AP World History Exam: Period 6 Notes (1900 C.E. to the Present)

Six Things to Know about AP World History Period 6

  1. Due to improvements in health care and the decrease of the death rate, the world population went from 1 billion people in 1900 to over 6 billion. The movement of people has also increased throughout the world, with many in search of better economic opportunities. Some refugees, too, are being forced to leave their homelands.
  2. Traditional social structures have been challenged as a result of movements that have attempted to empower the working class, such as the introduction of communist governments in various parts of the world.
  3. Women gained the right to vote in many parts of the world, as well as access to new economic opportunities and education. The development of the birth control pill empowered women by allowing them to control their own reproductive systems.
  4. The world became more and more integrated through technology, cultures have blended, and some came to dominate. At the same time, religious fundamentalism has developed in some regions, possibly to combat Western-dominated global culture.
  5. The rise in the nation-state and nationalism has led to the adoption of political systems from totalitarianism to democracy. At the same time, the rise of a more globally connected world may blur the lines of the nation-state.
  6. The world wars demonstrated the influence of technology on warfare, but also indicated the decline of Europe as the dominant global power. Colonial areas asserted themselves and fought for independence, but were later faced with a new global conflict called the Cold War. Since the end of the Cold War, nations have made attempts at both economic and political reforms, and international and multinational organizations have made attempts to establish a new world order.

Key Topics–Period 6: 1900 to the Present

Remember that the AP World History exam tests you on the depth of your knowledge, not just your ability to recall facts. While we have provided brief definitions here, you will need to know these terms in even more depth for the AP World History exam, including how terms connect to broader historical themes and understandings.

World War I

  • World War I: Initially known as the Great War, this total war officially began in 1914 with the assassination of Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand, but it was rooted in secret alliances, nationalism, and militarism among the European powers. Its end in 1918 left Europe with many unresolved issues that would be settled in World War II.
  • Total war: Warfare in which the entire nation devotes its efforts to large-scale war, usually with the aim to completely eliminate an enemy threat. The two world wars are well-known examples.
  • League of Nations: As part of U.S. President Woodrow Wilson’s plans for postwar peace (the Fourteen Points), a multinational coalition was created to prevent further war through open negotiations. Ironically, the United States never became a member. The power of the League was delegitimized in the 1930s with the Japanese invasion of Manchuria, the Spanish Civil War, and the Italian invasion of Ethiopia.
  • Mohandas Gandhi: Regarded as the most influential leader of the Indian Independence movement, the Mahatma (“Great Soul”) was known for his grassroots approach to protest. Using a combination of religious ideals, Gandhi and his followers used civil disobedience and nonviolence to help India gain its independence. Although Gandhi was murdered just five months after independence, his legacy influenced such leaders as Dr. Martin Luther King and the Dalai Lama.

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