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|Categories:||Births – Deaths |
Establishments – Disestablishments
The 21st 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 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.
- 1 Transitions and changes
- 2 Pronunciation
- 3 Events
- 4 Politics and wars
- 5 Science and technology
- 6 Society
- 7 Disasters
- 8 Economics and industry
- 9 Sports
- 10 Arts and entertainment
- 11 Issues and concerns
- 12 Astronomical events
- 13 See also
- 14 References
- 15 Notes
- 16 External links
Transitions and changes
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. 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. Millennials and Generation Z come of age and rise to prominence in this century.
In contemporary history, the 21st century essentially began in 1991 (the end of the Short Twentieth Century) with the United States as the sole superpower in the absence of the Soviet Union, while China began its rise and the BRICS countries aimed to create more balance in the global political and economic spectrum.
The completion of the Human Genome Project in 2003 marks the continual rise of life sciences, making mankind's long-held dreams, such as curing cancer, more realistic. By the 2010s, gene therapy, first performed somatically in late 1990 and heritably in 1996, showed promise but remains an experimental and emerging technology.
Assistive reproductive technology developed in the 1980s, such as polar body biopsy and preimplantation genetic diagnosis, has allowed for the selection of genetic traits, and, along with the advent of ultrasound, has increased the number of boys and decreased the number of girls in many countries, most notably in China and India but also in other Asian and eastern Europe countries. This began in the late 1980s in China and India and after the fall of communism in the Balkans and Caucasus regions, concurrent with both the advent of capitalism in those countries and the widespread availability of reproductive technology.
While digital telecommunications technology became widely used by most of the world, concerns about stress from the overuse of mobile phones, the Internet, and related technologies remain controversial.
The distribution of modern technology is not equal – in 2012 it was estimated that 1.5 billion people, or about 20% of the world's population still lacked access to electric power, with many more having only intermittent or poor access.
- The world population was about 6.1 billion at the start of the 21st century. It had reached 7.3 billion in 2015 and is estimated to reach about 9.37 billion by the year 2050.
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" 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".
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
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 - The Nepalese Royal Massacre occurred on 1 June 2001, at a house on the grounds of the Narayanhity Royal Palace, the residence of the Nepalese monarchy. Ten members of the family were killed during a party or monthly reunion dinner of the royal family in the house. The dead included King Birendra of Nepal and Queen Aishwarya.
- 2001 – George W. Bush is inaugurated as the 43rd President of the United States. He is the second president from the Bush family.
- 2001 – Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo becomes the second woman President of the Philippines and the first to be the child of a previous President, Diosdado Macapagal.
- 2001 – More than 200,000 Anti-globalization protesters marched in Genoa, during the 27th G8 summit. Two demonstrators were killed by the Italian police. On July 21 a group of Carabinieri attacked the school Armando Diaz, seriously injuring many peaceful protesters. Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi insisted that police used the minimum amount of force necessary to achieve their goals.
- 2001 – Nineteen al-Qaeda terrorists hijack four commercial airliners and crash 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 declares the War on Terror.
- 2001–2014 – The Northern Alliance and NATO-led ISAF 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. On December 24, 2014 NATO forces officially ended combat operations in Afghanistan; but forces still remain to the present.
- 2001 – The Netherlands become the first country in the world to legalize same-sex marriage.
- 2001 – After 15 years of negotiations, the People's Republic of China became a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO) on 11 December 2001.
- 2002 – The International Criminal Court (ICC) was established on July 1.
- 2002 – Switzerland, a neutral country, becomes a member of the United Nations, on September 10.
- 2002 – Jemaah Islamiyah, a violent Islamist group, claimed responsibility for the detonation of three bombs in the tourist district of Kuta on the Indonesian island of Bali. The attack killed 202 people and 209 people were injured.
- 2002 – After a long period of occupation by Indonesia, East Timor's independence is recognized by Portugal and by the UN.
- 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 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, 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.
- 2003–2005 – A series of nonviolent revolutions known as the colour revolutions overthrew governments in Georgia, Ukraine, Kyrgyzstan, and Lebanon.
- 2003 – Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi announced that Libya would voluntarily eliminate all weapons of mass destruction.
- 2004 – Ten explosions occurred at the Cercanías commuter train system of Madrid, Spain, on the morning of March 11. The explosions killed 191 people and injured around 2,000.
- 2004 – The European Union expanded by 10 countries (8 former communist countries, plus Malta and Cyprus).
- 2004 – Former U.S. president Ronald Reagan dies at the age of 93 after suffering nearly a decade from the Alzheimer's disease.
- 2004 – Palestinian leader and Chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization Yasser Arafat dies in France, at the age of 75 from hemorrhagic stroke.
- 2004 – Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo gets re-elected as President of the Philippines, marking the first time that a woman was re-elected to the highest position in the country.
- 2004 – Massachusetts became the first U.S. state to legalize same-sex marriage.
- 2005 – Pope John Paul II dies and Joseph Ratzinger of Germany is elected as Pope Benedict XVI.
- 2005 – Four Islamic extremist suicide bombers set off three bombs in London; 56 people were killed, including the four suicide bombers.
- 2005 – Angela Merkel becomes the first female elected Chancellor of Germany.
- 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. 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 – 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.
- 2007 – Pratibha Patil becomes the first woman to be elected President of India.
- 2007–2008 – Crisis follows the Kenyan presidential election of 2007, leading to the formation of a coalition government, with Mwai Kibaki as president and Raila Odinga as prime minister.
- 2007 – On 13 December, 27 EU member states signed the Treaty of Lisbon, and entered into force on 1 December 2009.
- 2008 – Kosovo unilaterally declared independence from Serbia. Serbia refuses to recognize it and considers Kosovo as part of its territory.
- 2008 – An 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.
- 2008 - Some cardes of Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist Centre) attacked Senior leader of Nepali Congress, Bal Chandra Poudel during an electoral period in Rasuwa, Nepal.
- 2008 – Barack Obama was elected as the first African-American President of the United States. He was sworn into office in January 2009. He is awarded the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize by the Norwegian Nobel Committee, which cited "his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples," and accepted the award the following year "deep gratitude and great humility."
- 2009 – Filipina politician and the first female President of the Philippines and in Asia, Corazon Aquino dies at the age of 76.
- 2009 – A protest begins in Iran, after a presidential election against Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
- 2010 – Julia Gillard becomes the first female Prime Minister of Australia.
