In Western Europe, Australia and the United States, more progressive reforms occurred as opposed to the extreme measures sought elsewhere. Roosevelt's New Deal attempted to use government spending to combat large-scale unemployment and severely negative growth. In Europe, multiple countries turn to authoritarian, nationalist, and fascist governments such as in Austria, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Portugal, and Spain. Multiple countries in Europe reject the borders established after the Treaty of Versailles such as Germany, Hungary, Italy, and the Soviet Union which sought expanding their territories in the decade. In Africa, the last non-colonized country, Ethiopia is occupied by Italian military forces. Entities in the British Empire experience an increase in power being decentralized by the United Kingdom to them in 1931 with the Statute of Westminster, while Mohandas Gandhi continues his peaceful protests to demand independence for India from British colonial rule. East Asia has a number of major conflicts, including civil war in China between communists and nationalists, the invasion and occupation of Manchuria by Japan, and war between China and Japan.
Many technological advances occurred in the 1930s, including:
- The world's tallest building (for the next 43 years) was constructed, opening as the Empire State Building on May 3, 1931 in New York City;
- On March 8, 1930, the first frozen foods of Clarence Birdseye were sold in Ringfield, Massachusetts, USA.
- Ub Iwerks produced the first Color Sound Cartoon in 1930, a Flip the Frog cartoon entitled: "Fiddlesticks";
- In 1930, Warner Brothers released the first All-Talking All-Color wide-screen movie, Song of the Flame; in 1930 alone, Warner Brothers released ten All-Color All-Talking feature movies in Technicolor and scores of shorts and features with color sequences;
- Air mail service across the Atlantic Ocean began;
- Radar was invented, known as RDF (Radio Direction Finding), such as in British Patent GB593017 by Robert Watt in 1938;
- In 1933, the 3M company marketed Scotch Tape; and
- In 1931, RCA Victor introduced the first long-playing phonograph record.
- In 1935, the British London and North Eastern Railway introduced the A4 Pacific, designed by Sir Nigel Gresley. Just three years later, one of these, No. 4468 Mallard, would become the fastest steam locomotive in the world.
- Nuclear fission discovered by Otto Hahn, Lise Meitner and Fritz Strassman in 1939.
- The Volkswagen Beetle, one of the best selling automobiles ever produced, had its roots in Nazi Germany in the late 1930s. The car would prove to be successful, and would be produced relatively unchanged until 2003.
 International issues
- Rise of authoritarian, nationalist, and fascist regimes.
- The Great Depression seriously affects the economic, political, and social aspects of society across the world.
- Major conflict occurs across the world such as the Chaco War, the Second Italo-Abyssinian War, the Spanish Civil War, the Chinese Civil War, the Second Sino-Japanese War, and the outbreak of World War II in 1939.
- Collapse of the League of Nations as countries like Germany, Italy, and Japan abdicate the League.
German dictator Adolf Hitler
(right) and Italian dictator Benito Mussolini
(left) pursue agendas of territorial expansion for their countries in the 1930s, eventually leading to the outbreak of World War II
- The Spanish monarchy abdicates and Spain becomes a republic in 1931.
- Adolf Hitler and the National Socialist German Worker's Party (Nazi Party) rise to power in Germany in 1933, forming a fascist regime committed to repudiating the Treaty of Versailles, persecuting and removing Jews and other minorities from German society, expanding Germany's territory, and opposing the spread of communism.
- In the Soviet Union, agricultural collectivization and rapid industrialization take place.
- Austrian chancellor Engelbert Dolfuss is assassinated in 1934 by Austrian Nazis. Germany and Italy nearly clash over the issue of Austrian independence despite close ideological similarities of the Italian Fascist and Nazi regimes.
- King Alexander of Yugoslavia is assassinated in 1934 by a radical Macedonian nationalist.
- Anglo-German naval agreement is signed in 1935, removing the Treaty Versailles' level of limitation on the size of the German navy, allowing Germany to build a larger navy
- Spanish Civil War occurs from 1936 to 1939. Germany and Italy back anti-communist nationalist forces of Francisco Franco. The Soviet Union backs the left-wing republican faction in the war. The war ends in April 1939 with Franco's nationalist forces defeating the republican forces. Franco becomes dictator of Spain.
