| Births – Deaths |
Establishments – Disestablishments
The 20th (twentieth) century began on January 1, 1901 (MCMI), and ended on December 31, 2000 (MM).The 20th century was dominated by significant events that defined the modern era: sixth mass extinction, Spanish flu pandemic, World War I and World War II, nuclear weapons, nuclear power and space exploration, nationalism and decolonization, the Cold War and post-Cold War conflicts, and technological advances. These reshaped the political and social structure of the globe.
Additional themes include intergovernmental organizations and cultural homogenization through developments in emerging transportation and communications technology; poverty reduction and rising standards of living, world population growth, awareness of environmental degradation, ecological extinction;and the birth of the Digital Revolution. Automobiles, airplanes and the use of home appliances became common, as did video and audio recording. Great advances in power generation, communication, and medical technology allowed for near-instantaneous worldwide computer communication and genetic modification of life.
The repercussions of the World Wars, Cold War, and globalization crafted a world where people are more united than any previous time in human history, as exemplified by the establishment of international law, international aid, and the United Nations. The Marshall Plan—which spent $13 billion ($110 billion in 2021 U.S. dollars) to rebuild the economies of post-war nations—launched "Pax Americana". Throughout the latter half of the 20th century, the rivalry between the United States and the Soviet Union created enormous tensions around the world which manifested in various armed proxy regional conflicts and the omnipresent danger of nuclear proliferation. The dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991 after the collapse of its European alliance was heralded by the West as the end of communism, though by the century's end roughly one in six people on Earth lived under communist rule, mostly in China which was rapidly rising as an economic and geopolitical power.
It took over two hundred thousand years of modern human history and 6 million years of human evolution for the world's population to reach 1 billion in 1804. During the 20th century, world population had reached an estimated 2 billion in 1927, and by late 2000, the global population had reached 6 billion, with over half in East, South and Southeast Asia. Global literacy averaged 80%. Penicillin and other medical breakthroughs, combined with the World Health Organization's global vaccination campaigns, helped to eradicate smallpox and other diseases responsible for more human deaths than all wars and natural disasters combined yielded unprecedented results; smallpox now only existed in labs. Machines came to be used in all areas of production, feeding increasingly intricate supply chains that allowed mankind for the first time to be constrained not by how much it could produce, but by peoples' willingness to consume. Trade improvements greatly expanded upon the limited set of food-producing techniques used since the Neolithic period, multiplying the diversity of foods available and boosting the quality of human nutrition. Until the early 19th century, life expectancy from birth was about thirty in most populations; global lifespan-averages exceeded 40 years for the first time in history, with over half achieving 70 or more years (three decades longer than a century earlier).
The 20th (twentieth) century began on January 1, 1901,and ended on December 31, 2000. It was the tenth and final century of the 2nd millennium. Unlike most century years, the year 2000 was a leap year, and the second century leap year in the Gregorian calendar after 1600.
The century had the first global-scale total wars between world powers across continents and oceans in World War I and World War II. Nationalism became a major political issue in the world in the 20th century, acknowledged in international law along with the right of nations to self-determination, official decolonization in the mid-century, and related regional conflicts.
The century saw a major shift in the way that many people lived, with changes in politics, ideology, economics, society, culture, science, technology, and medicine. The 20th century may have seen more technological and scientific progress than all the other centuries combined since the dawn of civilization. Terms like nationalism , globalism , environmentalism, ideology, world war , genocide, and nuclear war entered common usage. Scientific discoveries, such as the theory of relativity and quantum physics, profoundly changed the foundational models of physical science, forcing scientists to realize that the universe was more complex than previously believed, and dashing the hopes (or fears) at the end of the 19th century that the last few details of scientific knowledge were about to be filled in. It was a century that started with horses, simple automobiles, and freighters but ended with high-speed rail, cruise ships, global commercial air travel and the Space Shuttle. Horses and other pack animals, every society's basic form of personal transportation for thousands of years, were replaced by automobiles and buses within a few decades. These developments were made possible by the exploitation of fossil fuel resources, which offered energy in an easily portable form, but also caused concern about pollution and long-term impact on the environment. Humans explored space for the first time, taking their first footsteps on the Moon.
Mass media, telecommunications, and information technology (especially computers, paperback books, public education, and the Internet) made the world's knowledge more widely available. Public health improvements led to global life expectancy increasing from 35 years to 65 years. Rapid technological advancements, however, also allowed warfare to reach unprecedented levels of destruction. World War II alone killed over 60 million people, while nuclear weapons gave humankind the means to annihilate itself in a short time. However, these same wars resulted in the destruction of the imperial system. For the first time in human history, empires and their wars of expansion and colonization ceased to be a factor in international affairs, resulting in a far more globalized and cooperative world. The last time major powers clashed openly was in 1945, and since then, violence has seen an unprecedented decline.
