21st century

21st century
Millennium: 3rd millennium
Centuries: 20th century · 21st century · 22nd century
Decades: 2000s 2010s 2020s 2030s 2040s
2050s 2060s 2070s 2080s 2090s
Categories: Births – Deaths
Establishments – Disestablishments

The 21st century is the current century of the Anno Domini era or the Common Era in accordance with the Gregorian calendar. The century began on January 1, 2001 and will end on December 31, 2100.[1][2][3] The years from 2001 to 2010 are historical; the years from 2011 to 2100 are subject to futurology and projections. As of now, ten years and ten months of the 21st century have passed.


Early 21st century (2001–present)

In contemporary history, the 21st century began with the United States as the sole superpower in the absence of the Soviet Union. As the Cold War was over and terrorism on the rise, exemplified by the September 11, 2001 attacks at the World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, the United States and its allies turned their attention to the Middle East and North Africa.

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

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 and antisociality from the overuse of mobile phones, the Internet and related technologies remains controversial.[4]

In 2011, nearly 5 billion people globally, 67% of the world's population used cell phones,[5] and currently, about 2 billion people (about 28% of the world's population) use the Internet.[6]


Regarding pronunciation of 21st-century years, 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".[7] A less common variation would have been "twenty nought-five". Generally, the early years of 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", while 2011[7] and 2013 are popular as well. The latest timeframes for change are usually placed at 2020.[7]

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]

Transitions & Change

The Digital Revolution continues into the early 21st century

Revolutions of the early 21st century thus far include the Environmental Revolution and the Revolutions of 2011 (also known as the Arab Spring) that began in Arab countries and are in the name of fairer government. The Digital Revolution which began around the 1980s also continues into the present. the world population begun the century at 6.1 billion and grew to about 7 billion within a decade. Generation Alpha are by far the only true current 21st century generation, since Generation Z has their roots at the tail end of the 20th century in 1991.

Politics & Wars

Politics in this century have so far been divisive, in the United States and to a lesser degree the whole Western World between the ideologies of liberalism and conservatism; more precisely, the Democratic Party and the Republican Party.

Genocide still remains a problem in the century with the concern of the situation 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 – George W. Bush became the second president of the United States to be the son of a former president when he was inaugurated on January 20, 2001.
  • 2001 – Al-Qaeda terrorists hijacked four commercial airliners and crashed two of them into the World Trade Center, one into the Pentagon and one into a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania of the United States on September 11, killing nearly 3,000 people. The United States subsequently declared a War on Terrorism.
  • 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 after about 10 years, on May 2, 2011.
  • 2002 – The International Criminal Court (ICC) was established on July 1.
  • 2002 – on the tenth of September Switzerland becomes a member of the United Nations.
  • 2002 – on the 27th. of September Timor-Leste becomes a member of the United Nations.
  • 2002 – A series of bombings carried out by Islamic militants killed 202 people at the resort of Kuta, Bali, Indonesia on October 12.
  • 2003–present – In February 2003, a conflict in Darfur, Sudan began and soon escalated into full-scale war. It is soon considered the worst humanitarian crisis in the world. By 2008 it is believed that up to 400,000 people have 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 humaninty and 2 accounts of war crimes, although the ICC currently has no power to enforce these charges.
  • 2003–2010 – The U.S.-led coalition invaded 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, some guessing even over 1 million.[8] 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 overthrew governments in Georgia, Ukraine, Kyrgyzstan, and Lebanon.
  • 2004 – The European Union expanded by 10 countries, including 8 former communist countries, plus Malta and Cyprus.
  • 2004 – On March 11, bombings carried out by Islamic militants killed 191 people on the commuter rail system of Madrid, Spain.
  • 2005 – A series of bombings carried out by Islamic militants killed 56 people in London on July 7.
  • 2005 – Israel withdrew from the Gaza Strip on September 11.
  • 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 is currently only partially recognized.
  • 2006 – On the 28th of June Montenegro becomes a member of the United Nations.
  • 2006 – On July 12, Hezbollah militants crossed the border of Lebanon and captured two Israeli troops. 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 300–450 Lebanese civilians, 600 Hezbolla troops, 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 – On July 11, bombs planted on the train system in Mumbai exploded, killing 209 people.
  • 2006 – North Korea conducted its first nuclear test on October 9.[9] This was preceded by years of political wrangling with the U.S. over the status of their nuclear program.
  • 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.
  • 2008 – Armed conflict broke out in August 2008 between Georgia on one side, and the Russian Federation together with Ossetians and Abkhazians on the other. Russia officially recognized independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
    On the outskirts of Dadaab, Kenya, during the 2011 East Africa drought.
  • 2008 – A Series of Coordinated Terrorist Attacks by Islamic militants on 26 November-29 November in Mumbai 2008 Mumbai attacks killed 154 people and injured more than 308.
  • 2009 – Barack Obama became the first African-American president of the United States
  • 2009 – North Korea tests a second nuclear device.
  • 2010 – Polish president Lech Kaczynski and 95 others died in an air disaster in western Russia while en route to a ceremony commemorating the genocide of Polish officers at Katyn in 1940. Investigations into the accident are still ongoing.
  • 2011 January; The birth of Arab Spring
  • 2011 – The Leader of Al-Qaeda, Osama bin Laden, who was responsible for the development of the plans for the September 11th 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.
  • 2011 – The shutdown of the largest UK tabloid News of the World after 168 years in print due to the 2009 phone hacking scandal.
  • 2011 – On the 14th of July South Sudan becomes a member of the United Nations.
  • 2011 – On October 21st deposed dictator Muammar Gaddafi was captured and killed by the National Liberation Army of Libya

