The 1930s (pronounced "nineteen-thirties" and commonly abbreviated as "the 30s" or "the Thirties") was a decade that began on January 1, 1930, and ended on December 31, 1939. In the United States, the Dust Bowl led to the nickname the "Dirty Thirties".

Rape of NankingSalt MarchNazi Invasion of Poland
From left, clockwise: Dorothea Lange's photo of the homeless Florence Thompson shows the effects of the Great Depression; due to extreme drought conditions, farms across the south-central United States become dry and the Dust Bowl spreads; The Empire of Japan invades China, which eventually leads to the Second Sino-Japanese War. In 1937, Japanese soldiers massacre civilians in Nanking; aviator Amelia Earhart becomes an American flight icon; German dictator Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party attempt to establish a New Order of German hegemony in Europe, which culminates in 1939 when Germany invades Poland, leading to the outbreak of World War II. The Nazis also persecute Jews in Germany, specifically with Kristallnacht in 1938; the Hindenburg explodes over a small New Jersey airfield, causing 36 deaths and effectively ending commercial airship travel; Mohandas Gandhi walks to the Arabian Sea in the Salt March of 1930.

The decade was defined by a global economic and political crisis that culminated in the Second World War. It saw the collapse of the international financial system, beginning with the Wall Street Crash of 1929, the largest stock market crash in American history. The subsequent economic downfall, called the Great Depression, had traumatic social effects worldwide, leading to widespread poverty and unemployment, especially in the economic superpower of the United States and in Germany, which was already struggling with the payment of reparations for the First World War. The Dust Bowl in the United States (which led to the nickname the "Dirty Thirties") exacerbated the scarcity of wealth. U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt, elected in 1933, introduced a program of broad-scale social reforms and stimulus plans called the New Deal in response to the crisis. The Soviet's second five-year plan gave heavy industry top priority, putting the Soviet Union not far behind Germany as one of the major steel-producing countries of the world, while also improving communications. First-wave feminism made advances, with women gaining the right to vote in South Africa (1930, whites only), Brazil (1933), and Cuba (1933). Following the rise of Adolf Hitler and the emergence of the NSDAP as the country's sole legal party in 1933, Germany imposed a series of laws which discriminated against Jews and other ethnic minorities.

Germany adopted an aggressive foreign policy, remilitarizing the Rhineland (1936), annexing Austria (1938) and the Sudetenland (1938), before invading Poland (1939) and starting World War II near the end of the decade. Italy likewise continued its already aggressive foreign policy, defeating the Libyan resistance (1932) and invading Ethiopia (1936) and Albania (1939). Both Germany and Italy became involved in the Spanish Civil War, supporting the eventually victorious Nationalists led by Francisco Franco against the Republicans, who were in turn supported by the Soviet Union. The Chinese Civil War was halted due to the need to confront Japanese imperial ambitions, with the Kuomintang and the Chinese Communist Party forming a Second United Front to fight Japan in the Second Sino-Japanese War. Lesser conflicts included interstate wars such as the Colombia–Peru War (1932–1933), the Chaco War (1932–1935) and the Saudi–Yemeni War (1934), as well as internal conflicts in Brazil (1932), Ecuador (1932), El Salvador (1932), Austria (1934) and Palestine (1936–1939).

Severe famine took place in the major grain-producing areas of the Soviet Union between 1930 and 1933, leading to 5.7 to 8.7 million deaths. Major contributing factors to the famine include: the forced collectivization in the Soviet Union of agriculture as a part of the First Five-Year Plan, forced grain procurement, combined with rapid industrialization, a decreasing agricultural workforce, and several severe droughts. A famine of similar scope also took place in China from 1936 to 1937, killing 5 million people. The 1931 China floods caused 422,499–4,000,000 deaths. Major earthquakes of this decade include the 1935 Quetta earthquake (30,000–60,000 deaths) and the 1939 Erzincan earthquake (32,700–32,968 deaths).

With the advent of sound in 1927, the musical—the genre best placed to showcase the new technology—took over as the most popular type of film with audiences, with the animated musical fantasy film Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) becoming the highest-grossing film of this decade in terms of gross rentals. In terms of distributor rentals, Gone with the Wind (1939), an epic historical romance film, was the highest-grossing film of this decade and remains the highest-grossing film (when adjusted for inflation) to this day. Popular novels of this decade include the historical fiction novels The Good Earth, Anthony Adverse and Gone with the Wind, all three of which were best-selling novels in the United States for 2 consecutive years. Cole Porter was a popular music artist in the 1930s, with 2 of his songs, "Night and Day" and "Begin the Beguine" becoming No. 1 hits in 1932 and 1935 respectively. The latter song was of the Swing genre, which had begun to emerge as the most popular form of music in the United States since 1933.

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