01 – Czechoslovakia is peacefully divided into the Czech Republic and Slovakia.
01 – The European single market is created by the European Economic Community (EEC), eliminating trade barriers within the EU.
05 – A Liberian-registered tanker runs aground in hurricane-force winds off the Shetland Islands, spilling 84,700 tonnes of crude oil into the North Sea.
05 – American serial killer Westley Allan Dodd is hanged in the state of Washington for his crimes of assaulting and murdering three young boys. This is the first execution by hanging to be carried out in America since 1965.
05 – US security company, Brinks is robbed. $7.4 million is stolen from the Armored Car Depot in Rochester, New York.
06 – Ballet dancer Rudolf Nureyev dies in Paris, aged 54.
06 – Jazz trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie dies in Englewood, New Jersey, aged 75.
08 – “Second-hand smoke” is deemed a serious health threat by the US Environmental Protection Agency.
13 – Over 100 US, British and French warplanes attack Iraqi missile bases and radar stations in response to Iraq’s violation of various UN resolutions.
18 – The Martin Luther King Jr holiday is finally observed in all 50 US states.
20 – Bill Clinton is inaugurated as America’s 42nd president. He is the first president to be born after World War Two.
20 – Actress Audrey Hepburn dies in Switzerland.
31 – Super Bowl XXVII is won by the Dallas Cowboys 52–17. As a result, the Buffalo Bills become the first team to ever lose three consecutive Super Bowls.
04 – Russian scientists flash a beam of sunlight across Europe via a giant mirror in orbit – but observers see only a momentary flash.
14 – Police confirm a body found on a railway embankment in Merseyside is that of missing 2-year-old toddler James Bulger. A murder inquiry is launched.
20 – Two 10-year-old boys are charged with the abduction and murder of two-year-old James Bulger in Liverpool. The two boys, Jon Venables and Robert Thompson, are eventually convicted in November 1993.
26 – A bomb planted by Islamic terrorists kills six people and injures 1,000 at New York’s World Trade Center. Nine people are arrested in connection with the blast.
28 – The Branch Davidian fundamentalist religious cult led by David Koresh (aka Vernon Howell), based outside Waco, Texas, is visited by the Treasury Department’s Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms Unit (ATF) after reports of child abuse. Four ATF officers are killed, Koresh is wounded, and at least two of his followers are killed. A stand-off ensues, lasting 51 days, at the end of which the compound is burned to the ground killing 86 people, including 17 children.
01 – The US government announces that 26.6 million low-income families are now receiving food stamps. In 1969 it was under three million.
05 – Ben Johnson – the Canadian sprinter who was stripped of his gold medal at the 1988 Olympics – is banned from racing for life by the Amateur Athletic Association after testing positive for banned performance-enhancing drugs a second time.
11 – Janet Reno becomes the first woman to be named US Attorney General.
11 – North Korea withdraws from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty after refusing to open their sites for inspection.
12 – At least 200 people die and 800 are injured after 13 bombs exploded in Bombay.
20 – Three-year-old Johnathan Ball and 12-year-old Tim Parry are killed and at least 50 people are injured in two bomb blasts close to the heart of a busy shopping centre in Warrington, Cheshire. The IRA admits carrying out the attacks.
31 -Brandon Lee, son of Bruce Lee, dies while filming horror film The Crow. Lee is shot in the abdomen as the prop gun used in his character’s death scene had a live bullet lodged in the chamber.
03 – The Grand National ends in chaos after a series of events at the start which reduce the world-famous horse race to a shambles. 30 of the 39 riders fail to realise a false start had been called and set off around the racetrack. The Jockey Club is forced to declare the race void. Bookmakers are forced to repay around £75 million.
19 – David Koresh and over 80 members of the Branch Davidian cult die when, after a 51-day standoff, Federal agents attack the cult’s compound in Waco, Texas. Many criticise Attorney General Janet Reno for her handling of the whole affair.
23 – Black British teenager Stephen Lawrence is stabbed to death while waiting for a bus in a suburb of London. A vigorous campaign by the victim’s family and sections of the media ensures the case retains a high profile, and a later official enquiry into the lack of convictions concludes that the Metropolitan Police force is guilty of “institutional racism”.
24 – The Provisional IRA detonate a powerful truck bomb on Bishopsgate in London’s financial district. Telephoned warnings are sent about an hour beforehand but a news photographer is killed in the blast and 44 people are injured. The damage costs £350 million to repair and as a result of the bombing, a “ring of steel” is implemented to protect the City of London.
29 – Mick Ronson, guitarist for David Bowie in his ‘Ziggy Stardust’ period, dies from cancer.
30 – US Tennis player Monica Seles – currently world number one – is stabbed in the back during a tennis match in Hamburg, Germany. The assailant (a fan of sporting rival Steffi Graf) is later convicted of causing grievous bodily harm and receives a suspended sentence.
01 – A suicide bomber kills Sri Lankan President, Ranasinghe Premadasa along with five others.
13 – Young Britney Spears from Kentwood, Louisiana, makes her first TV appearance as a Disney Mouseketeer.
15 – Masked police commandos free six girls with their nursery teacher and shoot dead an armed Algerian-born man, ending a two-day hostage crisis at a nursery school in Paris.
15 – Ireland wins the Eurovision Song Contest with In Your Eyes performed by Niamh Kavanagh.
