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1990s

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Overview

"'90s" redirects here. For decades comprising years 90–99 of other centuries, see List of decades.
This article is about the decade. For the band, see 1990s (band).
Hubble Space Telescope Gulf War Oslo Accords World Wide Web Dissolution of the Soviet Union Dolly the sheep Death of Diana, Princess of Wales Rwandan Genocide
From left, clockwise: The Hubble Space Telescope floats in space after it was taken up in 1990; American F-16s and F-15s fly over burning oil fields in Operation Desert Storm, also known as the 1991 Gulf War; The signing of the Oslo Accords on 13 September 1993; The World Wide Web gains a public face during the start of decade and as a result gains massive popularity worldwide; Boris Yeltsin and followers stand on a tank in defiance to the August Coup, which leads to the Soviet Union's dissolution on 26 December 1991; Dolly the sheep is the first mammal to be cloned from an adult somatic cell; The funeral procession of Diana, Princess of Wales, who dies in 1997 from a car crash in Paris, and is mourned by millions; Hundreds of thousands are killed in the Rwandan Genocide of 1994.

The 1990s (pronounced "nineteen-nineties" and abbreviated as "Nineties") was a decade of the Gregorian calendar that began on January 1, 1990 and ended on December 31, 1999.

Culturally, the 1990s was characterized by the rise of multiculturalism and alternative media, which continued into the 2000s. Movements such as grunge, the rave scene and hip hop spread around the world to young people during the decade, aided by then-new technology such as cable television and the World Wide Web.

In the absence of world communism which collapsed in the first two years of the decade the 1990s was politically defined by a movement towards the right wing, including increase in support for far right parties in Europe[1] as well as the advent of the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party[2] and cuts in social spending in the United States,[3] Canada,[4] New Zealand,[5] and the UK.[6] The United States also saw a massive revival in the use of the death penalty in the 1990s, which reversed in the early 21st century.[7]

A combination of factors, including the continued mass mobilization of capital markets through neoliberalism, the thawing of the decades-long Cold War, the beginning of the widespread proliferation of new media such as the Internet from the middle of the decade onwards, increasing skepticism towards government, and the dissolution of the Soviet Union led to a realignment and reconsolidation of economic and political power across the world and within countries. The dot-com bubble of 1997–2000 brought wealth to some entrepreneurs before its crash between 2000 and 2001.

The 1990s saw extreme advances in technology, with the World Wide Web, the first gene therapy trial and the first designer babies[8] all emerging in 1990 and being improved and built upon throughout the decade.

New ethnic conflicts emerged in Africa, the Balkans, and the Caucasus, the former two which led to the Rwandan and Bosnian genocides, respectively. Signs of any resolution of tensions between Israel and the Arab world remained elusive despite the progress of the Oslo Accords, though The Troubles in Northern Ireland came to a standstill in 1998 with the Good Friday Agreement after 30 years of violence.[9]

TimelineBETA

Thanks 1987
The publication of the Brundtland Report by the United Nations had paved the way to establish an environmental governance.
Thanks 1988
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).
Thanks 1989
Although launched in 1989, the luxury brands Lexus and Infiniti began car sales of 1990 model year vehicles and saw great success.
Thanks  
December: As an animated sitcom, The Simpsons, debuted in December 1989, became a domestic and international success in the 1990s.
Thanks 1990
January 1: The 1990s (pronounced "nineteen-nineties" and abbreviated as "Nineties") was a decade of the Gregorian calendar that began on January 1, 1990 and ended on December 31, 1999.
Thanks 1991
Freddie Mercury, Kurt Cobain, Selena, Tupac Shakur, and The Notorious B.I.G are the most publicized music-related deaths of the decade, in 1991, 1994, 1995, 1996, and 1997 respectively.
Thanks 1992
The Earth Summit was held in Rio de Janeiro, in which several countries committed to protect the environment, signing a Convention on Biological Diversity.
Thanks 1993
One of the last westerns ever to air on television was Walker, Texas Ranger, a crime drama which also starred Chuck Norris as the title character.
Thanks 1994
ER, which starred Anthony Edwards and George Clooney, was a domestic and international success, lasting until 2009 and spawning series such as Grey's Anatomy (2005–present).
Thanks  
November 14: Eurostar services began between Waterloo International station in London, Gare du Nord in Paris and Brussels South in Brussels.
Thanks 1995
Edwards disappeared in 1995, which was highly publicized.
Thanks 1996
Resident Evil is released in 1996. It becomes the most popular survival-horror series in video gaming well into the next decade and inspires several films.
Thanks  
January 8: Eurostar launched services from a second railway station in the UK when Ashford International was opened.
Thanks  
September: Crash Bandicoot is released in September 1996, becoming an innovative platformer for the Sony PlayStation.
Thanks  
September 9: Crash Bandicoot is released on 9 September 1996, becoming one of the most successful platforming series for the Sony PlayStation.
Thanks 1997
Final Fantasy VII, released in 1997, especially popularized the series.
Thanks  
December: From 1995, the UNFCCC held annual summits on climate change, leading to the adoption of the Kyoto Protocol in December 1997, a binding agreement signed by several developed countries.
Thanks  
December 14: Journey times between London and Brussels were reduced by the opening of HSL 1 on 14 December 1997.
Thanks 1998
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 Korea.
Thanks 1999
Homeworld in 1999 becomes the first successful 3d RTS game.
Thanks 2001
The "War" ended in 2001 when WWE bought WCW.
Thanks  
November: There was a Winner Takes All match with both companies in a Pay-Per-View called Survivor Series.
Thanks 2008
The show was then remade and renamed simply 90210 and premiered in 2008.