New countries

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 a majority of foreign governments.

Three countries have declared independence but they have been recognised by a minority of UN states

Science and technology

The Peoples Republic of China completed two major milestones in space exploration during the 21st century so far with a manned space launch and EVA.

Space Exploration


  • 2003 - WMAP observations of the cosmic microwave background.
  • 2011 - Scientists at CERN claim to have detected neutrinos travelling faster than light speed. [11]


Storage & Mediums

PlayStation 2 was released in 2000 and became the best-selling gaming console of all time
  • DVD technology replaces the VCR.
  • Blu-Ray technology emerges.
  • Compact Discs succeed Cassettes.
  • High Definition Television begins to replace Standard definition
  • 3D technology becomes popular in the late 1990s and early 2010s.
  • The World Wide Web and websites becomes a major new medium for storing files and information.

Social Technology

  • Mobile phone usage is very popular in the early 21st century. The boom begun at the turn of the century and by 2010 practically everyone in the developed world has a mobile.[12]
  • The World Wide Web continues to rise in popularity and Social Networking emerges in the early 21st century as a popular social communication. Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube are all major examples of social websites to gain widespread popularity


AIDS which emerged in the 1980s continued to spread yet more treatment of AIDS made the disease less of a deadly threat. A cure was still not found in the noughties despite expectations. Same-sex marriage began to emerge as legal. In 2001 the Netherlands became the first nation in the world to legalize this type of marriage. The noughties saw significant change surrounding this social issue and the change continued into the tens.

Obama supporters at a campaign rally in Austin, Texas, on February 23, 2007.

By the beginning of the 21st century the social issue of racism was slowly concluding as rights of other nationalities in other nations increased; as can be seen by the election of Barack Obama as the 44th President of the United States of America. This event takes place only 2 centuries after African-Americans were considered to be second class citizens or even slaves.


  • The world population was around 6.1 billion at the turn of the century.
  • The world population reached 7 billion in October 2011, and is increasing at a rate of 78 million per year.[13]

Civil Unrest


Natural disasters

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


  • 2001 Gujarat Earthquake – An earthquake in Gujarat,India on January 26, 2001 killed approximately 20,000.
  • 2001 El Salvador Earthquake – 7.9 earthquake in El Salvador shook the whole country Jan. 13 2001 causing a major devastating landslide, hundred dead, thousands injured and many homeless. A month later Feb. 13 2001 the country suffered a second earthquake – 6.7
  • 2003 European heat wave – Approximately 30,000 people were killed across Europe in a summer long heat wave.
  • 2003 Bam earthquake – An earthquake in Bam, Iran on December 27, 2003 killed more than 26,000.
  • 2004 Hurricane Jeanne – Over 3,000 people are killed by Hurricane Jeanne in Haiti in September 2004.
  • 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). 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.
  • 2005 Kashmir earthquake An earthquake in Kashmir on October 8, 2005, killed at least 74,500 in India and Pakistan
  • 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, 17,921 missing.
  • 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 65,000+ were homeless.
  • 2009 flu pandemic – A worldwide outbreak of Influenza A virus subtype H1N1 spread around the world forming a pandemic by June 2009.


