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2000 2001 2002 2003 2004

2005 2006 2007 2008 2009

1980s 1990s - 2000s - 2010s 2020s
21th century

The 2000s is the decade that started on January 1, 2000 and ends on December 31, 2009.

The September 11 attacks by al-Qaeda in 2001 ultimately led the United States under President George W. Bush to invade and occupy Afghanistan and Iraq, and implement various anti-terrorist measures at home and abroad in what was known as the War on Terror. The European Union saw further integration and expansion throughout much of Europe, while Russia's decade of economic depression and social decay in the 1990s changed after Vladimir Putin took charge and steered the country towards a more assertive foreign policy. The institutions, linkages and technologies that emerged or were redefined in that decade would subsequently benefit many countries in the 2000s. China, India and other developing countries experienced rapid economic growth, which while responsible for lifting millions out of poverty, nevertheless had environmental consequences, and raised demand for diminishing energy resources. The end of the decade witnessed the Global Financial Crisis, caused by a lack of regulatory mechanisms and an imbalance in global capital flows.


The most significant evolution of the early-2000s in the economic landscape was the long-time predicted breakthrough of economic giants China and India, that had a double-digit growth during nearly the whole decade. The rapid catching-up of emerging economies with developed countries sparked some protectionist tensions during the period and was partly responsible for an increase in energy and food prices at the end of the decade. The economic developments in the latter third of the decade were dominated by a worldwide economic downturn, which started with the crisis in housing and credit in the United States in late 2007, and led to the bankruptcy of entities as large as Iceland[1]. The outbreak of this global financial crisis sparked a global recession, beginning in the United States and affecting most of the industrialized world.

The decade was marked by two financial and economic crises. In 2000, the Dot-com bubble burst, causing turmoil in financial markets and a decline in economic activity in the developed economies, in particular in the United States.

In 2007, the rise in interest rates and the collapse of the housing market caused a wave of loan payment failures in the U.S. The subsequent mortgage crisis caused a global financial crisis, because the subprime mortgages had been securitized and sold to international banks and investment funds. Despite the intervention of central banks to successfully avoid a complete collapse of the banking sector and to relieve the financial markets, the economic activity was severely affected everywhere in the world in 2008 and 2009[2], with disastrous consequences for carmakers.[3]

Science and technology

Technological advancements have been as revolutionary and diversified as previous decades. In the field of digital electronics, advancements have been considerable. Mobile phones, digital cameras, and digital audio players[4] became household items over the course of a few years. Email and broadband Internet connections have become nearly ubiquitous in the industrialized world. The entertainment industry has struggled to find digital delivery systems for music, movies, and other media that reduce piracy and preserve profit. Internet commerce has become standard for reservations, stock trading, promotion of music, arts, literature, and film, shopping, and other activities. During this decade certain websites and search engines became prominent worldwide as transmitters of goods, services and information. Some of the most popular and successful online internet sites or search engines of the 00s include: Wikipedia, Google, Yahoo, Amazon, Ebay, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. Email has become the dominant form of interpersonal written communication with popular addresses available to the public on Hotmail, Gmail and Yahoo! Mail.

Electronics and communications

  • The digital audio player began a steady climb in popularity, due in most part to the iPod, which cemented itself as a cultural and technological icon of the 2000s.
  • Touchscreen and flip-phone mobiles become extremely popular and useful, as well as mobiles as a whole which nears usage of 100% in Europe and America.
  • High Definition TV becomes popular in the western world.
  • Digital cameras become useful and well used in the developed world.
  • Digital video recorders replaced VCRs as the preferred medium for TV recording.


There were extraordinary robotic advancements made throughout the decade:

  • The U.S. Army used increasingly effective unmanned robotic aircraft missions in war zones such as Afghanistan.
  • Space exploration robotics have become highly advanced, the best known of this decade is Spirit and Opportunity send to explore Mars by NASA.
  • Deep sea exploration robotics have also become highly advanced, helping to locate shipwrecks and new life-forms under the oceans. Ocean explorer Robert Ballard and other scientists and oceanographers have made important technological breakthroughs in explorations of the deep with the assistance of robot technology.[5][6]


  • Microsoft Windows ME, XP, Vista and 7 are released.
  • Mac OS X is released.
  • Computer Generated Imagery software is widely used to create films, such as Transformers and Avatar.
  • Open Source software such as the Linux operating system and the Mozilla Firefox web browser begin to gain ground.


