21st century




The 21st (twenty-first) century is the current century in the Anno Domini era or Common Era, in accordance with the Gregorian calendar. It began on January 1, 2001 (MMI), and will end on December 31, 2100 (MMC).[1] The 21st century is the first century of the 3rd millennium.

The beginning of the 21st century has been marked by the rise of a global economy and Third World consumerism, deepening global concern over terrorism and an increase in private enterprise.[2][3][4] The NATO interventions in Afghanistan and Iraq of the early 2000s as well as overthrowing several regimes during Arab Spring of the early 2010s led to mixed outcomes in the Arab world, resulting in several civil wars and political instability.[5] The United States has remained the global superpower, while China is now considered as an emerging global superpower.

In 2017, about half (49.3%) of the world's population lived in "some form of democracy", though only 4.5 percent lived in "full democracies".[6]

The European Union has greatly expanded in the 21st century, adding 13 member states. Most member states of the European Union introduced a common currency, the Euro, and the United Kingdom withdrew from the European Union.

Effects of global warming and rising sea levels have continued to exacerbate ecological crises, with eight islands disappearing between 2007 and 2014.[7][8][9]

In 2020 and 2021, the COVID-19 pandemic spread around the world, causing severe global economic disruption, including the largest global recession since the Great Depression.

With the proliferation of mobile devices, more than half of the world's population obtained access to the internet (2018 estimate).[10] After the success of the Human Genome Project, DNA sequencing services became available and affordable.[11][12]

There is a lack of general agreement over how to pronounce specific years of the 21st century in English. Academics have pointed out that the early years of previous centuries were commonly pronounced as, for example, "eighteen oh five" (for 1805) and "nineteen oh five" (for 1905).[13] Generally, the early years of the 21st century were pronounced as in "two-thousand (and) five", with a change taking place around 2010, when pronunciations often shifted between the early-years form of "two-thousand and ten" and the traditionally more concise form of "twenty-ten".

The Vancouver Olympics, which took place in 2010, was being officially referred to by Vancouver 2010 as "the twenty-ten Olympics".

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.[14] 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[15] and depression[16] 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.[17][18]

The entire written works of humanity, from the beginning of recorded history to 2003, in all known languages, are estimated to be at five exabytes of data.[19][20] Since 2003, with the beginning of social media and "user-generated content", the same amount of data is created every two days.[21] The advancement of the sum total of human knowledge and information continues to grow at an exponential rate.

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.[22] 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.[23]

In 2001, Dennis Tito became the first space tourist, beginning the era of commercial spaceflight. Entrepreneurs such as Elon Musk and Richard Branson are working towards commercial space exploration, colonization and tourism, and China and India have made substantial strides in their space programs. On January 3, 2019, China landed a robotic spacecraft on the far side of the Moon, the first to do so.[24]

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 Facebook–Cambridge Analytica data scandal drew international attention to the possible negative effects of social media in influencing citizen's views, particularly with regard to the 2016 United States presidential election.

The world population was about 6.1 billion at the start of the 21st century, and reached 7.8 billion by March 2020. It is estimated to reach about 8.6 billion by the year 2030,[25] 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.[26]

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.[27]

Climate change remains a serious concern; UN Chief António Guterres, for instance, has described it as an "existential threat" to humanity.[28] Furthermore, the Holocene extinction event, the sixth most significant extinction event in the history of the Earth, continues with the widespread degradation of highly biodiverse habitats as a byproduct of human activity.[29]

Economically and politically, the United States and Western Europe were dominant at the beginning of the century; by the 2010s, China became an emerging global superpower and by some measures the world's largest economy. In terms of purchasing power parity, India's economy became larger than that of Japan around the year 2011.[30]

Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are decentralized currencies that are not controlled by any central bank. These currencies have been increasing in popularity worldwide due to the increasing availability of the internet. They are mostly used as a store of value.

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.[31] 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.[32] 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.[33]

The World Economic Forum forecast that 65% of children entering primary school will end up in jobs or careers that currently do not yet exist.[34]

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.[35][36]

As of 2009, SIL Ethnologue catalogued 6,909 living human languages.[37] 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.[38]

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.[38]

Some territories have gained independence during the 21st century. This is a list of sovereign states that have gained independence in the 21st century and have been recognized by the UN.

These nations gained sovereignty through government reform.

The Union of the Comoros replaced the Federal Islamic Republic of the Comoros

The Transitional Islamic State of Afghanistan replaced the Islamic State of Afghanistan.

The State Union of Serbia and Montenegro replaced the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.

The Islamic Republic of Afghanistan replaced the Transitional Islamic State of Afghanistan

The Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal replaced the Kingdom of Nepal.