The eye of Irene as viewed from the International Space Station on August 24, 2011
  • 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 9.8, 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.
  • 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.[14][15][16][17][18] Estimates from rescue service officials suggest the death toll may reach 3,000 victims.[19]
  • 2011 Queensland floods – Began in December 2010 primarily in Queensland. The flood cause 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.
  • February 2011 Christchurch earthquake – New Zealand's prime minister says 181 people have died after a 6.3-magnitude earthquake hit Christchurch on February 22, 2011, making it New Zealand's second-deadliest natural disaster after the 1931 Hawke's Bay earthquake.
  • 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 from April 25 to the 28th affected the Southern United States and killed over 330 people, most coming 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.

Man-made disasters

  • 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 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[20] that may become one of the worst environmental disasters in United States history.[21] 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.[22] 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.[23][24]

Popular Expectations

  • Technological Singularity (est. 2020s-2050s).
  • Manned Lunar Return Missions (2020s).
  • First manned missions to Mars (2030s).
  • Rise of Cyborgs (2040s-2070s).
  • Space Colonization (Mid Century).
  • Scientific revolutions in brain/consciousness theories (21st Century).


At the turn of the 21st century sports were the most popular form of entertainment worldwide. The IOC's Modern Olympic Games was the most popular of all sporting events and was hence the supposed greatest show on Earth. The Beijing Olympics of 2008 remains the most costly and extraordinary games/show of the 21st century so far. Soccer was the most popular sport in the early 21st century and of all the soccer competitions the FIFA World Cup was the greatest event overall but for club soccer the English FA Premier League was the greatest league. Other sports such as Rugby, American football, Basketball, Tennis and Golf were popular globally. The passion for sport throughout the second and third world saw the rise of extraordinary athletes whom grew up in poverty such as Lionel Messi of Argentina whom was described as the greatest soccer player of all time and Usain Bolt of Jamaica whom became the worlds fastest man. American swimmer Michael Phelps won a record setting 8 Gold medals at the 2008 Summer Olympics.

The Beijing Birds Nest Stadium during the 2008 Summer Olympics.

International Tournaments

Modern Olympic Games

Association Football


  • Usain Bolt broke various world records, including in the 100 meter dash at the 2009 World Championships, setting the record of 9.58 seconds.
  • A record low number of Athletes failing drug tests occurred in 2008 for Athletes, with only one recordedly failing a drug test in the Women's Long Jump.




Rugby Union


  • Roger Federer won 16 Grand Slam titles (4 Australian Open, 1 French Open, 6 Wimbledon, and 5 US Open) to beat Pete Sampras' record of 14.
  • 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.
  • Rafael Nadal beat Roger Federer at the 2008 Wimbledon final with a score of 6-4,6-4,6-7(5),6-7(8),9-7. People[who?] consider this match the greatest tennis match of all-time. The match lasted for 8 hours (including two rain delays).
  • Roger Federer beat Andy Roddick in the 2009 Wimbledon final for his 15th Grand Slam championship after a 16-14 fifth set.
  • At the 2010 Wimbledon Championships, John Isner and Nicolas Mahut completed the longest tennis match in history. Isner won 6–4, 3–6, 6–7(7), 7–6(3), 70–68.


  • F1-Michael Schumacher wins World Championship for the third time at Suzuka, Japan 2000 in a Ferrari F1-2000, Ferrari's first driver's championship in 21 years.
  • Ralph Dale Earnhardt, Sr. (Dale Earnhardt) passes away after a last-lap crash during the Daytona 500 in February 2001.


  • 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.


Association Football

AFL (Australian Rules Football)


Major League Baseball


American Football

National Hockey League

Economics & Industry


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. 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.