- 2010 – Kamla Persad-Bissessar becomes the first female Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago.
- 2010 – Benigno Simeon Aquino III (aka NoyNoy) is the first bachelor President of the Philippines and the second to be the child of a previous president.
- 2010 – Polish President Lech Kaczyński dies in the April 2010 crash near the city of Smolensk, Russia, along with 95 other people on board.
- 2010 – Burmese opposition leader and 1991 Nobel Peace Prize awardee Aung San Suu Kyi is released from her house arrest after being incarcerated since 1989.
- 2010 – Arab Spring, a revolutionary wave, which began in Tunisia, on 17 December, spread throughout the Middle Eastern countries, with protests, demonstrations, riots and civil wars for free elections and human rights.
- 2011 – Anders Behring Breivik carries out terrorist 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. It was the deadliest attack in Norway since the Second World War, with 77 people killed and 319 injuries.
- 2011 – On May 2, Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, who was responsible for the development of the plans for the 9/11 attacks, is killed in a raid on his compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan by the U.S. Navy's SEAL Team 6 (DEVGRU).
- 2011 – Britain's largest tabloid newspaper, the News of the World, shuts down after 168 years in print due to the 2009 phone hacking scandal.
- 2011 – Dilma Rousseff is elected as the first female President of Brazil. She served as the President until her impeachment and removal from office on 31 August 2016.
- 2011 – On July 14, South Sudan, after January 2011 independence referendum, becomes a member of the United Nations.
- 2011 – On October 20, deposed dictator Muammar Gaddafi was captured and killed by the National Liberation Army of Libya, during Libyan Civil War.
- 2011 – On December 15, the Iraq War was declared formally over.
- 2011 – Kim Jong-il, the supreme leader of North Korea, dies on December 17. His son Kim Jong-un takes power in the country.
- 2012 – Xi Jinping becomes the General Secretary of the Communist Party of China.
- 2012 – In Benghazi, Libya, an attack was coordinated against two United States government facilities by members of the Islamic militant group Ansar al-Sharia on September 11.
- 2012 – A civil unrest broke out in Romania in January 2012, because of the introduction of a new health reform legislation, but also by the unpopularity of Băsescu-backed Boc government. The unrest continued until Victor Ponta's resignation in November 2015, in the wake of the Colectiv nightclub fire.
- 2013 – France intervenes with its army in Northern Mali conflict defeating the Islamists who had taken control of the country.
- 2013 – Pope Benedict XVI resigns on February 28, becoming the first pope to step down since 1415. Benedict takes the title pope emeritus. At the subsequent papal conclave, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina is elected pope on March 13, becoming the first Latin American pope. Bergoglio takes the name of Pope Francis.
- 2013 – Park Geun-hye is elected President of South Korea, the first woman to hold the position.
- 2013 – President of Venezuela Hugo Chavez dies due to prostate cancer and is replaced by Nicolás Maduro.
- 2013 – Convicted Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan puts an end to the armed revolt against Turkey.
- 2013 – British politician and the first female Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher dies at the age of 87 from a stroke.
- 2013 – Séléka rebels seize power in Central African Republic ousting the President and government and beginning a civil war.
- 2013 – Iran allows international inspections on its nuclear policy in exchange of the removal of the sanctions and the right to produce a small amount of low-grade enriched uranium, thus marking an apparent new policy towards the United Nations under Hassan Rohani's presidency.
- 2013 – Syria avoids an American intervention on its soil during the Syrian Civil War, accepting to destroy all chemical weapons stocks owned.
- 2013 – Croatia becomes the 28th member of the European Union.
- 2013 – China unilaterally declares an "Air Defense Identification Zone" in the East China Sea, including over the Senkaku Islands, a group of islands held by Japan, but claimed by both Japan and China, and the Socotra Rock, claimed by both China and South Korea.
- 2013 – South African political and civil leader Nelson Mandela died at the age of 95 from natural causes.
- 2013 - The South Sudanese Civil War breaks out.
- 2013-2014- A political crisis in Thailand breaks out and the government declares martial law later.
- 2014 - Narendra Modi became 14th Prime Minister of India with clear majority in the election.
- 2014 – Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovich is ousted amidst the Euromaidan revolution. Then Russian Federation annexed Crimea, and "low intensity" war in Donbass started between the Ukrainian government and Russian-backed separatists. Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, a civilian commercial aircraft, is shot down in pro-Russian separatist-controlled territory in Eastern Ukraine, on July 17.
- 2014 – During the Syrian civil war, the terrorist group Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant rises and seizes territories in northern Iraq and Syria, near the border with Turkey. The United States lead a coalition of more than 30 countries to destroy ISIL. Meanwhile, Russia lead a coalition, with Syria, Iraq and Iran, and Russia's military action begins on September 30, 2015.
- 2014 – Scotland, with the 2014 independence referendum, decides to remain part of the United Kingdom.
- 2014 – Israel, In July 2014 tensions rose again between Hamas in the Gaza Strip and the State of Israel, Hamas fired hundreds of missiles into civilian cities in Israel, the IDF retaliated and conducted airstrikes on the Gaza Strip for more than a month, Casualties were high on both sides.
- 2014 – In Burkina Faso, President Blaise Compaoré resigns amidst widespread protests ending 27 years of leadership.
- 2014 – In Romania, Klaus Iohannis won the November 2014 election, becoming the first Romanian president to come from an ethnic minority.
- 2014 – On December 17, U.S. President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raúl Castro announced the beginning of a process of normalizing relations between Cuba and the United States, ending a 54-year stretch of hostility between the nations. Meanwhile, on July 20, 2015, with full diplomatic relations, the embassies of both countries were opened after five decades.
- 2015 – Two gunmen, brothers Saïd and Chérif Kouachi, commit a mass murder at the offices of Charlie Hebdo in Paris, on January 7, killing 12 people. Following the attack, about two million people, including more than 40 world leaders, met in Paris for a rally of national unity, and 3.7 million people joined demonstrations across the country. The phrase Je suis Charlie became a common slogan of support at the rallies and in social media.
- 2015 – Singaporean politician and the 1st Prime Minister of Singapore Lee Kuan Yew dies at the age of 91.
- 2015 – In China, the Communist Party announces the end of One-child policy after 35 years.
- 2015 – The Supreme Court of the United States, in Obergefell v. Hodges, determines that same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry.
- 2015 – During the ongoing European migrant crisis, Germany became the first final destination of choice for refugees and asylum seekers entering the EU. The country took in over 1 million refugees.