The National Transitional Council of Libya replaced the Great Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya.

The State of Libya replaced the National Transitional Council of Libya.

These territories have declared independence and secured relative autonomy but they have only been recognized by some UN member states:

These territories have declared independence and secured relative autonomy but they have been recognized by no one:

These territories were annexed from a sovereign country, the action has only been recognized by some UN member states:

These terrorities were ceded to another country:

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.

Social networking emerged in the late 2000s as a popular social communication, largely replacing much of the function of email, message boards and instant messaging services. Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and Snapchat are all major examples of social media to gain widespread popularity. The use of webcams and front-facing cameras on PCs and related devices, and services such as Skype and FaceTime, have made video calling and video conferencing widespread.

2000s

2010s

2020s

Association football is the most popular sport worldwide with the FIFA World Cup being the most viewed football event. Other sports such as rugby, cricket, baseball, basketball, ice hockey, tennis, and golf are popular globally. In cricket, the emergence of the Twenty20 format and the creation of the Indian Premier League led to changes in the nature of the sport. American swimmer Michael Phelps won an Olympic record setting 8 Gold medals at the 2008 Summer Olympics.

At the beginning of the century, the compact disc (CD) was the standard form of music media, but alternative forms of music media started to take it place such as music downloading and online streaming. A resurgence in sales of vinyl records in the 2010s was driven by record collectors and audiophiles who prefer the sound of analog vinyl records to digital recordings. In 2020, for the first time since the 1980s, vinyl surpassed CDs as the primary form of physical media for consumers of music, though both were still surpassed by online streaming, which by the 2020s became the predominant way that people consumed music.[78] As of 2020, the most active music streaming services were YouTube (1 billion monthly music users, 20 million premium subscribers), Tencent Music (657 million monthly users, 42.7 million premium subscribers), 130 million premium subscribers), SoundCloud (175 million monthly users), Gaana (152 million monthly users), JioSaavn (104 million monthly users), Spotify (286 million monthly users, Pandora (60.9 million monthly users), and Apple Music (60 million subscribers).[79]

As with music, the story of the first two decades of the 21st century was the growth of streaming television services in competition with older forms of television, such as Terrestrial television, cable television, and satellite television. The first major company to dominate the streaming service market was Netflix, which began as a DVD-delivery service in the late 1990s, transitioned into an online media streaming platform initially focused on delivering content produced by studios, then began to produce its own content, beginning with the popular and critically acclaimed series House of Cards in 2013. Netflix's success encouraged the creation of numerous other streaming services, such as Hulu, YouTube Premium, Amazon Prime Video, and Disney+, which within a year of its launch overtook Netflix as the most downloaded television streaming application.[80]

The 21st (twenty-first) century is the current century in the Anno Domini era or Common Era, in accordance with the Gregorian calendar. It began on January 1, 2001 (MMI), and will end on December 31, 2100 (MMC).[1] The 21st century is the first century of the 3rd millennium.

The beginning of the 21st century has been marked by the rise of a global economy and Third World consumerism, deepening global concern over terrorism and an increase in private enterprise.[2][3][4] The NATO interventions in Afghanistan and Iraq of the early 2000s as well as overthrowing several regimes during Arab Spring of the early 2010s led to mixed outcomes in the Arab world, resulting in several civil wars and political instability.[5] The United States has remained the global superpower, while China is now considered as an emerging global superpower.

In 2017, about half (49.3%) of the world's population lived in "some form of democracy", though only 4.5 percent lived in "full democracies".[6]

The European Union has greatly expanded in the 21st century, adding 13 member states. Most member states of the European Union introduced a common currency, the Euro, and the United Kingdom withdrew from the European Union.

Effects of global warming and rising sea levels have continued to exacerbate ecological crises, with eight islands disappearing between 2007 and 2014.[7][8][9]

In 2020 and 2021, the COVID-19 pandemic spread around the world, causing severe global economic disruption, including the largest global recession since the Great Depression.

With the proliferation of mobile devices, more than half of the world's population obtained access to the internet (2018 estimate).[10] After the success of the Human Genome Project, DNA sequencing services became available and affordable.[11][12]

There is a lack of general agreement over how to pronounce specific years of the 21st century in English. Academics have pointed out that the early years of previous centuries were commonly pronounced as, for example, "eighteen oh five" (for 1805) and "nineteen oh five" (for 1905).[13] Generally, the early years of the 21st century were pronounced as in "two-thousand (and) five", with a change taking place around 2010, when pronunciations often shifted between the early-years form of "two-thousand and ten" and the traditionally more concise form of "twenty-ten".

