2nd millennium

The second millennium of the Anno Domini or Common Era was a millennium spanning the years 1001 to 2000 (11th to 20th centuries; in astronomy: JD 2086667.5 2451909.5[1]).

From left, clockwise: in 1492, Italian navigator Christopher Columbus arrives in North America; the American Revolution; the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople; the Atomic Bomb from World War II; an alternate source of light, the light bulb; for the first time, a human being sets foot on the moon in 1969 during the Apollo 11 moon mission; aeroplanes become the most-used way of transport through the skies; Napoleon Bonaparte, in the early 19th century, affects France and Europe with expansionism and modernization; Alexander Graham Bell's telephone; in 1348, the Black Death kills in just two years over 100 million people worldwide, and over half of Europe. (Background: An excerpt from the Gutenberg Bible, the first major book printed in the West using movable type, in the 1450s)

It encompassed the High and Late Middle Ages of the Old World, the Islamic Golden Age and the period of Renaissance, followed by the Early Modern period, characterized by the Wars of Religion in Europe, the Age of Enlightenment, the Age of Discovery and the colonial period. Its final two centuries coincide with Modern history, characterized by industrialization, the rise of nation states, the rapid development of science, widespread education, and universal health care and vaccinations in the Western world. The 20th century saw increasing globalization, most notably the two World Wars and the subsequent formation of the United Nations. 20th-century technology includes powered flight, television and semiconductor technology, including integrated circuits. The term "Great Divergence" was coined to refer the unprecedented cultural and political ascent of the Western world in the second half of the millennium, emerging by the 18th century as the most powerful and wealthy world civilization, having eclipsed Qing China and the Islamic World. This allowed the colonization by European countries of much of the world during this millennium, including the Americas, Africa, Oceania, and South and Southeast Asia.

World population grew without precedent over the millennium, from about 310 million in 1000 to about 6 billion in 2000. The population growth rate increased dramatically during this time; world population approximately doubled to 600 million by 1700, and doubled more than three more times by 2000, ultimately reaching about 1.8% per year in the second half of the 20th century.

Political history

Middle Ages

11th century, 1143, 1400, 1495
Near East
see also Crusades, Mongol invasions
North Africa
East Asia
Sahel / Sudan and Sub-Saharan Africa
Pre-Columbian Americas

Early Modern period

Colonial empires
sub-Saharan Africa

Modern history


Cultural and technological history

Inventions, discoveries and introductions
Communication and technology Science and mathematics Manufacturing Transportation and
Communication and technology
  1. Printing press (c. 1450)[2]
  2. Thermometer (1596)
  3. Electrical battery (1800)
  4. Telegraph (1832)
  5. Video games (1972)
  6. Photography (1837)
  7. Telephone (1860)
  8. Animation (1906)
  9. Television (1932)
  10. Computer (1939)
  11. Transistor (1947)
  12. Satellite (1957)
  13. Internet (1969)[2]
  14. Electrostatic generator (1706)
  1. Accounting (c. 1494)
  2. Probability (c. 1549)
  3. Calculus (c. 1680)
  4. Vaccination (1796)[2][3]
  5. Atomic theory (1808)[3]
  6. Anesthesia (1842)[2][3]
  7. Natural selection (1858)[3]
  8. Genetics (1866)[2][3]
  9. Special relativity (1905)[3]
  10. Penicillin (1920)[2][3]
  11. DNA (1928)[3]
  12. Quantum mechanics (1935)[3]
  13. Electricity
  1. Canned food (1809)
  2. Plastic (1869)[3]
  3. Assembly line (1913)
  4. Sliced bread (1928)
  5. Frozen food (1924)
  6. Nuclear reactor (1942)
  7. Food processor (1971)
  8. Finite geometry (1989)
  1. Barometer (1643)
  2. Bicycle (1817)
  3. Steam engine (1712)
  4. Steam turbine (1884)
  5. Internal combustion engine (1833)
  6. Steam locomotive (1804)
  7. Human flight (c. 1716)
  8. Moon landing (1969)
  9. Space station (1971)
  10. Reusable launch system (1981)
  11. GPS navigation (1983)
  1. Longbow (c. 1386)
  2. Rockets
  3. Aircraft carrier (1911)
  4. Nuclear weapon (1945)
  5. Submarine (1776)
  6. Tanks (1916)
  7. Firearms (c. 1100)


The Julian calendar was used in Europe at the beginning of the millennium, and all countries that once used the Julian calendar had adopted the Gregorian calendar by the end of it. For this reason, the end date of the 2nd millennium is usually calculated based on the Gregorian calendar, while the beginning date is based on the Julian calendar (or occasionally the proleptic Gregorian calendar).

In the late 1990s, there was a dispute as to whether the millennium should be taken to end on December 31, 1999, or December 31, 2000. Stephen Jay Gould at the time argued there is no objective way of deciding this question.[4] Associated Press reported that the third millennium began on 1 January 2001, but also reported that celebrations in the US were generally more subdued at the beginning of 2001, compared to the beginning of 2000.[5] Many public celebrations for the end of the second millennium were held on December 31, 1999 – January 1, 2000[6]—with a few people marking the end of the millennium a year later.

Centuries and decades

11th century 1000s[note 1]1010s 1020s 1030s1040s 1050s 1060s1070s 1080s1090s
12th century 1100s1110s 1120s 1130s1140s 1150s 1160s1170s 1180s1190s
13th century 1200s1210s 1220s 1230s1240s 1250s 1260s1270s 1280s1290s
14th century 1300s1310s 1320s 1330s1340s 1350s 1360s1370s 1380s1390s
15th century 1400s1410s 1420s 1430s1440s 1450s 1460s1470s 1480s1490s
16th century 1500s1510s 1520s 1530s1540s 1550s 1560s1570s 1580s1590s
17th century 1600s1610s 1620s 1630s1640s 1650s 1660s1670s 1680s1690s
18th century 1700s1710s 1720s 1730s1740s 1750s 1760s1770s 1780s1790s
19th century 1800s1810s 1820s 1830s1840s 1850s 1860s1870s 1880s1890s
20th century 1900s1910s 1920s 1930s1940s 1950s 1960s1970s 1980s1990s


  1. Only the nine years 1001–1009 of the 1000s decade were in the 2nd millennium; the year 1000 was the last year of the 1st millennium (1–1000). The year 1000 is the first year of the 1000s millennium (1000–1999) which is used interchangeably with the 2nd millennium though the start and end dates differ by a year.


  1. "Julian Day Number from Date Calculator". High accuracy calculation for life or science.
  2. Keeley, Larry (2007-02-16). "The Greatest Innovations of All Time". BusinessWeek. The McGraw-Hill Companies Inc. Archived from the original on 7 December 2008. Retrieved 2008-11-12.
  3. "The Big 100: the Science Channels 100 Greatest Discoveries". Discovery Communications, LLC. 2008. Archived from the original on 31 October 2008. Retrieved 2008-11-12.
  4. Stephen Jay Gould, Questioning the Millennium: A Rationalist's Guide to a Precisely Arbitrary Countdown (New York: Harmony Books, 1999), ch 2.
  5. Associated Press, "Y2K It Wasn't, but It Was a Party", Los Angeles Times, January 1, 2001.
  6. "Millennium FAQs – Frequently Asked Questions". When does the Millennium start?. Greenwich2000.ltd.uk. 2008-08-12. Archived from the original on 12 January 2009. Retrieved 2009-01-29.
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