Civilisation/20th Century History

From Quiz Revision Notes

For more information on World War I, see <Art and Culture/World War I>

For more information on World War II, see <Art and Culture/World War II>

Note – although the new millennium was widely celebrated on 1 January 2000, this page follows strict construction where the 20th century starts in 1901 and finishes in 2000.



US president William McKinley was assassinated in Buffalo by anarchist Leon Czolgosz.

Guglielmo Marconi transmitted a message from Poldhu in Cornwall to Signal Hill in St John’s, Newfoundland.

Annie Edson Taylor became the first person to survive a trip over Niagara Falls in a barrel.

The first Nobel Prize ceremony was held in Stockholm.


Second Boer War ended.

The Order of Merit was founded by Edward VII to reward those who provided especially eminent service in the armed forces or particularly distinguished themselves in science, art, literature, or the promotion of culture. The order is limited to only 24 members.

Oscar Eckenstein and Alexander Crowley undertook the first attempt to scale K2.

A statue of Boudica was erected by Westminster Bridge.


First powered flight by the Wright Brothers, Orville and Wilbur, at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.

Bolsheviks and Mensheviks were formed in Russia.

Cuba leased Guantanamo Bay to USA ‘in perpetuity’.

Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) was founded.


Entente cordiale was signed between Britain and France.

Herero Genocide was a campaign of racial extermination and collective punishment that the German Empire undertook in German South-West Africa (modern-day Namibia) against the Herero people.

The General Slocum caught fire and sank in the East River of New York City. An estimated 1,021 of the 1,342 people on board died.

Longacre Square in Manhattan was renamed Times Square after The New York Times.

Trans-Siberian Railway was opened.


Norway achieved full independence from Sweden.

Russo-Japanese War ended.

Las Vegas was founded as a city, when 110 acres of land adjacent to the Union Pacific Railroad tracks were auctioned in what would become the downtown area.

Fauvist artists’ first exhibit was held at the Salon d’Automne in Paris.


Magnitude 7.9 earthquake in San Francisco earthquake killed more than 3,000 people.

Magnitude 8.2 earthquake in Chile, destroyed most of the city of Valparaiso.

Mahatma Gandhi coined the term Satyagraha to characterize the Non-Violence movement in South Africa.

First dreadnought designed by John Fisher entered service.

SOS became an international distress signal.


Panic of 1907 was a financial crisis that occurred in the United States when the New York Stock Exchange fell close to 50% from its peak the previous year. The crisis was triggered by the failed attempt in October to corner the market on stock of the United Copper Company.

Finland held the first elections in Europe where universal suffrage was applied.

Florence Nightingale became the first woman to receive the Order of Merit.

Robert Baden-Powell held the first Brownsea Island scout camp, which is seen as the beginning of Scouting.


Tunguska event was an explosion in Siberia, most likely caused by the air burst of a large meteoroid or comet fragment. The explosion over the sparsely populated East Siberian taiga flattened an estimated 80 million trees.

FBI was founded as the Bureau of Investigation (BOI).

Samuel Cody made the first powered flight in Great Britain.

Thomas Selfridge became the first person to die in a plane crash. Orville Wright, the pilot of the plane, was injured in the crash in Virginia.


National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) was formed.

Louis Bleriot made the first airplane flight across the English Channel, winning the prize of £1,000 offered by the Daily Mail newspaper.

Charles Rolls was the first Briton to be killed in a flying accident, when the tail of his Wright Flyer broke off during a flying display near Bournemouth.

Robert Peary claimed to have reached the North Pole.

Tonypandy riot was a dispute between miners and mine owners that took place at the Cambrian Colliery mine in South Wales.



Great Flood of Paris was a catastrophe in which the Seine River, carrying winter rains from its tributaries, flooded Paris.

The Earth passed through the tail of Halley’s Comet.

A wireless telegraph sent from the SS Montrose resulted in the identification, arrest and execution of murderer Dr. Hawley Crippen.

5 October 1910 revolution was the overthrow of the Portuguese monarchy and its replacement by the First Portuguese Republic. Manuel II was the last King of Portugal.


Agadir Crisis was the international tension sparked by the deployment of the German gunboat Panther to the Moroccan port of Agadir.

Xinhai Revolution ended China's last imperial dynasty, the Manchu-led Qing dynasty, and led to the establishment of the Republic of China.

Roald Amundsen reached the South Pole.

Harriet Quimby earned the first U.S. pilot's certificate issued to a woman by the Aero Club of America, and less than a year later became the first woman to fly across the English Channel.

Siege of Sidney Street, popularly known as the Battle of Stepney, was a notorious gunfight in London. It ended with the deaths of two members of a politically-motivated gang of burglars supposedly led by Peter Piatkow, also known as ‘Peter the Painter’.


Novarupta volcano in Alaska was formed during the largest volcanic eruption of the 20th century.

African National Congress was founded.

Robert Falcon Scott and his companions died on their way back from the South Pole.

Meiji Era ended in Japan.

RMS Titanic, operated by the White Star Line, sank in the North Atlantic Ocean on 15 April after striking an iceberg during her maiden voyage from Southampton to New York City.

Ulster Covenant was signed by just under half a million people from Ulster, in protest against the Third Home Rule Bill, introduced by the Government in that same year. Sir Edward Carson was the first person to sign the Covenant at Belfast City Hall.

Ulster Volunteers were a unionist militia founded to block Home Rule for Ireland. They aimed to recruit 100,000 men who had signed the Covenant. The following year they were organized into the Ulster Volunteer Force.

Charles Dawson discovered the first of two skulls found in the Piltdown quarry in Sussex, skulls of an apparently primitive hominid, an ancestor of man. Piltdown man, or Eoanthropus dawsoni, was the ‘missing link’. In 1953 Piltdown man was exposed as a hoax.


The Federal Reserve System (the Fed) was established.

Rudolf Diesel disappeared from the post office steamer Dresden on a voyage from Antwerp to London, in an apparent suicide.

Emily Davison committed suicide by throwing herself under King George V's horse, Anmer, at the Epsom Derby.

Senghenydd Colliery Disaster occurred near Caerphilly, killing 439 miners and one rescuer. It is the worst mining accident in the United Kingdom.


Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria was assassinated by Gavrilo Princip in Sarajevo, triggering the start of World War I.

Christmas truce was celebrated along the Western Front.

Marcus Garvey founded the Universal Negro Improvement Association in Jamaica.

Panama Canal was opened.

While steaming on the St. Lawrence River in fog, the RMS Empress of Ireland was struck amidships by the Norwegian collier SS Storstad, and the Empress sank very quickly. This accident claimed 1,012 lives, making it the deadliest maritime disaster in Canadian history.

Suffragette Mary Richardson damaged Velazquez' painting Rokeby Venus in the National Gallery with a meat chopper.


The first widespread use of poison gas in World War I.

Start of the Armenian Genocide.

Edith Cavell was executed for helping allied soldiers escape from Belgium.

RMS Lusitania was torpedoed and sunk by a German U-boat, causing the deaths of 1,198 passengers and crew. William Turner was the captain of Lusitania. Sunk off the Old Head of Kinsale.

Henry Ford and 170 prominent peace leaders travelled to Europe on a Peace Ship.

The United States occupation of Haiti began.

Quintinshill rail disaster occurred near Gretna Green. The crash involved five trains on the Caledonian railway and killed 226 people. It is the worst rail crash in the United Kingdom in terms of loss of life.

The first British Women’s Institute meeting took place at Llanfairpwll on Anglesey.


Hospital ship HMHS Britannic, designed as the third Olympic-class ocean liner for White Star Line, sank in the Aegean Sea.

Sopwith Camel made its maiden flight.

Grigori Rasputin was assassinated.

Easter Rising was an armed insurrection in Ireland during Easter Week.

British Summer Time, first advocated by William Willett in 1907, was introduced on 21 May.

The Saturday Evening Post published its first cover with a Norman Rockwell painting.


United States declared war on Germany.

Russian Revolution was inaugurated with the February Revolution. Tsar Nicholas II abdicated, ending Romanov dynastic rule and the Russian Empire.

The October Revolution was the precipitating event of the Russian Civil War.

The Balfour Declaration supported the establishment of a "national home for the Jewish people" in Palestine.

Radium Girls were female factory workers who contracted radiation poisoning from painting watch dials with glow-in-the-dark paint at the United States Radium factory in Orange, New Jersey.

Our Lady of Fatima is a Catholic title of Mary, mother of Jesus, based on the Marian apparitions reported by three shepherd children at the Cova da Iria in Fatima, Portugal.

The Pulitzer Prize was established.


World War I ended. At 11am on 11 November an armistice with Germany was signed in a railroad carriage at Compiegne in northern France.

Kaiser Wilhelm II abdicated.

Tsar Nicholas II and his family were assassinated in Yekaterinburg.

Civil War in Finland.

Mehmed VI became the last Sultan of the Ottoman Empire and the last Caliph.

RAF was founded on 1 April by the amalgamation of the Royal Flying Corps (RFC) and the Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS).

In January the Ministry of Food decided to introduce rationing. Sugar was the first commodity to be rationed, followed by butchers' meat.

Spanish Flu pandemic infected nearly a third of the global population. It was named because Spain, a neutral country in World War I, had no special censorship for news against the disease and its consequences.


Treaty of Versailles was signed on 28 June, following six months of Allied negotiations at the Paris Peace Conference. The treaty required Germany to disarm, make ample territorial concessions, and pay reparations to certain countries that had formed the Entente powers.

Boston Molasses Disaster occurred when a large molasses storage tank burst, and a wave of molasses rushed through the streets of Boston, killing 21 people.

May Fourth Movement was a political movement growing out of student demonstrations in Beijing, protesting against the Chinese government's weak response to the Treaty of Versailles.

