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Today in History, January 1

AAP logoAAP 31/12/2016

Highlights in history on this date:

1502 - Explorer Amerigo Vespucci sails into Guanabara Bay and calls it Rio de Janeiro.

1622 - Papacy adopts January 1 as beginning of new year instead of March 25.

1801 - Act of Union of Britain and Ireland goes into effect.

1803 - Denmark bans import of slaves to the Danish West Indies, becoming the first country to ban slavery.

1804 - Haiti declares itself independent from France, becoming the world's first black republic.

1808 - The US Congress officially prohibits the African slave


1833 - British proclaim sovereignty over Falkland Islands.

1851 - The leader of the Taiping rebellion in China, Hung Hsiu-ch'uan, proclaims himself emperor.

1856 - Van Diemen's Land is officially renamed Tasmania.

1863 - US President Abraham Lincoln signs the Emancipation Proclamation declaring slaves free.

1877 - England's Queen Victoria is proclaimed Empress of India.

1892 - Ellis Island Immigrant Station in New York formally opened.

1901 - Commonwealth of Australia is proclaimed.

1905 - The Trans-Siberian Railway across Russia starts its maiden journey.

1927 - Nationalist government is established at Hankow in China.

1935 - The colonies of Cyrenaica, Tripoli and Eezaan unite to

form the country of Libya.

1942 - In Washington, 26 nations sign the Declaration of the United Nations, affirming opposition to Axis powers and confirming that no signatory will make a separate peace.

1948 - Current Italian constitution is implemented.

1949 - A UN-brokered ceasefire goes into effect between Pakistani and Indian troops fighting over the Kashmir region.

1951 - North Korean and Communist Chinese troops break through UN lines at 38th parallel.

1956 - Sudan is proclaimed an independent democratic republic.

1958 - European Common Market and Euratom agreements go into effect.

1959 - Fidel Castro seizes power in Cuba after the dictator Fulgencio Batista flees.

1962 - Western Samoa becomes the first sovereign independent Polynesian state. The Beatles are rejected by Decca Records after an audition because "groups of guitars are on the way out".

1965 - The Palestine Liberation Organisation is formed.

1970 - US Congress passes legislation limiting US military role in southeast Asia.

1972 - Maurice Chevalier, French singer and actor, dies.

1973 - Denmark joins the European Economic Community.

1974 - 1974 - Australian tennis player Evonne Goolagong defeats Chris Evert in three sets to win the Australian Open women's singles title; A fire in the Joelma office building in Sao Paulo kills 188 people.

1979 - The United States and China hold celebrations in Washington and Beijing to mark the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries.

1984 - Brunei becomes fully independent from Britain.

1986 - Portugal is formally admitted to the European Community.

1989 - At least 42 people drown when a sightseeing cruise to watch New Year fireworks sinks off Rio de Janeiro.

1990 - Prices of staple goods double and quadruple in Poland as government enacts radical plan to move from centrally planned to market economy.

1992 - Both sides in Croatia's civil war agree to UN plan to send peacekeepers to the republic.

1993 - Czechoslovakia peacefully splits into the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

1994 - Rival Afghan rebel leaders stage a bloody coup attempt that fails but sparks a year of fighting which leaves more than 15,000 people dead. North American Free Trade Agreement goes into effect.

1995 - Austria, Finland and Sweden join the European Union, expanding it to 15 members.

1997 - Turkish troops cross into northern Iraq and kill at least 72 Kurdish rebels after an attack on a military outpost in Turkey.

1998 - More than 400 people, many of them women and children, are killed in western Algeria in the worst massacre so far in six years of violence by Islamic groups.

1999 - Eleven nations in the European Union adopt the euro as their common currency.

2000 - An anxious world holds its breath as computers silently switch to 2000, but the dreaded Y2K bug's first bite is barely felt.

2001 - Fire rips through a packed New Year's Eve celebration in a three-storey party hall in the tiny fishing town of Olendam in the Netherlands, killing 14 revellers and injuring more than 100.

2002 - 12 countries first use the European Union's new currency, the euro. Of the EU states, only Britain, Sweden and Denmark retain their own national currencies.

2003 - Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva of the Workers Party is

inaugurated as Brazil's first working-class president and the first elected president from a leftist party.

2004 - Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni announces the army will resume all-out war on rebels in the country's north.

2005 - The Netherlands introduces a new law making it compulsory to produce identity documents to police for the first time since World War II.

2006 - Russia halts natural gas deliveries to Ukraine in a price dispute and accuses the country of stealing gas that goes through Ukraine on its way to Western Europe.

2009 - Israeli jets pound Hamas targets in Gaza for a sixth day as the death toll from the blitz hits 400.

2012 - Ian "Molly" Meldrum's brother says he hopes the music industry identity will be moved out of intensive care soon. Meldrum is recovering from an operation to repair several vertebrae, which he fractured in a fall at his Melbourne home.

2013 - Michael Hussey retires from Test cricket following third Test against Sri Lanka at the SCG.

2015 - Police in the Indian prime minister's home state of Gujarat are condemned for staging an anti-terrorism exercise featuring "militants" dressed up as Muslims.

2016 - Munich police say Syrians and Iraqis were behind a foiled New Year's Eve terror plot in the city.

Today's Birthdays:

Paul Revere, US patriot (1735-1818); Hung Siu-tsuen, Chinese leader of Taiping rebellion (1814-1864); James George Frazer, British anthropologist (1854-1941); Kim Philby, British intelligence officer, Soviet spy (1912-1988); JD Salinger, US author (1919-); David Lynch, US film director (1946-); Don Watson, Australian writer (1949-); Wayne Bennett, Australian rugby league coach (1950-); Grandmaster Flash, US rapper (1958-).

Thought for Today:

Time has no divisions to mark its passage, there is never a thunderstorm or blare of trumpets to announce the beginning of a new month or year. Even when a new century begins it is only we mortals who ring bells and fire off pistols - Thomas Mann, German author (1875-1955).

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