The Human Genome Project was completed in 2000. The National Geographic Society and IBM funded the Genographic Project, which aims to trace the ancestry of every living human down to a single male ancestor.

Astrophysicists studying the universe confirm its age at 13.7 billion years; they determine that it will most likely expand forever without limit; and conclude that only 4% of the universe's contents are ordinary matter (the other 96% being still-mysterious dark matter, dark energy, and dark flow). Astronomers also identify the average colour of the universe as a pale beige, which they term "cosmic latte".

On February 1, 2003, during an attempted reentry into the Earth's atmosphere, Space Shuttle Columbia disintegrated over Texas, killing all seven STS-107 crew members in the second Space Shuttle disaster (the first being the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster in 1986), and halting the Space Shuttle program. After a thorough investigation by the Columbia Accident Investigation Board, it was determined that the disaster had been caused by the penetration of the Space Shuttle's thermal protection system (TPS) by superheated gases during reentry. The penetration occurred due to a hole in the TPS created at launch when insulating foam from the shuttle's external tank hit the TPS. After the investigation, modifications were made to the plans for future shuttle missions to photograph the thermal protection system on each flight, along with other measures such as mandatory satellite imaging of the TPS. On July 26, 2005, the Space Shuttle program returned to flight with the launch of Space Shuttle Discovery on mission STS-114.

Following the Columbia accident, President George W. Bush announced the start of the Vision for Space Exploration, a spaceflight endeavor that evolved into the Constellation program, with the ultimate goal of returning humans to the surface of the Moon by 2020 with the Orion spacecraft and Ares I and Ares V launch vehicles, as well as potential human landings on near-Earth objects or even a human landing on Mars.

The Mars Exploration Rover (MER) mission successfully reached the surface of Mars in 2004, and sent detailed data and images of the landscape there back to Earth. While NASA's original mission timeline of three months was strikingly underestimated, the mission was tremendously successful overall in the long term, as the MER mission continues to this day, lasting more than twenty times the projected length.

On June 21, 2004, Scaled Composites SpaceShipOne completed the first privately funded human spaceflight in history, later in the year winning the US$10 million Ansari X Prize. Later, British billionaire entrepreneur Richard Branson announced Virgin Galactic, a space tourism company aiming to launch private tourists on sub-orbital spaceflights within the next few years. In December 2009, Scaled Composites SpaceShipTwo was unveiled by Branson and lead engineer Burt Rutan, with the first commercial flights expected early in the 2010s decade, probably in 2011.

In 2005 the discovery of Eris, a Kuiper Belt object larger than Pluto, is announced. In August 2006 Pluto is demoted to a "dwarf planet" after being considered a planet for 76 years. Other "dwarf planets" in our solar system now include Ceres and Eris. Space tourism and private spaceflight begins with American Dennis Tito, paying Russia $20 million USD for a week long stay to the International Space Station in 2001. On average, one person went into space as a space tourist every year in the 2000s. The Voyager I spacecraft entered the heliosheath, marking its departure from our solar system. Having analyzed the data from the LCROSS lunar impact, NASA announced that it had found a "significant" quantity of water in the Moon's Cabeus crater, in 2009. Meanwhile CERN's Large Hadron Collider made news as the largest particle accelerator ever built, yet the project was marred by delays and tests are still ongoing into the 2010s. [7]

On December 17, 2009, NOAA scientists announced the release of still imagery and high definition video footage taken in May 2009 of West Mata, the deepest erupting submarine volcano, and the first ever to be filmed.[8] It marked the first time scientists have succeeded in 25 years of attempting to record such footage.[9]

Politics and wars

The "War on Terrorism" and War in Afghanistan began after the September 11 attacks in 2001.[10][11] The International Criminal Court was formed a year later. A United States-led coalition invaded Iraq, and the Iraq war led to the end of Saddam Hussein's term as Iraqi President. Al-Qaeda and affiliated Islamist militant groups performed terrorist acts throughout the decade. These acts included the Madrid Train Bombings in 2004, 7/7 London Bombings in 2005, and the Mumbai attacks related to Al-Qaeda in 2008. The EU expanded, incorporating some former communist nations. North Korea and Iran were seen as strong nuclear threats, following two North Korea nuclear tests, as well as some Iranian threats.