The International Labour Organization was established.

John Alcock and Arthur Brown made the first non-stop transatlantic flight. They flew a modified First World War Vickers Vimy bomber from St. John's, Newfoundland, to Clifden, County Galway.

The Battle of George Square was a confrontation between police and striking workers in Glasgow. Government troops were supported by six tanks.

The first international commercial flight took place from Paris–Le Bourget to Hounslow Heath.


Prohibition was introduced following the passing of the 18th Amendment to the US Constitution a year before.

The League of Nations was an inter-governmental organization founded as a result of the Treaty of Versailles, and the precursor to the United Nations. At its greatest extent it had 58 members. Although U.S. president Woodrow Wilson won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1919 for his role as the leading architect of the League, the United States was never a member.

The Non-Cooperation Movement was launched by Mahatma Gandhi with the aim of self-governance and obtaining full independence for India.

Greece restored its monarchy after a referendum.



Communist Party of China was founded.

Adolf Hitler became Fuhrer of the Nazi Party (National Socialist German Workers' Party (German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei or NSDAP).

Kronstadt rebellion against the Bolshevik government was initiated by sailors of the Soviet Navy’s Baltic Fleet.

Battle of Blair Mountain was the largest labour uprising in United States history. For five days in Logan County, West Virginia, 10,000 armed coal miners confronted 3,000 lawmen and strikebreakers, called the Logan Defenders in a dispute over unionization.

Anglo-Irish Treaty concluded the Irish War of Independence. It provided for the establishment of the Irish Free State within a year as a self-governing dominion within the "community of nations known as the British Empire".

Marie Stopes opened the first birth control clinic in London.

Edward Elgar opened the first HMV store in Oxford Street in London.


Nansen passports were first issued by the League of Nations to stateless refugees. The passport was designed by Norwegian statesman and polar explorer Fridtjof Nansen.

March on Rome brought Benito Mussolini to power in Italy.

The USSR was formed.

Irish Civil War was a conflict that followed the Irish War of Independence and accompanied the establishment of the Irish Free State.

Ernest Shackleton was buried at Grytviken, South Georgia.

The BBC was established.


Turkish War of Independence ended. It resulted in the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, and the abolition of the Turkish monarchy and of the Islamic Caliphate.

Kemal Ataturk became the first President of the newly established Republic of Turkey.

Treaty of Lausanne was a peace treaty between Turkey and the Allies.

Beer Hall Putsch was a failed coup attempt by the Nazis in Munich. The putsch began in one of Munich’s largest beer halls.

Rentenmark currency was issued in Weimer Germany to stop hyperinflation.

International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL) was founded.

Great Kanto earthquake struck the Kanto plain on the Japanese main island of Honshu, killing over 100,000 people.


Vladimir Lenin died.

Petrograd (Saint Petersburg) was renamed Leningrad five days after Lenin’s death.

George Mallory and Andrew Irvine disappeared on Mount Everest.

Adolf Hitler was released from Landsberg Prison having served nine months for his role in the Beer Hall Putsch.

The first Surrealist Manifesto was published.


Locarno Treaties to guarantee peace in Western Europe were signed by Germany, Britain, France, Belgium and Italy.

Pahlavi dynasty, the last Iranian royal dynasty, was founded by Reza Shah Pahlavi.

Scopes monkey trial in Tennessee led to the law that forbade the teaching of the theory of evolution. John Scopes was represented by lawyer Clarence Darrow.

The first public demonstration of a television was given by John Logie Baird in Selfridges in London.

Serum run to Nome was a transport of diphtheria antitoxin by dog sled relay across Alaska by 20 mushers and about 150 sled dogs.


Balfour Declaration recognized the self-governing Dominions of the British Empire as fully autonomous states.

28 May 1926 coup d'état was a military coup in Portugal.

General Strike lasted from 3 May to 12 May. It was called by the General Council of the TUC in an unsuccessful attempt to force the government to act to prevent wage reduction and worsening conditions for coal miners.

The Electricity (Supply) Act created the Central Electricity Board, which set up the UK's first synchronized, nationwide AC grid. It began operating in 1933.


Charles Lindbergh flew from New York to Le Bourget Aerodrome in Paris in the Spirit of St Louis. The flight lasted for 33 hours.

The world's most notable physicists met to discuss the newly formulated quantum theory at the Fifth Solvay International Conference on Electrons and Photons. The leading figures were Albert Einstein and Niels Bohr.

Chinese Civil War began.

The first public transatlantic telephone call was made.

World population reached two billion.


Kellogg-Briand pact was signed. Official title is the General Treaty for Renunciation of War as an Instrument of National Policy.

Geneva Protocol came into force. It is a treaty prohibiting the use of chemical and biological weapons in international armed conflicts.

The International Astronomical Union replaced Greenwich Mean Time with Universal Time.

Royal Flying Doctor Service of Australia was founded by the Reverend John Flynn in Queensland.


The initial Wall Street crash occurred on Black Thursday (24 October), but it was the catastrophic downturn of Black Monday and Tuesday (28 and 29 October) that precipitated widespread panic. $30 billion was lost overnight.

Pope Pius XI signed the Lateran Treaty with Italian leader Benito Mussolini, after which the Vatican City was recognised as a sovereign state.

Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre was the murder of seven members and associates of Chicago's North Side Gang.

1st Academy Awards were presented.

Lady Grace Drummond-Hay became the first woman to circumnavigate the world, in a zeppelin airship.


Salt march by Mohandas Gandhi. The march was a direct action campaign of tax resistance and nonviolent protest against the British salt monopoly.

Haile Selassie became Emperor of Abyssinia.

Motion Picture Production Code, also known as the Hays Code, was instituted in the United States.

Construction of the Chrysler Building in New York City was completed.



Mukden Incident was a false flag event staged by Japanese military personnel as a pretext for the Japanese invasion of Manchuria.

Construction of the Empire State Building in New York City was completed.

Invergordon mutiny at Cromarty Firth in Scotland, by 1,000 sailors in the British Atlantic Fleet. Naval ratings refused to prepare ships following pay cuts.

Mohandas Gandhi visited Britain.

Guglielmo Marconi set up Vatican Radio for Pope Pius XI.


Holodomor was a man-made famine in Soviet Ukraine from 1932 to 1933 that killed millions of Ukrainians. The existence of the Holodomor was first publicized by Welsh journalist Gareth Jones.

Eamon de Valera became President of the Executive Council (prime minister) of the Irish Free State.

Chaco War between Bolivia and Paraguay began.

The son of aviators Charles Lindbergh and Anne Morrow Lindbergh was abducted from his crib in the Lindberghs' home in New Jersey.

Al Capone was jailed for tax evasion.

Pecora Commission was set up by the US Senate Committee to investigate the causes of the Wall Street Crash.

Declaration of the Unification of Saudi Arabia was officially announced by Prince Faisal bin Abdulaziz.

George V agreed to deliver a Royal Christmas speech on the radio, an event which became annual thereafter.

Emu War addressed public concern over the number of emus said to be running amok in Western Australia. The emu population persisted and continued to cause crop destruction.


Adolf Hitler became Chancellor of Germany.

Germany withdrew from the League of Nations.

Germany's parliament building in Berlin, the Reichstag, was set on fire. Dutchman Marinus van der Lubbe was executed for the crime.

Gestapo secret police force was established in Nazi Germany by Hermann Goering.

New Deal was a series of programs, public work projects, financial reforms, and regulations enacted by President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

21st Amendment to the US Constitution was passed, repealing prohibition.

Wiley Post became the first person to fly solo around the world, in a Lockheed Vega aircraft, the Winnie Mae.


Night of the Long Knives was a series of political extrajudicial executions intended to consolidate the power of Adolf Hitler.

Engelbert Dollfuss, Chancellor of Austria, was shot dead

First Red Army under Mao Zedong begin the Long March.

British Union of Fascists held a rally at Olympia.

British Council was set up by Richard Leeper.

National Council for Civil Liberties (NCCL) was founded. In 1989, NCCL rebranded as "Liberty".


The antisemitic and racist Nuremburg Laws were enacted in Nazi Germany.

Second Italo-Abyssinian War began.

Alcoholics Anonymous was founded in Akron, Ohio, by Bill Wilson and Bob Smith.

Radar experiments by Robert Watson-Watt and Arnold Wilkins led to development of the Chain Home system of coastal early warning radar stations.


Spanish Civil War began.

Construction of the Hoover Dam was completed.

Start of the Great Purge of Joseph Stalin to solidify his power over the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and the state.

Jarrow March (or Jarrow Crusade) was an October protest march against unemployment and extreme poverty suffered in Northeast England. The 200 marchers travelled from Jarrow to the Palace of Westminster.

Tupelo–Gainesville tornado outbreak was an outbreak of at least 12 tornadoes that struck the Southeastern United States in April. Over 400 people were killed.

Aramco, the predecessor of Saudi Aramco, dug the Dammam No. 7 well that proved beyond doubt that the Kingdom possessed a large supply of hydrocarbons.

Montreux Convention Regarding the Regime of the Straits was an agreement that gave Turkey control over the Bosporus and Dardanelles Straits and regulated the transit of naval warships.

Battle of Cable Street was a clash between the Metropolitan Police Service, overseeing a legal march by the British Union of Fascists, led by Oswald Mosley, and anti-fascists.


The rigid airship Hindenburg crashed at Naval Air Station Lakehurst, New Jersey, causing 35 fatalities. The airship was designed and built by the Zeppelin Company.

Second Sino-Japanese War began.

Nanjing Massacre was the mass murder of Chinese civilians by the Japanese Imperial Army.

Volkswagen was founded by the German Labour Front.

Coronation of George VI was the first live outside broadcast on British TV.

999 emergency service was introduced.


The Anschluss was the annexation of the Federal State of Austria into the German Reich.

