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The 1990s was the decade that ran from January 1, 1990, to December 31, 1999, the last decade of both the 20th century and the 2nd millennium.

A combination of factors including the mass mobilisation of capital markets through neoliberalism, the beginning of the widespread proliferation of new media such as the Internet, and the dissolution of the Soviet Unionmarker led to a realignment and reconsolidation of economic and political power across the world, and within countries.

Living standards and democratic governance generally improved in many areas of the world, notably East Asia, much of Eastern Europe, Latin America, and South Africa. However new ethnic conflicts emerged in Africa, the Caucusus and the Balkans, and signs of any resolution of tensions in the Middle East remained elusive, and many earthquakes happened during this decade.


Many countries, institutions, companies, and organizations were prosperous during the 1990s. High-income countries such as the United States, Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan, South Korea, and those in Western Europe experienced steady economic growth for much of the decade. However, in the former Soviet Union GDP decreased as their economies restructured to produce goods they needed and some capital flight occurred.

Oil and gas were discovered in many countries in the former Soviet bloc, leading to economic growth and wider adoption of trade between nations. These trends were also fueled by inexpensive fossil energy, with low petroleum prices caused by a glut of oil. Political stability and decreased militarization due to the winding down of the Cold War led to economic development and higher standards of living for many citizens.
  • The U.S experiences its longest period of economic expansion during the decade. Personal incomes doubled from the recession in 1990, and there was higher productivity overall. After the 1996 Welfare Reform Act there was a reduction of poverty, and the Wall Streetmarker stock exchange stayed over the 10,500 mark from 1999 to 2001.
  • After the 1992 booming of the US stock market, Alan Greenspan coined the phrase "irrational exuberance".
  • GATT update and creation of the World Trade Organization and other global economic institutions, but opposition by anti-globalization activists showed up in nearly every GATT summit, like the demonstrations in Seattlemarker in December 1999.
  • With the creation of the E.U. there is freedom of movement between member states, such as the 1992 and 1995 free trade agreements. The EU agreed to have a single currency, and the Euro began circulation in March 1999 in 12 member states.
  • The Philippines saw great economic development after the People Power Revolution. The economy gains 5% from its deficit until the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis.
  • The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which phases out trade barriers between the United States, Mexicomarker, and Canadamarker is signed into law by U.S. President Bill Clinton.
  • From 1990 until 1998 inclusive, the economy of Russia and some former USSRmarker states was in a severe depression. Eastern European economies struggled after the fall of communism, but Polandmarker, Hungarymarker, Estoniamarker, and Lithuaniamarker saw healthy economic growth rates in the late 1990s.
  • Much of Europe had serious economic problems including the massive 1995 general strikes in Francemarker during its worst recession since World War II and the problems associated with German re-unification. The French economy mildly rebounds at the end of the decade as does Germany. During the late 90s, the economies of particularly Spainmarker, Scandinavia and former Eastern block countries accelerate at rapid speed. After the early 1990s recession, the United Kingdommarker and Ireland experience rapid economic growth that continues throughout the decade. Unemployment is a persistent problem in many countries throughout the 90s.
  • The sluggish economies of Brazilmarker, by a new emphasis on free markets for all their citizens, and Mexico, under economist president Ernesto Zedillo elected in 1994, were in their best shape by the late 1990s.
  • Financial crisis hits East and Southeast Asia in 1997 and 1998 after a long period of phenomenal economic development, which continues by 1999. This crisis is starts to get felt by the end of the decade.

World-changing events

Significant events of the 1990s include:



Main article: 1990s in technology and science

The 1990s were an incredibly revolutionary decade for digital technology. Cell phone and Internet usage was at only a few percent in 1990, and almost non-existent in 1985; by 1999, more than 50% of some Western countries had Internet access, and more than 25% had cell phone access.


The 1990s began with another recession that dampened car sales. General Motors continued to suffer huge losses thanks to an inefficient structure and stale designs. Sales improved with the economy by the mid-'90s, but GM's US market share gradually declined to less than 40% (from a peak of 53% in the '70s). While the new Saturn division fared well, Oldsmobile declined sharply, and attempts to remake the division as a European-style luxury car were unsuccessful.