  • 2003 – The first edition of Final Cut Pro is released of which series would soon become very popular in the film industry.
  • 2009 – Release of Avatar which is currently the world's highest grossing film.
  • 2010s – Increasing use of 3D Camera Technology.
  • 2010 - Release of the third installment of the Toy Story franchise becomes the world's highest grossing animated film, making over 1 billion dollars in the box-office.
  • 2011 – Completion of the Harry Potter film series, which is currently a world phenomenon.


  • 2000s – 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.
  • 2000s – Popularity of Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera.
  • 1990s and 2000s – Increasing use of Autotune technology.
  • 2000s and 2010s – Popularity of Lady Gaga[citation needed] and Ke$ha.
  • 1990s and 2000s – Popularity of hip-hop music such as Eminem.
  • 2009 – Death of Michael Jackson.
  • 2010s – Popularity of Dubstep and Justin Bieber.
  • 2010s – Popularity of pop country music such as Taylor Swift.


  • 2000s – Increasing popularity for Football.
  • 2000s – Increasing popularity of motor sports such as NASCAR.

Social Networking

  • 2000s – MySpace, Facebook and YouTube emerge in the noughties when the very first social networks emerged.
  • 2010s – MySpace fades but Facebook & YouTube remain popular and new sites such as Twitter and Google+ emerges. Facebook replaces Digg as the most popularity media sharing site.

Issues and concerns

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:

  • Globalization. Advances in telecommunications and transportation, the expansion of capitalism and democracy, and free trade agreements have resulted in unprecedented global economic and cultural integration. This has caused (and is continuing to cause) economic and cultural shifts which have been the subject of considerable controversy.
    Dhaka, Bangladesh in 2006. Almost 97% of future population growth will occur in developing countries.[25]
  • 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. 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.[26]
  • Gay rights are a major political issue in many places, with same sex marriage being legalized in several jurisdictions during the first decade of the century, but outlawed by constitutional amendment in other places. Meanwhile, some countries such as Uganda moved to toughen their laws against any sort of homosexual behavior. 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.
  • Disease. AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria each kill over a million people annually. HIV remains without a cure or vaccine, and is growing rapidly in India and much of the African continent. Antibiotic resistance is a growing concern for organisms such as tuberculosis. Other diseases, such as SARS, ebola, 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.
  • War and terrorism. Active conflicts continue around the world, including civil wars in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (the largest war since World War II), Chechnya, Côte d'Ivoire, Somalia, Senegal, Colombia, Sudan (mainly in Darfur), and Libya. The 9/11 terrorist attacks triggered invasions of Afghanistan and partially and controversially Iraq. The War on Terrorism has seen controversies over civil liberties, accusations of torture, continued terrorist attacks and ongoing instability, violence, and military occupation. Violence continues in the Arab–Israeli conflict. Considerable concern remains about nuclear proliferation, especially in Iran and North Korea, and the availability of weapons of mass destruction to rogue groups.
  • Global warming. Climate scientists have postulated that the earth is currently undergoing significant anthropogenic (human-induced) global warming. [27] 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.
  • 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.
    Global Peak Oil forecast. Virtually all economic sectors rely heavily on petroleum.
  • Technology developments show no sign of ending. 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. If these AIs then create even smarter AIs technological change could accelerate in ways that are impossible for us to foresee.
  • 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.
  • 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.

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 (passed or to come) in the 21st century

List of the long total solar eclipses

  • Solar eclipse of July 22, 2009, saros 136, 6 min 38.8 s. The longest of the century.
  • Solar eclipse of August 2, 2027, of 6 min 23 s, saros 136.
  • Solar eclipse of August 12, 2045, of 6 min 06 s, saros 136.
  • Solar eclipse of August 24, 2063, of 5 min 49 s, saros 136.
  • Solar eclipse of May 11, 2078, of 5 min 40 s, saros 139.
  • Solar eclipse of May 22, 2096, of 6 min 07 s, saros 139.