Evian Conference was convened to address the problem of German and Austrian Jewish refugees wishing to flee persecution by Nazi Germany.

Munich Agreement provided for the German annexation of part of Czechoslovakia called the Sudetenland.

Adolf Hitler was Time Magazine Man of the Year.

Neville Chamberlain returned to Britain from a meeting with Adolf Hitler in Munich and declared "Peace for our Time".

Orson Welles' radio adaptation of The War of the Worlds caused panic in various parts of the United States.


23 August – Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact between Germany and the Soviet Union was signed.

1 September – German battleship Schleswig-Holstein opened fire on the Polish military transit depot at Westerplatte, in the Free City of Danzig.

3 September – Britain and France declared war on Germany.

Francisco Franco became dictator of Spain following the end of the Spanish Civil War.

MI9 was formed to help POWs escape and to help allied troops trapped behind enemy lines.

Albert Einstein and Leo Szilard wrote a letter to Franklin D. Roosevelt warning against a German atomic bomb.


Leon Trotsky was assassinated in Mexico by Ramon Mercader, using an ice axe as a weapon.

A memorandum written by Otto Frisch and Rudolf Peierls with new calculations about the size of the critical mass needed for an atomic bomb helped accelerate British and US efforts towards bomb development during World War II.

64 people were killed when a bomb fell on Balham tube station.

Bacon, butter and sugar were rationed in Britain.

British Restaurants were communal kitchens created to help people who had been bombed out of their homes or had run out of ration coupons.

Tacoma Narrows Bridge in Washington collapsed into Puget Sound. Known as ‘Galloping Gertie’ as it moved vertically in windy conditions.

The first McDonald’s restaurant opened in San Bernardino, California.



Japanese Attack on Pearl Harbor on 7 December led to the USA joining World War II.

Construction of the Mount Rushmore National Memorial in South Dakota was completed.

Amy Johnson drowned in the Thames Estuary, baling out while flying an Airspeed Oxford for the Air Transport Auxiliary.

German spy Josef Jakobs became the last person to be executed at the Tower of London.


Quit India Movement, or the India August Movement, was a civil disobedience movement launched in India by Mahatma Gandhi.

George VI awarded the George Cross to the island of Malta.

The premiere of Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 7, nicknamed the Leningrad, took place in Leningrad with the city still under siege.

A team led by Enrico Fermi initiated the first self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction.

The Manhattan Project to produce the first nuclear weapons was led by the USA.

Prince George, Duke of Kent was killed in the Dunbeath air crash. A Short S.25 Sunderland flying boat crashed in the Scottish Highlands near Dunbeath, Caithness, killing 14 of 15 passengers and crew.


Cairo Conference was a strategy meeting of Franklin D. Roosevelt, Winston Churchill and Chiang Kai-shek.

Tehran Conference was a strategy meeting of Joseph Stalin, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Winston Churchill.

Norman Rockwell's illustration of Rosie the Riveter first appeared on the cover of The Saturday Evening Post.

Chiang Kai-shek became Chairman of the National Government of China.

The Pentagon was completed.

Gloster Meteor had its first test flight. Britain’s first jet fighter.

173 people were killed on a staircase at Bethnal Green tube station.


Colossus computer was developed by British codebreakers to help in the cryptanalysis of the Lorenz cipher.

The Dumbarton Oaks Conference was an international conference at which the United Nations was formulated and negotiated among international leaders. The conference was held at Dumbarton Oaks in Washington D.C.

The United Nations Monetary and Financial Conference, commonly known as the Bretton Woods conference, was held in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire to regulate the international monetary and financial order after the conclusion of World War II. The conference led to the formation of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) the following year.

Pay as you earn (PAYE) tax was introduced in the UK.

Helen Duncan became the last woman in Britain to be convicted of witchcraft when one of her seances exposed a government attempt to cover up the deaths of 862 sailors.


Yalta Conference was a strategy meeting of Joseph Stalin, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Winston Churchill. Held in February.

Franklin D. Roosevelt died on 12 April. Vice President Harry Truman assumed the office of President.

Benito Mussolini was executed by Italian communist partisans in April.

Adolf Hitler committed suicide via gunshot on 30 April in the Führerbunker in Berlin. Karl Donitz succeeded Hitler as head of state.

Victory in Europe Day (VE Day) is the day celebrating the formal acceptance by the Allies of World War II of Germany's unconditional surrender of its armed forces on 8 May. It marked the official end of World War II in Europe in the Eastern Front.

Potsdam Conference allowed the three leading Allies to plan the post-war peace.

Trinity was the code name of the first detonation of a nuclear weapon, conducted by the United States Army as part of the Manhattan Project. The White Sands Proving Ground, where the test was conducted on 16 July, is in New Mexico.

Atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima on 6 August.

Atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki on 9 August.

Victory over Japan Day (V-J Day) is the day on which Imperial Japan surrendered in World War II, bringing the war to an end. 15 August is the official V-J Day for the United Kingdom.

First United Nations Organization meeting took place in San Francisco in April, and 50 of the 51 members signed up to the United Nations’ Charter in New York in June. The UN officially came into existence on 24 October upon ratification of the Charter by the five then-permanent members of the Security Council – France, the Republic of China, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom and the United States – and by a majority of the other 46 signatories.

An exclave was set up in Claridge’s Hotel in London so that the heir to the Yugoslav throne could be born on Yugoslav soil.

Arab League was formed in Cairo in March, initially with six members: Egypt, Iraq, Transjordan, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, and Syria. Yemen joined as a member in May.

Indonesia declared independence from Netherlands but was not recognised until 1949.

The Korean Peninsula was divided into two zones along the 38th parallel.

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) was founded in Quebec City. Its Latin motto, ‘fiat panis’, translates into English as ‘let there be bread’.


The first meetings of the UN General Assembly, with 51 nations represented, and the Security Council, took place in Westminster City Hall in London in January.

Trygve Lie became the first Secretary-General of the United Nations.

Abdication of Umberto II, the last King of Italy. He also renounced the title of King of Albania.

Twelve of the defendants at the Nuremberg Trials were sentenced to death. Geoffrey Lawrence was the main British judge. Robert H. Jackson was Chief United States Prosecutor.

Winston Churchill made his iron curtain’ speech at Westminster College, Fulton, Missouri. The speech included the line “From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic, an iron curtain has descended across the Continent”.

Operation Crossroads was a series of nuclear weapon tests conducted by the United States at Bikini Atoll. Its purpose was to test the effect of nuclear weapons on naval ships. The series consisted of two detonations, known as Able and Baker.

Lord Haw-Haw (William Joyce) was hanged for treason.

Bank of England was nationalised.

DuMont Television Network was the world's first commercial television network, beginning operation in the United States. It was owned by DuMont Laboratories, a television equipment and set manufacturer.

King David Hotel in Jerusalem, that housed the British administrative headquarters for Palestine, was bombed by the Irgun paramilitary organization.

Operation Paperclip was a secret United States intelligence program in which more than 1,600 German scientists, engineers, and technicians were taken from the former Nazi Germany to the US.

Hungary went through the worst inflation ever recorded. When the pengo was replaced in August by the forint, the total value of all Hungarian banknotes in circulation amounted to 1/1000 of one US dollar.

Heathrow Airport opened for civilian use.

Bread rationing started in the UK. Ended in 1948.


United States Air Force (USAF) was founded.

Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) was founded when Harry S. Truman signed the National Security Act into law.

Partition of India was the dissolution of the British Raj in the Indian subcontinent and the creation of two independent dominions: India and Pakistan. Louis Mountbatten, 1st Earl Mountbatten of Burma, remained governor-general of India for ten months after independence.

Thor Heyerdahl sailed by a raft made from balsa 4,300 miles across the Pacific from South America to the Polynesian Islands in the Kon-Tiki Expedition.

Doomsday clock is a symbolic clockface maintained by the University of Chicago. It uses the analogy of the human race being at a time that is ‘minutes to midnight’ where midnight represents destruction by nuclear war.

Roswell incident was the crash of a United States Army Air Forces balloon at a ranch near Roswell, New Mexico, and the subsequent conspiracy theories claiming that the crash involved a flying saucer.

Chuck Yeager broke the sound barrier flying a Bell X-1.

Star Dust was a British South American Airways airliner that mysteriously disappeared. The wreckage became incorporated into the body of the glacier, with fragments emerging many years later and much farther down the mountain.

First Christmas tree in Trafalgar Square presented annually by the city of Oslo.


On 14 May 1948, the day before the expiration of the British Mandate, David Ben-Gurion proclaimed the Israeli Declaration of Independence.

In the Berlin Blockade (June 1948 – May 1949) during the multinational occupation of Germany, the Soviet Union blocked the Western Allies’ railway and road access to the sectors of Berlin under Allied control. The Western Allies organized the Berlin Airlift to carry supplies to the people in West Berlin.

The Marshall Plan, officially the European Recovery Program, was the large-scale American program to aid Europe where the United States gave monetary support to help rebuild European economies after the end of World War II in order to combat the spread of communism. The plan was in operation for four years. Named after Secretary of State George C Marshall.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly.

The World Health Organization (WHO) was founded.

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) was founded.

The General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) came into effect.

National Health Service was launched by Aneurin Bevan. The first patient to be treated under the NHS was Sylvia Diggory, at Park Hospital in Manchester.

Empire Windrush brought the first Jamaicans to Britain, and docked at Tilbury. The ship was originally named MV Monte Rosa and was used as a troopship by the German navy in World War II.

The Organization of American States (OAS), headquartered in Washington, D.C., was founded. Its members are the thirty-five independent states of the Americas.


Ireland left the Commonwealth when it declared itself a republic, after enacting The Republic of Ireland Act 1948.