Cars in the 1990s had a rounder shape than those of the 1970s and 1980s; this style would continue into the 2000s.

Chrysler ran into financial troubles again as the '90s started. Like GM, it too had a stale model lineup (except for the best-selling minivans) that was largely based on the aging K-car platform. In 1992, chairman Lee Iacocca retired, and the company began a remarkable revival, introducing the new LH platform and "Cab-Forward" styling, along with a highly successful redesign of the full-sized Dodge Ram in 1994. Chrysler's minivans continued to dominate the market despite increasing competition. In 1998, Daimler-Benz (the parent company of Mercedes-Benz) merged with Chrysler. The following year, it was decided to retire Plymouth, which had been on a long decline since the '70s. Ford continued to fare well in the '90s, with the second and third generations of the Ford Taurus being named the best selling car in the United States.

Japanese cars continued to be highly successful during the decade. The Honda Accord vied with the Taurus most years for being the best-selling car in the United States. SUVs and trucks became hugely popular during the economic boom in the second half of the decade. Many makes that had never built a truck before started selling SUVs. Car styling during the 1990s became gradually more round and ovoid, the third-generation Taurus and Mercury Sable being some of the more extreme examples. Safety features such as airbags and shoulder belts became mandatory equipment on new cars.



The decade started out with Babyboomers from the Sixties finally entering the middle-aged Establishment with a progressive politico-economic message for youth ("peace", "save the earth"; "stop racism"; "greed is bad") mixed or paired with a mostly conservative or "cautious" socio-cultural one ("Believe"; "Jesus is the answer"; "just say no to drugs"; "don't drink, smoke, or do dope"...etc...)

Youth culture in the 1990s responded to this by embracing both environmentalism and entrepreneurship. Western world fashions reflected this by often turning highly individualistic and/or counter-cultural: tattoos and body piercing gained popularity, and "retro" styles inspired by fashions of the 1960s and 1970s were also prevalent. Some young people became increasingly involved in outdoor activities that combined embracing athletics with the appreciation of nature.

The rave movement and raver sub-culture emerge in the early to mid 1990s, and continue to exist as late as 2010.

Michael Jordan becomes a major sports and pop culture icon idolized by millions worldwide. He revolutionizes sports marketing through deals with companies such as Gatorade, Hanes, McDonalds and Nike.

The first McDonald's restaurant opens in Moscowmarker in 1990 with then-President of the Supreme Soviet of the Russian SFSR and future Russian President Boris Yeltsin attending, symbolizing Russia's transition towards a capitalist free market economy and a move towards adopting elements of western culture.

In 1990, the World Health Organization removed homosexuality from its list of diseases. Increasing acceptance of homosexuality occurs in the western world throughout the 1990s and 2000s.

The ethnic tensions and violence in the former Yugoslaviamarker during the 1990s create a greater sense of ethnic identity of the nations in the new countries, especially involving increased popularity of nationalism.

The 500th anniversary of Christopher Columbus' discovery of the Americas in 1992 was popularly observed, despite controversy and protests against the victimization of Native Americans by Columbus' expeditions. The holiday was labeled by some as racist, in view of Native American experiences of colonialism, slavery, genocide, and cultural destruction.

Computer and video games

3-D graphics become the standard by end of decade. Although FPSs had long since seen the transition to full 3D, other genres begin to copy this trend by the end of the decade.

Lara Croft became a video game sex symbol, becoming a recognizable figure in the entertainment industry throughout the late 1990s.

The console wars, primarily between Sega (Mega Drive, marketed as the Sega Genesis in North America, introduced in 1988) and Nintendo (Super NES, introduced in 1990), sees the entrance of Sony with the PlayStation in 1994, which becomes the first successful CD-based console (as opposed to cartridges). By the end of the decade, Sega's hold on the market becomes tenuous after the end of the Saturn in 1998 and the Dreamcast in 2001.

Mario as Nintendo's mascot finds a rival in Sega's Sonic the Hedgehog with the release of the original game on the Genesis in 1991.

