Timeline of Contemporary period (1945-2020)

The Timeline of Contemporary period corresponds to the most recent period in the history of humanity, between the years 1945-2020.
Elliot Fernández

Elliot Fernández

He has a degree in History from the Autonomous University of Barcelona (2009) and a Master's in World History from Pompeu Fabra University (2011).

17/07/2020 | Last update:

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The Timeline of Contemporary period comprises the historical period closest to our times. It begins with the end of the Second World War in 1945 and goes up to the present day. But historians have focused mainly on the study of the Cold War years.

The bipolar world of the Cold War

The new system of international relations that emerged from World War II was based on a bipolar world. The United States of America and the Soviet Union were the two powers. They each formed their own system of alliances to ensure hegemony within their respective blocs.

The Western capitalist bloc was led by the United States. The main institutions were:

  • In the military field, the NATO (military alliance).
  • In the economic sphere, the IMF and the World Bank.

On the other hand, the Soviet or communist bloc was led by the Soviet Union. The Soviets established their own institutions:

The whole period was marked by uncertainty and fear of a new conflict on a global scale. The military scale and the permanent threat of nuclear war were present throughout this time.

Although the much feared Third World War never took place, the two powers were involved in military conflicts. The wars were peripheral, but they complicated international stability. Decolonization and independence movements were another destabilizing factor. These movements were used as an escape valve for the two superpowers. Through them they could intervene directly or indirectly without having to openly declare war.

In conclusion, the Cold War ended when the Soviet Union was unable to sustain the huge military expenditures. The economic crisis of the Soviet bloc became more acute in the 1970s and 1980s. The USSR, without money to keep the arms race open with the United States, collapsed. This happened in 1991.

The Timeline of Contemporary Period: Major Events

The Timeline of Contemporary Period presented below points out the most important events of this period.

Main historical facts of the period:

The Long TelegramCold War22/2/1946WashingtonUnited States of America
Churchill’s Fulton SpeechCold War5/3/1946FultonUnited States of America
Italian institutional referendumCold War2/6/1946 - 3/6/1946RomaItaly
Truman DoctrineCold War12/3/1947WashingtonUnited States of America
Zhdanov Doctrine and formation of the CominformCold War22/9/1947MoscowRussia
Approval of the European Recovery Program (ERP), Marshall PlanCold War3/4/1948WashingtonUnited States of America
Adoption of the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (COMECON)Cold War5/1/1949MoscowRussia
North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)Cold War4/4/1949WashingtonUnited States of America
Foundation of the Federal Republic of GermanyCold War23/5/1949BonnGermany
Hallstein Doctrine (GFR)Cold War1955 - 1969BonnGermany
Formation of the Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Mutual Assistance (Warsaw Pact)Cold War14/5/1955WarsawPoland
Berlin Wall builtCold War13/8/1961BerlinGermany
Prague SpringCold War5/1/1968 - 21/8/1968PrahaChecz Republic
Socialism with a human faceCold War0/4/1968PrahaChecz Republic
Warsaw Pact invasion of CzechoslovakiaCold War20/8/1968 - 21/8/1968PrahaChecz Republic
Velvet RevolutionCold War17/11/1989 - 29/11/1989PrahaChecz Republic
Dissolution of the Soviet UnionCold War11/3/1990 - 25/12/1991MoscowRussia
Dissolution Warsaw PactCold War1/7/1991MoscowRussia

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