North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) implemented the North Atlantic Treaty, signed in Washington, D.C.

After its victory in the Chinese Civil War, the Communist Party of China, led by Mao Zedong, controlled most of Mainland China. On 1 October they established the People's Republic of China, laying claim as the successor state of the ROC.

The first Soviet atomic test was named First Lightning and was codenamed by the Americans as ‘Joe 1’. It was a replica of the American Fat Man bomb whose design the Soviets knew from espionage.

West Germany and East Germany were created.

Costa Rica became the first country in the world constitutionally to abolish its army.

Council of Europe was established by the Treaty of London to uphold human rights, democracy and the rule of law in Europe. It consists of 47 member states.

Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (Comecon) was founded by the Soviet Union, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Poland, and Romania.

Superga air disaster occurred when a plane carrying almost the entire Torino A.C. football squad crashed into the hill of Superga near Turin killing all 31 aboard including 18 players.

George Orwell published Nineteen Eighty-Four.

National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act provided the framework for the creation of National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty in England and Wales.


Korean War began.

Winter of Terror is a term used to describe the three-month period when a previously unrecorded number of avalanches took place in the Alps.

Sverdlovsk plane crash killed 11 members of the VVS Moscow ice hockey team.

Alan Turing published the Turing test, that tests a machine's ability to exhibit intelligent behaviour equivalent to, or indistinguishable from, that of a human.

Tollund Man, who lived during the 5th century BC was found, preserved as a bog body, near Silkeborg in Denmark.

Vladimir Raitz, the co-founder of the Horizon Holiday Group, pioneered the first mass package holidays abroad with charter flights between Gatwick airport and Corsica, and organized the first package holiday to Palma in 1952.

Petrol rationing ended in the UK.

Richard Doll and Austin Bradford Hill published a report in the British Medical Journal linking lung cancer to smoking.

The first successful kidney transplant was performed on Ruth Tucker.



Colombo Plan for Cooperative Economic and Social Development in Asia and the Pacific began operations.

Electricity was generated for the first time by a nuclear reactor at the EBR-I experimental station near Arco, Idaho.

The Treaty of Peace with Japan (commonly known as the Peace Treaty of San Francisco), between Japan and part of the Allied Powers, was officially signed by 48 nations, at the War Memorial Opera House in San Francisco. It came into force the following year.

The Festival of Britain took place on the South Bank in London. Skylon was a futuristic-looking, cigar-shaped steel structure built for the festival.

War on Want anti-poverty charity was founded.


Elizabeth II acceded to the throne.

‘Ivy Mike’ was the code name given to the first successful US test of a hydrogen bomb. It was detonated by the United States on Enewetak, an atoll in the Marshall Islands, as part of Operation Ivy.

The first British nuclear test took place in the Montebello Islands.

King Farouk I of Egypt was overthrown by Gamal Abdel Nasser in a military coup.

Mau Mau Uprising began in Kenya.

Nordic Council was established. It is the official body for formal inter-parliamentary Nordic cooperation.

Lord Ismay was appointed as the first Secretary General of NATO.

Identity cards were abolished and tea rationing ended in the UK.

Miss Universe beauty pageant was held for the first time.


Korean War ended.

Stalin died.

Iranian coup d'état was the overthrow of Mohammad Mosaddegh, the democratically elected Prime Minister of Iran, orchestrated by the United Kingdom (under the name "Operation Boot") and the United States.

Kengir uprising was a prisoner uprising that took place in the Soviet prison labour camp Kengir. It was distinct from other Gulag uprisings in the same period in its duration and intensity.

The 1953 North Sea flood was a major flood caused by a heavy storm that occurred on the night of Saturday, 31 January and morning of the next day. The floods struck the Netherlands, Belgium, England and Scotland.

Tenzing Norgay and Edmund Hillary reached the summit of Mount Everest on 29 May. John Hunt led the expedition.

Jan Morris broke the news of the first Everest ascent in The Times on 2 June, the day of Queen Elizabeth II's coronation.

The first Soviet test of a hydrogen bomb was nicknamed ‘Joe 4’ by the Americans. It was designed by Andrei Sakharov.

Julius and Ethel Rosenberg executed in Sing Sing Prison after being convicted in 1951 of spying for the Soviet Union.

Harold Urey and Stanley Miller created amino acids from a simulation of the earth’s early atmosphere.

Francis Crick and John Watson discovered the double-helix structure of DNA.

Samaritans was founded by Chad Varah, a Church of England vicar.


Geneva Conference had two tasks. The first was to try to find a way to unify Korea. The second task was to discuss the possibility of restoring peace in Indochina. On Indochina, the conference produced a set of documents known as the Geneva Accords, which divided Vietnam along the 17th parallel.

The Western European Union was established.

Castle Bravo was the code name given to the first US test of a dry fuel thermonuclear hydrogen bomb device, detonated at Bikini Atoll.

The world's first nuclear power plant to generate electricity for a power grid started operations at Obninsk, USSR.

A coup d’état in Guatemala was the result of a CIA covert operation code-named PBSuccess.

Rationing in the UK ended when meat was de-rationed.

The Temple of Mithras is a Roman temple whose ruins were discovered in Walbrook, a street in the City of London, during rebuilding work.

The first successful internal organ, a kidney, transplant between living patients was done between identical twins Ronald and Richard Herrick.


Vietnam War started.

The Warsaw Pact, officially named the Treaty of Friendship, Co-operation and Mutual Assistance, was an organization of eight Central and Eastern European communist states. It was established on 1 May in Warsaw to counter the alleged threat from the NATO alliance.

Nikita Khrushchev gained control of the Soviet Union.

Bandung Conference in Indonesia led to the formation of the Non-Aligned Movement in 1961.

The Montgomery Bus Boycott, led by Martin Luther King jr., started after Rosa Parks refused to obey bus driver James Blake's order that she give up her seat to make room for a white passenger. In 1956 the Supreme Court ruled that segregation on public transport was unconstitutional.

Blue Streak missile was a British ballistic missile. The ballistic missile programme was cancelled in 1960 but the rocket was used as the first stage of the European satellite launcher Europa.

Black Knight was a British attempt to design a re-entry vehicle for the Blue Streak missile.

Disneyland opened in Anaheim.


Suez Crisis was an invasion of Egypt and the Gaza Strip by Israel, followed by the United Kingdom and France. The aims were to regain control of the Suez Canal for the Western powers and to remove Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser, who had just nationalised the Suez Canal Company.

Protocol of Sevres recorded the secret agreements reached between the governments of United Kingdom, France and Israel during discussions held in Sevres, France, on a joint politico-military response to Egypt's nationalisation of the Suez Canal. Prime minister Anthony Eden always denied the existence of such an agreement.

During the Suez Crisis, petrol rationing was reintroduced in UK.

Morocco gained independence from France.

During the Hungarian Revolution the government, led by Prime Minister Imre Nagy, announced Hungary's withdrawal from the Warsaw Pact. In response, Soviet troops entered Hungary, and crushed the uprising in two weeks.

The luxury transatlantic ocean liner SS Andrea Doria sank after colliding with the passenger liner Stockholm in thick fog off the coast of Massachusetts.

Grand Canyon mid-air collision occurred when a United Airlines Douglas DC-7 struck a TWA Lockheed L-1049 Super Constellation over Grand Canyon National Park. All 128 people on board the airplanes perished.

Chollima Movement was a state-sponsored Stakhanovite movement in North Korea intended to promote rapid economic development.

Premium bonds were introduced by Chancellor of the Exchequer Harold Macmillan.

The world's first commercial scale power station opened at Calder Hall at Sellafield in Cumbria.


The Treaty of Rome was signed, bringing about the creation of the European Economic Community (EEC).

Ghana became the first British colony on African mainland to achieve independence.

Sputnik 1 was the first artificial space satellite. It was launched in October as part of the Soviet space program.

The graphite core of a nuclear reactor at Windscale, Cumbria, caught fire, releasing substantial amounts of radioactive contamination into the surrounding area. The event, known as the Windscale fire, was considered the world's worst nuclear accident until the Three Mile Island accident in 1979.

Maiden flight of the Boeing 707.

The Queen’s Speech was broadcast on television for the first time.


French Fifth Republic was established, with Charles de Gaulle as its first President.

Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) was founded. Bertrand Russell was the first president.

President Dwight D. Eisenhower established the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

UK-US Mutual Defence Agreement on nuclear weapons co-operation was signed.

Project A119, also known as A Study of Lunar Research Flights, was a top-secret plan developed by the United States Air Force. The aim of the project was to detonate a nuclear bomb on the Moon.

Project Iceworm was the code name for a US Army proposal during the Cold War to build a major network of mobile nuclear missile launch sites under the ice shield of Greenland.

Munich air disaster occurred on 6 February, when a British European Airways plane crashed on its third attempt to take off from a slush-covered runway at Munich-Riem Airport. There were 23 fatalities in the Airspeed Ambassador aircraft. The aircraft was carrying the Manchester United football team.

An earthquake caused a landslide in Lituya Bay, Alaska, generating a massive mega-tsunami measuring 524 metres.

Notting Hill race riots took place.


Fidel Castro overthrew president Fulgencio Batista in Cuba.

Alaska (49th state) and Hawaii (50th state) were admitted into the United States.

Chinese forces took control of Tibet, forcing the Dalai Lama into permanent exile. The Dalai Lama fled from Tibet and set up government in exile in India.

USSR probe Luna 3 sent back the first ever photos of the far side of the Moon.

Buddy Holly died in a plane crash near Clear Lake, Iowa. The Big Bopper (who took Waylon Jennings’ seat) and Ritchie Valens also died in the crash.


Sharpeville massacre in South Africa resulted in 69 deaths.

Largest ever earthquake occurred in Chile, measuring 9.5 on the Richter scale. The worst hit city was Valdivia.

Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) is an intergovernmental organization that was created at the Baghdad Conference, by Iraq, Kuwait, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela.

European Free Trade Association (EFTA) was formed.

First fission weapon test by France, known as Gerboise Bleue (‘blue jerboa’), took place.

Agadir earthquake in Morocco killed between 12,000 and 15,000 people.

First manned descent of the Marianas Trench was by Don Walsh and Jacques Piccard in the bathyscape Trieste.

“Wind of Change” speech was a historically important address made by Harold Macmillan to the Parliament of South Africa, on 3 February in Cape Town.

Lockheed U-2 (nicknamed ‘Dragon Lady’) spy plane, piloted by Gary Powers, was shot down over Soviet territory.



The Bay of Pigs Invasion was an unsuccessful attempted invasion by armed Cuban exiles in southwest Cuba, planned and funded by the United States, to overthrow the government of Fidel Castro.

The Non-Aligned Movement was founded in Belgrade. The first meeting was chaired by Josip Broz Tito.

Antarctic Treaty System became effective. The aim is to ensure

Construction of the Berlin Wall began.

The Great Leap Forward ended in China.

South Africa was prevented from continuing as a member of the Commonwealth after it became a republic. Rejoined in 1994.

The assassination of Patrice Lumumba began the Congo Crisis.

Yugi Gagarin became the first human to go into space, in a Vostok 1 spacecraft.

Peace Corps volunteer program run by the United States government was founded by John F. Kennedy.

Amnesty International was founded by Peter Benenson.

World Wildlife Fund (WWF) was founded. In 1986, the organisation changed its name to World Wide Fund for Nature, while retaining the WWF initials.

Dag Hammarskjold, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, was killed in an air crash in Zambia.

Civil Rights activists called Freedom Riders rode in interstate buses into the segregated southern United States to test the United States Supreme Court decision Boynton v. Virginia, (1960).

Tsar Bomba was a hydrogen bomb, the most powerful nuclear weapon ever detonated. The yield was 50 megatons, and it was tested in October, in the Novaya Zemlya archipelago.

Sabena Flight 548 was a Boeing 707 aircraft that crashed en route to Brussels from New York City, killing the entire US figure skating team on its way to the World Championships in Prague.


Cuban Missile Crisis was a 13-day confrontation in October. The US agreed to remove missiles from Turkey in exchange for Russia removing missiles from Cuba. The confrontation is widely considered the closest the Cold War came to escalating into full-scale nuclear war.

A teenage East German, Peter Fechter, was shot by East German guards while trying to escape from East Berlin. His body lay tangled in a barbed wire fence, slowly bleeding to death, in full view of the world’s media.

Gary Powers was exchanged along with American student Frederic Pryor in a spy swap for Soviet KGB Colonel Vilyam Fisher (also known as Rudolf Abel), who had been caught by the FBI and put in jail for espionage. The exchange took place on the Glienicke Bridge in Berlin.

Harold Macmillan and John F. Kennedy met at Nassau in the Bahamas for defence discussions. Kennedy agreed to arm British Polaris submarines, operating under NATO command, with nuclear missiles.

Evian Accords led to the independence of Algeria from France.

Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) of the European Union was introduced.

The first transatlantic TV pictures were received at Goonhilly Down in Cornwall.


The White Revolution was a far-reaching series of reforms launched by the last Shah of Iran, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi.

The island of Surtsey off the southern coast of Iceland was formed in a volcanic eruption.

John F. Kennedy visited Berlin and made his “Ich bin ein Berliner” speech.

John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas by Lee Harvey Oswald.

Aldous Huxley and C.S. Lewis both died on the same day as John F. Kennedy (22 November).

Attorney General Robert Kennedy ordered the Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary to be closed.

Nuclear Test Ban Treaty signed by USA, Russia and UK. Prohibited all test detonations of nuclear weapons except underground, to prevent fallout.

Martin Luther King delivered his “I have a dream” speech at the Lincoln Memorial during the March on Washington.

Thich Quang Duc was a monk who burned himself to death at a busy Saigon road intersection. He was protesting the persecution of Buddhists by the South Vietnamese government. Photographed by Malcolm Browne.

Bristol bus boycott arose from the refusal of the Bristol Omnibus Company to employ Black or Asian bus crews.

The first official artificial heart was patented by Paul Winchell. He subsequently assigned the patent to the University of Utah, where Robert Jarvik ultimately used it as the model for his Jarvik-7.


Alaskan earthquake was a magnitude 9.2 earthquake, and the second most powerful earthquake ever recorded in the world. Anchorage suffered major damage and the town of Valdez was destroyed.

Zanzibar merged with Tanganyika to form Tanzania.

Civil Rights Act was a landmark civil rights and labour law in the United States that outlawed discrimination based on race, colour, religion, sex, and national origin.

The Gulf of Tonkin incident led to the United States engaging more directly in the Vietnam War.

China tested an atomic bomb. China also tested a nuclear missile in 1966, and a hydrogen bomb in 1967.

The last executions took place in Britain. Gwynne Evans and Peter Allen were hanged for killing John Alan West.

The Ministry of Defence was founded by a merger of the Admiralty, War Office and Air Ministry.


Selma to Montgomery marches were three protest marches held in Alabama. The first march took place on 7 March and became known as Bloody Sunday. State troopers charged about 600 unarmed protesters with batons and tear gas after they crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma.

The Voting Rights Act was inspired by the Selma to Montgomery marches.

Congress created Medicare to provide health insurance to people aged 65 and older, regardless of income or medical history. In 1972 Congress expanded Medicare eligibility to younger people who have permanent disabilities.

Medicaid is the United States health program for certain people and families with low incomes and resources. It is a means-tested program that is jointly funded by the state and federal governments and is managed by the states. Medicaid was created by the Social Security Amendments.

Malcolm X was assassinated in New York.

Indonesian genocide targeted Communist sympathisers and ethnic Chinese.

Britain bought the Chagos Islands from Mauritius for £4 million.

Singapore was expelled from the Malaysian Federation and became an independent Republic with Lee Kuan Yew as the first prime minister.

North Sea gas was discovered. It was brought ashore at Easington and piped to UK houses in 1967.

Cigarette advertising was banned on television in the UK.


The Cultural Revolution was launched by Mao Zedong in China.

The Black Panther Party was a Marxist–Leninist and black power political organisation founded by college students Bobby Seale and Huey P. Newton in Oakland, California.

Palomares incident occurred when a B-52 bomber of the USAF Strategic Air Command collided with a tanker during mid-air refueling off the coast of Spain. Of the four hydrogen bombs the B-52 carried, three were found on land near the small fishing village of Palomares resulting in contamination by radioactive plutonium.

All French armed forces were removed from NATO's integrated military command, and all non-French NATO troops were asked to leave France.

Katanga was a breakaway state separating itself from the newly independent Democratic Republic of the Congo. In revolt against the new government of Patrice Lumumba in July, Katanga declared independence under Moise Tshombe.

The Beatles concert at San Francisco's Candlestick Park was their last commercial concert.

Aberfan disaster was the catastrophic collapse of a colliery spoil tip. Heavy rain led to a build-up of water within the tip which caused it to suddenly slide downhill as a slurry, killing 116 children and 28 adults as it engulfed Pantglas Junior School.

Notting Hill Carnival was held for the first time.

Barclaycard was the first credit card to be introduced in Britain.

Shelter is a homelessness charity founded by Bruce Kenrick. The charity was launched after the screening of the BBC play Cathy Come Home, directed by Ken Loach, that highlighted the plight of the homeless.


The Six-Day War was fought between Israel and a coalition of Arab states – primarily Egypt, Syria, and Jordan, from 5 to 10 June.

Start of the civil war between Nigeria and the Republic of Biafra.

A military coup in Greece established a military dictatorship.

Australian Prime Minister Harold Holt disappeared.

The Torrey Canyon supertanker ran aground on rocks off the western coast of Cornwall spilling over 100 million litres of crude oil and causing an environmental disaster.

Otis Redding died in a plane crash in Wisconsin, aged 26.

Sweden switched to driving on the right-hand side of the road.

Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) was formed by Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand. Since then, membership has expanded to include Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, and Vietnam.

The Outer Space Treaty that forms the basis of international space law came into force.

Christian Barnard performed the world's first human heart transplant operation at the Groote Schuur Hospital in Cape Town. The patient, Louis Washkansky, was a 55-year-old grocer. The donor heart came from a young woman, Denise Darvall.

Thomas Starzl performed the first human liver transplant.

Patterson–Gimlin film is a short motion picture of an unidentified subject that the filmmakers have said was a Bigfoot. The footage was shot in Northern California.

Monterey International Pop Festival was a three-day music festival held in June.

The Summer of Love was centred on the neighbourhood of Haight-Ashbury in San Francisco.


“I’ve been to the mountaintop” was an address by Martin Luther King on a 3 April in Memphis. He was fatally shot by James Earl Ray at the Lorrain Motel the following day.

Robert F. Kennedy was shot dead by Sirhan Sirhan at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles.

Prague Spring began in January and ended in August when the Soviet Union and most Warsaw Pact members invaded the country to suppress the reforms. Czech student Jan Palach burned himself to death in Wenceslas Square in Prague, in protest at the invasion.

Tet Offensive was one of the largest military campaigns of the Vietnam War. The name is the truncated version of the Lunar New Year festival name in Vietnamese.

The protests of 1968 comprised a worldwide escalation of social conflicts, including the May 1968 protests in France.

USS Pueblo spy ship was attacked and captured by a North Korean vessel.

Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) was signed. The treaty became effective in 1970.

MCC tour of South Africa was cancelled when South Africa refused to accept the presence of Basil D’Oliveira, a cricketer of South African Cape Coloured background.


