20th century

The 20th century of the Anno Domini (common) era began on January 1, 1901 and ended on December 31, 2000, according to the Gregorian calendar. A common misconception is that it started in 1900 and ended in 1999 even though popular culture reflected the correct numbering convention in such things such as the movie, 2001, which dealt with the beginning of the next century. Some historians consider the era from about 1914 to 1992 to be the Short Twentieth Century.

The twentieth century was a period of radical departure from almost every previous area of human activity. Accelerating scientific understanding, better communications, faster transportation transformed the world in those hundred years more than any time in the past. It was a century that started with steam powered ships as the most sophisticated means of transport, and ended with the space shuttle. Horses, and other pack animals, Western humanity's basic form of personal transportation for thousands of years were replaced by automobiles within the span of a few decades.

The twentieth century saw a remarkable shift in the way that vast numbers of people lived, as a result of technological, medical, social, ideological, and political innovation. Arguably more technological advances occurred in any 10 year period following World War I than the sum total of new technological development in any previous century. Terms like ideology, world war, genocide, and nuclear war entered common usage and became an influence on the lives of everyday people. War reached an unprecedented scale and level of sophistication; in the Second World War (1939-1945) alone, approximately 57 million people died, mainly due to massive improvements in weaponry. The trends of mechanization of goods and services and networks of global communication, which were begun in the 19th century, continued at an ever-increasing pace in the 20th. In spite of the terror and chaos, the 20th century saw many attempts at world peace. Virtually every aspect of life in virtually every human society changed in some fundamental way or another during the twentieth century and for the first time, any individual could influence the course of history no matter their background. Arguably, the 20th century re-shaped the face of the planet in more ways than any previous century.

Scientific discoveries such as the theory of relativity and quantum physics radically changed the worldview of scientists, causing them to realize that the universe was much more complex than they had previously believed, and dashing the hopes at the end of the preceding century that the last few details of scientific knowledge were about to be filled in.

For a more coherent overview of the historical events of the century, see the 20th century in review.

The 20th century has sometimes been called, both within and outside the United States, the American Century, though this is a controversial term.

More information about specific 20th-century developments are detailed in the following articles:

Contents

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Important developments, events and achievements

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Science and technology

Ford assembly line, 1913
Ford assembly line, 1913
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Wars and politics

Warfare in the early 20th Century (1914-1918)Clockwise from top: front line Trenches,  a British Mark I Tank crossing a trench, the Royal Navy battleship HMS Irresistible sinking after striking a mine at the battle of the Dardanelles,  a Vickers machine gun crew with gas masks  and a Sopwith Camel biplane.
Warfare in the early 20th Century (1914-1918)
Clockwise from top: front line Trenches, a British Mark I Tank crossing a trench, the Royal Navy battleship HMS Irresistible sinking after striking a mine at the battle of the Dardanelles, a Vickers machine gun crew with gas masks and a Sopwith Camel biplane.
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Culture and entertainment

"Film" refers to the celluloid media on which motion pictures reside
"Film" refers to the celluloid media on which motion pictures reside
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Disease and medicine

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Medicine

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Diseases

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Natural resources and the environment

Oil field in California, 1938 The first modern oil well was drilled in 1848 by Russian engineer F.N. Semyonov, on the Apsheron Peninsula north-east of Baku.
Oil field in California, 1938 The first modern oil well was drilled in 1848 by Russian engineer F.N. Semyonov, on the Apsheron Peninsula north-east of Baku.
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See also

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Decades and years

Modernism
20th century - Modernity - Existentialism
Modernism (music): 20th century classical music - Atonality - Jazz
Modernist literature - Modernist poetry
Modern art - Symbolism (arts) - Impressionism - Expressionism - Cubism - Surrealism - Dadaism - Futurism (art) - Fauvism - Pop Art - Minimalism
Modern dance - Expressionist dance
Modern architecture - Brutalism - De Stijl - Functionalism - Futurism - International Style - Organicism - Visionary architecture
...Preceded by Romanticism Followed by Post-modernism...
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Millennium Century
4th BC: 40th BC 39th BC 38th BC 37th BC 36th BC 35th BC 34th BC 33rd BC 32nd BC 31st BC
3rd BC: 30th BC 29th BC 28th BC 27th BC 26th BC 25th BC 24th BC 23rd BC 22nd BC 21st BC
2nd BC: 20th BC 19th BC 18th BC 17th BC 16th BC 15th BC 14th BC 13th BC 12th BC 11th BC
1st BC: 10th BC 9th BC 8th BC 7th BC 6th BC 5th BC 4th BC 3rd BC 2nd BC 1st BC
1st:   1st   2nd   3rd   4th   5th   6th   7th   8th   9th 10th
2nd: 11th 12th 13th 14th 15th 16th 17th 18th 19th 20th
3rd: 21st 22nd 23rd 24th 25th 26th 27th 28th 29th 30th
4th: 31st 32nd 33rd 34th 35th 36th 37th 38th 39th 40th
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