1999

January

01 – 11 European countries replace their national currencies with the newly created ‘Euro’, a single European currency. Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Holland, Belgium, Austria, Portugal, Finland, Ireland and Luxembourg all make the switch. The actual circulation of Euro coins and notes starts on 1 January 2002 when the old currencies become invalid.

07 – The impeachment trial of President Clinton begins before the US Senate. It is the first time in US history that an elected president has been impeached and stood trial (Richard Nixon was impeached but resigned rather than stand trial).

21 – Over 9000 lbs of cocaine headed for Houston is intercepted by the US Coast Guard. It is one of the largest drug busts in US history.

25 – 1,000 people are killed when an earthquake measuring 6 on the Richter scale hits Colombia. Many older buildings are unable to withstand the tremors, which leave 200,000 homeless.

February

04 – Amadou Diallo, an unarmed West African immigrant, dies after being shot 41 times in front of his Bronx home by four plainclothes New York City police officers who explain “he was acting defensively”.

07 – King Hussein of Jordan dies of heart failure at the age of 63. A stabilising force for peace in the Middle East during his 46 years of rule, he had been suffering from lymphatic cancer for some time.

12 – The US Senate vote to acquit President Clinton of perjury and obstruction of justice after Clinton tells the country he is “profoundly sorry” for what he has said and done in the Monica Lewinsky affair.

18 – The Clinton administration warns Serbian president Slobodan Milošević to choose peace with ethnic Albanians in Kosovo or face a devastating military strike.

March

02 – Dusty Springfield dies from cancer at her home in Henley-on-Thames, UK.

07 – Acclaimed film director Stanley Kubrick dies in St Albans, Hertfordshire, at the age of 70, just one week after completing his last film, Eyes Wide Shut.

08 – American baseball great Joe DiMaggio dies at the age of 84. Known as “The Yankee Clipper” and one-time husband of Marilyn Monroe, DiMaggio played baseball in the 1940s and 1950s but latterly became known for his charity work.

16 – British Labour government abolishes hereditary peerages.

24 – NATO launches a bombing campaign against Belgrade, the Yugoslav capital, in only the second military action in its history. NATO was acting to end the oppressive treatment of Albanians in Kosovo by Serbians under President Slobodan Milošević.

24 – 39 people are killed when fire erupts in the Mont Blanc tunnel in France. The enclosed fire burns fiercely for two days.

April

05 – The UN suspends sanctions against Libya after Colonel Gaddafi surrenders two suspected Libyan intelligence agents for trial in the 1988 Pan Am bombing over Lockerbie.

20 – Two American teenagers, Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris, walk into Columbine High School in Colorado with their trench coats loaded with guns, knives and explosives with the intention of killing as many people as possible before committing suicide. They murder 12 students and one teacher before killing themselves.

27 – British television presenter/newsreader Jill Dando is murdered outside her London home.

30 – A nail bomb explodes in a busy pub in Soho, London’s gay district, killing two people. The bomb is the third in a series targeting minority groups. David Copeland, a self-confessed Nazi, is later imprisoned for the attacks.

May

01 – A group of US mountain climbers discovers the body of George Mallory on Mount Everest. Mallory died in June 1924 in an attempt to become the first person to reach the summit.

02 – Notorious actor Oliver Reed dies in Malta during a break in the filming of Ridley Scott’s Gladiator.

04 – Several severe tornadoes hit the US Midwest killing at least 45 people.

08 – Actor Dirk Bogarde dies in London.

28 – The Last Supper, one of Leonardo da Vinci’s most famous paintings, is returned to public display in the church of Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan, after over 20 years of restoration work.

June

01 – Shawn Fanning creates software that allows computer users to swap music files across the internet via a central directory. The service – called Napster – quickly becomes hugely popular with millions of files shared for free among users.

09 – NATO and Yugoslavia sign a peace agreement over Kosovo.

14 – Nelson Mandela‘s successor, Thabo Mbeki, is sworn in as head of South Africa’s second democratically elected government. The ANC takes two-thirds of the seats in the parliament.

19 – Horror writer Stephen King is injured when he is hit by a motorist while walking in Maine, USA. Earlier in the year, he had been working on a novel in which the protagonist dies after a car accident.

July

15 – A plane carrying John F Kennedy Jr, his wife Carolyn, and her sister Lauren Bessette on a flight from New Jersey to Massachusetts, crashes near Martha’s Vineyard killing all three. Kennedy’s body is found five days later.

23 – Thirty years after the original Woodstock Festival, an anniversary event (Woodstock 99) takes place. Over 200,000 people attend.

August

02 – At least 278 people are killed in eastern India when two trains collide at a station.

09 – Russian president Boris Yeltsin fires prime minister Sergei Stephasin and his entire cabinet for the fourth time in 17 months. A week later, former KGB man Vladimir Putin is confirmed as the new Russian prime minister.

11 – A total eclipse of the sun is visible from the UK, Europe, the Middle East and Southern Asia – a phenomenon which had not occurred since 1927 and will not do so again until 2090. The eclipse lasted for around 2 minutes and 23 seconds.

17 – More than 15,000 people die in an earthquake in western Turkey.

27 – The last crew to inhabit the Russian Mir space station return to Earth. They have been forced to abandon the space station for financial reasons.

September

20 – A multinational peace keeping force lands in East Timor in an attempt to end the violence that has beset the region since its people voted overwhelmingly for independence from Indonesia.

30 – Radiation leaks from a nuclear facility in Tokaimura, Japan, after workers accidentally set off an uncontrolled chain reaction which continues intermittently for 20 hours. Around 120 workers receive dangerously high doses of radiation. Two of them later die from the effects.

October

12 – Pervez Musharraf seizes power in Pakistan in a bloodless coup that topples prime minister Nawaz Sharif.

22 – China ends its first-ever human rights conference by defying western definitions of civil liberties.

November

04 – United Nations economic sanctions are imposed against the Taliban in Afghanistan for refusing to turn over Osama Bin Laden, charged with masterminding the 1998 bombings of the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.

06 – Australians overwhelmingly reject a proposal to break their remaining ties with the British monarchy and become a republic by replacing Queen Elizabeth with a president.

15 – Representatives from China and the USA sign a major trade agreement that will allow China to join the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

28 – A naked man wielding a samurai sword enters a church in Surrey, UK, and injures 11 churchgoers, four severely. Eden Strang will later be detained indefinitely in a psychiatric hospital.

30 – The beef-on-the-bone ban imposed at the height of the ‘mad cow’ BSE scare is finally lifted by the UK government – putting T-bone steaks back on British menus.

December

08 – A jury in Memphis finds that Reverend Martin Luther King Jr was the victim of a murder conspiracy, not the convicted ‘lone assassin’ James Earl Ray. Ray died in April 1998 without ever receiving a new hearing despite protests from many, including some of King’s family.

26 – After a decade of illness and paralysis, soul star Curtis Mayfield dies in a hospital at Roswell, Georgia, aged 57.

30 – Former Beatle George Harrison is stabbed in the chest when he and his wife Olivia are attacked in their Henley-on-Thames mansion by an intruder, Michael Abram. Abram is later treated for schizophrenia.

31 – Missing the opportunity to have lived in three centuries by just hours, Sarah Knauss dies in Allentown, Pennsylvania, at the age of 119. The world’s oldest person (born 24 September 1880) she was older than both the Brooklyn Bridge and the Statue of Liberty.

31 – People around the world prepare to celebrate the beginning of a new millennium with spectacular firework displays and parties planned all over the globe.

31 – Opening of the Millennium Dome in London.

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