Arcade games rapidly decrease in popularity.

Fighting games like Capcom's Street Fighter II, Sega's futuristic Virtua Fighter, and especially the more violent Mortal Kombat from Acclaim prompted the video game industry to adopt a game rating system, and hundreds of knock-offs are widely popular in mid-to-late 1990s.

Sony's PlayStation becomes the top selling game console and changes the standard media storage type from cartridges to compact discs in consoles.

Doom (1993) bursts onto the world scene and instantly popularizes the FPS genre, and even how games are played, as Doom is among the first games to feature multiplayer capabilities. It is not until Quake (1996), however, that game developers begin to take multiplayer features into serious consideration when making games. Half-Life (1998) features the next evolutionary step in the genre with continual progression of the game (no levels in the traditional sense) and an entirely in-person view, and becomes one of the most popular computer games in history.

The real-time strategy (RTS) genre is introduced in 1992 with the release of Dune II. Warcraft: Orcs & Humans (1994) popularizes the genre, with Command & Conquer and Warcraft II: Tides of Darkness in 1995 setting up the first major real-time strategy competition and popularizing multiplayer capabilities in RTS games. StarCraft in 1998 becomes the second best-selling computer game of all time. It remains among the most popular multiplayer RTS games to this day, especially in South Koreamarker. Homeworld in 1999 becomes the first successful 3d RTS game. The rise of the RTS genre is often credited with the fall of the turn-based strategy (TBS) genre, popularized with Civilization in 1991. The Civilization franchise is the only TBS franchise that remains popular.

Final Fantasy first debuted (in North America) in 1990 for the NES, and remains among the most popular video game franchises, with 12 new titles to date, with another in development, plus numerous spin-offs, sequels, movies and related titles. Final Fantasy VII, released in 1997, especially popularized the series.

Zelda continues its massive popularity with a series of groundbreaking releases, including A Link to the Past in 1991 and Ocarina of Time in 1998, both of which are considered some of the greatest and most influential games of all time.

Massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs) see their entrance into the computer game world with Ultima Online in 1997, although they don't gain widespread popularity until EverQuest and Asheron's Call in 1999. MMORPGs go on to become among the most popular genres in the 2000s.

Pokémon entered the world scene with the release of the original Game Boy Pokémon Red and Pokémon Green games in Japan in 1996, later changed to Pokémon Red and Pokémon Blue for worldwide release in 1998. It soon becomes popular in the U.S. spurring the term Pokémania and is adapted into a popular children's anime series and trading card game, among other media forms.

Resident Evil is released in 1996 and becomes the most popular survival-horror series in video gaming well into the next decade.


TV shows, mostly sitcoms, were popular with the Americanmarker audience. Series like Friends and Seinfeld turned TV in new directions and defined the humor of the decade.

Beverly Hills, 90210 ran throughout the entire decade from 1990-2000 and established the teen soap genre paving the way for Dawson's Creek, Felicity, and other shows that are currently airing today. The show was then remade and renamed simply '90210' and premiered in 2008.

Baywatch, a hugely popular TV show that dominated throughout the nineties, became the most watched TV show in history and made huge impact on pop culture.

The U.S. animated television comedy series The Simpsons becomes a huge domestic and international success in the 1990s. The show has made it beyond 2010 and has become an institution of pop culture, and has spawned the animated sitcom genre, inspiring racier shows such as South Park and Family Guy, which both began in the late 1990s and lasted past 2009.

Reality television began on MTV; this would grow in importance in the western world in the 2000s.


The 1990s were a decade of many diverse scenes in music, however they are perhaps best known for teen pop and electronic dance music, and for being the decade that hip hop and alternative rock became mainstream, both of which would dominate music throughout the 90s and up to 2010.

Grunge music, and the culture marketed around it, born out of the Pacific Northwest Americanmarker states of Washingtonmarker and Oregonmarker, becomes a fad in 1991 with the success of Nirvana and similar groups following. The style would come to be strongly associated with the 1990s by the 2000s. The influence was extremely strong as late as 2010, in the form of post-grunge.

U2's groundbreaking Zoo TV and PopMart tours were the top selling tours of 1992 and 1997.

