|Centuries:||20th century - 21st century - 22nd century|
|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. It spans 2001 to 2100, and the 3rd millennium spans 2001 to 3000, since counting for the first century begun with the year 1 . Frequently common usage regards the 21st century as spanning 2000 to 2099, and the third millennium as spanning 2000 to 2999. In 2000 the ISO implicitly backed the common usage by defining a calendar that places the origin of the counting in a Year Zero. In practice, the question of common usage seems definitively settled by the wide use of January 1st, 2000, to mark the beginning of the 21st century. Decades are almost always considered as starting with the "0" year and named accordingly ("2010s", etc.).
- 1 Overview
- 2 Important developments, events, achievements
- 3 Issues and concerns
- 4 Significant people
- 5 Astronomical events and predictions
- 6 Scientific Predictions
- 7 Science fiction set in the 21st century
- 8 Decades and years
- 9 External links
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).
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
- 2003 International Criminal Court opens
- 2004 EU Enlargement: 10 countries join
- 2005 UN Security Council decides war criminals in Darfur will be tried by the International Criminal Court (Resolution 1593) 
- 2003 - 2005 A series of non-violent revolutions known as the color revolutions overthrew authoritarian regimes in Georgia, Ukraine, Kyrgyzstan and Lebanon.
Science and technology
- 2002 Mars Odyssey arrives in orbit around Mars.
- 2003 Space Shuttle Columbia disaster February 1
- 2003 Dolly the sheep dies prematurely February 14
- 2003 Chinese space program launches its first manned space flight, Shenzhou 5 October 15.
- 2003 Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) spreads around the globe.
- 2004 Mars rovers discover evidence of likely flowing water on Mars. Both are still in service as of 2005.
- 2004 Cassini-Huygens probe arrives at Saturn.
- 2004 SpaceShipOne makes first privately-funded human spaceflight, June 21
- 2005 Huygens probe lands on Titan, the largest of Saturn's moons, January 14
- 2005 Deep Impact probe impacts Comet Tempel 1 July 4.
Conflicts and civil unrest
- September 11, 2001 attacks
- 2001 U.S. invasion of Afghanistan
- 12 October 2002 Bali bombing
- 2003 Invasion of Iraq
- 11 March 2004 Madrid train bombings
- September 2004 Beslan hostage crisis
- 7 July 2005 London bombings
- November 2005 rioting in France
Worldwide deaths from war and terror attacks
- Second Congo War, approximately 1.8 million deaths (3.8 million since 1998)
- Darfur conflict, approximately 200,000 deaths
- U.S. Invasion in Iraq, most estimates claim 30,000 – 50,000 Iraqi and 2,200 coalition deaths. The Lancet recently estimated 100,000 Iraqis have died as a result of the invasion. 
- Civil War in Côte d'Ivoire, 3,000 deaths
- September 11, 2001 attacks, 2,993 deaths
Furthermore, there are several wars and dictatorships continuing from the 20th century. In most cases, the death toll is unclear.
See also .
- Earthquake in Bam, Iran on December 27th, 2003 killed more than 26,000 people.
- 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake. On December 26th an undersea earthquake in the Indian Ocean created a large tsunami, which impacted land across the region and caused approximately 310,000 deaths in Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India, Thailand and other countries in the region.
- 2005 U.S Gulf Coast Hurricane Katrina - The Category 4 hurricane impacts the Gulf Coast, flooding New Orleans in Louisiana, most of Mississippi, Tennessee, and Alabama. The current number of fatalities stands at 1,277. This hurricane surpassed Hurricane Andrew in cost of damage, becoming the costliest natural disaster in U.S history.
- Earthquake in Kashmir on October 8, 2005. An earthquake in Kashmir has so far claimed over 80,000 lives in India and Pakistan.
- 2005- The Chicago White Sox win their first World Series in 88 years, defeating the Houston Astros 4 games to 0.
- 2005- the 100 meters record is broken by Jamaican Asafa Powell (9.77 seconds)
- 2005- Lance Armstrong wins his 7th consecutive Tour de France and retires.
- 2005- Liverpool F.C. overcomes a 3-0 halftime deficit to A.C. Milan to win the 2004/2005 UEFA Champions League. Liverpool win 4-3 on penalties. It was Liverpool's fifth Champions League victory.
- 2004- The Boston Red Sox win their first World Series in 86 years, defeating the St. Louis Cardinals 4 games to 0.
- 2004- Greece wins the European Football Championship for the first time.
- 2004- Lance Armstrong wins his 6th consecutive Tour de France, becoming the first cyclist to win it six times.
- 2003- Chicago Cubs fan Steve Bartman interferes with a foul ball during Game 6 of the National League Championship Series. Rather than the Cubs recording the out- and probably the win- the Florida Marlins won Game 6 and Game 7 en route to their second-ever World Series win.
