The 21st century
is the current century of the Christian Era
or Common Era
in accordance with the Gregorian calendar
. It began on January 1
and will end December 31
Turn of the 21st century (2000-present)
The 21st century began with the United States
as the sole superpower in the absence of the Soviet Union
, with China
becoming a potential superpower.
The debate over what should be done about global warming, fossil fuel pollution and alternative energy raged in the new century after most of the 20th century was marked by industrial expansion. As the Cold War was over and Islamic fundamentalist-related terrorism on the rise the United States and its allies turned their attention to the Middle East.
Digital technology, in its early stages of mainstream use in the 1980s and 1990s, became widely accepted by most of the world, though concerns about stress and antisociality from the overuse of cell phones, the Internet and related technologies remains controversial.
In 2008, 3.3 billion people globally, or nearly half the world's population used cell phones, and in 2005, over a billion people worldwide used the Internet.
Regarding pronunciation of 21st century years, academics suggest that since former years such as 1805
were commonly pronounced as "eighteen oh" or "nineteen oh" five, the year 2005
should naturally have been pronounced as "twenty oh-five". A less common variation would have been "twenty nought-five". Many experts agree that majority usage of "two thousand (and) X
" is a result of influences from the Y2K
hype, as well as the way "2001
" was pronounced in the influential 1968
film, 2001: A Space Odyssey
Many people, ranging from linguistic and academic experts to Internet bloggers, predict that the "twenty X" pronunciation method will eventually prevail, but a time frame as to when this change will occur often differs. The year 2010 is suggested by many, and the Vancouver Olympics, taking place in 2010, is being officially referred to by Vancouver 2010 as "the twenty-ten olympics", while 2011 and 2013 are popular as well. The latest timeframes for change are usually placed at 2020.
Politics and war
- 1998 - 2002 – The Second Congo War continued into the early 21st century. A 1999 ceasefire quickly broke down and a UN peacekeeping mission, MONUC, was unable to control the fighting. Troops from Rwanda and Uganda continued to support rebel groups against the DRC and rifts also grew between Rwanda and Uganda as they accused each other of supporting rival rebel groups as well. Laurent Kabila, president of the DRC, was assassinated in January 2002 and his son, Joseph Kabila, took power. Throughout 2002 steps were made towards peace and Rwanda and Uganda both removed their troops from the country. On December 17, 2002, a massive treaty officially ended the war. However, the DRC only holds power in less than half of the country, with most of the eastern and northern portions still controlled by rebel groups, where there is still significant infighting. In addition, Rwanda still supports anti-DRC rebels and anti-Rwandan rebels continue to operate from the DRC. The war killed an estimated 3.9 million people, displaced nearly 5.5 million, and led to a widespread and ongoing famine that continues to result in deaths. Severe human rights violations continue to be reported.
- 2001 – Al-Qaeda terrorists hijacked 4 planes and crashed 3 of them into the World Trade Center and Pentagon in the United States on September 11, killing nearly 3,000 people. The United States subsequently declared a War on Terrorism.
- 2001 - present – The U.S. and NATO invaded Afghanistan on October 7, 2001 and overthrew the Al-Qaeda-supportive Taliban government. Troops remained to install a democratic government, fight a slowly escalating insurgency, and to hunt for Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.
- 2002 – The International Criminal Court (ICC) was established on July 1.
- 2002 – A series of bombings carried out by Islamic militants killed 202 people at the resort of Kuta, Bali, Indonesia on October 12.
- 2003 - present – In February 2003, a conflict in Darfur, Sudan began and soon escalated into full-scale war. It is soon considered the worst humanitarian crisis in the world. By 2008 it is believed that up to 400,000 people have been killed and over 2.5 million displaced. In 2005, the ICC decided that Darfur war criminals would be tried, and on July 14, 2008, Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir was charged with genocide, although the ICC currently has no power to enforce these charges.