The Vancouver Olympics, which took place in 2010, was being officially referred to by Vancouver 2010 as "the twenty-ten Olympics".

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.[14] 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[15] and depression[16] 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.[17][18]

The entire written works of humanity, from the beginning of recorded history to 2003, in all known languages, are estimated to be at five exabytes of data.[19][20] Since 2003, with the beginning of social media and "user-generated content", the same amount of data is created every two days.[21] The advancement of the sum total of human knowledge and information continues to grow at an exponential rate.

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.[22] 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.[23]

In 2001, Dennis Tito became the first space tourist, beginning the era of commercial spaceflight. Entrepreneurs such as Elon Musk and Richard Branson are working towards commercial space exploration, colonization and tourism, and China and India have made substantial strides in their space programs. On January 3, 2019, China landed a robotic spacecraft on the far side of the Moon, the first to do so.[24]

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 Facebook–Cambridge Analytica data scandal drew international attention to the possible negative effects of social media in influencing citizen's views, particularly with regard to the 2016 United States presidential election.

The world population was about 6.1 billion at the start of the 21st century, and reached 7.8 billion by March 2020. It is estimated to reach about 8.6 billion by the year 2030,[25] 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.[26]

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.[27]

Climate change remains a serious concern; UN Chief António Guterres, for instance, has described it as an "existential threat" to humanity.[28] Furthermore, the Holocene extinction event, the sixth most significant extinction event in the history of the Earth, continues with the widespread degradation of highly biodiverse habitats as a byproduct of human activity.[29]

Economically and politically, the United States and Western Europe were dominant at the beginning of the century; by the 2010s, China became an emerging global superpower and by some measures the world's largest economy. In terms of purchasing power parity, India's economy became larger than that of Japan around the year 2011.[30]

Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are decentralized currencies that are not controlled by any central bank. These currencies have been increasing in popularity worldwide due to the increasing availability of the internet. They are mostly used as a store of value.

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.[31] 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.[32] 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.[33]

The World Economic Forum forecast that 65% of children entering primary school will end up in jobs or careers that currently do not yet exist.[34]

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.[35][36]

As of 2009, SIL Ethnologue catalogued 6,909 living human languages.[37] 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.[38]

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.[38]

Some territories have gained independence during the 21st century. This is a list of sovereign states that have gained independence in the 21st century and have been recognized by the UN.

These nations gained sovereignty through government reform.

The Union of the Comoros replaced the Federal Islamic Republic of the Comoros

The Transitional Islamic State of Afghanistan replaced the Islamic State of Afghanistan.

The State Union of Serbia and Montenegro replaced the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.

The Islamic Republic of Afghanistan replaced the Transitional Islamic State of Afghanistan

The Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal replaced the Kingdom of Nepal.

The National Transitional Council of Libya replaced the Great Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya.

The State of Libya replaced the National Transitional Council of Libya.

These territories have declared independence and secured relative autonomy but they have only been recognized by some UN member states:

These territories have declared independence and secured relative autonomy but they have been recognized by no one:

These territories were annexed from a sovereign country, the action has only been recognized by some UN member states:

These terrorities were ceded to another country:

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.

Social networking emerged in the late 2000s as a popular social communication, largely replacing much of the function of email, message boards and instant messaging services. Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and Snapchat are all major examples of social media to gain widespread popularity. The use of webcams and front-facing cameras on PCs and related devices, and services such as Skype and FaceTime, have made video calling and video conferencing widespread.

2000s

2010s

2020s

Association football is the most popular sport worldwide with the FIFA World Cup being the most viewed football event. Other sports such as rugby, cricket, baseball, basketball, ice hockey, tennis, and golf are popular globally. In cricket, the emergence of the Twenty20 format and the creation of the Indian Premier League led to changes in the nature of the sport. American swimmer Michael Phelps won an Olympic record setting 8 Gold medals at the 2008 Summer Olympics.