- 2015 – Iran and P5+1 (China, France, Russia, the UK, and the US + Germany), agree on final provisions of Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action in regards to the latter's nuclear program.
- 2015 – ISIL claimed responsibility of the shootings and suicide bombs in Paris on November 13, which became known as the November 2015 Paris attacks. Many were killed and injured from the incident.
- 2015 – Turkey shoots down a Russian Sukhoi Su-24M attack aircraft on 24 November. This was the first case of a NATO member destroying a Russian aircraft since the attack on the Sui-ho Dam (during the Korean War).
- 2015 – During the UN summit on Climate Change, 193 nations agree a process to reduce carbon emissions starting in 2020.
- 2016 – Rodrigo Roa Duterte (aka Digong) becomes the first Mindanaoan President of the Philippines, the first local chief executive to get elected straight to the presidency, the fourth visayan to be the President after Sergio Osmeña, Manuel Roxas and Carlos P. Garcia and the oldest person ever elected to the presidency.
- 2016 – In Orlando, Florida, Omar Mateen, a 29-year-old security guard, killed 49 people and wounded 53 others in a terrorist attack inside Pulse, a gay nightclub.
- 2016 – The United Kingdom, with the June 2016 membership referendum, decides to leave the European Union.
- 2016 – After 6 years of leadership, UK politician and Prime Minister David Cameron resigns and is replaced by Theresa May.
- 2016 – Hillary Clinton becomes the Democratic Party's nominee for president of the United States, making her the first woman to be nominated for president by a major party.
- 2016 – A coup d'état was attempted in Turkey against state institutions, including, but not limited to the government and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, on July 15. The attempt was carried out by a faction within the Turkish Armed Forces that organized themselves as the Peace at Home Council.
- 2016 – On September 2, the 1st President of Uzbekistan Islam Karimov dies at age of 78, after 25 years of leadership.
- 2016 – Israeli politician, former president of Israel and 1994 Nobel Peace Prize awardee Shimon Peres dies at the age of 93 from a massive stroke.
- 2016 – Thai longest-reigning monarch Bhumibol Adulyadej dies at the age of 88 from a long illness.
- 2016 – Donald Trump is elected as the 45th President of the United States. The first without a military or political background, and the oldest person elected to a first term. He is sworn into office in January 2017.
- 2016 – Cuban political and revolutionary leader Fidel Castro dies at the age of 90.
- 2016 – On December 19, Andrei Karlov, the Russian Ambassador to Turkey, was killed by Mevlüt Mert Altıntaş, a Turkish police officer.
- 2016 – On December 19, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant claimed responsibility for the 2016 Berlin attack in Germany. 12 people were killed and 49 others injured.
- 2017 – In opposition to Donald Trump's inauguration, millions of people in the U.S. and worldwide join the Women's March.
- 2017 – U.S. President Donald Trump signs an executive order on January 27, 2017, restricting travel and immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries. This order was blocked by the U.S. federal courts; a second, related order issued by Trump was also blocked by the federal courts. The block of second order was partially removed, by the Supreme Court, in June. The Supreme Court stated they would reconsider the order in October.
- 2017 – On April 6, in response to a suspected chemical weapons attack on a rebel-held town, the U.S. military launches 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles at Shayrat Airbase in Syria.
- 2017 – A terrorist drives into more than 100 people in Barcelona, Spain killing 13 and injuring many.
- 2017 – Catalonia declares independence from Spain, but the Catalan Republic is not recognised by the Spanish government or any other sovereign nation.
- 2018 – Paula-Mae Weekes becomes the first female President of Trinidad and Tobago on the 19th of March.
- 2018 – In over 900 cities internationally, people participate in demonstrations against gun violence and mass shootings, calling for stronger gun control in the March for Our Lives, which was a student-led demonstration in response to the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida that took place in February.
- 2018 – President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un meet for the 2018 North Korea–United States summit in Singapore.
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.
- East Timor (Timor-Leste) on May 20, 2002
- Montenegro on June 3, 2006
- Serbia on June 3, 2006
- South Sudan on July 9, 2011
These territories have declared independence and secured relative autonomy but they have only been recognized by some UN member states:
- Kosovo on February 17, 2008 (partially recognized)
- South Ossetia on August 26, 2008 (partially recognized)
- Abkhazia on August 26, 2008 (partially recognized)
These territories have declared independence and secured relative autonomy but they have been recognized by no one:
- Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant in June 2014. Had taken over much of Iraq, Syria and Libya. It is considered a terrorist organization.
These territories were annexed from a sovereign country, the action has only been recognized by some UN member states:
Science and technology
- 2001 – Dennis Tito becomes the first space tourist by paying $19 million to board the International Space Station.
- 2003 – Space Shuttle Columbia disaster February 1.
- 2003 – The Chinese space program launches its first manned space flight, Shenzhou 5, on October 15. This made China the third country in the world to have indigenous manned space capability.
- 2004 – Mars Exploration Rovers land on Mars; Opportunity discovers evidence that an area of Mars was once covered in water.
- 2004 – SpaceShipOne makes the first privately funded human spaceflight, June 21.
- 2005 – The Huygens probe lands on Titan, the largest of Saturn's moons, January 14.
- 2006 – The New Horizons probe is launched to Pluto, on January 19.
- 2006 – Pluto is reclassified from a planet to a dwarf planet, leaving the solar system with eight planets.
- 2007 – China launches its first lunar mission with the Chang'e 1, on 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.
- 2008 – Phoenix discovers water ice on Mars.
- 2009 – Iran launches its first satellite, Omid, on February 2.
- 2009 – The Indian Space Research Organisation discovers water on the Moon.
- 2011 – NASA launches Atlantis marking an end to its three-decade shuttle program.
- 2012 – The 50th successful launch in a row for the European launcher Ariane 5, on August 2.
- 2012 – SpaceX successfully delivers cargo to the International Space Station.
- 2012 – NASA successfully lands the Curiosity rover on the surface of Mars.
- 2014 – India's Mars Orbiter Mission, the nation's first attempt to send a spacecraft to Mars, successfully entered orbit on September 24, making India the fourth nation in the world to reach that goal.
- 2014 – The European Space Agency robotic spacecraft Philae landed successfully on the comet 67P, the first cometary landing ever.