Investiture of Charles, Prince of Wales, at Caernarfon Castle.

Stonewall riots were a series of spontaneous, violent demonstrations against a police raid that took place at the Stonewall Inn, in the Greenwich Village neighbourhood of New York City. The riots are frequently cited as the start of the gay rights movement in the United States.

The Football War, also known as the 100-hour War, was a four-day war fought by El Salvador and Honduras. It was caused by issues concerning immigration from El Salvador to Honduras. These existing tensions between the two countries coincided with the inflamed rioting during the second North American qualifying round of the 1970 FIFA World Cup.

Apollo 11 moon landing on 20 July. Neil Armstrong became the first person to step onto the Moon's surface. Edwin ‘Buzz’ Aldrin and Michael Collins were the other members of the crew.

Muammar Gaddafi overthrew King Idris of Libya in a Coup d'état and established the Libyan Arab Republic.

Sharon Tate was killed by the Manson Family in California.

Thor Heyerdahl built two boats (Ra and Ra II) manufactured from papyrus and attempted to cross the Atlantic from Morocco.

Donald Crowhurst died while competing in the Sunday Times Golden Globe Race. He secretly abandoned the race while reporting false positions, in an attempt to appear to complete a circumnavigation without actually circling the world.

Friends of the Earth was founded in San Francisco.

The Woodstock concert, advertised as ‘three days of peace and music’ took place at Max Yasgur’s farm, Bethel, New York in August. Richie Havens was the first performer and Jimi Hendrix was the last performer.

Altamont Free Concert was a rock concert held at the then-disused Altamont Speedway in California. Headlined and organised by The Rolling Stones, it also featured Santana and Jefferson Airplane. Around 300,000 people attended the concert. Meredith Hunter was stabbed and beaten to death by Hells Angels while The Rolling Stones were playing.

First test flight of Concorde.


Nigerian Civil War ends.

Huascaran Debris Avalanche and mudflow was triggered by the Ancash earthquake and destroyed the Peruvian town of Yungay, leaving up to 30,000 people dead. It is the deadliest avalanche or glacier-related disaster in history.

Anwar Sadat became President of Egypt.

In the Dawson's Field hijackings, four aircraft bound for New York and one for London were hijacked by members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. By the end of the incident, one hijacker had been killed. Leila Khaled was one of the terrorists.

Kent State shootings, also known as the May 4 massacre, occurred at Kent State University in the city of Kent, Ohio, and involved the shooting of students by members of the Ohio National Guard. Four students were killed.

War Measures Act was brought into force in Canada during the October Crisis, when Members of the Front de liberation du Quebec kidnapped the provincial Deputy Premier Pierre Laporte and British diplomat James Cross.

Earth Day was held for the first time on 22 April.

Boeing 747 entered commercial service.



The 26th Amendment to the United States Constitution lowered the voting age from 21 to 18.

The Republic of the Congo was renamed Zaire by Joseph Mobutu.

China replaced Republic of China (Taiwan) as a member of the United Nations.

President of Uganda Milton Obote was overthrown by Idi Amin in a coup d’état.

Pentagon Papers was a United States Department of Defense history of the United States' political and military involvement in Vietnam from 1945 to 1968.

Hassan II of Morocco was the target of two failed coup d'états in 1971 and in 1972.

Cigarette advertising was banned on television in the USA.

Ping pong diplomacy was the exchange of table tennis players between USA and China.

Greenpeace was founded in Canada by Irving Stowe and Dorothy Stowe.

Medicins Sans Frontieres (MSF) was founded in France in the aftermath of the Biafran famine of the Nigerian Civil War.

Black Arrow carried the Prospero X-3 satellite into space, making the United Kingdom the sixth nation to place a satellite into orbit, after Russia, USA, France, Japan and China.

Jimmy Reid was spokesman and one of the leaders in the Upper Clyde Shipbuilders work-in.


Idi Amin ordered the expulsion of Uganda’s Asian minority.

Richard Nixon visited China.

Black September attack at Olympic Village in Munich. 11 Israelis and one German policeman were killed. Ended at Furstenfeldbruck Air Base. Ehud Barak was Special Forces commander.

First SALT (Strategic Arms Limitation Talks) treaty signed. The treaties then led to START (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty), which consisted of START I (a 1991 agreement) and START II (a 1993 agreement).

Norway voted not to join the European Community.

Bloody Sunday was a massacre on 30 January when British soldiers shot 26 unarmed civilians during a protest march in the Bogside area of Derry/Londonderry.

First UK Gay Pride rally was held in London.

Vesna Vulovic, a Serbian flight attendant, holds the world record for surviving the highest fall without a parachute. She was the sole survivor of a bomb that brought down a Yugoslav Airlines flight.

The Pong arcade game was released.


United Kingdom, Denmark and Ireland joined the European Economic Community (EEC).

Salvador Allende committed suicide during a coup d'état led by General Augusto Pinochet, commander-in-chief of the Chilean Army.

An OPEC oil embargo against several countries supporting Israel triggered a sharp rise in oil prices and an energy crisis.

Yom Kippur War began on 6 October, when an Arab coalition jointly launched a surprise attack against Israel on the Jewish holy day of Yom Kippur.

In the Muldergate scandal, South African Prime Minister BJ Vorster, Connie Mulder (Minister of Information) and Eschel Rhoodie were implicated in plans to use government resources to fight a propaganda war for the then Apartheid Government.

The first space station, Skylab, was launched.

The Sunningdale Agreement was signed. It was an attempt to establish a power-sharing Northern Ireland Executive and a cross-border Council of Ireland.

Summerland disaster occurred when a fire spread through the Summerland leisure centre in Douglas on the Isle of Man in 1973. Fifty people were killed.


Carnation Revolution was a military coup that overthrew the authoritarian Estado Novo regime in Portugal.

Watergate scandal led to the resignation of Richard Nixon. The Watergate Office Building was the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee in Washington, D.C.

Emperor Haile Selassie I of Ethiopia was overthrown in a military coup.

Dirty War began in Argentina.

The Greek military junta under Dimitrios Ioannides carried out a coup d'état in Cyprus, to unite the island with Greece. The coup ousted president Makarios. In response to the coup, five days later, the Turkish army invaded the island. The ceasefire line is known as the Green Line.

Hiroo Onada was a Japanese officer who spent 29 years hiding out in the Philippines until his former commander travelled from Japan to formally relieve him.

Operation Smiling Buddha was the code name for India’s first successful test of a nuclear bomb.

Patty Hearst was kidnapped by the Symbionese Liberation Army.

Ballet dancer Mikhail Baryshnikov defected from the Soviet Union to Canada.

American television news reporter Christine Chubbuck was the first person to die by suicide on a live television broadcast.

The first scanning of the Universal Product Code (UPC) barcode was on a pack of Wrigley’s Juicy Fruit chewing gum in Chicago.

Three-Day Week was introduced in the United Kingdom by Edward Heath's Conservative government to conserve electricity.

The first McDonald’s restaurant in the UK opened in Woolwich, South London.


The Fall of Saigon ended the Vietnam War.

Oregon enacted the world's first ban of Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs).

Helsinki Accords. 35 states signed the declaration in an attempt to improve relations between the Communist bloc and the West.

Banqiao Dam failure was the collapse of the Banqiao Dam and 61 other dams in Henan, China, under the influence of Typhoon Nina. The flood caused the collapse of over 5 million homes.

Green March was a strategic mass demonstration, coordinated by the Moroccan government, to force Spain to hand over Spanish Sahara to Morocco.

The Emergency refers to a period from 1975 to 1977 when Prime Minister Indira Gandhi had a state of emergency declared across India.

Alvor Agreement granted Angola independence from Portugal.

Oil production started from the Argyll field (now Ardmore) in June followed by Forties in November.

Dougal Haston and Doug Scott became the first Britons to climb Mount Everest.

Junko Tabei from Japan became the first woman to climb Mount Everest.


Vietnam underwent reunification.

Mao Zedong died and the Cultural Revolution ended.

Isabel Peron was overthrown as President of Argentina in a coup d’état.

Operation Entebbe, also known as the Entebbe Raid, was a rescue mission performed by Sayeret Matkal (the Israeli elite Special Forces) to free hostages at Entebbe Airport. It was planned without knowledge and carried out against the opposition of the Ugandan government, whose leader Idi Amin supported the hostage takers.

Tangshan earthquake is believed to be the largest earthquake of the 20th century by death toll.

First commercial flight of Concorde.


Charter 77 was an informal civic initiative in communist Czechoslovakia. Vaclav Havel was a founding member.

Bulgarian dissident writer Georgi Markov was killed on Waterloo Bridge by a ricin pellet in the tip of an umbrella.

The guillotine was used for the last time, in Marseilles.

Nuclear-powered icebreaker NS Arktika (‘Arctic’) became the first surface ship ever to reach the North Pole.

Queen Alia of Jordan was killed in helicopter crash.

Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 probes were launched by NASA.

Business executive Hanns Martin Schleyer was kidnapped and murdered by the Red Army Faction in Germany.

Charlie Chaplin died on Christmas Day in Vevey, Switzerland, aged 88. In 1978, his body was stolen by a group of Polish and Bulgarian mechanics in an attempt to extort money from his family. The plot failed, the robbers were captured, and the body was recovered 11 weeks later near Lake Geneva.

Mount Erebus disaster occurred when Air New Zealand Flight 901 flew into Mount Erebus on Ross Island, Antarctica, killing all 237 passengers and 20 crew on board.


Amoco Cadiz was a VLCC (Very Large Crude Carrier) that split in two after running aground on Portsall Rocks, three miles off the coast of Brittany in March, resulting at that time in the largest oil spill ever.

909 people, including congressman Leo Ryan, died in the Jonestown massacre in Guyana. Cyanide was added to grape Flavor Aid. Jonestown was formed by the Peoples Temple, an American religious organization under the leadership of Jim Jones.

