, 2008. 
  13. ^ "World Population estimates by the US Census Bureau". 
  14. ^ "Ethnologue: Languages of the World, Fifteenth edition". Retrieved 28 June 2007, ISBN 1-55671-159-X
  15. ^ a b Roell, Craig. Battle of Coleto. Handbook of Texas. 
  16. ^ Bodeen, Christopher (August 8, 2010). "Asia flooding plunges millions into misery". The Associated Press. Archived from the original on September 4, 2010. Retrieved August 8, 2010. 
  17. ^ Masood, Salman and Adam B. Ellick. Floods in Pakistan Kill at Least 700. NYTimes.
  18. ^ "UN voices Pakistan flood fears as death toll soars". BBC. July 31, 2010. Retrieved July 31, 2010. 
  19. ^ Khan, Ismail (July 30, 2010). "400 Killed in Flooding in Pakistan, Officials Say". The New York Times. Retrieved July 30, 2010. 
  20. ^ "Thousands trapped by Pakistan floods; 900 dead". Retrieved 6 October 2014. 
  21. ^ "Deaths From Pakistan Floods May Reach 3,000, Rescue Service Official Says". Bloomberg. 31 July 2010. Retrieved 6 October 2014. 
  22. ^ CNN Report: Superstorm Sandy. Retrieved October 30, 2012.
  23. ^ Cleveland News Superstorm Sandy. Retrieved October 30, 2012.
  24. ^ Telegraph.co.uk News Report. October 30, 2012.
  25. ^ "BP Will Pay For Gulf Oil Spill Disaster, CEO Says". NPR. May 3, 2010. Archived from the original on May 4, 2010. Retrieved May 3, 2010. 
  26. ^ "Choppy Seas Hinder Effort To Contain Oil Spill", National Public Radio, April 30, 2010
  27. ^ "Oil spill full of methane, adding new concerns". msnbc. June 18, 2010. Archived from the original on June 20, 2010. Retrieved June 20, 2010. 
  28. ^ "Document Shows BP Estimates Spill up to 100,000 Bpd". ABC News. June 20, 2010. Archived from the original on June 24, 2010. Retrieved June 20, 2010. [dead link]
  29. ^ "Seafloor Exit" (pdf). Archived from the original on July 4, 2010. Retrieved 14 May 2013. 
  30. ^ Wheelchair Dancesport Retrieved December 17, 2011
  31. ^ "World population projected to reach 7 billion in 2011". CNN. August 12, 2009.
  32. ^ Sedgh, Gilda; Stanley Henshaw, Susheela Singh, Elisabeth Åhman and Iqbal H. Shah (October 2007). "Induced abortion: estimated rates and trends worldwide" (PDF). The Lancet 370 (9595): 1338–1345. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(07)61575-X. PMID 17933648. Archived from the original on December 17, 2008. Retrieved December 2, 2008. 
  33. ^ "The Scientific Consensus on Climate Change". Retrieved 6 October 2014. 

Centuries and millennia[edit]

External links[edit]