At the beginning of the century, the compact disc (CD) was the standard form of music media, but alternative forms of music media started to take it place such as music downloading and online streaming. A resurgence in sales of vinyl records in the 2010s was driven by record collectors and audiophiles who prefer the sound of analog vinyl records to digital recordings. In 2020, for the first time since the 1980s, vinyl surpassed CDs as the primary form of physical media for consumers of music, though both were still surpassed by online streaming, which by the 2020s became the predominant way that people consumed music.[78] As of 2020, the most active music streaming services were YouTube (1 billion monthly music users, 20 million premium subscribers), Tencent Music (657 million monthly users, 42.7 million premium subscribers), 130 million premium subscribers), SoundCloud (175 million monthly users), Gaana (152 million monthly users), JioSaavn (104 million monthly users), Spotify (286 million monthly users, Pandora (60.9 million monthly users), and Apple Music (60 million subscribers).[79]

As with music, the story of the first two decades of the 21st century was the growth of streaming television services in competition with older forms of television, such as Terrestrial television, cable television, and satellite television. The first major company to dominate the streaming service market was Netflix, which began as a DVD-delivery service in the late 1990s, transitioned into an online media streaming platform initially focused on delivering content produced by studios, then began to produce its own content, beginning with the popular and critically acclaimed series House of Cards in 2013. Netflix's success encouraged the creation of numerous other streaming services, such as Hulu, YouTube Premium, Amazon Prime Video, and Disney+, which within a year of its launch overtook Netflix as the most downloaded television streaming application.[80]

The 21st (twenty-first) century (or the XXIst century) is the current century in the Anno Domini era or Common Era, under the Gregorian calendar. It began on January 1, 2001 (MMI) and will end on December 31, 2100 (MMC).[1]

Marking the beginning of the 21st century was the rise of a global economy and Third World consumerism, deepening global concern over terrorism after September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and increased private enterprise.[2][3][4] The NATO interventions in Afghanistan and Iraq of the early 2000s and overthrowing several regimes during the Arab Spring of the early 2010s led to mixed outcomes in the Arab world, resulting in several civil wars and political instability.[5] The United States has remained the global superpower, while China is now considered an emerging global superpower.

In 2017, 49.3% of the world's population lived in "some form of democracy", though only 4.5% lived in "full democracies".[6]

The European Union was greatly expanded in the 21st century, adding 13 member states, but the United Kingdom withdrew. Most European Union member states introduced a common currency, the Euro.

Effects of global warming and rising sea levels exacerbated the ecological crises, with eight islands disappearing between 2007 and 2014.[7][8][9]

In early 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic began to rapidly spread worldwide, causing severe global economic disruption, including the largest global recession since the Great Depression.

With the proliferation of mobile devices, more than half of the world's population obtained access to the internet (2018 estimate).[10] After the success of the Human Genome Project, DNA sequencing services became available and affordable.[11][12]

There is a lack of general agreement over how to pronounce specific years of the 21st century in English. Academics have pointed out that the early years of previous centuries were commonly pronounced as, for example, "eighteen oh five" (for 1805) and "nineteen oh five" (for 1905).[13] Generally, the early years of the 21st century were pronounced as in "two-thousand (and) five", with a change taking place around 2010, when pronunciations often shifted between the early-years form of "two-thousand and ten" and the traditionally more concise form of "twenty-ten".

The Vancouver Olympics, which took place in 2010, was being officially referred to by Vancouver 2010 as "the twenty-ten Olympics".

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.[14] 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[15] and depression[16] 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.[17][18]

The entire written works of humanity, from the beginning of recorded history to 2003, in all known languages, are estimated to be at five exabytes of data.[19][20] Since 2003, with the beginning of social media and "user-generated content", the same amount of data is created every two days.[21] The growth of human knowledge and information continues at an exponential rate.

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.[22] In the 2010s, artificial intelligence, mainly in the form of deep learning and machine learning, became more prevalent and is prominently used in Gmail and Google's search engine, in banking, with the military and other niches. In 2017, 14% of the world's population still lacked access to electricity.[23]

In 2001, Dennis Tito became the first space tourist, beginning the era of commercial spaceflight. Entrepreneurs Elon Musk and Richard Branson are working towards commercial space exploration, colonization and tourism, while China and India have made substantial strides in their space programs. On January 3, 2019, China landed a robotic spacecraft on the far side of the Moon, the first to do so.[24]

War and violence have 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 Facebook–Cambridge Analytica data scandal drew international attention to the possible adverse effects of social media in influencing citizen's views, particularly regarding the 2016 United States presidential election.