John Paul I became Pope and died 33 days later.

Louise Brown, the first ‘test-tube baby’ was born. The doctors were Patrick Steptoe and Robert Edwards.

Thor Heyerdahl built another reed boat, Tigris, which was intended to demonstrate that trade and migration could have linked Mesopotamia with the Indus Valley Civilization in what is now modern-day Pakistan. After about five months at sea and still remaining seaworthy, the Tigris was deliberately burnt in Djibouti.

Reinhold Messner and Peter Habelar made the first ascent of Everest without supplemental oxygen.

May Day Bank Holiday was introduced in the UK.

Sweden became the first country to ban aerosol sprays containing CFCs.


The Vietnamese invasion of Kampuchea ended Cambodia's Khmer Rouge regime.

Islamic Republic of Iran was proclaimed by Ayatollah Khomeini after Shah Reza Pahlavi was overthrown.

In a ceremony at the White House, President Anwar Sadat of Egypt and Prime Minister Menachem Begin of Israel signed an Egypt–Israel peace treaty.

Three Mile Island partial nuclear meltdown on the Susquehanna River near Harrisburg in Pennsylvania. It was the worst accident in US commercial nuclear power plant history.

Idi Amin deposed in Uganda and fled into exile.

Start of the Soviet-Afghan war.

Atlantic Empress was a Greek oil tanker that was involved in two large oil spills in the Caribbean.

18 people were killed as a result of a storm affecting the Fastnet yacht race.

Two families escaped from East Germany to West Germany in a hot air balloon.

Terence English performed Britain's first successful heart transplant at Papworth Hospital.


The SAS raid on the Iranian Embassy in London was codenamed Operation Nimrod. The gunmen, Iranian Arabs campaigning for sovereignty of Khuzestan Province, had taken 26 people hostage. PC Trevor Lock was involved in the siege.

Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the last Shah of Iran, died in Cairo.

The Mariel Boatlift was a mass movement of Cubans who departed from Cuba's Mariel Harbour for the United States. The boatlift was precipitated by a sharp downturn in the Cuban economy caused by an increasingly effective embargo by the United States.

Sanjay Gandhi died in a plane crash in Delhi.

Coconut War was a brief clash between Papua New Guinean soldiers and rebels in Espiritu Santo shortly before and after the independence of the Republic of Vanuatu was declared.

Rhodesia became independent as Zimbabwe.

The World Health Organization (WHO) certified the global eradication of smallpox, making it the only human disease to be eradicated.

Solidarity trade union was formed at Poland's Gdansk Shipyard under Lech Walesa.

John Lennon was murdered in New York by Mark David Chapman.



Greece joined the European Economic Community (EEC).

Anwar Sadat was assassinated during a parade in Cairo.

Iran hostage crisis ended with 52 US hostages being released.

STS-1 was the first orbital flight of the Space Shuttle program, launched on April 12. Space Shuttle Columbia orbited the earth 37 times. Commander – John Young. Pilot – Robert Crippen.

Mauritania became the last country to abolish slavery.

The first music video on MTV was the Buggles' Video Killed the Radio Star.


Falklands War lasted 74 days and ended with an Argentine surrender on 14 June, returning the islands to British control.

Cruise missile protests took place at Greenham Common and RAF Molesworth.

Laker Airways went bankrupt.

British Airways Flight 9 flew into a cloud of volcanic ash thrown up by the eruption of Mount Galunggung, approximately 110 miles south-east of Jakarta.

Vic Morrow and two child actors were killed by a stunt helicopter crash during the filming of Twilight Zone: The Movie.

Sony released the first CD player.

The first execution by lethal injection took place in Texas.


Korean Air Lines Flight 007 (KAL 007) was a civilian airliner shot down by Soviet jet interceptors just west of Sakhalin. All 269 passengers and crew, including US congressman Lawrence McDonald, died in the crash.

US embassy bombing in Beirut resulted in 69 deaths.

Able Archer 83 was a ten-day NATO exercise that spanned the continent of Europe and simulated a coordinated nuclear release. The realistic nature of the exercise led some in the USSR to believe that Able Archer 83 was a genuine nuclear first strike.

Hugh Trevor-Roper vouched for authenticity of the Hitler diaries, published by Stern magazine in Germany. They were later proved to be forged.

Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) was created by Ronald Reagan to use ground and space-based systems to protect the United States from attack by strategic nuclear ballistic missiles. The initiative focused on strategic defense rather than the prior strategic offense doctrine of Mutual Assured Destruction (MAD). Known as ‘Star Wars’.

Common Fisheries Policy was created.

People Power Revolution (also known as the Yellow Revolution) was a series of popular demonstrations in the Philippines.

US invasion of Grenada was codenamed Operation Urgent Fury.

US Army replaces the Pershing 1a ballistic missile with the Pershing II Weapon System.


Indira Gandhi was assassinated by her Sikh bodyguards.

Bhopal disaster occurred at the Union Carbide India Limited (UCIL) pesticide plant in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh. Over 500,000 people were exposed to methyl isocyanate (MIC) gas and other chemicals.

The secret airlift of Ethiopian Jews (or Falashas) to Israel from refugee camps in Sudan was codenamed Moses.

Morocco left the African Union's predecessor, the Organization of African Unity.

HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) was recognized as the cause of HIV/AIDS.

Lindow Man, also known as Pete Marsh, is the preserved body of a man discovered in a peat bog at Lindow Moss near Wilmslow.

John Stalker headed the Stalker Inquiry that investigated the shooting of suspected members of the Provisional Irish Republican Army in 1982.

Liechtenstein became the last European country to allow women to vote.

Battle of Orgreave was a violent confrontation between pickets and police officers at a British Steel Corporation coking plant at Orgreave, in Rotherham. It was a pivotal event in the 1984–1985 UK miners' strike.


Schengen Agreement proposed measures intended to gradually abolish border checks between EU countries. Named after the town in Luxembourg where the agreement was signed.

Scientists from the British Antarctic Survey discovered a hole in the ozone layer.

Wreck of Titanic was discovered by Robert Ballard off the coast of Newfoundland.

Mexico City hit by magnitude 8.1 earthquake.

Iran-Contra affair begins.

Edmund Hillary accompanied Neil Armstrong in a ski plane over the Arctic Ocean and landed at the North Pole. He thus became the first man to stand at both poles and on the summit of Everest.

Greenland left the EEC upon achieving self-rule.

Live Aid concerts in London and Philadelphia.

The first UK mobile phone call was made by Michael Harrison to his father Vodaphone Chairman Sir Ernest Harrison. Ernie Wise probably made the first call by a member of the public.


Chernobyl disaster began on 26 April with the explosion of the No. 4 reactor of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, near the city of Pripyat in Ukraine. It is considered the worst nuclear disaster in history.

Challenger Space Shuttle disaster killed all seven crew members aboard.

Spain and Portugal became EEC member states.

People Power Revolution was a series of popular demonstrations in the Philippines. Also known as the February Revolution and the Yellow Revolution. It was the end of the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos.

Olof Palme, Prime Minister of Sweden, was assassinated.

Samora Machel, the first President of Mozambique, died in a plane crash.

The release of CO2 from Lake Nyos in Cameroon killed 1,700 people.

Tripoli was bombed by US aircraft.

Hands Across America was a benefit event and publicity campaign in which approximately 6.5 million people held hands in a human chain for fifteen minutes along a path across the continental United States. The proceeds were donated to local charities to fight hunger and homelessness and help those in poverty.

The Rio Group is an international organization of Latin American and Caribbean states. It was created in Rio by means of the Declaration of Rio de Janeiro.

Reykjavík Summit was a meeting between US President Ronald Reagan and Soviet General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev.

Halley’s Comet returned. It will next appear in 2061.

Greater London Council was abolished.

Inheritance tax replaced Capital Transfer Tax in the UK.


Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) agreement between the United States and the Soviet Union was signed in Washington, D.C. by Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev.

Dona Paz was a Philippine-registered passenger ferry that sank after colliding with the oil tanker MT Vector. With an estimated death toll of 4,375 people, the collision resulted in the deadliest peacetime maritime disaster in history.

Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer is an international treaty designed to protect the ozone layer by phasing out the production of numerous substances believed to be responsible for ozone depletion.

World population reached five billion.

Black Monday was a stock market crash in October.

Fluoxetine (Prozac) became commercially available.

Mathais Rust flew a Cessna from Helsinki to Moscow without authorisation and landed near the Kremlin.


Piper Alpha oil platform, operated by Occidental Petroleum in the North Sea, was destroyed by an explosion and resulting fire, killing 167 men.

USS Samuel B. Roberts was severely damaged by an Iranian mine in the Strait of Hormuz, leading U.S. forces to respond with Operation Praying Mantis.

In the Lockerbie bombing, Pan Am Flight 103 from Frankfurt to Detroit via Heathrow and New York JFK was destroyed by a terrorist bomb on 21 December, killing all 243 passengers and 16 crew on board. The aircraft was named Clipper Maid of the Seas.

Sarin gas was used in Iran-Iraq War by Iraqi soldiers.

Halabja massacre, also known as the Halabja chemical attack, was a massacre of Kurdish people that took place during the Iraqi–Kurdish conflict in the closing days of the Iran–Iraq War. It was the largest chemical weapons attack directed against a civilian-populated area in history.

Benazir Bhutto was elected Prime Minister of Pakistan.

Ramstein air show disaster occurred at USAF Ramstein Air Base near Kaiserslautern, West Germany. Three aircraft of the Italian Air Force display team collided during their display, crashing to the ground in front of a crowd of about 300,000 people. There were 70 fatalities.