Other phenomena

  • December 23, 2007: grand conjunction, a galactic conjunction which happens every 26,000 years.
  • 2009: Triple conjunction JupiterNeptune.
  • Monday, August 21, 2017:[28] First total solar eclipse of the 21st century for the United States, and the first visible in the continental US since February 26, 1979.[29]
  • November 11, 2019: Transit of Mercury.
  • Friday, April 13, 2029: The asteroid 99942 Apophis (previously better known by its provisional designation 2004 MN4) will pass within 30,000 km (18,600 mi) of the Earth.
  • July 2061: Next return of Halley's Comet.
  • 2063: Triple conjunction Mars-Uranus.
  • November 11, 2065: Transit of Mercury.
  • 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, 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, 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.
  • November 7, 2085: Transit of Mercury.

Fiction, Theology & Philosophy

Doomsday Scenarios

  • 2012 – Some people believe the world will undergo a great transformation on December 21, 2012. The exact nature of the transformation is not agreed on, but this Doomsday Prediction is the most-known doomsday theories so far, making the date highly anticipated and watched.[30] This originated with the idea of that date being the end of the Mayan calendar, although Terence McKenna reached this date independently from mayan prophecy.
  • 2036 – An asteroid (Apophis) was initially believed to have a chance of impacting Earth in 2029. With further study, this possibility was ruled out; however, there is a chance that Apophis will pass close to the earth, altering its path to impact the Earth in 2036. The chances of this occurring are estimated at 1 in 250,000.

