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 five" 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 around 2010, where pronunciations often shift between the early-year standard of "two-thousand and ten" and the traditional approach of "twenty-ten".
The Vancouver Olympics, which took place in 2010, was being officially referred to by Vancouver 2010 as "the twenty-ten Olympics". The latest timeframes for change are usually placed at 2020.
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.
Shanghai has become a symbol of the recent economic boom of China.
Advances in technology such as ultrasound, prenatal genetic testing and genetic engineering are changing the demographics and has the potential to change the genetic makeup of the human population. Because of sex selective abortion, fewer girls have been born in the 21st century (and since the early 1980s) compared to past centuries, mostly because of son preference in East and South Asia. In 2014, only 47 percent of Indian births were of girls. This has led to an increase in bachelors in countries such as China and India. The first genetically modified children were born in November 2018 in China, beginning a new biological era for the human species and raising great controversy.
Anxiety and depression rates have risen in the United States and many other parts of the world. However, suicide rates have fallen in Europe and most of the rest of the world so far this century, declining 29% globally between 2000 and 2018, despite rising 18% in the United States in the same period. The decline in suicide has been most notable among Chinese and Indian women, the elderly, and middle-aged Russian men.
Telecommunications in the early 21st century are much more advanced and universal than they were in the late 20th century. Only a few percent of the world's population were Internet users and cellular phone owners in the late 1990s; as of 2018, 55% of the world's population is online and as of 2019, an estimated 67% own a cell phone. In the 2010s, artificial intelligence, mostly in the form of deep learning and machine learning became more prevalent, and is prominently used in Gmail and Google's search engine, as well as in banking, the military and other niches. In 2017, 14% of the world's population still lacked access to electricity.
War and violence has declined considerably compared to the 20th century, continuing the post-World War II trend called Long Peace. Malnourishment and poverty are still widespread globally, but fewer people live in the most extreme forms of poverty. In 1990, approximately one-in-four people were malnourished, and nearly 36% of the world's population lived in extreme poverty; by 2015, these numbers had dropped to approximately one-in-eight and 10%, respectively.
The world population was about 6.1 billion at the start of the 21st century, and reached 7.7 billion by January 2019. It is estimated to reach about 8.6 billion by the year 2030, and 9.8 billion by the year 2050. According to the United Nations World Urbanization prospects, 60% of the world's human population is projected to live in megacities and megalopolises by 2030, 70% by 2050, and 90% by 2080. By 2040, more than 5 times the current global gross domestic product is expected to be invested in urban infrastructure.
Life expectancy has increased as child mortality continues to decline. A baby born in 2016, for example, can on average (globally) expect to live 72 years--26 years longer than the global average of someone born in 1950. Ten million Britons (16% of the population of the United Kingdom) are expected to live to 100 or older.
There is an ongoing impact of technological unemployment due to automation and computerization: the rate at which jobs are disappearing--due to machines replacing them--is expected to escalate. Automation alters the number of jobs and the skills demands of industries. As of 2019, the production output of first world nations' manufacturing sectors was doubled when compared to 1984 output; but it is now produced with one-third fewer workers and at significantly reduced operating costs. Half of all jobs with requirements lower than a bachelor's degree are currently in the process of being replaced with partial- or full-automation.
A rise in the retirement age has been called for in view of an increase in life expectancy and has been put in place in many jurisdictions.
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 and 90% of those will have become extinct by the year 2100.[failed verification] 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.[failed verification]
1998-2003 - 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.
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 coalitioninvadedIraq 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.
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.
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.
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 - In September, the Occupy movement, an international protest movement against social and economic inequality, takes shape. It's partially inspired by the Arab Spring and is one of the first significant global protest movements to occur in the age of social media.
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 - 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
2020 - Kamala Harris becomes the Democratic Party's nominee for vice-president of the United States, making her the first African-American, the first Asian-American and the third female vice presidential running mate on a major party ticket.
2020 - Azerbaijan launches successful military campaign against Armenian forces to take back disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region. Turkey sends Syrian mercenaries to assist in this endeavor, and Russia ends the conflict by deploying peacekeepers.
2007 - China launches its first lunar mission with the Chang'e 1, on October 24.
2008 - India launches its first lunar mission Chandrayaan-1 which included a remote sensing orbiter and impactor on 22 October 2008. It made India the third nation to place its flag on Moon.
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.
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.
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.
2017 - SpaceX launches SES-10 on a re-used first stage, becoming the first re-flight of an orbital-class booster.
2019 - New Horizons performs a flyby of 486958 Arrokoth, the most distant object to be visited by a spacecraft.
2019 - NASA concludes the 15-year Opportunity rover mission after being unable to wake the rover from hibernation.
2019 - Israel launched its first spacecraft, Beresheet, towards the Moon on April 7; after two months of journey, the spacecraft failed to land and crashed on the surface of the Moon, what made Israel the seventh country to successfully orbit the Moon.
The Digital Revolution continued into the early 21st century with mobile phone usage and Global Internet usage growing massively, becoming available to many more people, with more applications and faster speeds.
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
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.
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.
2010 Haiti earthquake - At least 230,000 are killed in Haiti after a massive earthquake on January 12, 2010. 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.
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.
2011 T?hoku 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.
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.
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.
On April 10, 2010, Polish President Lech Kaczy?ski, 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.
Michael Schumacher broke many records in the first few years of the century, including the record for most races won (91), most World Championships (7), and most pole positions (68) by the time he retired in 2006. In 2010, he announced his comeback to Formula One after three years out of the sport, retiring again in 2012.
Sebastian Vettel broke 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 became the most successful rally driver ever, winning the World Rally Championship a record 9 consecutive times between 2004 and 2012. He also set new records for the most wins, podium finishes and points scored.
Casey Stoner won his second MotoGP world title (2007 and 2011), and announced 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 became effective at the end of the 2012 MotoGP season. Stoner has won every MotoGP-branded race at least once.
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.
Global Peak Oil forecast. Virtually all economic sectors rely heavily on petroleum.
Dhaka, Bangladesh in 2006. Almost 97% of future population growth is expected to occur in developing countries.
Population. The world's population demographics will shift considerably in this century, with the population of Europe and East Asia to decline considerably and the population of Africa and to a lesser extent South Asia to grow considerably. The United Nations estimates that world population will reach 9.8 billion by the year 2050. Most of this growth will take place in the world's poorer countries, which may slow down the global reduction of poverty and combined with the effects of global warming may lead to large migrations.
Overconsumption and overpopulation. The United Nationsestimates 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. Many developed countries (most notably Japan) will experience population decline, 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. Immense progress has been made in reducing poverty, especially in China and India but increasingly in Africa as well. Microcredit lending has also started to gain a profile as a useful anti-poverty tool.
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.
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.