- 2003 - present – The U.S.-led coalition invaded Iraq on March 20, 2003 and overthrew the government of Saddam Hussein (who was executed by the Iraqi government on December 30, 2006). Coalition troops remain in the country to install a democratic government and fight an escalating insurgency. In addition to an insurgency against the American presence, Iraq also suffered from a civil war for several years. The war was soon seen as the central front of the War on Terror by many governments, despite growing international dissatisfaction with the war. The total death toll has been estimated at near 150,000.
- 2003 - 2005 – A series of nonviolent revolutions known as the colour revolutions overthrew governments in Georgia, Ukraine, Kyrgyzstan, and Lebanon.
- 2004 – The European Union expanded by 10 countries, including 8 former communist countries, plus Malta and Cyprus.
- 2004 – On March 11, bombings carried out by Islamic militants killed 191 people on the commuter rail system of Madrid, Spain.
- 2005 – A series of bombings carried out by Islamic militants killed 56 people in London on July 7.
- 2005 – Israel withdrew from the Gaza Strip on September 11.
- 2006 - 2008 – The dismantling of former Yugoslavia continues after Montenegro gained independence on June 3, 2006 and Kosovo declared independence on February 17, 2008. However, Kosovo's independence is disputed by Russia and many of its allies and is currently only partially recognized.
- 2006 – On July 12, Hezbollah militants crossed the border of Lebanon and captured two Israeli troops. Israel responded by sending troops across the border and bombing Hezbollah strongholds, killing approximately 1,200 people, mostly Lebanese civilians. A ceasefire was signed on August 14, after which Israeli troops withdrew from Lebanon. Many believed that it was a victory for Hezbollah, since Israel failed to destroy them and emerged with stronger political clout within Lebanon.
- 2006 – On July 11, bombs planted on the train system in Mumbai exploded, killing 209 people.
- 2006 – North Korea conducted its first nuclear test on October 9. This was preceded by years of political wrangling with the U.S. over the status of their nuclear program. On February 13, 2007 North Korea agreed to dismantle its nuclear program and has so far adhered to its promises.
- 2007 – A civil war escalated in the Gaza Strip throughout June, which resulted in Hamas eventually driving most Fatah-loyal forces from the Strip. In reaction, Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas dissmissed Hamas prime minister Ismail Haniyeh and dissolved the Hamas-ruled parliament. Scattered conflict continues.
- 2008 – Russia invaded Georgia over the status of the disputed province of South Ossetia from August 7 - August 12 and recognized its independence as well as that of another breakaway province, Abkhazia. The international community has widely condemned the actions of Russia, but Russia has blamed pressure from Western powers for their actions, including the expansion of NATO towards its borders.
Science and technology
Conflicts and civil unrest
Worldwide deaths from war and terrorist attacks
- Second Congo War, approximately 1.8 million deaths (3.8 million since 1998)
- Iraq War, a wide variation in the number of casualties quoted, ranging from the tens of thousands, up to approximately 1 million deaths, Iraq Body Count, ORB survey of casualties of the Iraq War.
- Darfur conflict, approximately 400,000 deaths
- Civil War in Côte d'Ivoire, 3,000 deaths
- September 11, 2001 attacks, 2,997 deaths
- December 13, 2001 attacks, Terrorist attack on Indian Parliament (2001), terrorists storm the Indian Parliament Building in New Delhi and kill six police officers.
- October 12, 2002 Bali terrorist bombings kill 202 people.
- March 11, 2004 terrorist attacks shake several train stations on Spain's capital Madrid, killing 191 people and injuring 1,247.
- July 7, 2005 suicide terrorist attacks shake London transport system killing 52 people and injuring 700.
- 29 October 2005 Delhi Bombings, terrorists attack various markets in New Delhi, killing 61 people and injuring 188 more, right before the start of the festival season in India.
- July 11, 2006 six bombs explode in train stations in Mumbai, killing 190.
- Up to 50,000 died in France, Italy, and other European countries in the summer of 2003 due to a prolonged heat wave coinciding with a shortage of medical and nursing staff.
- Earthquake in Bam, Iran on December 27, 2003 killed more than 26,000.
- 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake. On December 26 an undersea earthquake in the Indian Ocean created a large tsunami, which impacted land across the region and killed approximately 310,000 in Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India, Thailand and other countries in the region.