- 2002- Brazil win the Football World Cup becoming the first team to win the trophy 5 times.
- 2001- Barry Bonds breaks Mark McGwire's single-season home run record with 73.
- 2001- NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt dies after hitting the wall on the last lap of the Daytona 500. Earnhard's son- Dale Earnhardt Jr. claimed a tearful victory in the next race held at Daytona, less than four months later.
Issues and concerns
Some of the things that have dominated discussion and debate in this century include:
- 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) huge economic and cultural shifts which have been the subject of considerable controversy.
- 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.
- 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.
- War and Terrorism. Dozens of active conflicts rage around the world, including civil wars in Congo, Indonesia, Chechnya, Côte d'Ivoire, Somalia, Nepal, Senegal, Colombia, and what some called a genocide in Darfur, Sudan. The September 11, 2001 attacks triggered invasions of Afghanistan and 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.
- Climate change. Most scientists expect that significant anthropogenic climate change will occur during the 21st century, resulting in unprecedented economic and ecological costs. Others dispute the severity of the problem. Trends such as global warming, pollution, biodiversity loss and resource depletion all are growing factors that will contribute to significant issues in this century. Resources in immediate danger of depletion include water, oil, and natural gas.
- 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 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.
- 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 becomng 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.
Influential people in politics as of 2005
(in alphabetical order)
- George W. Bush, President of the United States of America
- Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin, President of the Russian Federation
- Dr. Manmohan Singh, Indian Prime Minister
- Hu Jintao, President of the People's Republic of China
- Kofi Annan, Secretary General of the United Nations
- Tony Blair, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
- Junichiro Koizumi, Prime Minister of Japan
- Jacques Chirac, President of France
- Condoleezza Rice, United States Secretary of State
- Gerhard Schröder, German Bundeskanzler (chancellor)
- Luis Inácio da Silva, President of Brazil
- Hugo Chávez, President of Venezuela
- Fidel Castro, President of Cuba
- Jan Peter Balkenende, Prime Minister of the Netherlands
- José Manuel Durão Barroso, President of the European Commission
- Silvio Berlusconi, Italian Prime Minister
- Pervez Musharraf Pakistani President
- Vicente Fox, President of Mexico
- Jean Chrétien, former Prime Minister of Canada
- Carlo Azeglio Ciampi, President of Italy
- Luigi R. Einaudi, Secretary-General of the Organization of American States
- Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkish Prime Minister
- Lawrence Gonzi,Maltese Prime Minister
- John Howard, Prime Minister of Australia
- Mahmoud Abbas, Palestinian President
- King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia
- Saddam Hussein, deposed President of Iraq, currently held by US forces
- Abdul Kalam, President of India
- Mohammad Khatami, President of Iran
- Kim Jong-il, General Secretary of the Korean Workers' Party and chairman of the National Defense Commission of North Korea
- Hamid Karzai, President of Afghanistan
- Aleksander Kwaśniewski, President of Poland
- Osama bin Laden, Al-Qaeda leader
- Paul Martin, Prime Minister of Canada
- Thabo Mbeki, South African president and current leader of the African Union
- Karl Rove, President Bush's senior advisor, chief political strategist, and deputy chief of staff in charge of policy.
- 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
- José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, President of Spain
- Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga, President of Latvia
Influential people in religion as of 2005
- Pope John Paul II
- Pope Benedict XVI
- The 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet, Tenzin Gyatso
- Founder of Falun Gong, Li Hongzhi
- Ayatollah Khamenei
- Stanley Hauerwas, proclaimed in 2001 "America's Best Theologian"
- Gordon B. Hinckley, President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
- Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the founder of the Transcendental Meditation movement.
Influential people in technology as of 2005
- Bill Gates, chairman of Microsoft Corporation
- Richard Stallman, founder of the Free Software Foundation
- Steve Ballmer, CEO of Microsoft Corporation
- Steve Jobs, founder of Apple Computer
- Larry Page and Sergey Brin, founders of the Google search engine
- Linus Torvalds, creator of the Linux kernel
Influential people in science as of 2005
Influential people in mathematics as of 2005
- 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
- 2010/2011: Triple conjunction Jupiter-Uranus
- Wednesday, June 6, 2012: Transit of Venus to occur a second 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.
- 2025/2026: Triple conjunction Saturn-Neptune
- 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.
- November 13, 2032: Transit of Mercury
- 2037/2038: Triple conjunction Jupiter-Uranus
- November 7, 2039: Transit of Mercury
- 2041/2042: Triple conjunction Mars-Uranus
- October 1, 2044: Occultation of Regulus by Venus. The last was on July 7, 1959. After 2044 the next occultation of Regulus by Venus will occur on October 21, 3187, although some sources claim it will occur again on October 6, 2271.
- 2047/2048: 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: At 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 that date will be only 7 degrees.
