Home Decades 1990s 1999

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.

03 – NASA launches the Mars Polar Lander.

04 – Gunmen open fire on Shiite Muslims worshipping in an Islamabad mosque killing 16 people and injuring 25.

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 – The US Coast Guard intercepts over 9000 lbs of cocaine headed for Houston. 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.

31 – The Denver Broncos win their second consecutive Super Bowl, defeating the Atlanta Falcons, 34-19, in Super Bowl XXXIII.


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”.

05 – Mike Tyson is sentenced to a year’s imprisonment, fined $5,000, and ordered to serve two years probation and perform 200 hours of community service for the 31 August 1998 assault on two people after a car accident.

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 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.

15 – Three sightseers – Carole Sund (42) and her daughter, Juli (15) and Juli’s friend, Argentine exchange student Silvina Pelosso (16) – disappear near Yosemite National Park, California. Their remains are discovered by late March, and serial killer Cary Stayner is eventually convicted of their murders.

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

23 – White supremacist John William King is found guilty of kidnapping and murdering African American James Byrd Jr. by dragging him behind a truck for 2 miles (3 km).


March

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

04Monica Lewinsky‘s book detailing her affair with Bill Clinton goes on sale in the United States.

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

08 – American baseball great Joe DiMaggio dies of lung cancer 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.

12 – Violinist Yehudi Menuhin – one of the 20th century’s finest musicians – dies, aged 82.

12 – Hungary, Poland, and the Czech Republic join NATO.

16 – British Labour government abolishes hereditary peerages.

21 – Ernie Wise – one half of British British comedy legends Morecambe and Wise – dies from heart failure and a chest infection at the Nuffield Hospital in Wexham, near Slough. He is 73.

21 – British pilot Brian Jones and Swiss physician Bertrand Piccard successfully circumnavigate the Earth in 19 days, 22 hours and 55 seconds aboard the Breitling Orbiter 3 balloon.

22 – Pro-euthanasia doctor Jack Kevorkian goes on trial for murder in Pontiac, Michigan. He is later convicted of second-degree murder

24 – NATO launches a bombing campaign against Belgrade, the Yugoslav capital, in only the second military action in its history. NATO is 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, and the tunnel is closed for nearly three years.

26 – A jury in Michigan finds Dr Jack Kevorkian guilty of second-degree murder for administering a lethal injection to a terminally ill man. The incident was videotaped and aired on 17 September 1998 edition of 60 Minutes.


April

01 – A legally binding minimum rate of pay is introduced in Britain for the first time. From today all adults must be paid at least £3.60 an hour, and workers under the age of 22 must get no less than £3 an hour.

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.

09 – The president of Niger, Ibrahim Bare Mainassara, is shot dead in an apparent coup attempt.

14 – NATO warplanes repeatedly bomb ethnic Albanian refugee convoys for two hours over a 12-mile stretch of road between Đakovica and Dečani in western Kosovo, after mistaking them for Yugoslav military trucks. 73 refugees are killed.

14 – English actor, singer and songwriter Anthony Newley dies from renal cancer aged 67.

17 – A nail bomb explodes outside a busy supermarket in Brixton, South London, injuring at least 45 people.

20 – 17-year-old Dylan Klebold and 18-year-old Eric Harris walk into Columbine High School in Colorado with their trench coats loaded with guns, knives and explosives to kill as many people as possible before committing suicide. The bloodbath goes on for four hours, during which time they murder 12 students and one teacher and plant bombs and booby traps before killing themselves.

26 – British television presenter/newsreader Jill Dando is shot dead outside her London home.

28 – English footballer and manager Alf Ramsey dies from a heart attack, aged 79.

30 – A nail bomb explodes in the busy Admiral Duncan 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 jailed for life 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.

26 – The first Welsh Assembly for over 600 years opens in Cardiff.

28The 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.

05  – American singer Mel Tormé suffers a stroke and dies aged 73.

09 – NATO and Yugoslavia sign a peace agreement over Kosovo. NATO suspends its air strikes after Slobodan Milošević agrees to withdraw Serbian forces from Kosovo.

14Nelson 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

01 – The Scottish Parliament is officially opened by Elizabeth II on the day that devolved powers are officially transferred from the Scottish Office in London to the new Scottish Executive in Edinburgh.

01 – Europol (short for European Police Office) the European Union’s criminal intelligence agency becomes fully operational.

01 – American singer Guy Mitchell (72) dies at Desert Springs Hospital in Las Vegas, Nevada of complications from cancer surgery.

06 – Barry Winchell, a homosexual soldier in the US military, dies of head wounds at a hospital after being hit in the head with a baseball bat by a fellow soldier the previous day.

16 – A plane carrying John F Kennedy Jr, his wife Carolyn, and her sister Lauren Bessette on a flight from New Jersey to Massachusetts, crashes into the waters off 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.

31 – The spacecraft Lunar Prospector, which has been orbiting the moon, is deliberately crashed into the polar ice cap by NASA to find water under the lunar surface. None is discovered.


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 Stepashin 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 that had not occurred since 1927 and will not do so again until 2090. The eclipse lasts for around 2 minutes and 23 seconds.

17 – More than 15,000 people die in an earthquake in western Turkey. The earthquake measuring 6.7 on the Richter scale hits the industrialised town of Izmit in western Turkey at just after 03:00 local time.

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.

30 – East Timor votes for independence from Indonesia in a referendum.


September

09 – The Sega Company introduces a new game console with the name Dreamcast.

20 – A multinational peacekeeping 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

05 – 31 people die, and dozens are injured in a head-on collision at Ladbroke Grove in London when a train passes a red signal near Paddington Station at the height of the morning rush hour.

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.

27 – Gunmen open fire in the Armenian Parliament, killing Prime Minister Vazgen Sargsyan, Parliament Chairman Karen Demirchyan, and six other members.

31 – Cairo-bound Air Egypt Flight 990 crashes into the Atlantic Ocean off Long Island, New York, claiming all 217 lives aboard.


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.

06 – Australia beats France at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff (Wales) to win the 1999 Rugby World Cup.

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

19 – The People’s Republic of China launches the first Shenzhou spacecraft.

27 – Helen Clark becomes the first elected woman Prime Minister in New Zealand History.

28 – A naked man wielding a samurai sword enters a church in Thornton Heath, 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

02 – The United Kingdom devolves political power in Northern Ireland to the Northern Ireland Executive.

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.

10 – Rick Danko from The Band dies in his sleep from heart failure, aged 55.

24 – Indian Airlines Flight 814, en route from Kathmandu to Delhi, is hijacked and taken to Kandahar, Afghanistan.

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 intruder Michael Abram. Abram is later treated for schizophrenia.

31 Boris Yeltsin resigns as president of Russia, leaving Prime Minister Vladimir Putin as the acting president.

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 worldwide 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 by HM Queen Elizabeth II.


Also this year . . .

  • International Year of Older Persons

New words added to the British vocabulary this year . . .

  • Blog
  • Carbon footprint
  • Dashcam
  • Epigenomics
  • Metabolomics
  • Texting
  • Vape