In the UK the uniquely British alternative rock Britpop genre emerged as part of the more general Cool Britannia culture. Female icons of Cool Britannia, the "Spice Girls", manage to do what the britpop boys couldn't manage and break America, taking the world by storm and becoming the most commercially successful British Group since the Beatles. Their impact brings about a widespread invasion of teen pop acts around the world such as Britney Spears, N' Sync, Backstreet Boys and Hanson who come to prominence into the new millennium.


Dogme 95 becomes an important European artistic film movement by the end of the decade.

Titanicmarker becomes the best-selling movie of all time. CGI is used more in movies.

Other pop culture

Leonardo DiCaprio popularises the long fringe and cropped back hairstyle in fashion and culture amongst teenage boys in the late 1990s after the success of the movies, Titanicmarker and Romeo + Juliet.

Feminism is one of the core defining elements of 1990s pop culture, and the overall image of the decade. You go, girl! was a popular phrase in the media as feminism became more widely accepted and publicized with the Spice Girls, the WNBA, women's boxing, Girl Power, Sex and the City, and others showcasing modern femininity and challenged the problem of sexism. Girl Power and feminism were not considered as "cool" in the 2000s, though its legacy lasted in the female-dominated culture it ushered in.

Anime and manga become popular and known in the mainstream. Previously restricted to fringe or niche circles within existing science fiction and comic book fandom, anime and manga fandom in the west begins expanding and organizing its own fan conventions such as Otakon and Katsucon. Such conventions have continued to expand covering gaming, cosplay, and J-Pop as well as other elements of Japanese and east Asian culture in general.

The Rachel, Jennifer Aniston's hairstyle on the hit show Friends, becomes a cultural phenomenon with millions of women copying it worldwide.

International issues

Politically, the 1990s was an era of spreading democracy. The former countries of the Warsaw Pact moved from totalitarian regimes to democratically elected governments. The same happened in other non-communist countries, such as Taiwanmarker, Chilemarker, South Africa, and Indonesiamarker. Capitalism made great changes to the economies of communist countries like China and Vietnammarker.

The improvement in relations between the countries of NATOmarker and the former members of the Warsaw Pact ended the Cold War both in Europe and other parts of the world. Yugoslavia violently broke up along republic and ethnic lines during the 1990s. In 1993, the Prime Minister of Israelmarker, Yitzhak Rabin, and PLO leader Yasser Arafat shook hands in agreement for peace, at the conclusion of peace talks sponsored by US president Bill Clinton. The outcome of these talks, known as the Oslo Accords, was an agreement by Israelmarker to allow Palestinianmarker self-government.

Conflicts like the Balkan Wars, the Rwandan Genocide, the Battle of Mogadishumarker in Somalia, and the first Gulf War, as well as the continuation of terrorism, led some to hypothesize a Clash of Civilizations, but the decade was also a time of peace in terror-ridden Northern Irelandmarker when the IRA agreed to a truce in 1994. This marked the beginning of the end of 25 years of violence between the two sectarian groups, Protestant and Catholic, and the start of political negotiations.


  • The Ethiopian Civil War ends in 1991, ending over twenty years of internal conflict. The end of the war coincides with the collapse of the communist government of Mengistu Haile Mariam and the establishment of a coalition government of various factions.
  • Somali president Mohamed Siad Barre, who had ruled since 1969, was overthrown in 1991 and the country fell into a state of anarchy and civil war which has not ended as of 2009.
  • End of apartheid in South Africa (1994) and election of ANC government of Nelson Mandela.
  • In Algeriamarker a long period of violence in the north African country starts by the cancellation of the first ever held democratic elections by a group of high ranking army officers.
  • Eritreamarker gains independence from Ethiopiamarker (1993).
  • Military actions by the United States in Somaliamarker in 1993 and the Battle of Mogadishumarker.
  • Rwandan Genocide, a conflict between the Hutu and Tutsi, kills one million people in 1994.
  • The Congo Wars break out in the 1990s. The First Congo War takes place in Zairemarker from 1996 to 1997, resulting in Zairian dictator Mobutu Sese Seko being overthrown from power on May 16, 1997, ending 32 years of his rule. Zairemarker is renamed the Democratic Republic of the Congomarker. The Second Congo War starts in 1998 in central Africa and includes 5 different cultures and 7 different nations. It goes on until 2003.