- 2015 – On July 14, NASA's New Horizons spacecraft became the first to fly by Pluto, on a mission to photograph and collect data on its planetary system. No other spacecraft has yet performed such a mission so far from Earth.
- 2015 – On September 28, NASA announces that liquid water has been found on Mars.
- 2016 – On July 4, NASA's Juno space probe maneuvered into a polar orbit to study the planet Jupiter.
- 2017 – Seven Earth-sized exoplanets are discovered around TRAPPIST-1, three of which are potentially habitable.
- 2003 – WMAP observations of the cosmic microwave background.
- 2010 – The Large Hadron Collider's first high power collisions took place in March 2010.
- 2012 – European physicists have statistically demonstrated the existence of the Higgs boson.
- 2013 – A more detailed study of the cosmic microwave background done by the Planck Surveyor is published, estimating the age of the Universe to 13.8 billion years old (100 million years older than previously thought).
- 2016 – LIGO announces the discovery of bursts of gravitational waves generated by cosmic collisions of black holes.
- 2002 – Grigori Perelman posted the first of a series of eprints to the arXiv, in which he proved the Poincaré conjecture, the first of the Millennium Prize Problems to be solved.
- 2003 – Completion of the Human Genome Project
- 2003 – Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) spreads around the globe.
- 2005 – The first successful partial face transplant is performed in France.
- 2006 – Australian of the Year Dr Ian Frazer develops a vaccine for cervical cancer.
- 2007 – Visual prosthetic (bionic eye) Argus II.
- 2008 – Japanese scientists create a form of artificial DNA.
- 2008 – Laurent Lantieri performs the first full face transplant.
- 2009 – Influenza A virus subtype H1N1 spreads around the globe.
- 2012 – The first successful complete face transplant is performed in Turkey.
- 2012 – Doubts raised over Statin medication.
- 2013 – First kidney grown in vitro in the U.S.
- 2013 – First human liver grown from stem cells in Japan.
- 2014 – Ebola virus spreads in west Africa, prompting the largest ever epidemic, with more than 20,000 cases. The first cases outside Africa are reported.
- 2016 – The Zika virus, caused by mosquitoes, targets unborn babies, causing birth defects on newborns making pregnant women scared of traveling overseas.
Storage and media
- DVDs and subsequently digital video recorders (DVRs) replaced videotape-based VCRs at the start of the 21st century, circa 2007.
- Blu-ray Disc technology emerged.
- Compact discs succeeded Cassettes, and they were rapidly outpaced by digital music downloads and online streaming services. As of 2018, compact discs are still sold in stores while cassettes became obsolete during the early 21st century.
- High-definition television (HDTV) began to replace standard definition during the first decade of the century. Ultra-high-definition television (UHDTV) begins to emerge in the 2010s.
- The World Wide Web and websites became a major new medium for storing files and information.
- Mobile devices such as smartphones (iPhone was introduced in 2007) and tablets (iPad introduced in 2010) connect to the Internet. These gradually started 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. Desktop computers in home settings gradually became less common during the 2010s. Laptop computers grew rapidly in popularity from 2000 until the early 2010s, when growth leveled off due to the growth of smartphones and tablets. The smartphone and tablets became standard for many consumers.
- Online streaming services such as Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Video became an alternative to traditional television and movie entertainment throughout the second decade of the 21st century.
- Flash drives, memory cards, and online storage mediums are replacing the more traditional forms of computer storage, such as CD-RW, although this type of media still exists. Floppy disks became obsolete by the beginning of the 21st century. Such forms of storage media is able to store massive amounts of data in smaller sizes.
- Broadband internet becomes widespread throughout most developed countries. Fiber optics makes extremely fast internet connections, 1 Gbit/s speeds and higher available for consumers and businesses. Lower income regions of the world use mobile internet services often delivered over 2G, 3G, or 4G/LTE wireless networks. This has created a digital divide between areas where high speed internet service is ubiquitous and where it is very limited. Broadband internet still lacks availability in isolated, rural communities compared to populated, urban and suburban communities.
- Virtual Reality technology becomes a widespread commercial industry in 2016 with the release of the Oculus Rift and subsequent releases of the HTC Vive and PlayStation VR.
- 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.
- The Internet (created in 1969) and World Wide Web (created in 1991) continue to rise in popularity and social networking emerges in the early 21st century as a popular social communication, largely replacing much of the function of email, message boards and instant messaging services, although instant messaging services such as WhatsApp are popular among smartphone users as of circa 2015. Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Snapchat are all major examples of social media apps to gain widespread popularity.
- The use of webcams and front-facing cameras on PCs and related devices, and services such as Skype and FaceTime, make video calling and video conferencing a modern form of digital communication.
As the century began, the generations which had experienced the crises of the mid and the 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 2000s 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.
- Anti-globalization protests in Prague
- 2001 G8 Genoa summit protests
- Protests against the Iraq War
- February 15, 2003 Iraq anti-war protest
- 2004–2005 Orange Revolution in Ukraine
- 2005 civil unrest in France
- 2007 Georgian demonstrations
- 2008 Tibetan unrest
- 2009 Icelandic financial crisis protests
- Tea Party protests
- 2009 G-20 London summit protests
- 2009–2010 Iranian election protests
- 2010 G-20 Toronto summit protests
- 2010 UK student protests
- 2010–2011 Greek protests
- Arab Spring
- Tunisian revolution
- 2011 Egyptian revolution
- 2011 Egyptian Post-Revolution protests
- Impact of the Arab Spring
- 2011 Iranian protests
- 2011 Libyan civil war
- Syrian civil war
- 2011 United Kingdom anti-austerity protests
- 2011 London anti-cuts protest
- Anti-austerity movement in Portugal
- Spanish "Indignants"
- 2011 England riots
- 2011 Chilean protests
- 2011 Israeli social justice protests
- Occupy Wall Street
- 15 October 2011 global protests
- Worldwide "Occupy" Protests
- 2011–2012 Russian protests
- Bersih 3.0 rally
- 2012 Catalan independence demonstration
- Yo Soy 132
- 2012–13 Iraqi protests
- 2013 protests in Turkey
- 2013 protests in Brazil
- 2013 Egyptian coup d'état
- Catalan Way
- 2013 Thai protests
- 2013 Ukraine pro-European Union protests
- 2013 Italian social protests
- 2014 Ukrainian Revolution
- 2014 unrest in Bosnia and Herzegovina
- 2014-17 Venezuelan protests
- 2014 Pakistan anti-government protest
- 2014 Ferguson unrest
- 2014 Hong Kong protests
- 2015 Baltimore protests
- 2015 Lebanese protests
- Protests against Donald Trump
- Nuit debout
- 2016 Turkish coup d'état attempt
- 2017 Russian protests
- 2017 Catalan general strike
- Unite the Right rally
As of 2009, SIL Ethnologue catalogued 6,909 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 6,000 and 7,000 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 Gujarat earthquake – An earthquake in Gujarat, India on January 26, 2001 killed approximately 20,000 people.
