Visual History of the World




From Prehistoric to Romanesque  Art
Gothic Art
Renaissance  Art
Baroque and Rococo Art
The Art of Asia
Neoclassicism, Romanticism  Art
Art Styles in 19th century
Art of the 20th century
Artists that Changed the World
Design and Posters
Classical Music
Literature and Philosophy

Visual History of the World
First Empires
The Ancient World
The Middle Ages
The Early Modern Period
The Modern Era
The World Wars and Interwar Period
The Contemporary World

Dictionary of Art and Artists


The Contemporary World

1945 to the present

After World War II, a new world order came into being in which two superpowers, the United States and the Soviet Union, played the leading roles. Their ideological differences led to the arms race of the Cold War and fears of a global nuclear conflict. The rest of the world was also drawn into the bipolar bloc system, and very few nations were able to remain truly non-aligned. The East-West conflict came to an end in 1990 with the collapse of the Soviet Union and the consequent downfall of the Eastern Bloc. Since that time, the world has been driven by the globalization of worldwide economic and political systems. The world has, however, remained divided: The rich nations of Europe, North America, and East Asia stand in contrast to the developing nations of the Third World.

The first moon landing made science-fiction dreams reality in the year 1969.
Space technology has made considerable progress as the search for new
possibilities of using space continues.



Latin America

SINCE 1945


see also: United Nations member states -

Antigua and Barbuda,Bahamas,Barbados,Belize,

Costa Rica,Cuba,Dominica,Dominican Republic,
El Salvador,Grenada,Guatemala,Haiti,Honduras
Saint Kitts and Nevis,Saint Lucia,Saint Vincent and the Grenadines,
Trinidad and Tobago



Rapidly changing authoritarian regimes, military dictatorships, and dependence on the United States were the realities of the political situation across most of Latin America until well into the 1970s. Since then, democratic regimes have emerged in most states, although they have sometimes been undermined by problems ranging from challenges to the state from the radical left and right, to poverty, corruption, and drug cartels. Enormous gaps between rich and poor continue to characterize South American societies. Attempts at political union and economic cooperation have often been undermined by the instability of the regimes in many countries.


The Special Cases of Mexico and Cuba

After World War II, both Mexico and Cuba followed independent courses vis-a-vis the United States, the political leadership of both resulting from left-wing revolutions. In 1962 Cuba was the scene of a showdown between the two Cold War superpowers.


The Mexican 10 revolution from 1910 to 1917 brought with it a social-liberal constitution that established national rights of access to mineral resources and the separation of church and state.

The Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) held political power in a corrupt, semi-democratic system from its formation in 1946 until 2000.

It pushed forward the 13 industrialization and nationalization of the economy, achieving high growth rates through the 1960s, and introduced social reforms.

However, corruption and mismanagement of the economy led to virtual state bankruptcy in 1982, which was prevented only by US assistance. From 1988, under President Carlos Salinas de Gortari, the close connections and interlinkages between the state, the PRI, and the economy were slowly dissolved.

Opposition forces gained popularity, and in the presidential election of 2000, the candidate of the right-liberal National Action party, 11 Vicente Fox, won to break the PRI's 54-year monopoly.

10 The Mexican leader of the revolution Eufemio Zapata, December 1914

13 Iron and steel factory in Mexico, ca. 1965

11 Mexican President Vicente Fox,
February 2, 2004

Cuba, politically and economically dependent upon the United States, was ruled by the dictator 8 Fulgencio Batista following a military coup in 1952.

Marxist revolutionary 9 Fidel Castro, together with Che Guevara, began a 12 guerrilla war against Batista in 1953 and forced him to flee Havana on January 1,1959.

Castro proclaimed a socialist state and established Communist party rule. The seizure of American business assets and the close association of Cuba to the Soviet Union led to acute tensions with the United States and Cuba's expulsion from the OAS. A US-backed attempt to invade the island in 1961 proved a fiasco. The Soviet move to install missiles in Cuba in 1962 brought the world to the brink of nuclear war.

Despite its harsh repression of domestic political opposition, Castro's regime has long been an international symbol of resistance to US influence, and its social policies, such as free medical treatment, have helped keep it in power. The Cuban Communists survived the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, replacing Soviet subsidies with revenues from tourism, which has boomed in recent years, but the Cuban population is very poor. The island remains subject to a US trade embargo imposed shortly after the 1959 revolution.

8 Fulgencio Batista next to a statue of Abraham Lincoln, one of his favorite historical figures

9 Fidel Castro, who still holds the reins of power in Cuba, one of the last surviving communist states, May 17, 2005

12 Fidel Castro and his guerillas in the
struggle against the Batista regime



Ernesto "Che" Guevara

Fidel Castro and Che Guevara

Ernesto "Che" Guevara became an icon of international Marxist revolution and one of the heroes of student protest movements in the 1960s.

A doctor, born into a wealthy family in Argentina, he joined the revolutionaries of Fidel Castro in 1954 and participated in the Cuban Revolution.

As president of the Cuban national bank (1959) and minister of industry (1961), he was preoccupied with social justice in the economy.

He left to continue the communist revolution in other countries but was shot dead by government forces while training revolutionaries in Bolivia in 1966.

Che Guevara taker prisioner in Bolivia. Few hours before his murder.

Che Guevara's body aften been killed.




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