(20th century - 21st century - 22nd century - other centuries)
Decades: 2000s 2010s 2020s 2030s 2040s 2050s 2060s 2070s 2080s 2090s
In calendars based on the Christian Era or Common Era, such as the Gregorian calendar, the 21st century is the current century, as of this writing, lasting from 2001-2100. The 21st century is the first century of the 3rd millennium (2001 - 3000). There was no year '0', so the first century began in year 1. See also . Despite this, common usage sometimes incorrectly regards the 21st century as lasting from 2000 to 2099. Decades are almost always considered as starting with the "0" year and named accordingly ("2010s", etc.), so the first decade of a century technically overlaps back into the preceding one.
Similar to the 20th century's place in popular culture as part of names such as 20th Century Fox, the 21st century has been used in the names of a number of companies and organizations. The real estate firm Century 21 uses a name that refers to this century.
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 conflict, 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).
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, will 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
Wars, battles, and terrorism
Largest Mass Killings
- Second Congo War, approx. 1.8 million deaths (3.8 million since 1998)
- Darfur conflict, Approximately 200,000 deaths.
- U.S. Invasion in Iraq, most estimates claim 15,000 - 30,000 Iraqi and 1,700 coalition deaths. The Lancet recently estimated 100,000 Iraqis have died as a result of the invasion.
- Civil War in Ivory Coast, 3,000 deaths.
- September 11, 2001 attacks, 2,749 - 2,752 deaths.
The regime of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea is believed to have caused many deaths, but the exact number is unknown.
Furthermore, there are several wars and dictatorships continuing from the 20th century. Mostly the number of deaths they caused during the 21st century is unknown.
See also .
Issues and Concerns
Some of the things that have dominated discussion and debate in this century include:
- Overpopulation. The rapid growth of the world population results in more strain on ecosystems and more consumption of limited resources. Profligate population growth is a root cause for the proliferation of disease and scarcity-related problems such as poverty, famine, and economic instability. The United Nations estimates that world population will reach 9.1 billion by mid-century. The results of population growth seen in the last century are likely to be even more pronounced in this one. The burden placed on the planet's natural systems by humans is becoming unsustainable. Historically, large outbreaks of violence often coincide with a large increase in population density.
- 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.
- Climate change. Some scientists believe that a climate disaster is approaching if humanity does not change its pattern of environmental discharges. Others dispute this. Trends such as global warming, pollution, biodiversity loss and resource depletion all are growing factors that will contribute to significant issues in this century. Water in particular is an area of serious concern. Another instance of significant resource depletion is evident in oil production, which some scholars predict will reach a peak in this century, then begin a permanent downward trend.
- 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 piracy. 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.
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.
Influential people in politics as of 2005
(in alphabetical order)
- Mahmoud Abbas, Palestinian President
- Crown Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, de facto government leader
- Kofi Annan, Secretary General of the United Nations
- Jan Peter Balkenende, Prime Minister of the Netherlands
- Silvio Berlusconi, Italian Prime Minister
- Osama bin Laden, Al-Qaeda leader
- Tony Blair, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
- George W. Bush, President of the United States of America
- Jacques Chirac, President of France
- Luis Inácio da Silva, President of Brazil
- Luigi R. Einaudi, Secretary-General of the Organization of American States
- John Howard, Prime Minister of Australia
- Saddam Hussein, deposed President of Iraq, currently held by US forces
- Hu Jintao, President of the People's Republic of China
- Kim Jong-il, General Secretary of the Korean Worker's Party and chairman of the National Defense Commission of North Korea
- Mohammad Khatami, President of Iran
- Junichiro Koizumi, Prime Minister of Japan
- Hamid Karzai, President of Afghanistan
- Thabo Mbeki, South African president and current leader of the African Union
- Pervez Musharraf Pakistani President
- Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin, President of the Russian Federation
- Condoleeza Rice, United States Secretary of State
- Dr. Manmohan Singh Indian Prime Minister
- Gerhard Schröder, German Bundeskanzler (chancellor)
- Ariel Sharon, Prime Minister of Israel
- Javier Solana, Foreign policy chief of the European Union
- Ong Keng Yong, Secretary-General of ASEAN
- Viktor Yushchenko, President of Ukraine
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
Influential people in popular entertainment as of 2005
- Coldplay, alternative band
- Tom Cruise, actor
- Eminem, rapper and actor
- Paris Hilton, actress and former model
- Peter Jackson, director of The Lord of the Rings movie trilogy
- Brad Pitt, actor
- J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series
- Jessica Simpson, singer and actress
- Britney Spears, singer and actress
- Charlize Theron, actress
- Justin Timberlake, singer
- Catherine Zeta-Jones, actress
- Boston Red Sox, 2004 World Series champions after an 86 year drought.
