Around the World | 1962-2011


  • Adolph Eichmann, former Nazi official, was found guilty of crimes against the Jewish people and hanged in Jerusalem
  • Alexsandr Solzhenitsyn published One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovitch, describing life in a Soviet labor camp


  • The Soviet Union, the United States of America and Britain signed a Test-Ban Treaty
  • Pope John XXIII died and was succeeded by Cardinal Montini, Pope Paul VI


  • Nelson Mandela, who pleaded guilty of planning to overthrow the government was found guilty under South Africa’s Suppression of Communism Act, and given a life sentence
  • A coup in the Soviet Union overthrows Nikita Khrushchev and brings Aleksei Kosygin to power


  • January 24: Death of Winston Churchill


  • Dr Christiaan Barnard, Cape Town, performed the first human heart transplant
  • Israel launched a pre-emptive strike against Arab neighbors in what became known as the Six Day War
  • “Che” Guevara, a trusted aid of Fidel Castro was captured and executed in Bolivia


  • Vietnamese forces launched the Tet offensive. Bombing of North Vietnam suspended
  • Warsaw Pact troops and tanks enter Czechoslovakia to protect socialism. Alexander Dubcek was replaced and his reforms were dismantled


  • My Lai massacre in Vietnam leads to growing opposition to America’s role
  • Mrs Golda Meir was elected Prime Minister of Israel


  • President Nasser of Egypt died and was replaced by Mohammed Sadat
  • Salvador Allende was elected President of Chile


  • The army of Uganda staged a coup while President Obote was out of the country and Idi Amin proclaimed himself head of state.
  • “Papa Doc” Duvalier died and was succeeded by his equally despotic son “Baby Doc”
  • Switzerland became the last developed country in the West to enfranchise women


  • During the Munich Olympic Games, Palestinian terrorists attacked the Israeli team, killing two and taking nine others hostage.
  • First Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty (SALT I) was signed


  • Vietnam cease fire signed in Paris and U.S. combat troops start withdrawing
  • Spanish painter Pablo Picasso and world famous cellist Pablo Casals died


  • United Nations peace-keeping force installed on the Golan Heights between Israel and Syria
  • In April a bloodless coup was carried out by junior army officers in Portugal


  • April 30: North Vietnam offensive results in the fall of Saigon
  • Soviet Soyuz 19 and American Apollo 18 perform historic docking in space
  • Angola and Mozambique were granted independence by Portugal
  • Ethiopia’s Haile Selassie died


  • Cult leader Jim Jones ordered his followers to kill themselves in Jamestown, Guyana
  • Louise Brown, the first test-tube baby, born in July in Oldham, England


  • Iran: Ayatollah Khomeini, replaced the Shah, and formed a fundamentalist Islamic state
  • Soviet troops occupied Afghanistan
  • Vietnam invaded Kampuchea, capturing Phnom-Penh and revealing that the Pol Pot regime had killed 3,500,000 people


  • President Tito of Yugoslavia died
  • Rhodesia became the Republic of Zimbabwe under Prime Minister Robert Mugabe
  • The Bible was published in China for the first time in 23 years


  • Egyptian President Anwar Sadat was assassinated by Muslim fanatics
  • Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical Cats opened to great acclaim in London


  • Britain and Argentina engage in undeclared war over the Falkland Islands
  • Sir Richard Attenborough produced and directed Gandhi in London


  • Islamic Jihad terrorists crashed a truck containing 2,000 lbs of explosives through the gates of U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut, killing 239.
  • In Assam civil riots over local elections result in the massacre of 1,000 Benghali immigrants


  • In Bhopal, India, a toxic gass explosion at a Union Carbide pesticide plant killed 2,500
  • Sikh extremists assassinated Mrs Gandhi, Prime Minister of India


  • Palestinian terrorists hijacked the Italian cruise ship Achille Lauro, killing an American, Leon Klinghoffer, by tossing his wheelchair overboard
  • French agents sank the Rainbow Warrior (Green Peace) in Auckland to prevent it from interfering with French nuclear tests in the south Pacific
  • Marc Chagall, last surviving member of the School of Paris artists, died at 93