The world population was about 6.1 billion at the start of the 21st century and reached 7.8 billion by March 2020. It is estimated to reach nearly 8.6 billion by 2030,[25] and 9.8 billion by 2050. According to the United Nations World Urbanization prospects, a 60% projection of the world's human population is to live in megacities and megalopolises by 2030, 70% by 2050, and 90% by 2080. It is expected by 2040, the investing of more than 5 times the current global gross domestic product is expected to be in urban infrastructure.[26]

Life expectancy has increased as child mortality continues to decline. A baby born in 2016, for example, will, on average (globally), live to 72 years—26 years longer than the global average of someone born in 1950. Ten million Britons (16% of the United Kingdom population) will, on average, live to 100 or older.[27]

Climate change remains a serious concern; UN Chief António Guterres, for instance, has described it as an "existential threat" to humanity.[28] Furthermore, the Holocene extinction event, the sixth most significant extinction event in the Earth's history, continues with the widespread degradation of highly biodiverse habitats as a by-product of human activity.[29]

Economically and politically, the United States and Western Europe were dominant at the beginning of the century; by the 2010s, China became an emerging global superpower and, by some measures, the world's largest economy. In terms of purchasing power parity, India's economy became more significant than Japan's around 2011.[30]

Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are decentralized currencies that are not controlled by any central bank. These currencies are increasing in popularity worldwide due to the expanding availability of the internet and are mainly used as a store of value.

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.[31] 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.[32] 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.[33]

The World Economic Forum forecast that 65% of children entering primary school will end up in jobs or careers that currently do not yet exist.[34]

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.[35][36]

As of 2009, SIL Ethnologue catalogued 6,909 living human languages.[37] The exact number of known living languages will vary from 5,000 to 10,000, generally depending 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. Between 50 and 90% of those will have become extinct by the year 2100.[38]

The top 20 languages spoken by more than 50 million speakers each, are spoken by 50% of the world's population. In contrast, many of the other languages are spoken by small communities, most of them with fewer than 10,000 speakers.[38]

Some territories have gained independence during the 21st century. This is a list of sovereign states that have gained independence in the 21st century and have been recognized by the UN.

These nations gained sovereignty through government reform.

The Union of the Comoros replaced the Federal Islamic Republic of the Comoros

The Transitional Islamic State of Afghanistan replaced the Islamic State of Afghanistan.

The State Union of Serbia and Montenegro replaced the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.

The Islamic Republic of Afghanistan replaced the Transitional Islamic State of Afghanistan

The Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal replaced the Kingdom of Nepal.

The National Transitional Council of Libya replaced the Great Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya.

The State of Libya replaced the National Transitional Council of Libya.

These territories have declared independence and secured relative autonomy but they have only been recognized by some UN member states:

These territories have declared independence and secured relative autonomy but they have been recognized by no one:

These territories were annexed from a sovereign country, the action has only been recognized by some UN member states:

These terrorities were ceded to another country:

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.

Social networking emerged in the mid 2000s as a popular social communication, largely replacing much of the function of email, message boards and instant messaging services. Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and Snapchat are all major examples of social media to gain widespread popularity. The use of webcams and front-facing cameras on PCs and related devices, and services such as Skype, Zoom, and FaceTime have made video calling and video conferencing widespread. Their use hugely increased during the Covid-19 pandemic.

2000s

2010s

2020s

Association football is the most popular sport worldwide with the FIFA World Cup being the most viewed football event. Other sports such as rugby, cricket, baseball, basketball, ice hockey, tennis, and golf are popular globally. In cricket, the emergence of the Twenty20 format and the creation of the Indian Premier League led to changes in the nature of the sport. American swimmer Michael Phelps won an Olympic record setting 8 Gold medals at the 2008 Summer Olympics.

At the beginning of the century, the compact disc (CD) was the standard form of music media, but alternative forms of music media started to take it place such as music downloading and online streaming. A resurgence in sales of vinyl records in the 2010s was driven by record collectors and audiophiles who prefer the sound of analog vinyl records to digital recordings. In 2020, for the first time since the 1980s, vinyl surpassed CDs as the primary form of physical media for consumers of music, though both were still surpassed by online streaming, which by the 2020s became the predominant way that people consumed music.[78] As of 2020, the most active music streaming services were YouTube (1 billion monthly music users, 20 million premium subscribers), Tencent Music (657 million monthly users, 42.7 million premium subscribers), 130 million premium subscribers), SoundCloud (175 million monthly users), Gaana (152 million monthly users), JioSaavn (104 million monthly users), Spotify (286 million monthly users), Pandora (60.9 million monthly users), and Apple Music (60 million subscribers).[79]

As with music, the story of the first two decades of the 21st century was the growth of streaming television services in competition with older forms of television, such as Terrestrial television, cable television, and satellite television. The first major company to dominate the streaming service market was Netflix, which began as a DVD-delivery service in the late 1990s, transitioned into an online media streaming platform initially focused on delivering content produced by studios, then began to produce its own content, beginning with the popular and critically acclaimed series House of Cards in 2013. Netflix's success encouraged the creation of numerous other streaming services, such as Hulu, YouTube Premium, Amazon Prime Video, and Disney+, which within a year of its launch overtook Netflix as the most downloaded television streaming application.[80]


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