  • With the end of the Soviet Union, Israel faced a mass influx of Russian Jews, many of whom had high expectations the country was unable to meet. Israel was also barred from participating in the Gulf War, so as to not disrupt the US-Arab alliance.
  • Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy in Burmamarker wins a majority of seats in the first free elections in 30 years in 1990, yet the Burmese military junta refuses to relinquish power, beginning an ongoing peaceful struggle throughout the 1990s to the present by Aung San Suu Kyi and her supporters to demand the end of military rule in Burma.
  • Iraqmarker was left in severe debt after the 1980s war with Iran. President Saddam Hussein accused Kuwaitmarker of flooding the market with oil and driving down prices. On August 2, 1990, Iraqi forces invaded and conquered Kuwait. The UN immediately condemned the action, and a coalition force led by the United States was sent to the Persian Gulf. Aerial bombing of Iraq began in January 1991, and a month later, the UN forces drove the Iraqi army from Kuwait in just four days. In the aftermath of the war, the Kurds in the north of Iraq and the Shiites in the south rose up in revolt, and Saddam Hussein barely managed to hold onto power. Until the US invasion in 2003, Iraq was cut off from much of the world.
  • North Yemen and South Yemen merge to form Yemenmarker (1991).
  • Israelimarker Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Palestinian Prime Minister Yasser Arafat agree to the Peace Process at the culmination of the Oslo Accords, negotiated by the United States President Bill Clinton on September 13, 1993.
  • In Japan, after three decades of economic growth put them in second place in the world's economies, the situation worsened after 1993. The recession went on into the early 2000s, bringing an end to the seemingly unlimited prosperity that the country had hitherto enjoyed.
  • Less affluent nations such as India, Malaysiamarker, and Vietnammarker also saw tremendous improvements in economic prosperity and quality of life during the 1990s. Restructuring following the end of the Cold War was beginning. However, there was also the continuation of terrorism in Third World regions that were once the "frontlines" for American and Soviet foreign politics, particularly in Asia.
  • The Palestinian National Authority is created in 1994 in accordance with the Oslo Accords, giving Palestinian Arab people official autonomy over the Gaza Stripmarker and West Bankmarker, though not official independence from Israelmarker.
  • In 1994, a peace treaty is signed between Israelmarker and Jordanmarker.
  • Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin is assassinated in 1995 by a radical Jewish militant who opposed the Oslo accords.
  • The Taliban seize control of Afghanistanmarker in 1996.
  • South-East Asia economic crisis starting from 1997.
  • The Spratly Islandsmarker issue became one of the most controversial in Southeast Asia.
  • The Tibetan Freedom Concert brings 120,000 people together in the interest of increased human rights and autonomy for Tibet from China.
  • Great Britain hands sovereignty of Hong Kong to the People's Republic of China on July 1, 1997.
  • China started the '90s in a bad way, shunned by much of the world after the Tiananmen Squaremarker Massacremarker and controlled by hard line politicians who reigned in private enterprise and attempted to revive old-fashioned propaganda campaigns. Relations with the United States deteriorated sharply, and the Chinese leadership was further embarrassed by the disintegration of communism in Europe. In 1992, Deng Xiaoping travelled to southern China in his last major public appearance to revitalize faith in market economics and stop the country's slide back into Maoism. Afterwards, China recovered, and would experience explosive economic growth during the rest of the decade. In spite of this, dissent continued to be suppressed, and President Jiang Zemin launched a brutal crackdown against the Falun Gong religious sect in 1999. Deng Xiaoping himself died in 1997 at the age of 93. Relations with the US deteriorated again in 1999 after the death of a Chinese journalist during the bombing of Serbia by NATO forces, and allegations of Chinese espionage at the Los Alamos Nuclear Facility.
  • Both India and Pakistanmarker reveal their acquiring of nuclear weapons in two separate missile tests in both countries in 1998.
  • After the bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenyamarker and Tanzania by Al-Qaeda militants, U.S. naval military forces launch cruise missile attacks against Al-Qaeda bases in Afghanistanmarker in 1998.
  • In May 1999, Pakistanmarker sends troops covertly to occupy strategic peaks in Kashmirmarker. A month later the Kargil War with India results in a political fiasco for Nawaz Sharif, followed by a military withdrawal to the Line of Controlmarker. The incident leads to a military coup in October in which the Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is ousted by Army Chief Pervez Musharraf.
  • Portugal hands sovereignty of Macaumarker to the People's Republic of China on December 20, 1999.
  • East Timormarker breaks away from Indonesianmarker control in 1999, merely a year after the fall of Suharto from power, ending a twenty-four year guerrilla war with more than 200,000 casualties. The UN deploys a peace keeping force, spearheaded by the Australian and New Zealand armed forces. The United States deploys police officers to serve with the International Police element, to help train and equip an East Timorese police force.
  • In July 1994, North Korean leader Kim Il-sung died, having ruled the country since its founding in 1948. His son Kim Jong-il succeeded him, taking over a nation on the brink of complete economic collapse. Famine caused a great number of deaths in the late '90s, and North Koreamarker would gain a reputation for being a major source of money laundering, counterfeiting, and weapons proliferation. The country's ability to produce and sell nuclear weapons became a focus of concern in the international community.