The War on Terrorism generated extreme controversy around the world, with questions regarding the justification for U.S. actions leading to a loss of support for the American government, both in and outside the United States. Additional armed conflict occurred in the Middle East, including between Israel and Hezbollah, then with Israel and the Hamas. The greatest loss of life due to natural disaster came from the 2004 tsunami killing around a quarter-million people and displacing well over a million others. Cooperative international rescue missions by many countries from around the world including the United States helped in efforts by the most affected nations to rebuild and recover from the devastation. An enormous loss of life and property value came in 2005, when Hurricane Katrina flooded nearly the entire city of New Orleans. The resulting political fallout was severely damaging to the Bush administration because of its perceived failure to act promptly and effectively. A key political event occurred in 2008 with the election of Barack Obama as President of the United States, as he would become the first African-American U.S. President.[12]

Major political changes

Political evolutions

Internal conflicts


Terrorist attacks

Nuclear threats

  • In 2003 the United States invaded Iraq, over concerns leader Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction including chemical and biological weapons. The Iraq Inquiry (still ongoing) may explain more on this situation, but in the meantime, the U.S. ended the regime of Suddam Hussein and did not find any nuclear bombs in Iraq.
  • On October 9, 2006, North Korea successfully performed its first Nuclear Test
  • On November 30th 2009, The Iranian Government announced plans to build 10 more uranium nuclear plants.
  • The Doomsday Clock, the symbolic representation of the threat of nuclear annihilation, moved four minutes closer to midnight: Two minutes in 2002 and two minutes in 2007 to 5 minutes to midnight.

World leaders


  1. BusinessWeek. Iceland goes bankrupt. Archived from the original on 2009-07-22. Retrieved on 2009-07-19.
  2. ABC Noticias, The economic crisis
  3. Reuters Se extiende crisis de la industria automotriz, 15 November 2008, El Universo
  4. Ryan Block (September 5, 2007). Steve Jobs live -- Apple's "The beat goes on" special event. Engadget. Retrieved on 2008-03-10.
  5. [1]retrieved December 4, 2009
  6. [2]retrieved December 4, 2009
  7. http://www.cnn.com/2009/TECH/space/11/13/water.moon.nasa/index.html
  8. Scientists Discover and Image Explosive Deep-Ocean Volcano. NOAA (2009-12-17). Retrieved on 2009-12-19. “Scientists funded by NOAA and the National Science Foundation recorded the deepest erupting volcano yet discovered, describing high-definition video of the undersea eruption as “spectacular.” Eruption of the West Mata volcano, discovered in May, occurred nearly 4,000 feet below the surface of the Pacific Ocean, in an area bounded by Fiji, Tonga and Samoa.”
  9. Han, Phil (2009-12-18). "Scientists capture deepest underwater volcanic eruption on film". CNN. http://edition.cnn.com/2009/TECH/science/12/18/volcano.underwater.explosion.pacific/index.html. Retrieved 2009-12-19. "Scientists have been trying for 25 years to witness an underwater volcanic eruption, but this is the first time it has ever been caught on film." 
  10. Security Council Condemns, 'In Strongest Terms', Terrorist Attacks on the United States. United Nations (September 12, 2001). Retrieved on September 11, 2006. “The Security Council today, following what it called yesterday’s "horrifying terrorist attacks" in New York, Washington, D.C., and Pennsylvania, unequivocally condemned those acts, and expressed its deepest sympathy and condolences to the victims and their families and to the people and Government of the United States.”
  11. "Bin Laden claims responsibility for 9/11". CBC News. October 29, 2004. http://www.cbc.ca/world/story/2004/10/29/binladen_message041029.html. Retrieved January 11, 2009. "al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden appeared in a new message aired on an Arabic TV station Friday night, for the first time claiming direct responsibility for the 2001 attacks against the United States." 
  12. President Obama
  13. http://www.cnn.com/2008/US/03/13/alqaeda.saddam/
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