- January 2001 El Salvador earthquake – A 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
- 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 Indian Ocean earthquake and 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 ever recorded in the U.S.
- 2005 Kashmir earthquake – An earthquake in Kashmir on October 8, 2005, killed at least 74,500 in India and Pakistan.
- 2008 Cyclone Nargis – lead to catastrophic storm surge, leading to a death toll in excess of 100,000 and making millions homeless.
- 2008 Sichuan earthquake – An earthquake between 7.9 and 8.0-magnitude struck Sichuan, China, on 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.
- 2009 flu pandemic – A worldwide outbreak of Influenza A virus subtype H1N1 spread around the world forming a pandemic by June 2009.
- 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 2,200 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. Estimates from rescue service officials suggest the death toll may reach 3,000 victims.
- 2011 Queensland floods – Began in December 2010 primarily in Queensland. The flood causes thousands of people to evacuate. At least 200,000 people were affected by the flood. The flood continued throughout January 2011 in Queensland, and the estimated reduction in Australia's GDP is about A$30 billion.
- Cyclone Yasi – A category 5 (Australian Scale) cyclone hits North Queensland with winds as strong as 290 km/hr (197 miles/hr) and devastates the residents of North Queensland.
- February 2011 Christchurch earthquake – 185 people died in New Zealand after a 6.3-magnitude earthquake hit Christchurch on 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 15,894; it also triggered the Fukushima I nuclear accidents. The overall cost for the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear accidents reached up to US$235 billion, making it the costliest natural disaster on record.
- 2011 Super Outbreak – Regarded as the deadliest tornado outbreak ever recorded and dubbed the 2011 Super Outbreak, a catastrophic tornado outbreak on 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.
- Tropical Storm Washi – Locally known as Sendong, it caused catastrophic flooding in the Philippine island of Mindanao on the night of December 16, 2011. The hardest hits were in Cagayan de Oro and Iligan City. Almost 1000 people perished, most of whom were sleeping, and President Benigno Aquino III declared a state of calamity four days later.
- Hurricane Sandy – October 24–30, 2012 – kills at least 185 people in the Caribbean, Bahamas, United States and Canada. Considerable storm surge damage causes major disruption to the eastern seaboard of the United States.
- Typhoon Haiyan 2013 – kills more than 6,000 people in central Philippines. Considered to be one of the strongest storms ever, it brought major damage and loss of life to the Philippines, especially the islands of Leyte and Samar. A worldwide humanitarian effort began in the aftermath of the typhoon.
- 2014 Southeast Europe floods – kill at least 80 people in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia. Floodwaters caused over 2,000 landslides across the Balkan region, spreading damage across many towns and villages.
- April 2015 Nepal earthquake – An earthquake of 7.8 magnitude kills almost 9,000 people, injures another 22,000 and leaves nearly 3 million people homeless in Central Nepal. The earthquake was so strong it was felt in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.
- 2016 Taiwan earthquake – An earthquake of 6.4 magnitude kills 117 people, injures 550, and 4 people were left missing. The earthquake resulted in 3 executives of the Weiguan developer being arrested under charges of professional negligence resulting in death.
- August 2016 Central Italy earthquake - A 6.2 magnitude earthquake killed 299 people and severely damaged Amatrice, Accumoli and Arquata del Tronto
- 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 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.
Economics and industry
- The late-2000s financial crisis continues to affect the economy worldwide.
- The European sovereign-debt crisis sends Europe's economy into decline, having a major effect on European politics.
- Developing countries make up for 97% of the world's growth, and industrialization leads to the rapid rise of BRIC economies, producing less of an American-lead hegemony in the world economy.
- Many American auto brands have been phased out such as Plymouth by Chrysler in 2001 and Oldsmobile by General Motors in 2004, Pontiac and Saturn by General Motors in 2010 and Mercury by Ford in 2010.
- The Dow Jones recovers and gradually rises in a bull market since 2009 with significant recovery starting in 2013. The Dow Jones had reached the 20,000 mark for the first time in January 2017.
At the start of the 21st century sports are 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.
Modern Olympic Games
- 2002 Winter Olympics were held in Salt Lake City, Utah, United States.
- 2004 Summer Olympics were held in Athens, Greece.
- 2006 Winter Olympics were held in Turin, Italy.
- 2008 Summer Olympics were held in Beijing, China.
- 2010 Winter Olympics were held in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.
- 2010 Summer Youth Olympics were held in Singapore.
- 2012 Winter Youth Olympics were held in Innsbruck, Austria.
- 2012 Summer Olympics were held in London, United Kingdom.
- 2014 Winter Olympics were held in Sochi, Russia.
- 2014 Summer Youth Olympics were held in Nanjing, China.
- 2016 Winter Youth Olympics were held in Lillehammer, Norway.
- 2016 Summer Olympics were held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil – the first time in a South American nation.
- 2018 Winter Olympics were held in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
- 2018 Summer Youth Olympics will be held in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
- 2020 Winter Youth Olympics will be held in Lausanne, Switzerland.
- 2020 Summer Olympics will be held in Tokyo, Japan.
- 2022 Winter Olympics will be held in Beijing, China.
- 2024 Summer Olympics will be held in Paris, France.
- 2028 Summer Olympics will be held in Los Angeles, California, United States.
- 2001 Copa América was won by host country Colombia.
- 2002 FIFA World Cup was held in South Korea and Japan – the first Asian countries to hold this tournament – and won by Brazil.
- UEFA Euro 2004 was held in Portugal and won by Greece.
- 2004 Copa América was held in Peru and won by Brazil.
- 2005 FIFA Club World Cup was won by São Paulo FC.
- 2006 FIFA World Cup was held in Germany and won by Italy.
- 2006 FIFA Club World Cup was won by SC Internacional.
- 2007 Copa América was held in Venezuela and won by Brazil.
- 2007 FIFA Club World Cup was won by A.C. Milan.
- UEFA Euro 2008 was held in Austria and Switzerland and won by Spain.