- 2066: Triple conjunction Jupiter-Uranus
- July 15, 2067: At 11:56 UTC, Mercury will occult Neptune. Unfortunately this rare event will be very difficult to observe.
- 2071/2072: Triple conjunction Mars-Neptune
- November 14, 2078: Transit of Mercury
- 2079: Triple conjunction Saturn-Uranus
- August 11, 2079: At 01:30 UTC, Mercury will occult Mars
- Friday, November 10, 2084: Transit of Earth as seen from Mars
- November 7, 2085: Transit of Mercury
- 2085/2086: Triple conjunction Jupiter-Neptune
- October 27, 2088: At 13:43 UTC, Mercury will occult Jupiter
- 2088/2089: Triple conjunction Mars-Neptune
- 2093: Triple conjunction Jupiter-Uranus
- April 7, 2094: At 10:48 UTC, Mercury will occult Jupiter
- May 8, 2095: Transit of Mercury
- November 10, 2098: Transit of Mercury
- Human Genetic Engineering becomes possible
- Outer space uninhabited for the last time (this moment may have already passed)
- Global Warming accelerates
Science fiction set in the 21st century
Television and film
- The events of Stargate SG-1 continue into the early 21st century.
- Stargate Atlantis is set in the early 21st century.
- Transformers: The Movie: is set in the year 2005. The subsequent Generation 2 Transformers series takes place after the events of the movie.
- The Japanese anime show The Super Dimension Fortress Macross spans the years 2009 to 2012 (its final episode takes place on New Year's Day, 2012; and an direct to video epilogue featurette takes place in September 2012). Its prequel and sequels take place in 2008 (Macross Zero), 2040 (Macross Plus) and 2045 (Macross 7). A dramatized historical fiction movie about the First Space War, Macross: Do You Remember Love, is filmed in 2030.
- The American cartoon show Robotech, composed from the footage of three unrelated anime series (including Macross, above) spans the years 2009 to 2015, 2030-2031 and 2044-2045.
- Part of Back to the Future Part II is set in 2015.
- The Japanese anime series Neon Genesis Evangelion is also set in 2015.
- The modern classic film Blade Runner takes place in November, 2019.
- Both parts of the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "Past Tense" take place in 2024.
- The anime universe of Ghost in the Shell, its sequel Ghost in the Shell: Innocence, and anime television series based on the same premise (Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex and Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex 2nd GiG), are centered somewhere around 2029.
- The Terminator is set up during the early years of the 21st century in terms of the wars between humans & Skynet. Some of the interveing years are dealt with by the, at the moment 2, sequels, Terminator 2: Judgment Day & Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines with the whole franchise building to a conclusion of the War in 2029.
- Demolition Man is set in 2032.
- I, Robot was set in 2035.
- Minority Report was set in 2054.
- The 1998 remake of Lost in Space was set in 2058.
- Most of Star Trek: First Contact takes place in 2063. In Star Trek canon, the human Zefram Cochrane develops faster-than-light travel and makes first contact with an alien race during this year.
- Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within Is set in 2068.
- The Japanese anime show Cowboy Bebop is set in 2071.
- The Nickelodeon cartoon My Life as a Teenage Robot is set in 2072.
- Equilibrium is set in 2072.
- Total Recall is set in 2084.
- In Star Trek: Insurrection, it is discovered that the Ba'ku moved to the Briar Patch at some point in this century.
- The Jetsons is supposed to take place in the late 21st century.
- Due to the time-travel nature of its stories, Doctor Who has taken place at various points during the 21st century.
Computer and video games
- Uplink is set on the internet of the year 2010.
- Perfect Dark is set in 2023.
- The races in San Francisco Rush 2049 take place in 2049.
- The events of Deus Ex take place in 2052.
- The levels "Breaking and Entering" and "You Genius, U-Genix" in TimeSplitters: Future Perfect take place in 2052.
- System Shock is set in 2072.
- Future Cop: LAPD takes place in the year 2098.
- The discovery of the Zohar in Xenosaga takes place in 20XX.
- The Great War of the Fallout universe starts on October 23, 2077; nuclear bombs are launched, nobody knows who the aggressor was.
- The Classic Mega Man franchise supposedly begins in 200X (circa 2008?). Megaman 3 introduces the 20XX numbering scheme (circa 2010?)
- The events of Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne occur in 20XX.
- In Mercenaries: Playground of Destruction, the 2nd Korean War starts early in this century
- Tad Williams' Otherland series is set at some undefined point in the 21st century
- Neal Stephenson's The Diamond Age is also set in the 21st century, after some disaster befell the centralized telephone network. This led people to build a decentralized network, which they used to transfer money, thus destroying normal methods of taxation and bringing down most large governments.
- Red Mars of Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars trilogy begins in 2027.
- Some books by Boris and Arkady Strugatsky are set in 21st century
Decades and years
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