20 historic events for 20 years since September 11

The world changed following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 and for historians these attacks marked the turn of the century. But since then and until now, there are many milestones that have transformed the reality of the world. AL DÍA has brought together 20 historical events from the last 20 years since the fall of the Twin Towers.

2002. The Euro arrives

In January 2002, the euro became the currency of the European Union. It has been adopted by 12 of its 15 member states, including Germany, Spain and France. The only large country excluded from this change was the United Kingdom, which was premonitory of its future exit from the EU.

With the institution’s expansion to 27 countries, today 19 countries use it as currency. In total, 340 million citizens spend in euros, making it the second most traded currency in the world after the dollar.

2003. Invasion of Iraq

A year and a half after the September 11 attacks, the United States, United Kingdom, Australia and Poland invaded Iraq, marking the start of the war in Iraq. According to President George W. Bush, the objective was to “disarm Iraq from weapons of mass destruction”, but they have never been found, and also to “free the Iraqi people” from Saddam Hussein.

The war created a political divide between the great powers. France, Germany, Russia and China opposed the invasion while Spain and the United Kingdom supported the United States. Another historic event also accompanied the invasion: the world’s first protests against conflict.

2004. The 11M in Madrid

On March 11, 2004, Al-Qaeda carried out the most serious terrorist attack in European history. Four suburban trains exploded on their way to Madrid, killing 200 people. The government, which faced an election three days later, claimed the attack was carried out by the terrorist group ETA.

The administration’s fear of admitting that the attack was produced by its support for the invasion of Iraq led it to try to hide the real perpetrators of Al Qaeda. But the news landed first and the government lost the election to the Socialist Party.

2005. The Pope dies

Pope John Paul II began his papacy in 1978 and died in 2005. It was not until the pontification of Francis for his canonization, which happened in 2014.

He became the first Polish pope in history and the first non-Italian since the 16th century. After his death, the conclave elected Pope Ratzinger, who chose the name, Benedict XVI.

2006. Latin America is turning left

It was a year of elections that confirmed the triumph of the left on the continent.

Evo Morales won the Bolivian elections. He was the first indigenous president, as well as a leading trade unionist. It was also the year Venezuela re-elected Hugo Chávez, who first won elections in 1998 after the failed 1992 coup. His re-election comes after winning the presidential referendum in 2004.

Lula da Silva was also re-elected by the Brazilians that year. A steelworker and trade unionist, he won his first election in 2003. Rafael Correa took another year to win the presidency in Ecuador, consolidating the left in Latin America.

2007. The iPhone

Some smartphones already existed, but Apple’s iPhone revolutionized the world. The first mobile phone with a camera, music player and software to send and receive text messages, all in one device.

Steve Jobs announced his arrival and that year, Time the magazine named him Invention of the Year.

2008. Great Recession

On September 15, 2008, Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy. The investment bank had taken too many risks in the subprime market.

Its bankruptcy, the largest in U.S. history, marked the onset of the global financial crisis that devastated the economy of half the world.

2009. Barack Obama, first black president of the United States

Barack Obama became the first black president of the United States.

In his first address to the nation, he pledged to close Guantánamo Bay prison as soon as possible, a promise he failed to keep during his two terms. What he has managed to do is establish Obamacare and expand basic health care to millions of Americans.

2010. Latin America is shaking

Two earthquakes shake Chile and Haiti.

It was in the Chilean Sea that the February earthquake had its epicenter, which lasted four minutes on the coast and two in its capital, Santiago. It killed 525 people.

In Haiti, the earthquake had its epicenter 15 kilometers from the capital, Port-au-Prince. It was the strongest in the region since 1770 and one of the most devastating in human history. The dead were over 316,000.

2011. A nuclear disaster

After a magnitude nine earthquake in Japan, a tsunami off the northeast coast struck the Fukushima nuclear power plant.

Power to the reactors failed and there were three hydrogen explosions which released radioactive contamination. There was no nuclear explosion and luckily the accident only killed one person. As for the earthquake, that’s another story.

2012. Facebook goes public

The first major social network went public, hitting a valuation of $ 104 billion on day one. It broke the record for the company with the highest value at the start of its listing. It now has more than 2.7 billion users worldwide.

2013. Two popes at the same time

In 2013, Pope Benedict XVI announced his desire to resign from the papacy and the conclave elected the first Latin American Pope, Francis.

For the first time, two popes have lived together because the post is for life. Pope Francis is known for his humility and his closeness to the poor, in addition to his commitment to dialogue with other religions.

2014. Snowden seeks asylum in Russia

Government technology consultant Edward Snowden leaked classified NSA documents and obtained residency in Russia.

A year earlier, the agency’s mass surveillance programs had been released due to the Snowden leaks across The Guardian and The Washington Post, causing great international unrest. Moreover, it was a major diplomatic crisis between the United States and many of its allies, who were known to have been spied on.

2015. Attack on Charlie hebdo

On January 7, 2015, two masked men armed with assault rifles entered the premises of the French satirical magazine Charlie hebdo. Religious fanatics fired 50 shots, killing 12 workers and injuring 11 others. In their escape, they also killed a policeman.

The publication had published cartoons physically depicting the Prophet Muhammad, a taboo in Islam.

Al-Qaeda claimed responsibility for the attack and two days later French soldiers killed the two terrorists. On January 11, 2 million people, including more than 40 heads of state and government from around the world, demonstrated in Paris in favor of freedom of expression.

2016. The Trump era begins

Donald Trump won the US election against Hillary Clinton. That year, he was the 324th richest person in the world, according to Forbes magazine and was the richest president to ever take office.

During his campaign, the use of fake news became popular, which his team defined as “alternate truths”.

2017. Independence of Catalonia

On October 1, 2017, the Catalan government decided to hold an independence referendum despite the fact that the Spanish courts had declared it illegal.

The state sent thousands of police officers who violently cracked down on voters at polling stations. The images went around the world.

Although it could not stand under normal conditions, the Catalan government recognized the results and symbolically declared independence three weeks later. Two days later, part of the executive went into exile in Belgium.

2018. Brexit

In the 2016 referendum, Great Britain chose, at a very short distance, to leave the European Union.

Two years later, the 27 member states approved the exit deal and the declaration on future relations between the EU and the UK after Brexit. The final departure did not come until 2020, after nearly 50 years of relationship.

2019. Feminism is sweeping the world

Social protests around the world had one common component: gender equality.

In 2019, Las Tesis went viral in their performance, “A Rapist on Your Way”, which has become the cry of women around the world. The #MeToo movement has been pushing to revitalize feminism since 2017, and in 2018, the first feminist general strike took place in Spain.

2020. COVID-19

Although the coronavirus began to affect China in late 2019, it was not until March 2020 that the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global pandemic. That month, more or less strict lockdowns were put in place in almost every country in the world, which brought the global economy to a halt.

2021. The hope of vaccines

Less than a year after the outbreak of the pandemic, various pharmaceutical companies approved vaccines against COVID-19. Vaccination went global in January 2021, although today many countries are still far from reaching percentages that allow us to speak of herd immunity.


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Patrick F. Williams

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