21st century

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Centuries: 20th century - 21st century - 22nd century
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The 21st century is the century that began on 1 January 2001 and will last to 31 December 2100. Frequently common usage regards the 21st century as spanning 2000 to 2099, though this method of counting ignores the fact that there was no year 0. In 2000 the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) implicitly backed the common usage by defining a calendar that places the origin of the counting in a year zero.



The 21st century has had an influence on culture since well before it began. Speculation about future, social, cultural, and technological trends frequently centered on the year 2000, starting with late-19th century essays and novels (often of a utopian nature) such as Edward Bellamy's Looking Backward. It's been said that the event horizon of Western culture was steadily shrinking in this period, since as late as the 1990s people were still often focusing on the year 2000 in their discussions of the future.

Religious beliefs in a "millennial apocalypse" were supplemented by genuine concerns about the Y2k computer "bug" and about possible terrorist attacks centered on the year-2000 celebrations, but the actual turn of the millennium (both the popularly-celebrated one in 2000 and the "purist" one in 2001) went by in a fairly anticlimactic manner.

However, the years since have continued in the tumultuous manner people of the 20th century were accustomed to expect, with wars, terrorism, and other conflicts, as well as continued advances in science and technology including the continuing expansion of the use of computers and the Internet (despite the "tech bubble burst" where the overexuberance of early Internet companies was deflated).

So far in the 21st century, the main historical trends have been the violent conflict between Western Civilization and extremist Muslim Fundamentalism, the search for solutions to global warming, the continued growth of the European Community and the rapid emergence of China and India as global industrial powers.

More Y2k-style computer date failures are due before the end of the 21st century; the Unix datestamps, consisting of a count of the number of seconds since 1970, may overflow in 2038, while the family of operating systems descended from MS-DOS (including the various versions of Microsoft Windows) can't handle dates beyond 2099.

Important developments, events, achievements


Science and technology

Conflicts and civil unrest

Worldwide deaths from war and terror attacks

Furthermore, there are several wars and dictatorships continuing from the 20th century. In most cases, the death toll is unclear.

See also [3].

Natural disasters


Issues and concerns

Some of the things that have dominated discussion and debate in this century include:

  • Overpopulation. The United Nations estimates that world population will reach 9.1 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 markets should accommodate demographic shifts. Evidence forms that developed countries (such as Japan) suffer population implosion, and the population debate is strongly tied with poverty.
  • 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.
  • Global power. 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 the 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 to combat epidemics in third-world countries are other IP concerns.
  • 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. It is predicted that by the middle of this century there will be a Technological Singularity when artificial intelligences are created that are smarter than humans. As these then create even smarter AI's technological change will accelerate in ways that are impossible for us to foresee.
  • Energy is becoming scarce and more expensive, due to the esclating 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. While complete depletion will not happen in the near future, some fear that a peak in production will cause an end to the trend of economic expansion in modern society, perhaps resulting in a collapse of modern civilization itself. Others believe that alternative sources of energy will prevent this disaster.
  • Civilization is subject to increasing pressures due to overpopulation and culture clash. Samuel Huntington has spoken of a crash that may lead to extended wars and global instability. At the same time, there is increasing concern of decadence in Western arts and sciences among the leading intelects of the time, from Jacques Barzun to John Horgan´s "End of Science" to the columnist Spengler of Asia Times (who took his pseudonym from Oswald Spengler).

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

Significant people

Influential people in politics as of 2005

(in alphabetical order)

Influential people in religion as of 2005

Influential people in technology as of 2005

Influential people in science as of 2005

Influential people in mathematics as of 2005

Astronomical events and predictions

Scientific Predictions

Socio-Political Predictions

  • A woman once told Winston Churchill: "By the year 2100, women will rule the world." Churchill asked: "Still?"
  • Several leaders in politics, religion, etc., have set goals for the elimination of anti-Semitism, dictatorship, disease, homosexuality, hunger, illiteracy, lack of drinkable water, over-population, poverty, racism, tyranny and war in the 21st century.
  • Near the end of the 21st century, people will still be arguing whether 2100 is the last year of the 21st century or the first of the 22nd.

Science Fiction set in the remaining years of the 21st Century

Television and film

Computer and video games


Decades and years

1990s 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999
2000s 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009
2010s 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
2020s 2020 2021 2022 2023 2024 2025 2026 2027 2028 2029
2030s 2030 2031 2032 2033 2034 2035 2036 2037 2038 2039
2040s 2040 2041 2042 2043 2044 2045 2046 2047 2048 2049
2050s 2050 2051 2052 2053 2054 2055 2056 2057 2058 2059
2060s 2060 2061 2062 2063 2064 2065 2066 2067 2068 2069
2070s 2070 2071 2072 2073 2074 2075 2076 2077 2078 2079
2080s 2080 2081 2082 2083 2084 2085 2086 2087 2088 2089
2090s 2090 2091 2092 2093 2094 2095 2096 2097 2098 2099
2100s 2100 2101 2102 2103 2104 2105 2106 2107 2108 2109

External links

als:21. Jahrhundert be:21 стагодзьдзе bg:21 век bs:21. vijek ca:Segle XXI cs:21. století cy:21fed canrif da:21. århundrede de:21. Jahrhundert et:21. sajand el:21ος αιώνας es:Siglo XXI eo:21-a jarcento fr:XXIe siècle fy:21e ieu ko:21세기 hi:इक्कीसवी सदी io:21ma yar-cento id:Abad ke-21 it:XXI secolo he:המאה ה-21 kw:21ns kansblydhen lt:XXI amžius lb:21. Joerhonnert li:Einentwintegste ieuw hu:21. század nl:21e eeuw ja:21世紀 nb:21. århundre nn:2000-talet pl:XXI wiek pt:Século XXI ro:Secolul al XXI-lea ru:XXI век simple:21st century sk:21. storočie sl:21. stoletje sr:21. век fi:2000-luku sv:2000-talet (sekel) th:คริสต์ศตวรรษที่ 21 uk:21 століття ur:2000صبم wa:21inme sieke zh:21世纪

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