Decade Rewind: 20 Events That Shaped The 2010s

looking into the most relevant events of the past 10 years


Photo by Jamie Street on Unsplash

The recent end of the decade brought a time for reflection. While there were positive events, like the killing of terrorists, there were also negative events, like a deadly oil spill. Listed below are 20 events that shaped the world during the last decade.



The BP Oil Spill

In the spring of 2010, the British Petroleum (BP) Oil Spill was the largest oil spill in US history. An explosion on BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico caused the spill. Over one million barrels of oil spilled into the ocean over 87 days, and the explosion resulted in 11 deaths. In 2016, “Deepwater Horizon,” a film based on the disaster, was released. 

Recession Declared Officially Over 

A mortgage crisis in December 2007 led to the Great Recession. It ultimately led to increases in home mortgage prices, and caused millions of people to lose not only their jobs, but also their life savings and homes. Thankfully, the Business Cycle Dating Committee declared the recession was over in September 2010.



Osama bin Laden Is Killed

On May 2, Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden was killed by US Special Forces in Abbottabad, Pakistan. It was believed that bin Laden was responsible for the September 11 attacks in New York in 2001. The following year, a film titled “Zero Dark Thirty” recounted the international manhunt for bin Laden that lead up to his death.

Leukemia Breakthrough

Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania had a breakthrough in finding a new treatment for leukemia. In 2011, an experimental treatment using modified cells left two out of three leukemia patients cancer-free. They achieved this by genetically engineering white blood cells, which set up the body to kill cancer itself. 



Shooting At Sandy Hook Elementary

On Dec. 14, a mass shooting took place at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newton, Connecticut. The gunman, Adam Lanza, took the lives of 28 people and left two people injured. Today, the shooting is recognized as the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history to take place at a primary or secondary school. It ultimately sparked a renewed debate about gun control, which continues to this day.

U.S. Presidential Election (Barack Obama)

On Nov. 6,  Democratic nominee Barack Obama was re-elected to serve as the President of the United States for a second term. Obama, who had previously been elected in 2008, defeated his opponent, Republican nominee Mitt Romney, by 126 electoral votes. 



Boston Marathon Bombing

During the annual Boston Marathon on April 15, two bombs exploded near the finish line. Three people were killed and several hundred others were injured. A few days later, police identified and arrested Tamerlan Tsarnaev and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, brothers from Cambridge, as the bombers. “Patriots Day”, a film depicting the events of the bombing, was released in 2016. 

Malala Yousafzai Addresses the UN

Malala Yousafzai gave her first public speech in New York on July 12, her sixteenth birthday, to address the United Nations. She became known around the world after surviving a fatal shooting by the Taliban terrorist group. In her speech, she advocated for peace deals to protect women and children’s rights and spoke about the importance of education. Since then, Yousafzai has become the youngest UN Messenger of Peace, a title given to distinguished world influencers, and her birthday is recognized as Malala Day. 



Ebola Becomes a Major Health Crisis

Ebola was first discovered in 1976, but did not become a major health concern until 2014. Within weeks, it broke out in West Africa and spread to urban areas and across the borders. Within months, it had become a global epidemic. The virus killed 11,000 people over the span of four years and affected three in Dallas. In 2016, the World Health Organization declared that Liberia was free from the virus and the outbreak had officially ended.

Renewed Relationship Between U.S. and Cuba

The U.S. and Cuba first had a poor relationship in 1961 during the Cold War, and did not make efforts to fix it for 50 years. However, in 2014, Barack Obama and Cuba’s President, Raul Castro, announced that they would restore diplomatic ties. The following year, Cuba was removed from the U.S. terrorism list, and in 2016, Obama became the first U.S. president in 90 years to meet with one of Cuba’s leaders. 



China Ends Its One-Child Policy

The One-Child Policy was first implemented in China in 1980 to limit Chinese families to one child per family. The policy was put in place as a way to suppress China’s growing population. In Oct. 2015, the Chinese government announced that beginning in 2016, families would be allowed to have two children rather than one.

Pope Francis Visits the U.S. For the First Time

In 2015, Pope Francis visited North America, specifically Cuba and the United States, for the first time. While in the U.S., the Pope visited Washington, D.C., New York City and Philadelphia. 



Presidential Election of Donald Trump

On Nov. 8, Republican nominee Donald Trump was elected as the President of the United States. He defeated the Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton, by 77 electoral votes. The election was controversial due to Russians hacking into the Democratic National Committee, a committee that organizes strategies to support the Democratic party. 

Colombia Ends 50 Year War

On Sept. 26, Colombian president, Juan Manuel Santos, signed a peace treaty that would end Colombia’s ongoing war with Marxist rebels. The war first began in 1964 as a peasant revolt, but quickly escalated into something much larger. The war ultimately cost the lives of more than 220,000 individuals and displaced almost seven million people.   




In June 2016, 51.9 percent of the United Kingdom’s population voted to withdraw from the European Union. In March 2017, the UK government announced that the country would leave the EU. However, under Prime Minister Theresa May, the deadline was pushed until Oct. 31. After negotiating a revised deal, Prime Minister Boris Johnson missed the latest deadline and the EU agreed to a further extension until Jan. 2020. 

Me Too Movement

The Me Too Movement quickly became one of the largest global activist movements of the year after countless women, many of them well-known actresses, accused producer Harvey Weinstein of sexual misconduct. Actress Alyssa Milano started the movement on social media when she tweeted about the allegations with #MeToo. Over the course of a few days, millions of women used the same hashtag. The Me Too Movement also dominated the 2018 Golden Globes when nearly all of the women in attendance dressed in black and wore pins with the words “Time’s Up” as a response to gender inequality and sexual harassment. 



The Royal Wedding

On May 19, millions of people all over the world tuned in to witness the wedding of British Prince Harry and American actress Meghan Markle. The ceremony was held in St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle in England with approximately 1,200 guests in attendance including Oprah Winfrey, George Clooney and his wife, and Serena Williams and her husband. The wedding was seen as historic, as Markle is the first American member of the royal family. 

Donald Trump’s Meeting With Kim Jong-Un

On June 12, Donald Trump became the first U.S. president to hold a summit with a North Korean leader when he met with Kim Jong Un in Singapore. Trump’s purpose in meeting with Un was to convince him to relinquish nuclear weapons. A couple of weeks later, they shook hands on the North Korean border, together signing an agreement to denuclearize North Korea. Trump later said that “stepping across that line was a great honor.” 



Vaping Epidemic

While vaping and electronic cigarettes have been around for a while, this year they caused a global health crisis. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention reported that there were 1,299 cases of severe lung disease in 49 states and 80 percent of the patients were under the age of 35. Vaping, like cigarettes, contains dangerous amounts of nicotine, which often leads to addiction. High schoolers and middle schoolers are often targeted in e-cigarette sales.

Donald Trump Impeachment

The Impeachment inquiry was initiated on Sept. 24 by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi after a whistleblower claimed that President Donald Trump had abused his powers as president. Trump was accused of pressuring the Ukraine President into beginning investigations that would hurt Joe Biden’s campaign for the 2020 Election. The House of Representatives has voted to impeach Trump and the decision goes to the Senate now.