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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The 21st (twenty-first) century is the current century of the Anno Domini era or Common Era, in accordance with the Gregorian calendar. It began on January 1, 2001, and ends on December 31, 2100.[1] It is the first century of the 3rd millennium.

The beginning of the 21st century has been marked by the rise of a global economy and Third World consumerism, deepening global concern over terrorism and an increase in private enterprise.[2][3][4] Effects of global warming and rising sea levels continued, with eight islands disappearing between 2007 and 2014.[5][6][7] The Arab Spring of the early 2010s led to mixed outcomes in the Arab world, resulting in several civil wars and governments overthrown.[8] The United States and China have remained the only two superpowers.

In 2017, about half (49.3%) of the world's population lived in "some form of democracy", though only 4.5 percent lived in "full democracies".[9]

The European Union has greatly expanded in the 21st century, adding 13 member states. Most member states of the European Union introduced a common currency, the Euro, and the United Kingdom withdrew from the European Union. In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic spread around the world, causing severe global economic disruption, including the largest global recession since the Great Depression.

The Third Industrial Revolution which began around the 1950s continued into the late 20th century, and started to transition into Industry 4.0 and the Fourth Industrial Revolution in the beginning of the 21st century.[10][unreliable source?]

With the proliferation of mobile devices, more than half of the world's population obtained access to the internet (2018 estimate).[11]). After the success of the Human Genome Project, DNA sequencing services became available and affordable.[12][13]

Technology and society

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

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 advancement of the sum total of human knowledge and information continues to grow at an exponential rate.

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 2018, 55% of the world's population is online and as of 2019, an estimated 67% own a cell phone.[22] In the 2010s, artificial intelligence, mostly in the form of deep learning and machine learning became more prevalent, and is prominently used in Gmail and Google's search engine, as well as in banking, the military and other niches. In 2017, 14% 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.
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 such as Elon Musk and Richard Branson are working towards commercial space exploration, colonization and tourism, and China and India have made substantial strides in their space programs. On January 3, 2019, China landed a robotic spacecraft on the far side of the Moon, the first to do so.[24]

Culture and politics

War and most kinds of crime and violence have declined considerably compared to the 20th century; such a period of "relative peace" between major powers has not been documented in human history since the Roman Empire.[citation needed] Malnourishment and poverty are still widespread globally, but fewer people live in the most extreme forms of poverty, relative to recorded history. 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.

The Facebook–Cambridge Analytica data scandal drew international attention to the possible negative effects of social media in influencing citizen's views, particularly with regard to the 2016 United States presidential election.

Population and urbanization

The world population was about 6.1 billion at the start of the 21st century, and reached 7.7 billion by January 2019. It is estimated to reach about 8.6 billion by the year 2030,[25] and 9.8 billion by the year 2050. According to the United Nations World Urbanization prospects, 60% of the world's human population is projected to live in megacities and megalopolises by 2030, 70% by 2050, and 90% by 2080. By 2040, more than 5 times the current global gross domestic product is expected to be invested in urban infrastructure.[26]

Life expectancy has increased as child mortality continues to decline. A baby born in 2016, for example, can on average (globally) expect to live 72 years—26 years longer than the global average of someone born in 1950. Ten million Britons (16% of the population of the United Kingdom) are expected to live to 100 or older.[27]

Climate change remains a serious concern; UN Chief António Guterres, for instance, has described it as an "existential threat" to humanity.[28] Furthermore, the Holocene extinction event, the sixth most significant extinction event in the history of the Earth, continues with the widespread degradation of highly biodiverse habitats as a byproduct of human activity.[29]

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

Economics, education and retirement

Economically and politically, the United States and Western Europe were dominant at the beginning of the century; by the 2010s, China became an emerging superpower and by some measures the world's largest economy. In terms of purchasing power parity, India's economy became larger than that of Japan around the year 2011.[30]

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.[31] 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.[32] 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.[33]

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.[34]

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.[35][36]

Pronunciation

There is a debate among experts and the general public on how to pronounce specific years of the 21st century in English. Regarding this, academics suggested that since former years such as 1805 and 1905 were commonly pronounced as "eighteen oh five" or "nineteen oh five", the year 2005 should naturally have been pronounced as "twenty oh five".[37] 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 around 2010, where pronunciations often shift between the early-year standard of "two-thousand and ten" and the traditional approach 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.[37]