Television and film

  • WALL-E has mentioned the earth overcoming mass consumerism and toxicity levels rising in the 21st century. It takes place in the year 2805 (29th century).
  • t.A.T.u Video Beliy Plaschik Is set "Sometime in the 21st century"
  • The new series of Doctor Who which began in 2005 depicts many fictional events that take place in the 21st century.
  • The television series seaQuest DSV takes place between the years 2018 and 2032.
  • In the sequel to 2001: A Space Odyssey, a joint American-Soviet space expedition is sent to Jupiter in 2010.
  • The Adult Swim series Sealab 2021 takes place in the year 2021.
  • The events of Stargate SG-1 continue into the early 21st century.
  • Stargate Atlantis is set in the early 21st century.
  • The Transformers: The Movie: is set in the year 2005. The subsequent third season of the Transformers series takes place after the events of the movie.
  • The Japanese anime show The Super Dimension Fortress Macross spans the years 1999 to 2012 (its final episode takes place in January 2012, and a direct to video epilogue featurette takes place in September 2012). Its prequel and sequels take place in 2008 (Macross Zero), 2040 (Macross Plus), 2045–2046 (Macross 7) and 2059 (Macross Frontier). A dramatized historical fiction movie about the First Space War, The Super Dimension Fortress Macross: Do You Remember Love?, premieres in 2031.
  • The American cartoon show Robotech, composed from the footage of three unrelated anime series (including Macross, above) spans the years 1999 to 2015, 2030–2031 and 2044–2045.
  • Part of the sequel Back to the Future Part II is set on October 21, 2015.
  • The Japanese anime series Neon Genesis Evangelion is also set in 2015.
  • The film Blade Runner takes place in November 2019.
  • The cult series Dark Angel is set in 2019.
  • The film Daybreakers is set in 2019
  • The film The Running Man starring Arnold Schwarzenegger is set in 2019.
  • Both parts of the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "Past Tense" take place in 2024.
  • The dystopic sci-fi novel and film Metropolis takes place in 2027.
  • The film Children of Men is set in 2027.
  • The anime universe of Ghost in the Shell, its sequel Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence, and anime television series based on the same premise (Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex and Ghost in the Shell: S.A.C. 2nd GIG), are centered somewhere around 2029.
  • The Terminator is set up during the early years of the 21st century in terms of the wars between humans & Skynet. Some of the intervening years are dealt with by the two sequels, Terminator 2: Judgment Day and Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, with the whole franchise building to a conclusion of the War in 2029.
  • The 2002 version of The Time Machine has scenes that take place in the 2030 and 2037 NYC.
  • The Doctor Who story The Enemy of the World is set in Australia in 2030.
  • The comedy series Time Trumpet is set in 2031, and "looks back on" the first 30 years of the 21st century.
  • The anime OAV series Bubblegum Crisis (2032–33), its sequel Bubblegum Crash (2034), and its TV-series re-imagining Bubblegum Crisis Tokyo 2040 (2040).
  • Demolition Man is set in 2032.
  • I, Robot was set in 2035.
  • Deep space vessel Event Horizon was sent to test an artificial wormhole (black hole) in deep space in the year 2040. The lost ship is found 7 years later by a rescue team on board the ship Lewis and Clark on low orbit around the planet Neptune.
  • The Outward Urge has a major nuclear war in 2044 and the first manned landing on Mars in 2094.
  • Bollywood movie Love Story 2050 was partly set in 2050.
  • Minority Report was set in April 2054.
  • World War III ends in 2053 according to Star Trek: First Contact, with 600,000,000 dead and most major cities destroyed.
  • The 1998 remake of Lost in Space was set in 2058.
  • Most of Star Trek: First Contact takes place in 2063. In Star Trek canon, the human Zefram Cochrane develops faster-than-light travel and makes first contact with an alien race during this year.
  • Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within is set in 2065.
  • The Doctor Who story The Moonbase is set in 2070.
  • The Japanese anime show Cowboy Bebop is set in 2071.
  • The Nicktoon My Life as a Teenage Robot is set in 2072.
  • Equilibrium is set in 2072.
  • The Doctor Who story Day of the Daleks is set in 2073, albeit in an alternative timeline.
  • The film Total Recall, and the Doctor Who story Warriors of the Deep are set in 2084.
  • In Star Trek: Insurrection, it is discovered that the Ba'ku moved to the Briar Patch at some point in this century.
  • The Jetsons is supposed to take place in the late 21st century.
  • Zenon: Girl of the 21st Century and its sequels takes place in the years 2049–2054.
  • The final episode of The X-Files sets December 22, 2012 as the date for alien colonization.
  • The CGI animated series Cubix: Robots for Everyone takes place in 2040.
  • The Doctor Who story The Seeds of Death is set in 2090.
  • The 1985 film Enemy Mine begins in 2092 and ends in 2095.
  • The Doctor Who story Nightmare of Eden is set in 2096.
  • The events of Leprechaun 4: In Space takes place in 2096.
  • The 2008 Disney Channel movie Minutemen is based between the dates September 3, 2005 and September 8, 2008.
  • The tagline of Torchwood series one is: "The 21st century is when everything changes. And we have to be ready." In series two, the second sentence changes to: "And Torchwood is ready."
  • The 2008 film Repo! The Genetic Opera is set in the year 2056. Plastic surgery and a fictional pain-killing drug known as Zydrate are commonplace as fashion statements and addictions. Additionally, The painkiller Zydrate is called the "21st Century Cure" in the film.
  • The events of the Sci-Fi anime Planetes is set in the year 2075.
  • The 2009 disaster film 2012 takes place in the year 2012. It is based on an end of the world event on December 21, 2012.
  • The epilogue of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is set on September 1, 2017.
  • The Japanese anime Copihan is set in the year 2034.