The world also became more culturally homogenized than ever with developments in transportation and communications technology, popular music and other influences of Western culture, international corporations, and what was arguably a truly global economy by the end of the 20th century.
At the beginning of the period, the British Empire was the world's most powerful nation,having acted as the world's policeman for the past century.
Technological advancements during World War I changed the way war was fought, as new inventions such as tanks, chemical weapons, and aircraft modified tactics and strategy. After more than four years of trench warfare in Western Europe, and up to 22 million dead, the powers that had formed the Triple Entente (France, Britain, and Russia, later replaced by the United States and joined by Italy and Romania) emerged victorious over the Central Powers (Germany, Austria-Hungary, the Ottoman Empire and Bulgaria). In addition to annexing many of the colonial possessions of the vanquished states, the Triple Entente exacted punitive restitution payments from them, plunging Germany in particular into economic depression. The Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman empires were dismantled at the war's conclusion. The Russian Revolution resulted in the overthrow of the Tsarist regime of Nicholas II and the onset of the Russian Civil War. The victorious Bolsheviks then established the Soviet Union, the world's first communist state.
Fascism, a movement which grew out of post-war angst and which accelerated during the Great Depression of the 1930s, gained momentum in Italy, Germany, and Spain in the 1920s and 1930s, culminating in World War II, sparked by Nazi Germany's aggressive expansion at the expense of its neighbors. Meanwhile, Japan had rapidly transformed itself into a technologically advanced industrial power and, along with Germany and Italy, formed the Axis powers. Japan's military expansionism in East Asia and the Pacific Ocean brought it into conflict with the United States, culminating in a surprise attack which drew the US into World War II.
After some years of dramatic military success, Germany was defeated in 1945, having been invaded by the Soviet Union and Poland from the East and by the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, and France from the West. After the victory of the Allies in Europe, the war in Asia ended with the Soviet invasion of Manchuria and the dropping of two atomic bombs on Japan by the US, the first nation to develop nuclear weapons and the only one to use them in warfare. In total, World War II left some 60 million people dead.
Following World War II, the United Nations, successor to the League of Nations, was established as an international forum in which the world's nations could discuss issues diplomatically. It enacted resolutions on such topics as the conduct of warfare, environmental protection, international sovereignty, and human rights. Peacekeeping forces consisting of troops provided by various countries, with various United Nations and other aid agencies, helped to relieve famine, disease, and poverty, and to suppress some local armed conflicts. Europe slowly united, economically and, in some ways, politically, to form the European Union, which consisted of 15 European countries by the end of the 20th century.
After the war, Germany was occupied and divided between the Western powers and the Soviet Union. East Germany and the rest of Eastern Europe became Soviet puppet states under communist rule. Western Europe was rebuilt with the aid of the American Marshall Plan, resulting in a major post-war economic boom, and many of the affected nations became close allies of the United States.
With the Axis defeated and Britain and France rebuilding, the United States and the Soviet Union were left standing as the world's only superpowers. Allies during the war, they soon became hostile to one another as their competing ideologies of communism and democratic capitalism proliferated in Europe, which became divided by the Iron Curtain and the Berlin Wall. They formed competing military alliances (NATO and the Warsaw Pact) which engaged in a decades-long standoff known as the Cold War. The period was marked by a new arms race as the USSR became the second nation to develop nuclear weapons, which were produced by both sides in sufficient numbers to end most human life on the planet had a large-scale nuclear exchange ever occurred. Mutually assured destruction is credited by many historians as having prevented such an exchange, each side being unable to strike first at the other without ensuring an equally devastating retaliatory strike. Unable to engage one another directly, the conflict played out in a series of proxy wars around the world—particularly in China, Korea, Cuba, Vietnam, and Afghanistan—as the USSR sought to export communism while the US attempted to contain it. The technological competition between the two sides led to substantial investment in research and development which produced innovations that reached far beyond the battlefield, such as space exploration and the Internet.
In the latter half of the century, most of the European-colonized world in Africa and Asia gained independence in a process of decolonization. Meanwhile, globalization opened the door for several nations to exert a strong influence over many world affairs. The US's global military presence spread American culture around the world with the advent of the Hollywood motion picture industry and Broadway, jazz, rock music, and pop music, fast food and hippy counterculture, hip-hop, house music, and disco, as well as street style, all of which came to be identified with the concepts of popular culture and youth culture.After the Soviet Union collapsed under internal pressure in 1991, most of the communist governments it had supported around the world were dismantled—with the notable exceptions of China, North Korea, Cuba, Vietnam, and Laos—followed by awkward transitions into market economies.