- 2004 hurricanes Charley, Frances, Ivan, and Jeanne batter Florida and the Caribbean in August and September, killing over 3,200, 3,000 of which resulted from Jeanne's torrential flooding rains in Haiti. The hurricanes caused a combined $50 billion in damage in the United States.
- In 2005, Hurricane Katrina impacts the U.S. Gulf Coast as a strong Category 3 hurricane with top sustained winds before landfall near 125 mph, flooding New Orleans, and causing significant damage in Mississippi, Tennessee, and Alabama. The hurricane killed 1,836 and surpassed Hurricane Andrew in cost of damage, approaching $75 billion and becoming the costliest natural disaster in U.S history.
- Earthquake in Kashmir on October 8, 2005, which has so far killed at least 87,350 in India and Pakistan.
- Hurricane Stan hit Mexico along the Gulf of Campeche in October 2005 and moved into Guatemala. Hurricane Stan combined with powerful storms already occurring in the region and contributed to the deaths of 1,620.
- 2007 Peru earthquake. On August 15, an undersea earthquake in the Peruvian coast killed more than 500 and destroyed the coastal cities of Pisco and Chincha.
- Cyclone Nargis strikes Myanmar from April 27 - May 3, 2008, killing more than 78,000, leaving 55,917 missing, and leaving 2.5 million homeless.
- 2008 Sichuan earthquake on May 12 2008 kills over 70,000.
- 2001- Barry Bonds, of the San Francisco Giants, sets the single season home run record of 73 home runs, surpassing the previous record of 70, set just a few years earlier by Mark McGuire.
- 2001- Tiger Woods, American golfer, completes the Tiger Slam, winning four golf majors in a row
- 2001- NASCAR (American stock car) driver Dale Earnhardt dies after hitting the wall on the last lap of the Daytona 500. Earnhardt's son, Dale Earnhardt Jr., claimed a tearful victory in the next race held at Daytona, less than four months later.
- 2001- Rugby League Widnes Vikings gain their first entrance to the Super League.
- 2002- Phil Taylor becomes the first player to win the World Darts Championship 10 times [PDC], following a 7-0 whitewash of Peter Manley.
- 2002- In the 2002 FIFA World Cup held in South Korea and Japan, Brazil won the Football World Cup becoming the first team to win the trophy 5 times.
- 2002- The San Francisco Giants play the Anaheim Angels in the MLB World Series. This is the first time two wild card teams had ever played each other in world series history.
- 2002- Michael Schumacher wins his fifth Formula One World Drivers Championship, becoming only the second driver after Juan Manuel Fangio to do so.
- 2002- 2002 Winter Olympics held in Salt Lake City, Utah, United States.
- 2003- Michael Schumacher wins his record-breaking sixth Formula One World Drivers Championship title.
- 2003- Roy Jones Jr. becomes the first former World Middleweight Boxing Champion in 106 years to win a portion of the World Heavyweight title, following his twelve-round unanimous decision over then-WBA champion John Ruiz.
- 2003- England wins the 2003 Rugby World Cup, becoming the first team from the northern hemisphere to win the cup.
- 2004- Arsenal win the English Premier League without losing a single game, having the longest unbeaten league run of 49 games from May 2003 to October 2004.
- 2004- Greece win the European Football Championship for the first time.
- 2004- 2004 Summer Olympics held in Athens, Greece.
- 2004- The Boston Red Sox defeat the Saint Louis Cardinals in the World Series, for their first win in 86 years. The Red Sox overcame a 3-0 deficit in the penultimate series against their rival, the New York Yankees.
- 2004- NASCAR Kurt Busch wins the first NASCAR Nextel Cup Series championship with the Chase points system.
- 2005- Liverpool FC win the European Cup for the fifth time in their history, enabling them to keep the trophy permanently. In a dramatic final, they come from 3-0 down at half time to win 3-2 on penalties against AC Milan.
- 2005- American cyclist Lance Armstrong wins his seventh consecutive Tour de France.
- 2005- In cricket, England wins The Ashes defeating Australia 2-1. This win is the first for England in 18 years.
