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The 20th century was dominated by significant events that defined the era. The first half of the century was the age of the World Wars and the start of the Cold War. The second half saw the replacement, largely as the result of those wars.
Spanish flu pandemic, World War I and World War II, the Great Depression, nuclear power, space exploration, decolonization, technological advances and the Cold War.
The World War I and World War II were the first global-scale total wars. In the 20th century nationalism became a major political issue in the world. During the century, the number of people killed by government actions was in the hundreds of millions. The deaths from acts of wars have been estimated at between 50 and 80 million.
At the beginning of the century, strong racial and sexual discrimination was significant in most societies. By the end of the 20th century, in many parts of the world, women had the same legal rights as men.
There were new developments in the physical, life and human sciences, that led to advancement in the fields of communication, electronics, engineering, travel, medicine, and war. The century was opened with amazing scientific and technological feats: the first flight by the Wright brothers, Henry Ford's first Model-T, and Albert Einstein's Theory of Relativity.
The world population increased from about 1.6 billion people in 1901 to 6.1 billion at the century's end.
Most countries abandoned the gold standard for their currency. The Great Depression was a worldwide economic slowdown that lasted throughout the early 1930s.