- 2008 FIFA Club World Cup was won by Manchester United.
- 2009 FIFA Club World Cup was won by FC Barcelona.
- 2010 FIFA World Cup was held in South Africa – the first African nation to hold this tournament – and won by Spain for the first time.
- 2010 FIFA Club World Cup was won by Inter Milan.
- 2011 Copa América was held in Argentina and won by Uruguay.
- 2011 FIFA Club World Cup was won by FC Barcelona.
- UEFA Euro 2012 was held in Poland and Ukraine and won by Spain.
- 2012 FIFA Club World Cup was won by Corinthians.
- 2013 FIFA Club World Cup was won by Bayern Munich.
- 2014 FIFA World Cup was held in Brazil and won by Germany.
- 2014 FIFA Club World Cup was won by Real Madrid.
- 2015 Copa América was won by host country Chile.
- 2015 FIFA Club World Cup was won by Barcelona.
- UEFA Euro 2016 was held in France and won by Portugal.
- 2016 Copa América, the special centenary edition of the event, was held in the United States and won by Chile.
- 2016 FIFA Club World Cup was won by Real Madrid.
- 2018 FIFA World Cup was held in Russia – the first Eastern European country to hold this tournament – and won by France.
- 2022 FIFA World Cup will be held in Qatar – the first Middle Eastern country to hold this tournament.
- 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.
- Michael Phelps won six gold medals in the 2004 Summer Olympics, a record eight in the 2008 Summer Olympics (some of those medals coming from split-second wins), four in the 2012 Summer Olympics, and five in the 2016 Summer Olympics, making him the most decorated Olympian of all time with a total of 28 Olympic medals in his career.
- 2003 Cricket World Cup was won by Australia.
- 2007 Cricket World Cup was won by Australia.
- 2007 Twenty20 World Cup was won by India.
- 2009 Twenty20 World Cup was won by Pakistan.
- 2010 Twenty20 World Cup was won by England.
- 2011 Cricket World Cup was won by India.
- 2012 Twenty20 World Cup was won by West Indies
- 2014 Twenty20 World Cup was won by Sri Lanka
- 2015 Cricket World Cup – was won by Australia.
- 2016 Twenty20 World Cup was won by the West Indies.
- 2019 Cricket World Cup – will be hosted by both England and Wales.
- 2023 Cricket World Cup – will be hosted by India.
- Lance Armstrong won the Tour de France seven consecutive times between 1999 and 2005. In 2012, he was stripped of these titles and banned for life for drug offenses.
- 2003 Rugby World Cup – host Australia – was won by England
- 2007 Rugby World Cup – host France – was won by South Africa
- 2011 Rugby World Cup – host New Zealand – was won by New Zealand
- 2015 Rugby World Cup – host England – was won by New Zealand
- 2019 Rugby World Cup – host Japan.
- Roger Federer won 18 Grand Slam titles (5 Australian Opens, 1 French Open, 7 Wimbledons, and 5 US Opens) to surpass Pete Sampras' record of 14.
- Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic completed a Career Grand Slam, winning the singles championships in the Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon and US Open; Nadal also won the Olympic Singles gold medal in the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics to complete a Golden Career Slam.
- At the 2010 Wimbledon Championships, John Isner and Nicolas Mahut completed the longest tennis match ever. Isner won 6–4, 3–6, 6–7(7), 7–6(3), 70–68.
- In 2014, Rafael Nadal became the first male player to win a single Grand Slam tournament (French Open) 9 times.
- Serena Williams won 22 Grand Slam titles (7 Australian Opens, 3 French Opens, 7 Wimbledons, and 5 US Opens) in the 21st century, in addition to her 1999 US Open title.
- Maria Sharapova became the first female Russian player to reach No.1 on August 22, 2005.
- 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).
- Dale Earnhardt passes away after a last-lap crash during the Daytona 500 in February 2001. NASCAR surpasses the Indianapolis 500 as the most popular motorsport in the United States.
- Michael Schumacher breaks many records in the first few years of the century, breaking the record for most races won (91), most World Championships (7), and most pole positions (68) by the time he retired in 2006. He then announced his comeback to Formula One after three years out of the sport, in 2010, before retiring again in 2012.
- Sebastian Vettel breaks 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 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.
- Lewis Hamilton breaks the record for most pole positions in Formula One held by Michael Schumacher which is now 69 pole positions.
- 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 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.
- The 2014 Ryder Cup was won by Europe 16 and a half to USA's 11 and a half
- The 2016 Ryder Cup was won by USA 17 to Europe's 11.
- 2016 – Death of Arnold Palmer
- 2016 – Death of Muhammad Ali
Arts and entertainment
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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 and internet accessed videos became popular. Video games had emerged from a childhood pastime in the late 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 televisions, the internet, CDs, DVDs and paper. Digital information begins to complete its succession over analog information and storage techniques.
- Art:21 - Art in the 21st Century (2001-2016), a PBS series
- 2000s-2010s (decade) – Increased popularity of computer-animated films during that decade, with DreamWorks Animation and Pixar films being the most notable, such as Madagascar, Over the Hedge, Bee Movie, the Kung Fu Panda, Rise of the Guardians, The Croods, Mr. Peabody and Sherman, Trolls, The Boss Baby and Finding Nemo, The Incredibles, Cars, Ratatouille, WALL-E, Inside Out respectively, as well as other popular computer-animated films such as, the Ice Age series, Robots, Happy Feet, Surf's Up, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, Monster House, Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius and A Christmas Carol,.
- 2001 – Shrek wins the first ever Academy Award for Best Animated Feature.
- 2003 – The first version of the non-linear editing software Final Cut Pro is released.
- 2004 – Release of the second installment of the Shrek franchise becomes the world's highest grossing animated film at the time, overtaking Finding Nemo. Also, DreamWorks Animation became the first ever animation studio in history to release two computer animated films (Shrek 2 and Shark Tale) in the same year.
- 2004 – The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King ties the record for most Academy Award wins for a single film (11).
- 2004 – Downfall, a film depicting the final ten days of Adolf Hitler's life, is released in Germany. The film would then become famous worldwide through countless Internet parodies.
- 2004 – Release of The Polar Express, the first ever all-digital capture film and became the most-expensive animated film at the time with a budget of over $160 million.