Due to continuing industrialization and expanding trade, many significant changes of the century were, directly or indirectly, economic and technological in nature. Inventions such as the light bulb, the automobile, and the telephone in the late 19th century, followed by supertankers, airliners, motorways, radio, television, air conditioning, antibiotics, nuclear power, frozen food, computers and microcomputers, the Internet, and mobile telephones affected people's quality of life across the developed world. The quantity of goods consumed by the average person expanded massively. Scientific research, engineering professionalization and technological development—much of it motivated by the Cold War arms race—drove changes in everyday life.
At the beginning of the century, strong discrimination based on race and sex was significant in most societies. Although the Atlantic slave trade had ended in the 19th century, movements for equality for non-white people in the white-dominated societies of North America, Europe, and South Africa continued. By the end of the 20th century, in many parts of the world, women had the same legal rights as men, and racism had come to be seen as unacceptable, a sentiment often backed up by legislation.When the Republic of India was constituted, the disadvantaged classes of the caste system in India became entitled to affirmative action benefits in education, employment and government.
Attitudes toward pre-marital sex changed rapidly in many societies during the sexual revolution of the 1960s and 1970s. Attitudes towards homosexuality also began to change in the later part of the century.
Economic growth and technological progress had radically altered daily lives. Europe appeared to be at a sustainable peace for the first time in recorded history. The people of the Indian subcontinent, a sixth of the world population at the end of the 20th century, had attained an indigenous independence for the first time in centuries. China, an ancient nation comprising a fifth of the world population, was finally open to the world, creating a new state after the near-complete destruction of the old cultural order. With the end of colonialism and the Cold War, nearly a billion people in Africa were left in new nation states.
The world was undergoing its second major period of globalization; the first, which started in the 18th century, having been terminated by World War I. Since the US was in a dominant position, a major part of the process was Americanization. The influence of China and India was also rising, as the world's largest populations were rapidly integrating with the world economy.
Terrorism, dictatorship, and the spread of nuclear weapons were pressing global issues. The world was still blighted by small-scale wars and other violent conflicts, fueled by competition over resources and by ethnic conflicts.
Disease threatened to destabilize many regions of the world. New viruses such as the West Nile virus continued to spread. Malaria and other diseases affected large populations. Millions were infected with HIV, the virus which causes AIDS. The virus was becoming an epidemic in southern Africa.
Based on research done by climate scientists, the majority of the scientific community consider that in the long term environmental problems pose a serious threat.One argument is that of global warming occurring due to human-caused emission of greenhouse gases, particularly carbon dioxide produced by the burning of fossil fuels. This prompted many nations to negotiate and sign the Kyoto treaty, which set mandatory limits on carbon dioxide emissions.
World population increased from about 1.6 billion people in 1901 to 6.1 billion at the century's end.
The number of people killed during the century by government actions was in the hundreds of millions. This includes deaths caused by wars, genocide, politicide and mass murders. The deaths from acts of war during the two world wars alone have been estimated at between 50 and 80 million.[ citation needed ] Political scientist Rudolph Rummel estimated 262,000,000 deaths caused by democide, which excludes those killed in war battles, civilians unintentionally killed in war and killings of rioting mobs. According to Charles Tilly, "Altogether, about 100 million people died as a direct result of action by organized military units backed by one government or another over the course of the century. Most likely a comparable number of civilians died of war-induced disease and other indirect effects." It is estimated that approximately 70 million Europeans died through war, violence and famine between 1914 and 1945.
The invention of music recording technologies such as the phonograph record, and dissemination technologies such as radio broadcasting, massively expanded the audience for music. Prior to the 20th century, music was generally only experienced in live performances. Many new genres of music were established during the 20th century.
Film as an artistic medium was created in the 20th century. The first modern movie theatre was established in Pittsburgh in 1905.Hollywood developed as the center of American film production. While the first films were in black and white, technicolor was developed in the 1920s to allow for color films. Sound films were developed, with the first full-length feature film, The Jazz Singer , released in 1927. The Academy Awards were established in 1929. Animation was also developed in the 1920s, with the first full-length cel animated feature film Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs , released in 1937. Computer-generated imagery was developed in the 1980s, with the first full-length CGI-animated film Toy Story released in 1995.
Video games—due to the great technological steps forward in computing since the second post-war period—are one of the new forms of entertainment that emerged in the 20th century alongside films.