- 2005- Chicago White Sox win the World Series (4-0) over the Houston Astros. It was their first World Series win in 88 years.
- 2005- Fernando Alonso became the youngest Formula One champion ever, grabbing 133 points to clinch the title.
- 2006- NBA star Kobe Bryant scores 81 points in a Lakers game on January 22.
- 2006- 2006 Winter Olympics held in Torino, Italy.
- 2006- Miami Heat win the NBA Finals against Dallas Mavericks 4 games to 2; after losing the first two games, and winning the last four straight.
- 2006- Floyd Landis wins the Tour de France, but not without controversy.
- 2006- NASCAR driver Jimmie Johnson wins his first Nascar championship.
- 2006- Italy wins the FIFA World Cup, beating France.
- 2006- Michael Schumacher retires from Formula One racing after a record-breaking career, in which he broke 31 records in any racing class, including the record for most wins at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
- 2007- Indianapolis Colts defeat the Chicago Bears, 29-17, to claim the team's first Super Bowl in 36 years.
- 2007- Thierry Henry leaves Arsenal FC to join FC Barcelona and is greeted by a record 30,000 fans (10,000 more than Ronaldinho) at the Camp Nou
- 2007- Barry Bonds of the San Francisco Giants breaks the all time career home run record with 756 career HR, the previous was 755 career HR held by Hank Aaron. Later in the year, Bonds is indicted for alleged perjury, for lying about whether he had ever taken steroids.
- 2007- George J. Mitchell issues a report detailing the usage of steroids in Major League Baseball, implicating several players, including Roger Clemens.
- 2007- The Boston Red Sox defeated the Colorado Rockies to win the World Series Championship, becoming the first team in the 21st century to win more than one championship. They also are 8-0 in World Series games this century.
- 2007- The New England Patriots finish the NFL regular season 16-0, the first team to go undefeated in a sixteen-game season. The Patriots would go on to beat the Jaguars and Chargers in the playoffs. Despite being heavily favored to win the Super Bowl and complete a 19-0 Season, the Patriots would lose to the New York Giants, 17-14. Eli Manning threw a game winning touchdown to Plaxico Burress with 35 seconds left.
- 2007- India win the first ICC World Twenty20 by defeating Pakistan in the finals.
- 2008- Spain wins the Euro 2008 Football Championship, beating Germany.
- 2008- World No.2 Rafael Nadal of Spain Defeated Five time Wimbledon Champion and World No.1 Roger Federer in a thrilling match that lasted for around 5 hours in the Wimbledon Final
- 2008- The 2008 Summer Olympics commence in Beijing on 8 August, 2008 at 8:08:08 PM GMT+8.
- 2008- Usain Bolt sets a new world record for the Men's 100m & 200m sprint, lowering the new times to 9.69 seconds & 19.30 seconds respectively, both in the Beijing Olympics.
- 2008- Michael Phelps breaks Mark Spitz's record for most gold medals in a single olympics with 8.
- 2008- World No.2 and Four time U.S. Open Champion Roger Federer defeated Andy Murray of UK to claim his fifth consecutive U.S. Open Men's Singles crown
Issues and concerns
There are several points-of-view pertaining to the following items, all of which should be considered accordingly.
Issues that have been frequently discussed and debated so far 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) economic and cultural shifts which have been the subject of considerable controversy.
- Overpopulation. The United Nations estimates that world population will reach 9.2 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 suggests 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. Microcredit lending has also started to gain a profile as a useful anti-poverty tool.
- 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. Active conflicts continue around the world, including civil wars in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (the largest war since World War II), Chechnya, Côte d'Ivoire, Somalia, Senegal, Colombia, and Sudan (mainly in Darfur). The 9/11 terrorist attacks triggered invasions of Afghanistan and partially and controversially 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.
- Global warming. Most climate scientists concur that the earth is currently undergoing significant anthropogenic (human-induced) global warming. The resulting economic and ecological costs are hard to predict, and by the end of the 21st century could be quite severe. However, predictions have become more dramatic in recent years. Some scientists argue that human-induced global warming risks considerable losses in biodiversity and ecosystem services unless considerable sociopolitical changes are introduced, particularly in patterns of mass consumption. On the other hand, climate change has already begun to wreak havoc on entire communities on the fringes of the developing world.
