World History
























20th Century

The 20th Century was a time of great change.

Perhaps the biggest change of the 20th century was change itself. In the year 1900, there were noairplanes, televisions, or computers. There were only 50 nations in the world, and only a handful were democracies. A century later, population had tripled. Humans were exploring outer space and surfing the internet. Empires had dissolved, the world had 180 nations, and most claimed to be democracies. It’s been said that more change occurred during the 20th century than in the previous 19 centuries combined.

20th Century = the century from 1901 to 2000; the 1900s.

At the beginning of the 20th century, Europe was at the height of its power, controlling most of the land surface of the earth. The French had built the Suez Canal in Egypt linking Europe to Asia, and Europe’s powerful navies patrolled the oceans. Europeans believed in social Darwinism and the superiority of the “white race.” They considered their society to be the greatest achievement of civilization and a model for all other peoples to follow. A major chapter in the story of the 20th century is how Europe destroyed its own dominance of the modern world. This gloomy tale begins with World War I.

Suez Canal = man-made canal that connects the Mediterranean Sea with the Red Sea; its completion in 1869 meant that ships would no longer have to travel all the way around Africa to get from Europe to Asia.