- 2000s (decade) – A string of finacial failures of traditionally animated films such as The Road to El Dorado, The Emperor's New Groove, Atlantis: The Lost Empire, Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron, Treasure Planet, Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas, Home on the Range, Titan A.E., Osmosis Jones and Looney Tunes: Back in Action, caused most of the feature animation studios to abbandon 2D animation completely to focus on computer-generated animation films. Despite the success of Lilo & Stitch, The Princess and the Frog, The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie and The Simpsons Movie, the 2D feature animation market in the US was already dead.
- 2006 – Disney buys Pixar for $7.4 billion thus gaining control of the entire studio's library of films, short films and related licenses.
- 2009 – Release of Monsters vs. Aliens, the world's first ever animated film to be directly produced in a stereoscopic 3-D format instead of being converted into 3-D after completion, using Intel's InTru3D technology.
- 2009 – Release of Avatar, the world's highest-grossing film.
- 2000s – Some of the decade's most critically acclaimed films include Yi Yi, Mulholland Dr., Spirited Away, and There Will Be Blood.
- 2010s – Increasing use of 3D Camera Technology.
- 2010s – Increasing popularity of 3D films with many films being released in 3D, with the best critical and financial successes being in the field of feature film animation such as Despicable Me, How To Train Your Dragon, Shrek Forever After and Megamind.
- 2010 – Release of the third installment of the Toy Story franchise overtakes Shrek 2 in becoming the world's highest grossing animated film, making over one billion dollars in the box-office.
- 2010 – Tangled becomes the most-expensive animated film of all time, with a budget of over $260 million.
- 2011 – Completion of the Harry Potter film series.
- 2011 – Film critic and filmmaker Scout Tafoya of RogerEbert.com considers the year of 2011 as the best year for cinema, countering the notion of 1939 being film's best year overall, citing examples such as Drive, The Tree of Life, Once Upon a Time in Anatolia, Keyhole, Contagion, The Adventures of Tintin, and Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows. He stated that "2011 housed not just some of the greatest art films of our age, but a revolution in the language of blockbuster filmmaking. One big-budget action film after another used digital cameras to show the world behind explosions in starker, stranger light, while constructing a backbone of classical ideas and images.". Animated family films include Kung Fu Panda 2, Puss in Boots, Rango, The Adventures of Tintin, Arthur Christmas, and The Smurfs
- 2012 – Disney buys Lucasfilm for $4.06 billion thus gaining control of the Star Wars franchise and related licenses.
- 2000s–2010s – Increased popularity of comic book adaptations such as the X-Men series, the Spider-Man trilogy, Daredevil, Catwoman, the Dark Knight trilogy, Green Lantern, Man of Steel, and The Avengers.
- 2010s (decade) – The existence of drive-in theaters is threatened by the high cost of Digital Conversion.
- 2000s–2010s (decade) – Revival of biblical epics in the Hollywood and television industry such as the films The Passion of the Christ, Noah, and Exodus: Gods and Kings, and the TV series The Bible.
- 2010s (decade) – Increased production of computer-animated films, with major film studios establishing new animation divisions such as Illumination Entertainment, Warner Animation Group and Paramount Animation, who relie on other animation studios and VFX companies to provide the animation on their films, such as Hotel Transylvania (2012), Despicable Me 2 (2013), The Lego Movie (2014), The Book of Life (2014), The Spongebob Movie: Sponge Out of Water (2015), The Secret Life of Pets and Sing (both in 2016), The Angry Birds Movie (2016), Storks (2016), The Lego Batman Movie and The Lego Ninjago Movie (both in 2017), Sherlock Gnomes (2018), and Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018).
- 2013 – Frozen overtakes Toy Story 3 in becoming the world's highest grossing animated film, earning over 1.2 billion dollars in the box-office and obtaining 5th place on the list of highest-grossing films of all time.
- 2014 – Sony Pictures cancels the formal premier and mainstream theatrical release of The Interview after terrorist threats by a hacker who instigated the Sony Pictures hack
- 2015 – Universal becomes the first major film studio in history to release three films that made over one billion dollars in the box-office, Jurassic World, Furious 7 and Minions.
- 2015 – Minions becomes the first non-Disney animated film making over one billion dollars in the box-office. and obtaining 3rd place on the list of highest-grossing animated films of all time.
- 2015 – Star Wars: The Force Awakens becomes the third film to gross more than 2 billion worldwide after Avatar and Titanic and obtaining 3rd place on the list of highest-grossing films of all time.
- 2016 – Comcast's NBCUniversal buys DreamWorks Animation for $3.8 billion, making it a division of the Universal Filmed Entertainment Group as an acquisition for the animation studio, thus gaining control of the entire library of its franchises and related licenses. This also gains film division Universal control and distribution to both DreamWorks Animation and Illumination Entertainment's films, thus making it the second major studio with two feature animation divisions, after Disney's Walt Disney Animation Studios and Pixar.
- 2016 – Disney becomes the first major film studio in history to release four films that made over one billion dollars in the box-office, Captain America: Civil War, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Finding Dory and Zootopia.
- 2017 – The Emoji Movie becomes the worst-reviewed and the most controversial animated film ever and one of the worst films ever. It also won 4 Razzie Awards for Worst Picture, Worst Director, Worst Screen Combo and Worst Screenplay, becoming the first ever animated film in history to do so.
- 2018 – Marvel Studios becomes the first ever film production studio in history to release 2 films that grossed over 1 billion dollars in box office, Black Panther and Avengers: Infinity War.
- 1990s, late 2000s and 2010s – Popularity of house, electro house, dance, hip house music David Guetta, Britney Spears, Jennifer Lopez, Shakira, Lady Gaga, Nicki Minaj, Afrojack.
- 1990s – 2010s – Popularity of hip hop music such as 2Pac, Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Notorious B.I.G., Jay-Z, Eminem, 50 Cent, Drake, Lil' Wayne, Kendrick Lamar, Nelly, Ludacris, Kanye West, & T.I..
- Late 1990s, 2000s (decade), and 2010s – Increasing use of Autotune technology.
- 2000s (decade) – Popularity of "emo music" such as The Used, Matchbook Romance, My Chemical Romance, Hawthorne Heights, and AFI.
- 2000s (decade) – Popularity of "pop-punk" such as Blink 182, Green Day, Sum 41, Simple Plan, and New Found Glory.
- 2000s (decade) – Rising popularity in underground genres of music such as Death Metal and Black Metal, some fusion genres emerging as a specific fusion such as Blackened Death Metal.