See also: Timeline of the future in forecasts
Astronomical Events and Predictions
- Tuesday, June 8, 2004 - Transit of Venus occurs after 122 years
- full eclipse of moon during World Series, 2004
- November 8, 2006- Transit of Mercury
- 2009: Triple conjunction Jupiter-Neptune
- 2010/11: Triple conjunction Jupiter-Uranus
- Wednesday, June 6, 2012 - Transit of Venus to occur 2nd time this century
- May 9, 2016- Transit of Mercury
- Monday, August 21, 2017 - First total solar eclipse of the 21st century for the United States, and the first visible in the continental US since February 26, 1979.
- November 11 - Transit of Mercury
- 2024 (plus or minus 5 years): next predicted return of Comet 12P/Pons-Brooks.
- 2025/26: Triple conjunction Saturn-Neptune
- Friday, April 13, 2029 - The asteroid 2004 MN4 will pass within 30,000 km (18,600 mi) of the Earth.
- November 13, 2032 - Transit of Mercury
- 2037/38: Triple conjunction Jupiter-Uranus
- November 7, 2039 - Transit of Mercury
- 2041/42: Triple conjunction Mars-Uranus
- October 1, 2044 - Occultation of Regulus by Venus. The last was on July 7th, 1959. After 2044 the next occultation of Regulus by Venus will occur on October 21st, 3187, although some sources claim it will occur again on October 6th, 2271.
- 2047/48: Triple conjunction Jupiter-Neptune
- May 7, 2049 - Transit of Mercury
- November 9, 2052 - Transit of Mercury
- 2061: next return of Comet Halley.
- 2063: Triple conjunction Mars-Uranus
- November 11, 2065 - Transit of Mercury
- November 22, 2065 12:45 UTC - Venus will occult Jupiter. This event will be the first occultation of a planet by another since January 3, 1818. Unfortunately this event will be very difficult to observe, because the elongation of Venus and Jupiter from the sun on November 22, 2065 will be only 7 degrees.
- 2066: Triple conjunction Jupiter-Uranus
- July 15, 2067 11:56 UTC - Mercury will occult Neptune. Unfortunately this rare event will be very difficult to observe.
- 2071/72: Triple conjunction Mars-Neptune
- November 14, 2078 - Transit of Mercury
- 2079: Triple conjunction Saturn-Uranus
- August 11, 2079 01:30 UTC - Mercury will occult Mars
- Friday, November 10, 2084 - Transit of Earth as seen from Mars
- November 7, 2085 - Transit of Mercury
- 2085/86: Triple conjunction Jupiter-Neptune
- October 27, 2088 13:43 UTC - Mercury will occult Jupiter
- 2088/89: Triple conjunction Mars-Neptune
- 2093: Triple conjunction Jupiter-Uranus
- April 7, 2094 10:48 UTC - Mercury will occult Jupiter
- May 8, 2095 - Transit of Mercury
- November 10, 2098 - Transit of Mercury
Science fiction set in the 21st century
Television and film
Decades and Years
- Long Bets Foundation to improve long-term thinking
- Long Now Long-term cultural institution