  • Germany reunified on October 3, 1990 and, after integrating the economic structure and provincial governments, focused on modernization of the former communist East. People who were brought up in a communist culture became integrated with those living in democratic western Germany.
  • Margaret Thatcher who had been the United Kingdom'smarker Prime Minister since 1979 resigned as Prime Minister on November 22, 1990 after been challenged for the leadership of the Conservative Party by Michael Heseltine because of widespread opposition to the introduction of the controversial Community Charge and the fact that her key allies such as Nigel Lawson and Geoffrey Howe resigned over the deeply sensitive issues of the Maastricht Treaty and Margaret Thatcher's resistance to Britain joining the European Exchange Rate Mechanism. Less than two years later on the infamous Black Wednesday of September 1992, the pound sterling crashed out of the system after the pound fell below the agreed exchange rate with the Deutsche Mark.
  • The collapse of Yugoslavia begins in 1991 with the secession of the republics of Croatiamarker, Sloveniamarker, and the Republic of Macedoniamarker from the federation. The Yugoslav wars begin with the short Ten-Day War in Sloveniamarker and the longer and more brutal Croatian War between Croat and Serb military and paramilitary forces.
  • By 1990, Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev's reforms were causing major inflation and economic chaos. A coup attempt by hard-liners in August 1991 failed, marking the effective end of the Soviet Union. All its constituent republics declared their independence in 1991, and on Christmas, Gorbachev resigned from office. After 73 years, the Soviet Union had ceased to exist. The new Russian Federation was headed by Boris Yeltsin, and would face severe economic difficulty. Oligarchs took over Russia's energy and industrial sectors, reducing almost half the country to poverty. With a 3% approval rating, Yeltsin had to buy the support of the oligarchs to win reelection in 1996. Economic turmoil and devaluation of the ruble continued, and with heart and alcohol troubles, he stepped down from office on the last day of 1999, handing power to Vladimir Putin.
  • The republic of Bosnia and Herzegovinamarker secedes from Yugoslavia in 1992. The Bosnian War immediately erupts amongst the Bosniak, Croat, and Serb ethnic factions. The war would become known for numerous war crimes and human rights violations such as ethnic cleansing and genocide.
  • The European Community becomes the European Union on January 1, 1993.
  • Severe political deadlock between Russian President Boris Yeltsin and the Supreme Soviet (Russia's parliament at this time) result in Yeltsin ordering the controversial shelling of the Russian parliament building by tanks in 1993.
  • Dissolution of Czechoslovakiamarker into Czech Republic and Slovakiamarker (1993).
  • The birth of the "Second Republic" in Italy, with the Mani Pulite investigations of 1994.
  • Russian financial crisis in the 1990s results in mass hyperinflation and prompts economic intervention from the International Monetary Fundmarker and western countries to help Russia's economy recover.
  • The First Chechen War 1994 – 1996;
  • The final fighting in Croatian and Bosnian wars ends in 1995 with the success of Croatian military offensives against Serb forces and the mass exodus of Serbs from Croatia in 1995; Serb losses to Croat and Bosniak forces; and finally the signing of the Dayton Agreement which internally partitioned Bosnia and Herzegovina into a Serb republic and a Bosniak-Croat federation.
  • Kosovo War between ethnic-Albanian separatists and Yugoslav military and Serb paramilitary forces in Kosovomarker begin in 1996 and escalates in 1998 with increasing reports of atrocities taking place. In 1999, the North Atlantic Treaty Organizationmarker (NATO) led by the United States launches air attacks against Yugoslavia. The war ends when the Yugoslav government submits to allow NATO and later UN peacekeeping forces to take control of Kosovo.
  • Second Chechen War starts in 1999, and is ongoing.