17 – Planet Hollywood burger restaurant opens in London. More than £4 million has been spent on the interior of the restaurant, strategically situated at the corner of Coventry and Rupert Streets, where the rent alone is £650,000 per year.
03 – The Yorkshire seaside town of Scarborough suffers a coastal landslide. As a result, Hollbeck Hall Hotel collapses into the sea.
07 – On his 35th birthday, Prince announces he is changing his name to an unpronounceable symbol, and promptly becomes known in the music press as TAFKAP (The Artist Formerly Known As Prince).
09 – Hollywood police arrest well-connected Hollywood brothel owner and Madam, Heidi Fleiss.
21 – English mathematician Andrew Wiles proves Fermat’s last theorem after seven years working on a 200-page document that solves the 350-year old problem. Someone later finds a mistake in the proof, but Wiles is able to fix it.
04 – The Pizza Hut blimp crashes into an apartment building on West 56th Street in New York City. The pilot is taken to hospital but nobody is critically injured.
10 – Kenyan runner Yobes Ondieki becomes the first man to run 10,000 metres in less than 27 minutes.
19 – “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy regarding homosexuals serving in the American military is announced.
29 – The Israeli Supreme Court clears John Demjanjuk (accused of being ‘Ivan The Terrible’ – a notorious guard at the Treblinka and Sobibor extermination camps during WWII) of war crimes. His death sentence is thrown out and he is set free to return to his home in Cleveland, Ohio. He is charged again in 2011 but dies in 2012 – still legally presumed innocent.
03 – Ruth Bader Ginsburg becomes the second woman to be appointed to the US Supreme Court, replacing the retired Byron R White.
10 – The South Island of New Zealand is struck by an earthquake measuring 7.0 on the Richter Scale. Shockwaves are felt as far away as Australia.
10 – A white supremacist plot to assassinate Ice-T and Ice Cube, uncovered by the FBI, is revealed in the NME following the firebombing of the offices of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People in Tacoma, Washington.
16 – Actor Stewart Granger dies in Los Angeles.
23 – Police raid Michael Jackson‘s homes in California after allegations of child abuse. This is the beginning of the long-running Jordan Chandler scandal which will irreparably blight Jackson’s reputation.
14 – British holidaymaker Gary Colley, 34, is murdered and his girlfriend, Margaret Jagger injured during an attempted mugging in Florida. Two years later John Crimite is sentenced to life imprisonment for the killing.
16 – Grace Slick‘s home in Marin County, California, is destroyed by fire apparently caused by welders fixing a “Danger: Fire Area” sign.
22 – 47 people are killed when an Amtrak passenger train derails on Big Bayou Canot Bridge in Alabama, USA.
23 – The International Olympic Committee awards the Summer Olympics 2000 to Sydney, Australia.
30 – 28,000 people are killed when an earthquake strikes Latur, India.
04 – 18 US soldiers are killed and two Blackhawk helicopters shot down in a heavy firefight in the capital of Somalia, Mogadishu. An estimated 90-minute lightning assault turns into a 17-hour desperate battle to escape a hostile city.
05 – China sets off an underground nuclear explosion.
08 – US scientists report that they have successfully cloned a human embryo.
10 – The South Korean ferry Seohae sinks off the coast of Pusan, killing 292 people.
15 – Nelson Mandela and South African President F.W. de Klerk are awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
25 – Horror movie actor Vincent Price dies in Hollywood after losing his battle with lung cancer.
30 – America’s first space veterinarian, Martin Fettman, performs the first – and possibly last – animal dissections in space, on the space shuttle Columbia.
31 – A drug-induced heart attack kills actor River Phoenix outside the entrance to LA’s Viper Room. His very public death does little to diminish the hip cachet of hard drugs in film and music circles.
01 – The Maastricht Treaty comes into effect in Europe, turning the EEC (European Economic Community) into the EU (European Union).
01 – The Female branch of the British Navy, the Women’s Royal Naval Service is disbanded. All women in service are integrated into the regular Royal Navy.
11 – A bronze statue is unveiled in Washington honouring the 11,000 or more women who served in the Vietnam War.
18 – A minibus carrying 14 schoolchildren crashes into a maintenance vehicle on the M40 motorway near Warwick just after midnight. The teacher who is driving and 12 of the children are killed.
30 – President Clinton signs the Brady handgun control bill which requires a five-day waiting period and background check for anyone purchasing a handgun. The bill is named for James Brady, who was seriously wounded in the 1981 attempt on Ronald Reagan‘s life
02 – Pablo Escobar, boss of the Medellin cocaine cartel in Colombia, is killed in a shootout as police try to arrest him.
04 – Frank Zappa dies of prostate cancer at the age of 53.
07 – Colin Ferguson, a Jamaican immigrant, kills six and wounds 17 when he opens fire with a semi-automatic weapon on a Long Island Railroad commuter train. Ferguson is later sentenced to 200 years in prison.
08 – President Clinton signs the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), intended to end most of the trade barriers between Canada, Mexico and the US, thereby creating the world’s largest free-trade zone. The Agreement comes into effect on 1 January 1994.
09 – Introduction of Sunday shopping in Britain.
10 – The crew of the space shuttle Endeavour send the newly repaired Hubble space telescope back into Earth’s orbit.
15 – British prime minister John Major and Republic of Ireland prime minister Albert Reynolds sign the Downing Street declaration – the basis for trying to achieve peace in Northern Ireland.
Also this year:
- Jurassic Park is released and becomes the highest-grossing film to date