Multiple new fields of mathematics were developed in the 20th century. In the first part of the 20th century, measure theory, functional analysis, and topology were established, and significant developments were made in fields such as abstract algebra and probability. The development of set theory and formal logic led to Gödel's incompleteness theorems.
Later in the 20th century, the development of computers led to the establishment of a theory of computation.Computationally-intense results include the study of fractals and a proof of the four color theorem in 1976.
One of the prominent traits of the 20th century was the dramatic growth of technology. Organized research and practice of science led to advancement in the fields of communication, electronics, engineering, travel, medicine, and war.
Kazakhstan, officially the Republic of Kazakhstan, is a transcontinental country located mainly in Central Asia and partly in Eastern Europe. It borders Russia to the north and west, China to the east, Kyrgyzstan to the southeast, Uzbekistan to the south, and Turkmenistan to the southwest, with a coastline along the Caspian Sea. Its capital is Astana, known as Nur-Sultan from 2019 to 2022. Almaty, Kazakhstan's largest city, was the country's capital until 1997. Kazakhstan is the world's largest landlocked country, the largest and northernmost Muslim-majority country by land area, and the ninth-largest country in the world. It has a population of 19 million people, and one of the lowest population densities in the world, at fewer than 6 people per square kilometre.
Kazakhstan, the largest country fully within the Eurasian Steppe, has been a historical crossroads and home to numerous different peoples, states and empires throughout history. Throughout history, peoples on the territory of modern Kazakhstan had nomadic lifestyle, which developed and influenced Kazakh culture.
A pandemic is an epidemic of an infectious disease that has spread across a large region, for instance multiple continents or worldwide, affecting a substantial number of individuals. A widespread endemic disease with a stable number of infected individuals is not a pandemic. Widespread endemic diseases with a stable number of infected individuals such as recurrences of seasonal influenza are generally excluded as they occur simultaneously in large regions of the globe rather than being spread worldwide.
The Visegrád Group is a cultural and political alliance of four Central European countries: the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia. The alliance aims to advance co-operation in military, economic, cultural and energy affairs, and to further their integration with the EU. All four states are also members of the European Union (EU) and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).
Nuclear warfare, also known as atomic warfare, is a theoretical military conflict or prepared political strategy that deploys nuclear weaponry. Nuclear weapons are weapons of mass destruction; in contrast to conventional warfare, nuclear warfare can produce destruction in a much shorter time and can have a long-lasting radiological result. A major nuclear exchange would likely have long-term effects, primarily from the fallout released, and could also lead to secondary effects, such as "nuclear winter", nuclear famine and societal collapse. A global thermonuclear war with Cold War-era stockpiles, or even with the current smaller stockpiles, may lead to various scenarios including the extinction of the human race.
Superpower collapse is the societal collapse of a superpower nation state; the term is most often used to describe the dissolution of the Soviet Union but also can be applied to the loss of the United Kingdom's superpower status through the decline of the British Empire. Russia, the successor of the Soviet Union, and the United Kingdom are still regarded as Great Powers today with permanent seats on the United Nations Security Council. The United Kingdom continues to hold extensive global soft power, and Russia holds the largest nuclear weapons arsenal in the world.
The concept of First World originated during the Cold War and comprised countries that were under the influence of the United States and the rest of NATO and opposed the Soviet Union and/or communism during the Cold War. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the definition has instead largely shifted to any country with little political risk and a well-functioning democracy, rule of law, capitalist economy, economic stability, and high standard of living. Various ways in which modern First World countries are usually determined include GDP, GNP, literacy rates, life expectancy, and the Human Development Index. In common usage, "first world" typically refers to "the highly developed industrialized nations often considered the westernized countries of the world".
Science and technology in the United States has a long history, producing many important figures and developments in the field. The United States of America came into being around the Age of Enlightenment, an era in Western philosophy in which writers and thinkers, rejecting the perceived superstitions of the past, instead chose to emphasize the intellectual, scientific and cultural life, centered upon the 18th century, in which reason was advocated as the primary source for legitimacy and authority. Enlightenment philosophers envisioned a "republic of science," where ideas would be exchanged freely and useful knowledge would improve the lot of all citizens.
The American Century is a characterization of the period since the middle of the 20th century as being largely dominated by the United States in political, economic, and cultural terms. It is comparable to the description of the period 1815–1914 as Britain's Imperial Century. The United States' influence grew throughout the 20th century, but became especially dominant after the end of World War II, when only two superpowers remained, the United States and the Soviet Union. After the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, the United States remained the world's only superpower, and became the hegemon, or what some have termed a hyperpower.