Significant events

  • A magnitude 7.8 earthquake hit the Philippines on July 16, 1990 and killed around 1000 people in Baguio Citymarker.
  • In 1990 the process of dismantlement of apartheid political system in South Africa begins with the release of bans on political parties supported by black South Africans as well as the release of African National Congress leader Nelson Mandela from jail.
  • The European Union forms in 1992 under the Maastricht Treaty.
  • The Oklahoma City bombingmarker in 1995, the bombing of a federal building in Oklahoma City, Oklahomamarker, killed 168. Bombing suspect Timothy McVeigh claimed he bombed the building in retaliation for the 1993 Waco massacremarker.
  • In France, Princess Diana dies in a car accident in 1997. Debates of accident vs. assassination rage well into the 2000s.
  • Nelson Mandela is elected President of South Africa in 1994, becoming the first black-President in South African history ending a long-legacy of apartheid white-rule in the country.
  • The 1992 Los Angeles riots occurred, with 53 deaths and 5,500 property fires in a riot zone. The riots were a result of the state court acquittal of three White and one Hispanic L.A. police officers by an all-white jury in a police brutality case involving motorist Rodney King, but in 1993, all four officers were convicted in a federal civil rights case.
  • The Siege of Sarajevomarker from 1992 to 1994 in the city of Sarajevomarker, Bosnia and Herzegovinamarker marks the most violent urban warfare in Europe since World War II at that time as Serb forces bombard and attack Bosniak controlled and populated areas of the city. War crimes occur including ethnic cleansing and destruction of civilian property.
  • The Omagh bombing in Omaghmarker, County Tyrone, Northern Irelandmarker which kills 29 civilians and injures hundreds more.
  • The signing of the Oslo Accords by Israeli and Palestinian representatives in Oslomarker, Norway on August 20, 1993. By signing the accord, Yasser Arafat of the Palestinian Liberation Organization recognizes Israel's right to statehood, while Prime Minister Yitzak Rabin allowed for the creation of an autonomous Palestinian National Authority consisting of the Gaza Stripmarker and West Bankmarker which was implemented in 1994. Israeli military forces withdraw from the Palestinian territories in compliance with the accord, which marked the end of the First Intifada (a period of violence between Palestinian Arab militants and Israeli armed forces from 1987 to 1993).
  • The Channel Tunnelmarker across the English Channelmarker opens in 1994, connecting France and England. As of 2007 it is the second-longest rail tunnel in the world, but with the undersea section of 37.9 km (23.55 miles) being the longest undersea tunnel in the world.
  • Israeli Prime Minister Yitzak Rabin is assassinated by a radical Zionist who opposed the Oslo Accords.
  • O. J. Simpson's trial, described in the U.S. media as the "trial of the century" and enormous U.S. media attention is focused on the trial. On October 3, 1995, Simpson was found "not guilty" of double-murder of ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend, Ronald Goldman.
  • The 1995 Quebec referendum on sovereignty is held in the predominantly francophone province of Quebecmarker in Canada, a majority anglophone country. If accepted Quebec would become an independent country with an economic association with Canada. The proposal is narrowly rejected by Quebec's voters by 50.4% no, and 49.6% yes.
  • In the United Kingdom, the first cloned mammal, Dolly the sheep was confirmed by the Roslin Institute, and was reported by global media on February 26, 1997. Dolly would trigger a raging controversy on cloning and bioethical concerns regarding possible human cloning continue to this day.
  • US president Bill Clinton was caught in a media-frenzied sex scandal over his intern Monica Lewinsky, first announced on January 21, 1998. After the U.S. House of Representatives impeached Clinton on December 19, 1998 for perjury under oath, following an investigation by federal prosecutor Kenneth Starr, the Senate acquitted Clinton of the charges on February 12, 1999 and he finished his second term.
  • The Columbine High School massacremarker occurred on April 20, 1999, in Littleton, Coloradomarker when two student gunmen killed 12 students and a teacher before committing suicide, making it the deadliest high school shooting in United States history.
  • The Euro is adopted by the European Union on January 1, 1999, which begins a process of phasing out national currencies of EU countries.
  • In 1999, the North Atlantic Treaty Organizationmarker (NATO) launched air raids against Yugoslaviamarker (then composed of only Serbiamarker and Montenegromarker) to pressure the Yugoslav government to end its military operations against ethnic Albanian separatists in Kosovomarker due to accusations of war crimes being committed by Yugoslav military forces working alongside nationalist Serb paramilitary groups. After weeks of bombing Yugoslavia submits to NATO's demands and NATO forces occupy Kosovo and form a UN administration over the territory. The NATO action is seen as highly controversial at the time due to repeated reports of NATO attacks on non-military facilities, including destruction of civilian property and civilian deaths. NATO is criticized for working alongside the Kosovo Liberation Army which was accused of committing atrocities against Serbs.
  • Y2K spread fear throughout the United States and eventually the world in the last half of the decade particularly 1999. Many feared that it would cause a massive computer crash on January 1, 2000. It became huge in popular culture and many people stocked up on supplies for fear of a disaster. One year later, January 1, 2001 was the beginning of the 3rd millennium, as well the 21st century and the official end of the 20th century.

