The first years of the 21st century have thus far been marked by the rise of a global economy and Third World consumerism, mistrust in government, deepening global concern over terrorism and an increase in the power of private enterprise.
In contemporary history, the 21st century essentially began in 1991 (the end of Short Twentieth Century) with the United States as the sole superpower in the absence of the Soviet Union, while China began its rise and the BRICS countries aimed to create more balance in the global political and economic spectrum.
Assistive reproductive technology developed in the 1980s, such as polar body biopsy and preimplantation genetic diagnosis, has allowed for the selection of genetic traits, and, along with the advent of ultrasound, has increased the number of boys and decreased the number of girls in many countries, most notably in China and India but also in other Asian and eastern Europe countries.
Generally, the early years of the 21st century were pronounced as "two-thousand (and) five", with a change taking place in 2010, where pronunciations often shift between the early-year standard of "two-thousand and ten" and the common approach used in the late 20th century of "twenty-ten".
The Vancouver Olympics, which took place in 2010, was being officially referred to by Vancouver 2010 as "the twenty-ten Olympics".
The latest timeframes for change are usually placed at 2020.
According to The Stanley Kubrick Archives, in the press release for his film 2001: A Space Odyssey, film director Stanley Kubrick included specific instructions for journalists to refer to the movie as "two thousand and one" instead of the commonplace pronunciation of "twenty-oh-one".
Kubrick said he did this in the hope that if the film became popular, it would influence the pronunciation of that year.