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.[38]

Events

2000s

Belligerents of the Second Congo War
Belligerents of the Second Congo War
  • 2006–2008 – The dismantling of former Yugoslavia continued after Montenegro gained independence on June 3, 2006, and Kosovo declared independence on February 17, 2008. However, Kosovo's independence was disputed by Russia and many of its allies and was only partially recognized.
  • 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.
  • 2006 – North Korea conducted its first nuclear test on October 9.[40] 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 – Bulgaria and Romania join the European Union.
  • 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.

2010s

  • 2010 – Julia Gillard becomes the first female Prime Minister of Australia.
Julia Gillard was sworn in as the first female Prime Minister of Australia in 2010.
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
Americans celebrating the Death of Osama bin Laden in front of the White House
Pope Francis in Poland
Pope Francis in Poland
Ukraine, Euromaidan, people protesting in favor of Ukraine's European way.
Ukraine, Euromaidan, people protesting in favor of Ukraine's European way.
Pro-Russian separatists in Donetsk, Ukraine
Pro-Russian separatists in Donetsk, Ukraine
Turkish anti-coup rally in support of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, 22 July 2016
Turkish anti-coup rally in support of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, 22 July 2016
U.S. President Donald Trump, King Salman of Saudi Arabia and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi touching The Orb at the 2017 Riyadh summit.
U.S. President Donald Trump, King Salman of Saudi Arabia and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi touching The Orb at the 2017 Riyadh summit.
Students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, parents, and others march in the March for Our Lives protest in Parkland, FL in 2018.
Students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, parents, and others march in the March for Our Lives protest in Parkland, FL in 2018.

2020s

George Floyd protests in Miami during the COVID-19 pandemic in June 2020.[45]
George Floyd protests in Miami during the COVID-19 pandemic in June 2020.[45]

Politics and wars

Russian President Vladimir Putin with George W. Bush and other Western leaders in Moscow, 9 May 2005
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.
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

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 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 Transistional Council of libya replaced the Great Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya.

The State of Libya replaced the  National Transistional Council of libya.


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:

  • Autonomous Republic of Crimea Crimea annexed from Ukraine into the Russian Federation on March 18, 2014.

Science and technology

Space exploration

NASA successfully lands the Curiosity rover on the surface of Mars.
NASA successfully lands the Curiosity rover on the surface of Mars.
Artist's impression of New Horizons' close encounter with the Pluto–Charon system.
Artist's impression of New Horizons' close encounter with the Pluto–Charon system.

Physics

Mathematics

Biotechnology and medicine

U.S. yearly overdose deaths. More than 70,200 Americans died from drug overdoses in 2017.
U.S. yearly overdose deaths. More than 70,200 Americans died from drug overdoses in 2017.

Telecommunications

Steve Jobs discussing the iPhone, an early smartphone, in 2008
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
  2005 2010 2017 2019a
World population[54] 6.5 billion 6.9 billion 7.4 billion 7.75 billion
Users worldwide 16% 30% 48% 53.6%
Users in the developing world 8% 21% 41.3% 47%
Users in the developed world 51% 67% 81% 86.6%
a Estimate.
Source: International Telecommunications Union.[55]


Social networking emerged in the late 2000s as a popular social communication, largely replacing much of the function of email, message boards and instant messaging services. Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Snapchat 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 and FaceTime, have made video calling and video conferencing widespread.

Civil unrest

December 2001 riots in Argentina, also known as "Argentinazo".
December 2001 riots in Argentina, also known as "Argentinazo".
2007 Georgian demonstrations against the government of president Mikheil Saakashvili.
2007 Georgian demonstrations against the government of president Mikheil Saakashvili.
Tahrir Square Protest during the Arab Spring in Egypt.
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).
Peaceful protests in Madrid. In August 2011, Spain's unemployment reached 21.2% (46.2% for youths).
2017–2018 Romanian protests against government policies and corruption, 22 January 2017
2017–2018 Romanian protests against government policies and corruption, 22 January 2017
Supporters of Catalan independence protest in Barcelona in April 2018
Supporters of Catalan independence protest in Barcelona in April 2018
"Marcha Mas Grande De Chile" during the 2019–2020 Chilean protests.
"Marcha Mas Grande De Chile" during the 2019–2020 Chilean protests.

