Electromagnetism is the totality of all phenomena associated with the presence of electric charges, such as the electric force, magnetic force or electromagnetic waves. The basic laws of electromagnetism are Maxwell’s equations.

In the context of special relativity it becomes clear that electric and magnetic forces are relative – which one of them is active in a given situation depends on the observer. Say that, from the point of view of one observer, the attractive force between an electric conductor and a moving charged particle is purely electric in nature – nevertheless, for a moving observer at rest with respect to that particle, it is purely magnetic. Just as, in special relativity, it makes sense to talk of spacetime as a whole, seeing that it depends on the observer how that spacetime is then split into space and time, it makes sense to talk collectively about “the electromagnetic force”, leaving it to the different observers to split this electromagnetic force into electric or magnetic parts.