Revolutions of 1989, also known as the Fall of Communism, was a revolutionary wave of liberal democracy movements that resulted in the collapse of most Marxist–Leninist governments in the Eastern Bloc.

Fall of the Berlin Wall on 9 November.

Malta Summit was a meeting between US President George H. W. Bush and Mikhail Gorbachev on 2–3 December. During the summit, Bush and Gorbachev declared an end to the Cold War.

The Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) established comprehensive limits on key categories of conventional military equipment in Europe (from the Atlantic to the Urals) and mandated the destruction of excess weaponry.

Tiananmen Square protests, culminating in a violent conflict referred to in the United States as the Tiananmen Square massacre and in China as the June Fourth Incident, were a series of demonstrations in Beijing. ‘Tank Man’ (possibly Wang Weilin) stood in front of a tank and refused to let the tank past.

Loma Prieta earthquake, also known as the Quake of '89 and the World Series Quake, was a major earthquake that struck the San Francisco Bay Area of California on 17 October. The Nimitz Freeway collapsed in the earthquake.

Exxon Valdez oil spill occurred in Prince William Sound, Alaska, on 24 March, when an oil tanker bound for Long Beach, California, struck Bligh Reef.

Baltic Way or Baltic chain was a human chain of about 2 million people across Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. This original demonstration was organised to draw the world's attention to the common historical fate which these three countries suffered.

Akihito became Emperor of Japan upon the death of his father, Hirohito.

End of the dictatorship of Alfredo Stroessner in Paraguay.

End of the Soviet war in Afghanistan.

A geomagnetic storm caused the collapse of Hydro-Quebec's electricity transmission system in Canada. The geomagnetic storm causing this event was itself the result of a coronal mass ejection.

Monday demonstrations in East Germany were a series of peaceful political protests against the authoritarian government of East Germany that took place every Monday evening.

Operation Just Cause was the codename for the US invasion of Panama. The operation concluded in January 1990 with the surrender of General Manual Noriega.

President Nicolae Ceausescu was overthrown and executed on 25 December in the Romanian Revolution. Ion Iliescu took over as president.

The pleasure boat Marchioness sank after being pushed under by the dredger Bowbelle, late at night near Cannon Street Railway Bridge on the River Thames in London. 51 people drowned.


The Gulf War began.

Nelson Mandela was released from Victor Verster Prison outside Cape Town.

Germany and Yemen both underwent reunification.

MS Scandinavian Star car and passenger ferry caught fire, killing 158 people.

Hubble Space Telescope was launched from space shuttle Atlantis.

South Africa destroyed its nuclear arsenal and acceded to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Baudouin, who had been King of the Belgians since 1951, refused to give Royal Assent to a bill that liberalised abortion laws.

Tim Berners-Lee published the first web site.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released its first assessment report.

Poll Tax Riots in the UK were a series of riots during protests against the poll tax (officially known as the "Community Charge").



Dissolution of the Soviet Union. The 15 constituent republics gained full independence on 26 December.

Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated.

Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines erupted.

North and South Korea were admitted to the United Nations.

Fourteen non-violent protesters in Vilnius died and hundreds were injured defending the Vilnius Television Tower and the Parliament from Soviet assault troops and tanks. Lithuanians referred to the event as Bloody Sunday.

The remains of Otzi, also called the Iceman, were discovered in the Ötztal Alps. He lived between 3350 and 3105 BC and is Europe's oldest known natural human mummy.

Robert Maxwell was discovered floating in the Atlantic Ocean, having apparently fallen overboard from his yacht, Lady Ghislaine.


The Maastricht Treaty was signed, creating the European Union. It ‘replaced’ the European Communities (EC) comprising the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC), the European Atomic Energy Community (EAEC or Euratom), and the European Economic Community (EEC).

United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), also known as the Rio Summit, Rio Conference, and Earth Summit was a major United Nations conference held in Rio de Janeiro.

United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia (UNTAC) was a United Nations peacekeeping operation formed following the 1991 Paris Peace Accords.

Black Wednesday was a financial crisis that occurred on 16 September when the UK Government was forced to withdraw sterling from the European Exchange Rate Mechanism (ERM).

Stella Rimington became the first female Director General of MI5.

Anthony Teare became the last person in the British Isles to be sentenced to death, in the Isle of Man, although this was subsequently commuted to life imprisonment.

28,000 plastic ducks were washed overboard from Evergreen Ever Laurel, a cargo ship in the Pacific. Scientists including oceanographer Curtis Ebbesmeyer track their movements to gain information about the movement of ocean currents.


Velvet Divorce was the secession of the federal republic of Czechoslovakia into the independent countries of the Czech Republic (aka Czechia) and Slovakia.

Oslo Accords are a pair of agreements between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) that were signed in 1993 and 1995.

Waco siege was the siege by US federal government and Texas state law enforcement officials of a compound belonging to the religious cult known as the Branch Davidians, led by David Koresh. The compound was destroyed by fire and 86 people died.

A van bomb was detonated below the North Tower of the World Trade Center complex in New York City.

Braer oil tanker ran aground off Shetland.

A Zambian Air Force plane crashed into the Atlantic Ocean near Libreville, Gabon, carrying most of the Zambian national football team to a World Cup qualifier against Senegal in Dakar. All 25 passengers and five crew members were killed.

The closure of Ravenscraig, in Motherwell, signaled the end of large-scale steel making in Scotland.


North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) was signed by Canada, Mexico, and the United States.

Marrakesh Agreement marked the culmination of the Uruguay Round and establishment of the World Trade Organisation, which officially came into being on 1 January 1995.

Burundi president Cyprien Ntaryamira was killed in a plane crash that sparked the Rwandan genocide. Members of the Tutsi minority ethnic group were killed by armed Hutu militias.

Nelson Mandela was elected as president of South Africa.

Kim Il-sung died. Kim Jong-il became Supreme Leader of North Korea.

Operation Uphold Democracy was a US military intervention designed to remove the military regime installed by the 1991 Haitian coup d'état that overthrew the elected President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.

Romania became the first former Warsaw Pact country to join NATO.

Battle of Grozny was a covert attempt by Russian Intelligence services to oust the Chechen government, by seizing the Chechen capital of Grozny.

Car ferry MS Estonia sank in the Baltic Sea, claiming 852 lives.

Frank Corder stole a Cessna 150 and crashed the aircraft onto the South Lawn of the White House.

The Channel Tunnel was opened.

Sunday Trading Act allowed shops in England and Wales to trade on a Sunday.


Austria, Sweden, and Finland joined the European Union.

Schengen Area was established.

World Trade Organisation (WTO) was established to replace the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT).

Mozambique joined the Commonwealth, despite having no previous ties to Britain.

Timothy McVeigh bombed the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City.

Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated by Yigal Amir.

Tokyo subway sarin attack was perpetrated by members of the cult movement Aum Shinrikyo.

Srebrenica massacre was the killing of more than 8,000 Bosniak Muslim men and boys in and around the town of Srebrenica by the Bosnian Serb Army.

The signing of the Dayton Accords ended the Bosnian War.

Soufriere Hills volcano in Montserrat erupted, destroying the capital city, Plymouth.

Great Hanshin earthquake was centred near the Japanese city of Kobe.

Derivatives trader Nick Leeson was arrested in Singapore for his role in the collapse of Barings Bank.

The Ganesha drinking milk miracle was a phenomenon in which statues of the Hindu deity Ganesha were thought to be drinking milk offerings.

40% of people voted “Yes” in the Quebec independence referendum.


Ted Kaczynski, also known as the Unabomber (university and airline bomber), was arrested in Montana.

Centennial Olympic Park bombing in Atlanta took place during the Summer Olympics.

Sea Empress oil spill occurred at the entrance to the Milford Haven Waterway in Pembrokeshire.

Dolly the Sheep was cloned by Ian Wilmut at the Roslin Institute in Edinburgh. The cell used as the donor for the cloning of Dolly was taken from a mammary gland.

Polaris submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) was replaced by Trident.


Laurent Kabila ousted Mobutu, and Zaire became the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Sovereignty of Hong Kong was transferred from the UK to China.

The Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on their Destruction of 1997, known informally as the Ottawa Treaty, was signed.

Heaven’s Gate was a cult based in San Diego that thought that comet Hale-Bopp contained a spaceship to take them to another world. Their members participated in a coordinated series of ritual suicides.

Diana, Princess of Wales was killed in a car accident in Paris.

Lottie Williams from Oklahoma became the first person to be struck by space junk.


George Mitchell chaired the all-party peace negotiations, which led to the Belfast Peace Agreement being signed on Good Friday, known since as the Good Friday Agreement.

The assembly of the International Space Station began.

Bill Clinton was impeached by the United States House of Representatives.

The Human Rights Act received royal ascent in the UK and came into force in 2000.

Capital punishment was abolished in Britain.

A study led by Andrew Wakefield suggested an alleged link between MMR vaccine and autism.


During the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia, five US bombs hit the People's Republic of China embassy in Belgrade.

Kosovo War ended.

Macau became a special administrative region of China, ending Portuguese rule.

The euro was introduced in non-physical form (traveller's cheques, electronic transfers, etc.) on 1 January. Coins and banknotes entered circulation in participating countries in 2002.

Breitling Orbiter 3 was the first balloon to fly around the world non-stop, piloted by Bertrand Piccard and Brian Jones.

World population reached six billion.


Dot-com crash wiped out all gains from the dot-com bubble. The NASDAQ index fell 78% between March and October.

The draft assembly of the Human Genome Project was announced at the White House.

Air France Concorde crashed shortly after takeoff from Paris, killing all 113 people on board.

Sierra Leone Civil War ended.

USS Cole was attacked from a small boat by Al-Qaeda suicide bombers in Aden. Seventeen soldiers were killed.

The International Space Station began operations.

The Greater London Authority (GLA) was established.