Computer and video games

  • The events of Metal Gear Solid take place in 2005, Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty takes places in the years 2007 (Tanker Chapter) and 2009 (Big Shell Chapter), and the events of Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots take place in 2014.
  • Duke Nukem 3D is set in the early 21st century and contains evidence (such as calendars) that suggest it is more specifically set in October or December 2007
  • Uplink is set on the internet of the year 2010.
  • Perfect Dark Zero is set in 2020 and Perfect Dark is set in 2023.
  • The races in San Francisco Rush 2049 take place in 2049.
  • The events of Deus Ex take place in 2052.
  • The levels "Breaking and Entering" and "You Genius, U-Genix" in TimeSplitters: Future Perfect take place in 2052.
  • System Shock is set in 2072.
  • Future Cop: LAPD takes place in the year 2098.
  • The discovery of the Zohar in Xenosaga takes place in 20XX.
  • The Great War of the Fallout universe starts on October 23, 2077; nuclear bombs are launched, nobody knows who the aggressor was.
  • The events of Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne occur in 20XX.
  • In Mercenaries: Playground of Destruction, the 2nd Korean War starts early in this century.
  • Mercenaries 2: World in Flames, takes place sometime around between 2008 and 2010.
  • The Mega Man Classic series takes place sometime in the 21st century, represented as 20XX.
  • The MegaMan Battle Network series takes place in 20XX.
  • The arcade game Robotron: 2084 takes place in the year 2084.
  • One Must Fall: 2097 takes place in 2097.
  • The Mr. Driller series (and Dig Dug: Digging Strike, a game in its related timeline) takes place in 20XX.
  • The events of Half-Life takes place around 2000–2009.
  • The events of Half-Life 2 and its expansion packs takes place around the early 2020s.
  • The video game and cartoon 20X6 of Homestar Runner supposedly takes place in the seventh year of an unspecified decade in the 21st century.
  • The nuclear holocaust of the AquaNox universe takes place in mid-21st century, followed by the massive exodus of survivors underwater.
  • Trauma Center: Under the Knife and Trauma Center: Second Opinion take place in 2018, when AIDS and cancer supposedly have cures.
  • The events of Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow takes place in this time; specifically 2035. The sequel, Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow takes place one year later, in 2036. These are the only two Castlevania titles to have taken place beyond the early to mid 20th century thus far.
  • The events of Tokyo Xtreme Racer: Drift and Tokyo Xtreme Racer: Drift 2 take place during 20XX, when Japanese highways have supposedly been opened as racing circuits.
  • The events of Namco × Capcom takes place during 20XX.
  • In the Command & Conquer: Tiberian series, the 2nd Tiberium War between the Global Defense Initiative and the Brotherhood of Nod begins in 2030. The 3rd Tiberium War takes place 17 years later in 2047, which also sees the arrival of the Scrin to Earth.
  • Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter 2 (GRAW 2) takes place in 2014
  • The events of Grand Theft Auto IV take place in the fall of 2008.
  • The fictional story line of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, takes place in 2016.
  • The events that are set in the 'present' of both Assassin's Creed and Assassin's Creed 2 take place in the year 2012. The plot of both games builds toward a worldwide catastrophe prophesied to occur on December 21, 2012. See 2012 phenomenon


  • Stinkoman 20X6, of Homestar Runner fame, takes place in the seventh year of an unspecified decade in the 21st century.


CD Albums

  • In the timeline for Arjen Anthony Lucassen's Ayreon, specifically the album 01011001, the human race destroys itself in a violent war in 2084. The alien Forever race returns home one year later, in 2085, after which the last human being goes on a journey detailed in the album The Dream Sequencer.


  • In the first Legion of Super-Villains story Cosmic King clams to be from the 21st century. However as he is from Venus he may be using a different calender.
  • In another Superman story Superman battles Futuremen from the Year 2000, in which Earth's water was been dried away by a bomb. They hope to use Superman to get Billions from Earth for getting water from Ice around Saturn, but Superman escapes them and helps Earth, while the villains are jailed.
  • Arno Stark a villainous version of Iron Man is from the year 2020.

Decades and years


Main Article: 2000s (decade)

  • September 11, 2001 – Al-Qaeda terrorists hijack four aircraft in the US, and deliberately crash them; three of them reach their targets, two hit the World Trade Center in New York City, another the Pentagon, with one more missing its target, a total of 3,000 people die from the attacks.
  • December 26, 2004 – the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake killed up to 250,000 people.
  • December, 2007 – the late-2000s recession begins, as the United States would see its biggest financial crisis since the Great Depression.
  • June 11, 2009 – The 2009 flu pandemic begins – it was declared a pandemic less than two months into the spread by the World Health Organization.


Main Article: 2010s (decade)

  • January 12, 2010 – the 2010 Haiti earthquake killed more than 230,000 people.
  • April 25–28, 2011 – the 2011 Super Outbreak was the deadliest tornado outbreak to affect the United States of America when 336 confirmed tornadoes touched down across Southern, Midwestern and Northeast United States, leaving more than 340 fatalities. Damages are near US$10 billion.
  • May 2, 2011 – Osama bin Laden, founder and leader of al-Qaeda was killed in an operated assassination in Abbottabad, Pakistan, conducted by a team of United States Navy SEAL commandos.










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