- 2000s and 2010s (decade) – Rising popularity in Christian Hardcore such as Underoath, Norma Jean, The Chariot, August Burns Red, Zao, and As I Lay Dying.
- 2000s (decade) – Popularity of Christina Aguilera, Jennifer Lopez, Shakira, Beyoncé, Britney Spears and Eminem.
- 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.
- 2000s (decade) and 2010s – Popularity of reality star music such as Kelly Clarkson, Daughtry, Carrie Underwood, Susan Boyle, Adam Lambert and One Direction.
- 2000s (decade) and 2010s – Popularity of Rihanna, Beyoncé, Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, Justin Bieber, Nicki Minaj, Bruno Mars, Adele, Taylor Swift, Selena Gomez and Ke$ha.
- 2000s (decade) – Politics become involved in music such as Green Day, John Mayer, Radiohead, Madonna, Beyoncé and many more.
- 2000s (decade) and 2010s – Moderate success of indie and alternative music such as Kings Of Leon, Modest Mouse, The Script, Coldplay, Stereophonics, The Killers, Arctic Monkeys, The Strokes, Florence + The Machine and The Sunshine Underground
- 2000s (decade) and 2010s – Popularity of pop country music such as Taylor Swift, Florida Georgia Line and Luke Bryan.
- 2000s and 2010s – Return of British Invasion such as Lily Allen, Mika, Clean Bandit, Cher Lloyd, Amy Winehouse, Adele, Florence + The Machine, One Direction, Ed Sheeran and Ellie Goulding.
- 2000s and 2010s – Rising popularity of Canadian artists such as Justin Bieber, Drake, Avril Lavigne, Carly Rae Jepsen, and Mac Demarco
- 2006 – The Single "Hips Don't Lie" by Colombian artist Shakira, became the most successful song of the decade worldwide. Holding up to date as the biggest gross Single of the Century.
- 2009 – A. R. Rahman won Oscars for original score and original song in Danny Boyle's Slumdog Millionaire, becoming the first Indian composer to strike gold at the annual Hollywood awards. He was also awarded with Golden Globe and two Grammys for the same composition.
- 2009 – Death of Michael Jackson.
- 2010s – Popularity of dubstep and various other electronic genres such as trap, chillwave, and deep house. Artists from such genres include Skrillex, Deadmau5 and Knife Party.
- 2010s – Popularity of outrageous outfits Lady Gaga, Nicki Minaj, and Miley Cyrus.
- Early 2010s – Return of boy bands and teen pop such as One Direction, Demi Lovato, Ariana Grande, Jonas Brothers, Fifth Harmony and Justin Bieber.
- 2010s – Explosive popularity of K-pop with the release of Psy's Gangnam Style and subsequent fame of bands such as BTS
- 2015 – Death of Lemmy.
- 2016 – Death of David Bowie, at the age of 69. He died, on January 10, two days after the release of his final album, Blackstar. Also, American Pop musician Prince dies at the age of 57, from a fentanyl overdose.
- 2016 – George Michael, English singer, former Wham! member, died at his Oxfordshire home at the age of 53, on Christmas Day.
- 2017 – Luis Fonsi's Despacito becomes the most-viewed video on YouTube, exceeding 5 billion views.
- 2000s (decade) – Myspace, Facebook and YouTube starts emerge in the 2000s (decade), with the very first social networks in the 1990s.
- 2010s – Myspace fades, but Facebook and YouTube grows popular, and new sites such as Twitter, Pinterest, and Reddit emerge. Facebook replaces Digg as the most popular media sharing site and become more similar to Digg and Pinterest in function.
- 2010s – Social networking moves from the desktop platform to the more mobile platform, especially with the younger generations, with applications such as Snapchat, Whisper, Foursquare, Instagram and WhatsApp. Facebook also purchased Instagram in July 2012.
- 2010s – Cross-platform social networking is becoming popular, some examples of these are Facebook and Telegram.
- 2010s – Tinder changes the face of online dating as well as dating customs. Users have the ability to "swipe" other users that they are interested in or not interested in, and find connection by mutual liking.
- 2018 – The Facebook–Cambridge Analytica data scandal draws international attention to the possible negative effects of social media on influencing citizen's views, particularly in regards to the 2016 United States presidential election.
Issues and concerns
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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:
- Global warming. Climate scientists have reached a consensus 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. 
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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), Libya, and Syria. 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.
- 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. In addition, some economists have expressed concerns over technological unemployment.
- LGBT 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.
- 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.
- War on Drugs. Increasingly, the legal, social and military battle led by governments against drug cartels around the world show little results in ending drug trading and consumption, and a constant increase in the lives taken from this struggle. Notably, after 2006 in the Mexican Drug War, more than 100,000 human lives have been lost to this conflict. Some jurisdictions have enacted some degree of legalization or decriminalization of some kinds of drugs, notably including several U.S. states legalizing marijuana either for recreational or medical use.
List of the long central solar eclipses
- Solar eclipse of July 22, 2009, total of 6 min 38.8 s, saros 136.
- Solar eclipse of January 15, 2010, annular of 11 min 08 s, saros 141. The longest of the century, and also of the entire millennium.
- Solar eclipse of August 2, 2027, total of 6 min 23 s, saros 136.
- Solar eclipse of January 26, 2028, annular of 10 min 27 s, saros 141.
- Solar eclipse of August 12, 2045, total of 6 min 06 s, saros 136.
- Solar eclipse of February 5, 2046, annular of 9 min 42 s, saros 141.
- Solar eclipse of August 24, 2063, of 5 min 49 s, saros 136.
- Solar eclipse of February 17, 2064, annular of 8 min 56 s, saros 141.
- Solar eclipse of May 11, 2078, total of 5 min 40 s, saros 139.
- Solar eclipse of November 4, 2078, annular of 8 min 29 s, saros 144.
- Solar eclipse of May 22, 2096, total of 6 min 07 s, saros 139.
- Solar eclipse of November 15, 2096, annular of 8 min 53 s, saros 144.
- 2004: Transit of Venus.
- December 23, 2007: grand conjunction, a galactic conjunction which happens every 26,000 years.
- 2009: Triple conjunction Jupiter–Neptune.
- 2012: Transit of Venus.
- 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 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.
- November 7, 2085: Transit of Mercury.
- 2100: Polaris appears furthest north. Polaris' maximum apparent declination (taking account of nutation and aberration) will be 0.4526° from the celestial north pole, on March 24, 2100.
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