- Éamon de Valera introduces a new constitution for the Irish Free State in 1937, effectively ending its status as a British Dominion.
- The "Great Purge" of "Old Bolsheviks" from the Communist Party of the Soviet Union takes place from 1937 to 1938, as ordered by Soviet Union leader Josef Stalin, resulting in hundreds of thousands of people being killed.
- Germany and Italy pursue territorial expansionist agendas. Germany demands the annexation of Austria and German-populated territories in Europe. From 1935 to 1936, Germany receives the Saar, remilitarizes the Rhineland. Italy initially opposes Germany's aims on Austria but the two countries resolve their differences in 1936 in the aftermath of Italy's diplomatic isolation after its invasion of Ethiopia which only Germany supported. Germany and Italy improve relations by forming an alliance against communism in 1936 with the signing of the Anti-Comintern Pact. Germany annexes Austria and then the Sudetenland after negotiations which resulted in the Munich Agreement in 1938. Italy invades and annexes Albania in 1939 and Germany receives the Meuse territory from Latvia, occupies Czecholslovakia, and finally invades Poland which results in the outbreak of World War II.
- The Great Depression occurred during the 1930s.
- Economic interventionist policies increase in popularity as a result of the Great Depression in both authoritarian and democratic countries. In the western world, Keynesianism replaces classical economic theory.
- Rapid industrialization takes place in the Soviet Union.
 Literature and Art
- Notable poetry include W. H. Auden's Poems.
- Notable literature includes Aldous Huxley's Brave New World (1932), John Steinbeck's Grapes of Wrath (1939) and Of Mice and Men (1937), Ernest Hemingway's To Have and Have Not (1937), John Dos Passos's U.S.A trilogy, William Faulkner's As I Lay Dying (1930) and Absalom, Absalom! (1936), John O'Hara's Appointment in Samarra (1934) and Butterfield 8 (1935).
- Notable "hardboiled" crime fiction includes Raymond Chandler's The Big Sleep, James M. Cain's The Postman Always Rings Twice (1934).
- Notable plays include Thorton Wilder's Our Town (1938).
- In the art of film making, the Golden Age of Hollywood entered a whole decade, after the advent of talking pictures ("talkies") in 1927 and full-color films in 1930: more than 50 classic films were made in the 1930s:
- most notable were Gone With The Wind and The Wizard of Oz
- the soundtrack and photographic technology prompted many films to be made or re-made, such as the 1934 version of Cleopatra, using lush art deco sets which won an Academy Award (see films 1930-1939 in: Academy Award for Best Cinematography);
- the horror films (or monster movies) included many cult classics, such as Dracula, Frankenstein, The Mummy, Jekyll/Hyde, King Kong, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, and other films about wax museums, vampires and zombies, leading to the 1941 film The Wolf Man (wolfman);
- recurring themes included: Laurel and Hardy, the Marx Brothers, Tarzan, Charlie Chan, Alfred Hitchcock films, Our Gang, and the filming of "superheroes" such as The Phantom and Superman;
- two notable films were made in the 1930s (see: "1934 in film" or "1939 in film").
 Popular culture
- Radio becomes dominant mass media in industrial nations.
- First intercontinental commercial airline flights.
- Amelia Earhart receives major attention in the 1930s as the first woman pilot to conduct major air flights. Her dissappearance for unknown reasons in 1937 while on flight prompted search efforts which failed.
- Height of the Art Deco movement in North America and western Europe.
- Major international media attention follows Mohandas Gandhi's peaceful resistance movement against British colonial rule in India.
- The U.S. film The Wizard of Oz is the first colour film and is enormously popular.
- "Swing" music starts becoming popular (from 1935 onward). It gradually replaces the sweet form of Jazz that had been popular for the first half of the decade.
- Triumph of the Will - Leni Riefenstahl's ground-breaking Nazi propaganda film.
- The 1937 World's Fair in Paris, France displays the growing political tensions in Europe. The pavilions of the rival countries of Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union face each other. Germany at the time was internationally condemned for its air forces bombing of the Basque town of Guernica in Spain during the Spanish Civil War, which Spanish artist Pablo Picasso depicted in his masterpiece painting Guernica at the World Fair, which was a surrealist depiction of the horror of the bombing.
 World leaders
Spearheaded Non Violent Movement against foreign oppression
 Sports figures
 British Commonwealth
 United States