- Power in international relations. 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 copyright infringement. 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. Some, notably Ray Kurzweil have predicted that by the middle of the century there will be a Technological Singularity if artificial intelligence that outsmart humans is created. If these AIs then create even smarter AI's technological change will accelerate in ways that are impossible for us to foresee. (However, gradual and simultaneous use of AI technology to increase our own intelligence might prevent this from ever occurring.)
- Fossil fuels are becoming scarce and more expensive, due to the escalating 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.
- NATO-Russian Relations have become strained as the "Western Alliance" and NATO square off with Russia and other nations over international policy and the future of the ex-Soviet sphere. An Eastern Europe Missile Defense Shield, military and social conflicts in the Caucasus (particularly Georgia and Chechnya), and the future of nuclear arsenals are among the topics that have strained the relations between the two sides with eerie reminders reminiscent of the Cold War.
The United Nations lists global issues on its agenda and lists a set of Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) to attempt to address some of these issues.
- Tuesday, June 8, 2004: First transit of Venus for 122 years.
- November 8, 2006: Transit of Mercury.
- December 23, 2007: grand conjunction a galactic conjunction which happens every 26000 years.
- 2009: Triple conjunction Jupiter-Neptune.
- 2010/2011: Triple conjunction Jupiter-Uranus.
- July 12 2011: Neptune completes its first orbit since its discovery in 1846.
- Wednesday, June 6, 2012: Transit of Venus to occur a second time (and last 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, 2019: 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.
- July 2061: Next return of Halley's Comet.
- 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. 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. This rare event will be very difficult to observe, because of the constant low elongation of Mercury from the Sun, and the magnitude of Neptune always under the limit of visibility with the naked eye.
- 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, the first and the only one in this century.
- 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.
Pop cultural references to the remaining years of the 21st century
Television and film
- The new series of Doctor Who which began in 2005 depicts many fictional events that take place in the 21st century.
- The television series seaQuest DSV takes place between the years 2018 and 2032.
- In the sequel to 2001: A Space Odyssey, a joint American-Soviet space expedition is sent to Jupiter in 2010.
- The popular adult swim series Sealab 2021 takes place in the year 2021.
- The events of Stargate SG-1 continue into the early 21st century.
- Stargate Atlantis is set in the early 21st century.
- The Transformers: The Movie: is set in the year 2005. The subsequent third season of the Transformers series takes place after the events of the movie.
- The Japanese anime show The Super Dimension Fortress Macross spans the years 1999 to 2012 (its final episode takes place in January of 2012, and a direct to video epilogue featurette takes place in September 2012). Its prequel and sequels take place in 2008 (Macross Zero), 2040 (Macross Plus), 2045-2046 (Macross 7) and 2059 (Macross Frontier). A dramatized historical fiction movie about the First Space War, The Super Dimension Fortress Macross: Do You Remember Love?, premieres in 2031.
- The American cartoon show Robotech, composed from the footage of three unrelated anime series (including Macross, above) spans the years 1999 to 2015, 2030-2031 and 2044-2045.
- Part of the sequel 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.
- The cult series Dark Angel is set in 2019.
- The film The Running Man starring Arnold Schwarzenegger is set in 2019.
- Both parts of the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "Past Tense" take place in 2024.
- The dystopic sci-fi novel and film Metropolis takes place in 2027.
- The film Children of Men is set in 2027.
- 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 intervening years are dealt with by the two sequels, Terminator 2: Judgment Day and Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, with the whole franchise building to a conclusion of the War in 2029.
- The 2002 version of The Time Machine has scenes that take place in the 2030s.
- The Doctor Who story The Enemy of the World is set in Australia in 2030.
- The anime OAV series Bubblegum Crisis (2032-33), its sequel Bubblegum Crash (2034), and its TV-series re-imagining Bubblegum Crisis 2040 (2040).
- Demolition Man is set in 2032.
- I, Robot was set in 2035.