  • The worst-ever nuclear accident, at Chernobyl, sent radiation fallout over much of Europe
  • President Marcos of the Philippines was ousted by Mrs Corazon Aquino
  • The European space probe Giotto showed the core of Halley’s comet to be jet black


  • President Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev sign treaty limiting nuclear arms
  • Soviet Prime Minister Mikhail Gorbachev instituted the policies of perestroika and glasnost, opening and liberalizing the Soviet society and economy
  • Rudolf Hess, the only Nazi prisoner in Spandau jail, committed suicide


  • Dismantling of the Berlin Wall. Fall of Communism in Europe


  • President F .W. de Klerk lifted restrictions on over 30 organizations, including the African National Congress and Communist Party, granting amnesty to Nelson Mandela and other political prisoners
  • Re-unification of German
  • Gulf War begins and lasts one year


  • Dissolution of the Soviet Union
  • Boris Yeltsin became the first democratically elected leader of Russia


  • Maastricht Treaty created the European Union
  • End of dictatorships in Albania and South Korea


  • First Intifada between Israel and Palestine
  • Independence for Eritrea


  • End of apartheid in South Africa. Nelson Mandela elected President
  • Establishment of NAFTA
  • English and French engineers completed the Channel Tunnel, called “Chunnel”


  • Establishment of the World Trade Organization
  • Assassination of Israel’s Yitzak Rabin
  • North Korea famine begins


  • Dolly, a sheep, is the first mammal cloned
  • First Chetchen War ended
  • End of dictatorship in Taiwan


  • Tony Blair became Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
  • Transfer of sovereignty over Hong Kong from Britain to China


  • Osama Bin Laden published a fatwa against the West
  • North Korea famine, to date, killed an estimated 2.5 million people


  • February 2: Hugo Chavez became President of Venezuela
  • The Euro, as monetary unit, was established
  • June 14: Thabo Mbeki elected President of South Africa


  • March 26: Vladimir Putin elected President of Russia
  • April 2: The first resident crew enters the International Space Station


  • June 20: Pervez Musharraf becomes President of Pakistan
  • October 7: United States war in Afghanistan started (2001 - present)


  • April 9: Funeral in Westminster Abbey of Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother.
  • September 10: Switzerland joins the United Nations


  • April 14: Human Genome Project completed with 99% of human genome sequenced to 99.99% accuracy
  • June 1:The Peoples Republic of China begins filling the lake behind the Three Gorges Dam
  • October 15: China launches Shenzhou 5, their first manned space mission


  • February 1: A hajj stampede in Mina, Saudi Arabia kills 215 pilgrims
  • October 24: Brazil successfully launches its first rocket into space


  • January 9: Mahmoud Abbas elected to succeed Yasser Arafat as presidents of the Palestinian Authority
  • February 10: North Korea announces it has a nuclear weapon to protect against hostilities from the United States of America
  • April 2: Pope Paul II dies
  • April 19: Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger becomes Pope Benedict XVI


  • April 11: The European Space Agency’s Venus Express space probe enters Venus’ Orbit
  • December 13: The Chinese River Dolphin becomes extinct


  • May 6: French Minister of the Interior Nicolas Sarkozy wins the French presidential elections
  • May 17: The Russian Orthodox Church Abroad and the Moscow Patriarcate reunite after 80 years
  • December 27: Former Pakistani Prime Minister, Benazir Butto, is assassinated


  • February 19: Fidel Castro announces his resignation as President of Cuba
  • February 24: Raul Castro is unanimously elected President of Cuba by the National Assembly
  • May 7: Dmitry Medvedev takes office as President of Russia


  • February 7: The deadliest bushfires in Australian history leaves 173 people dead, 500 injured, and 7,500 homeless
  • April 21: UNESCO launches the World Digital Library


  • June 11: Start of the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa accompanied by the deafening vuvuzelas
  • October 13: 33 miners near Copiapo, Chili, were trapped underground for 69 days

Sources - Inter Alia::
(1.) Beazley, Mitchell (ed.): Time Lines: World History Year by Year since 1492. New York Crescent Books, 1991
(2.) Grun, Bernard: The Timetables of History. New York, Simon Schuster/Touchstone, 1991


By Brian du Toit - of the Transylvania Sesquicentennial Steering Committe
Historical photos are courtesy of the Rowell Bosse North Carolina room, Transylvania County Library


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