Other significant events

*Anita Hill and other women testify before the United States Congress on being sexually harassed by Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas. Thomas was narrowly confirmed by the United States Senate, but Hill's testimony, and the testimony of other harassed women, begins a national debate on the issue.
*Record numbers of women are elected to high office in the U.S. in 1992, the "Year of the Woman".
*Violence against women takes center stage as an important issue internationally. In the U.S. the Violence Against Women Act was passed, which greatly affected the world community through the United Nations. The law's author, Joe Biden, and UN Ambassador and Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, and Hillary Clinton (see below) become vocal advocates of action against violence against women.
*Women reach great heights of power in the U.S. government. Hillary Rodham Clinton, leading policy proposals, traveling abroad as a State Department representative to 82 nations, advising her husband, and being elected a Senator (in 2000), is the most openly empowered and politically powerful First Lady in American history; Madeleine Albright and Janet Reno take two of the cabinet's top jobs as United States Secretary of State (#1), and United States Attorney General (#4), respectively. Sheila Widnall becomes head and Secretary of the Air Force and Ruth Bader Ginsburg joins Sandra Day O'Connor as the second woman on the U.S.marker Supreme Courtmarker.
*Record numbers of women become tops CEOs worldwide.
*More nations than ever before are led by elected women Presidents and Prime Ministers. Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto's 1988 victory in Pakistanmarker makes women leaders in Muslim states unextraordinary.

See also


  1. http://www.bbc.co.uk/pressoffice/pressreleases/stories/2007/10_october/19/spice.shtml
  2. http://news.bbc.co.uk/onthisday/hi/dates/stories/may/31/newsid_2494000/2494855.stm
  3. http://allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=77:7232
  4. Sorin Antohi and Vladimir Tismăneanu, "Independence Reborn and the Demons of the Velvet Revolution" in Between Past and Future: The Revolutions of 1989 and Their Aftermath, Central European University Press. ISBN 963-9116-71-8. p.85.

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