- Deep space vessel Event Horizon was sent to test an artificial wormhole (black hole) in deep space in the year 2040. The lost ship is found 7 years later by a rescue team on board the ship Lewis and Clark on low orbit around the planet Neptune.
- The Outward Urge has a major nuclear war in 2044 and the first manned landing on Mars in 2094.
- Bollywood movie Love Story 2050 was partly set in 2050.
- Minority Report was set in 2054.
- World War III ends in 2053 according to Star Trek: First Contact, with 600,000,000 dead and most major cities destroyed.
- 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 2065.
- The Doctor Who story The Moonbase is set in 2070.
- The Japanese anime show Cowboy Bebop is set in 2071.
- The Nickelodeon SMC comedy My Life as a Teenage Robot is set in 2072. But contiuned with a really raucier SMC comedy from 1997 to 2010 Shanka and Holdbp.
- Equilibrium is set in 2072.
- The Doctor Who story Day of the Daleks is set in 2073, albeit in an alternative timeline.
- The film Total Recall, and the Doctor Who story Warriors of the Deep 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.
- Zenon: Girl of the 21st Century and its sequels takes place in the years 2049-2054.
- The final episode of The X-Files sets December 22, 2012 as the date for alien colonization.
- The CGI animated series Cubix: Robots for Everyone takes place in 2040.
- The Doctor Who story The Seeds of Death is set in 2090.
- The Doctor Who story Nightmare of Eden is set in 2096.
- The events of Leprechaun 4: In Space takes place in 2096.
- The 2008 Disney Channel movie Minutemen is based between the dates September 3rd 2005 and September 8th 2008.
- The tagline of Torchwood series one is: "The 21st century is when everything changes. And we have to be ready." In series two, the second sentence changes to: "And Torchwood is ready."
- The second single from the first album by Sam Sparro is titled 21st Century Life. The song makes reference to the fast-paced and confusing nature of life in this century.
Computer and video games
- The events of Metal Gear Solid take place in 2005, Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty takes places in the years 2007 (Tanker Chapter) and 2009 (Big Shell Chapter), and the events of Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots take place in 2014.
- Duke Nukem 3D is set in the early 21st century and contains evidence (such as calendars) that suggest it is more specifically set in October or December 2007
- Uplink is set on the internet of the year 2010.
- Perfect Dark Zero is set in 2020 and 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 events of Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne occur in 20XX.
- In Mercenaries: Playground of Destruction, the 2nd Korean War starts early in this century.
- Mercenaries 2: World in Flames, will take place sometime around between 2008 and 2010.
- The Mega Man Classic series takes place sometime in the 21st century, represented as 20XX.
- The MegaMan Battle Network series takes place in 20XX.
- The arcade game Robotron: 2084 takes place in the year 2084.
- One Must Fall: 2097 takes place in 2097.
- The Mr. Driller series (and Dig Dug: Digging Strike, a game in its related timeline) takes place in 20XX.
- The events of Half-Life 2 and its expansion packs takes place around th early 2020s.
- The video game and cartoon 20X6 of Homestar Runner supposedly takes place in the seventh year of an unspecified decade in the 21st century.
- The nuclear holocaust of the AquaNox universe takes place in mid-21st century, followed by the massive exodus of survivors underwater.
- Trauma Center: Under the Knife and Trauma Centre: Second Opinion take place in 2018, when AIDS and cancer supposedly have cures.
- The events of Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow takes place in this time; specifically 2035. The sequel, Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow takes place one year later, in 2036. These are the only two Castlevania titles to have taken place beyond the early to mid 20th century thus far.
- The events of Tokyo Xtreme Racer Drift and Tokyo Xtreme Racer: Drift 2 take place during 20XX, when Japanese highways have supposedly been opened as racing circuits.
- The events of Namco X Capcom takes place during 20XX.
- In the Command & Conquer: Tiberian series, the 2nd Tiberium War between the Global Defense Initiative and the Brotherhood of Nod begins in 2030. The 3rd Tiberium War takes place 17 years later in 2047, which also sees the arrival of the Scrin to Earth.
- Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter 2 (GRAW 2) takes place in 2014
Decades and years