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- 20th century
The twentieth century was remarkable due to the technological, medical,
social, ideological, and international innovations, and due to the rise
of war, genocide, and democide on an unprecedented scale. Virtually every
aspect of life in virtually every human society had changed in some fundamental
way by the end of the twentieth century.
Important developments, events and achievements
Science and Technology
line and mass
production of motor vehicles and other goods allowed manufacturers
to produce more and cheaper products. This allowed the automobile
to become the most important mean of transportation.
The invention of heavier-than-air flying machines and the jet
engine allowed for the world to become "smaller". Space
flight increased knowledge of the rest of the universe and allowed
for global real-time communications via geosynchronous
Radio, television and later, the computer, especially through the Internet,
provided the consumer with many opportunities to obtain news, information
The development of Nitrogen fertilizer, pesticides and herbicides resulted
in significantly higher agricultural yield.
Advances in fundamental physics through the theory of relativity and quantum
mechanics lead to the development of nuclear weapons, nuclear energy, and
The big bang model of cosmology was developed.
Inventions such as the washing machine and air conditioning led to an increase
in both the quantity and quality of leisure time for the middle class in
Wars and Politics
Rising nationalism and increasing national awareness were among the causes
War I, the first of two wars to involve all the major world powers
including Germany, France, Italy, the United States and the British Commonwealth.
World War I led to the creation of many new countries, especially in Eastern
The economic and political aftermath of World War I led to the rise of
in Europe, and shortly to World
War II. This war also involved Asia and the Pacific, in the form of
Japanese aggression against China and the United States. While the First
World War mainly cost lives among soldiers, civilians suffered greatly
in the Second -- from the bombing of cities on both sides,and in the unprecedented
German genocide of the Jews and others, known as the Holocaust.
Unhappiness in Russia led to the rise of Communism
and the Russian
Revolution. After the Soviet Union's involvement in World War II, Communism
became a major force in global politics, spreading all over the world:
notably, to Eastern Europe, China, Indochina and Cuba. This led to the
War with the western world, led by the United States.
The "fall of Communism" in the late 1980s left the United States as the
world's only superpower. It also led to the dissolution of the Soviet Union
and Yugoslavia into successor states, many rife with ethnic nationalism.
Through the League
of Nations and, after World War II, the United
Nations, international cooperation increased. Other efforts included
the formation of the European Union, leading to a common currency in much
of Western Europe, the euro.
The end of colonialism led to the independence of many African and Asian
countries. During the Cold War, many of these aligned with the USA, the
USSR, or China for defense.
The creation of Israel,
a Jewish state in a mostly Arab region of the world, fueled many conflicts
in the region, which were also influenced by the vast oil
fields in many of the Arab
Five overall worst attrocities of the 20th century:
World War II and regime of Adolph Hitler (1937-1945), over 50 million dead.
Regime of Mao Tse-Tung and Chinese famine (1949-1976), over 48 million
Regime of Joseph Stalin (1924-1953), over 20 million dead.
World War I (1914-1918), over 15 million dead.
Russian Civil War (1918-1921), over 8.5 million dead.
Culture and Entertainment
and the media
had a major influence on fashion
and trends in all aspects of life. As many movies and music originate from
States, American culture spreads rapidly over the world.
After gaining political rights in the United States and much of Europe
in the first part of the century, women became more independent throughout
Modern art developed new styles such as expressionism,
provided vastly increased transportation capabilities for the average member
of Western societies in the early to mid-century, spreading even further
later on. City design throughout most of the West became focused on transport
via car. The car became a leading symbol of modern society, with styles
of car suited to and symbolic of particular lifestyles.
became an important part of society, becoming an activity not only for
the privileged. Watching sports, later also on television,
became a popular activity.
Highest grossing films of the 20th century:
Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace (1999)
The Extra-Terrestrial (1982)
Most critically acclaimed films:
Longest running television programs:
Natural Resources and the Environment
The widespread use of petroleum in industry -- both as a chemical precursor
to plastics and as a fuel for the automobile
-- led to the vital geopolitical importance of petroleum resources. The
East, home to many of the world's oil deposits, became a center of
geopolitical and military tension throughout the latter half of the century.
A vast increase in fossil fuel consumption leads to depletion of natural
resources, while air pollution possibly leads to global warming and the
ozone hole. The problem is increased by world-wide deforestation, also
causing a loss of biodiversity. The problem is decreased by advances in
drilling technology which led to a net increase in the amount of fossil
fuel that is readily obtainable at the end of the century, as compared
with the amount considered obtainable at the beginning of the century.
Delano Roosevelt, USA
F. Kennedy, USA
'Che' Guevara, Cuba
Chamberlain, United Kingdom
Churchill, United Kingdom
Thatcher, United Kingdom
de Gaulle, France
Ferdinand, Archduke of Austria, Austria-Hungary
Broz 'Tito', Yugoslavia
Abdel Nasser, Egypt
Sedar Senghor, Senegal
Writers and Poets
Decades and Years