Western civilization traces its roots back to Europe and the Mediterranean. It is linked to ancient Greece, the Roman Empire and with Medieval Western Christendom which emerged from the Middle Ages to experience such transformative episodes as Scholasticism, the Renaissance, the Reformation, the Enlightenment, the Industrial Revolution, the Scientific Revolution, and the development of liberal democracy. The civilizations of Classical Greece and Ancient Rome are considered seminal periods in Western history. Major cultural contributions also came from the Christianized Germanic peoples, such as the Franks, Goths, and Burgundians. Charlemagne founded the Carolingian Empire and is referred to as the "Father of Europe." Contributions also emerged from pagan peoples of pre-Christian Europe, such as the Celts and Germanic pagans as well as some significant religious contributions derived from Judaism and Hellenistic Judaism stemming back to Second Temple Judea, Galilee, and the early Jewish diaspora; and some other Middle Eastern influences. Western Christianity has played a prominent role in the shaping of Western civilization, which throughout most of its history, has been nearly equivalent to Christian culture.. Western civilization has spread to produce the dominant cultures of modern Americas and Oceania, and has had immense global influence in recent centuries in many ways.
The term modern period or modern era is the period of history that succeeds the Middle Ages. This terminology is a historical periodization that is applied primarily to European and Western history.
The Cold War (1962–1979) refers to the phase within the Cold War that spanned the period between the aftermath of the Cuban Missile Crisis in late October 1962, through the détente period beginning in 1969, to the end of détente in the late 1970s.
The aftermath of World War II was the beginning of a new era started in late 1945 for all countries involved, defined by the decline of all colonial empires and simultaneous rise of two superpowers; the Soviet Union (USSR) and the United States (US). Once Allies during World War II, the US and the USSR became competitors on the world stage and engaged in the Cold War, so called because it never resulted in overt, declared total war between the two powers but was instead characterized by espionage, political subversion and proxy wars. Western Europe and Asia were rebuilt through the American Marshall Plan, whereas Central and Eastern Europe fell under the Soviet sphere of influence and eventually behind an "Iron Curtain". Europe was divided into a US-led Western Bloc and a USSR-led Eastern Bloc. Internationally, alliances with the two blocs gradually shifted, with some nations trying to stay out of the Cold War through the Non-Aligned Movement. The war also saw a nuclear arms race between the two superpowers; part of the reason that the Cold War never became a "hot" war was that the Soviet Union and the United States had nuclear deterrents against each other, leading to a mutually assured destruction standoff.
Contemporary history, in English-language historiography, is a subset of modern history that describes the historical period from approximately 1945 to the present. Contemporary history is either a subset of the late modern period, or it is one of the three major subsets of modern history, alongside the early modern period and the late modern period. In the social sciences, contemporary history is also continuous with, and related to, the rise of postmodernity.
The 21st (twenty-first) century is the current century in the Anno Domini era or Common Era, under the Gregorian calendar. It began on 1 January 2001 (MMI) and will end on 31 December 2100 (MMC).
In demographics, the world population is the total number of humans currently living. It was estimated by the United Nations to have exceeded 8 billion in November 2022. It took over 200,000 years of human prehistory and history for the human population to reach one billion and only 219 years more to reach 8 billion.
In many periodizations of human history, the late modern period followed the early modern period. It began approximately around the year 1800 and depending on the author either ended with the beginning of contemporary history after World War II, or includes that period up to the present day. Notable historical events in the late 18th century that marked the transition from the early modern period to the late modern period include the American Revolution (1765–1791), the French Revolution (1789–1799), and the beginning of the Industrial Revolution around 1760. It took all of human history up to 1804 for the world's population to reach 1 billion; the next billion came just over a century later, in 1927.
Following the 19th century, the 20th century changed the world in unprecedented ways. The World Wars sparked tension between countries and led to the creation of atomic bombs, the Cold War led to the Space Race and creation of space-based rockets, and the World Wide Web was created. These advancements have played a significant role in citizens' lives and shaped the 21st century into what it is today.
The effects of the Cold War on nation-states were numerous both economically and socially until its subsequent century. For example, in Russia, military spending was cut dramatically after 1991, which caused a decline from the Soviet Union's military-industrial sector. Such a dismantling left millions of employees throughout the former Soviet Union unemployed, which affected Russia's economy and military.
The post–Cold War era is a period of history that follows the end of the Cold War, which represents history after the 1991 fall of the Soviet Union. This period saw the United States become the world's sole superpower in the world and paved the way for the 21st century.