Disasters

Natural disasters

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

2000s

2010s

The eye of Hurricane Irene as viewed from the International Space Station on August 24, 2011
The eye of Hurricane Irene as viewed from the International Space Station on August 24, 2011
Hurricane Maria destruction in Dominica in 2017.
Hurricane Maria destruction in Dominica in 2017.

2020s

Man-made disasters

Deepwater Horizon offshore drilling unit in the Gulf of Mexico on fire in 2010
Deepwater Horizon offshore drilling unit in the Gulf of Mexico on fire in 2010
  • On July 27, 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 February 1, 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 February 7, 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 April 10, 2010, Polish President Lech Kaczyński, his wife and 94 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[65] that may become one of the worst environmental disasters in United States history.[66] 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.[67] 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.[68][69]

Linguistic diversity

As of 2009, SIL Ethnologue catalogued 6,909 living human languages.[70] 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 6,000 and 7,000 languages currently spoken, and that between 50–90% of those will have become extinct by the year 2100.[71][failed verification] 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.[71][failed verification]

Economics and industry

Jeff Bezos became the richest person in the world in 2018. There were over 2,200 U.S. dollar billionaires worldwide, with a combined wealth of over US$9.1 trillion, up from US$7.67 trillion in 2017.[72]
Jeff Bezos became the richest person in the world in 2018. There were over 2,200 U.S. dollar billionaires worldwide, with a combined wealth of over US$9.1 trillion, up from US$7.67 trillion in 2017.[72]

Sports

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

Football

Golf

Motorsport

The start of a race during the 2016 Supercars Championship in Australia
The start of a race during the 2016 Supercars Championship in Australia
  • Dale Earnhardt passed away 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 2004–2012. 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

Tennis (Men)

Tennis (Women)

  • 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.
  • Maria Sharapova became the first female Russian player to reach No.1 on August 22, 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

Arts

Music

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.
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.

At the beginning of the century, the compact disc 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 slight resurgence in vinyl records started to take place in the 2010s.

Issues and concerns

Global Peak Oil forecast. Virtually all economic sectors rely heavily on petroleum.
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.[76]
Dhaka, Bangladesh in 2006. Almost 97% of future population growth is expected to occur in developing countries.[76]
  • Population. The world's population demographics will shift considerably in this century, with the population of Europe and East Asia to decline considerably and the population of Africa and to a lesser extent South Asia to grow considerably. The United Nations estimates that world population will reach 9.8 billion by the year 2050.[77] Most of this growth will take place in the world's poorer countries, which may slow down the global reduction of poverty and combined with the effects of global warming may lead to large migrations.
    • Overpopulation. The United Nations estimates 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. 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 (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. Immense progress has been made in reducing poverty, especially in China and India but increasingly in Africa as well. Microcredit lending has also started to gain a profile as a useful anti-poverty tool.
  • Disease. AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria each kill over a million people annually. HIV remains without a cure or vaccine, and while new cases are declining it remains a major problem, especially for women.[78] Antibiotic resistance is a growing concern for organisms such as tuberculosis. Other diseases, such as SARS, Covid-19, ebola, the Zika virus and flu variations, are also causes for concern. The World Health Organization has warned of a possible coming flu pandemic resulting from bird flu mutations. In 2009, there was an outbreak of swine flu whose country of origin is still unknown.
In early 2019, more than 90% of world's 13,865 nuclear weapons were owned by Russia and the United States.[79]
In early 2019, more than 90% of world's 13,865 nuclear weapons were owned by Russia and the United States.[79]
.mw-parser-output .legend{page-break-inside:avoid;break-inside:avoid-column}.mw-parser-output .legend-color{display:inline-block;min-width:1.25em;height:1.25em;line-height:1.25;margin:1px 0;text-align:center;border:1px solid black;background-color:transparent;color:black}.mw-parser-output .legend-text{}  Marriage open to same-sex couples  Death penalty for homosexuality
  Marriage open to same-sex couples

Astronomical events

See also

References

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Notes

External links

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