Videos

Politics and wars

Wars

The most prominent armed conflicts of the decade include:

International wars

  • The Gulf War – Iraq was left in severe debt after the 1980s war with Iran. President Saddam Hussein accused Kuwait of flooding the market with oil and driving down prices. As a result, on 2 August 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 (see also Gulf War), 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.
  • The Chechen wars break out in the 1990s:
  • The Kargil War (1999) – In May 1999, Pakistan sent troops covertly to occupy strategic peaks in Kashmir. A month later the Kargil War with India results in a political fiasco for Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, followed by a Pakistani military withdrawal to the Line of Control. The incident leads to a military coup in October, in which Sharif is ousted by Army Chief Pervez Musharraf. This conflict remains the only war fought between two declared nuclear powers.
  • The Kosovo War (1998–1999):
    • War between Albanian separatists and Yugoslav military and Serb paramilitary forces in Kosovo begin in 1996 and escalates in 1998 with increasing reports of atrocities taking place.
    • In 1999, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) led by the United States launched air attacks against Yugoslavia (then composed of only Serbia and Montenegro) to pressure the Yugoslav government to end its military operations against Albanian separatists in Kosovo 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 later UN peacekeeping forces to take control of Kosovo.
Bosnian parliament building burns after being hit by Bosnian Serb artillery. - 1990s
Bosnian parliament building burns after being hit by Bosnian Serb artillery.

Civil Wars and guerrilla wars

Rwandan Genocide: Genocide victims in Murambi Technical School. Estimates put the death toll of the Rwandan Genocide as high as 800,000 people. - 1990s
Rwandan Genocide: Genocide victims in Murambi Technical School. Estimates put the death toll of the Rwandan Genocide as high as 800,000 people.

Coups

Terrorist attacks

Decolonization and independence

Prominent political events

  • The 1990s was an era of spreading capitalism.[13] The former countries of the Warsaw Pact moved from single-party socialist states to multi-party states with private sector economies.[13] The same wave of political liberalisation occurred in capitalist countries, such as Taiwan, Chile, South Africa, and Indonesia. Market reforms made great changes to the economies of socialist countries like China and Vietnam.
  • The ethnic tensions and violence in the former Yugoslavia during the 1990s create a greater sense of ethnic identity of the nations in the new countries, especially involving increased popularity of nationalism.
Africa

South Africa

  • The release of African National Congress leader Nelson Mandela from jail in February 1990 after thirty years of imprisonment for opposing apartheid and white-minority rule in South Africa. This would resolve with the end of Apartheid in South Africa in 1994, marking the end of the original Civil Rights era of the 20th century.
  • 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.
North America

Canada

  • Canadian politics is radically altered in the 1993 federal election with the collapse of the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada, (a major political party in Canada since 1867) from being government to only 2 seats and the New Democratic Party collapsing from 44 seats to 9. The Liberal Party of Canada is the only genuine national political party that remains while the regionally based parties such as the Quebec-based Bloc Québécois and the almost entirely Western Canada-based Reform Party of Canada rise from political insignificance to being major political parties.
  • After the collapse of the Meech Lake constitutional accord in 1990, the province of Quebec in Canada experienced a rekindled wave of separatism by francophone Québécois nationalists, who sought for Quebec to become an independent country. In 1995, during a referendum on Quebec sovereignty, Quebec voters narrowly reject the vote for independence.
  • The 1995 Quebec referendum on sovereignty is held in the predominantly francophone province of Quebec 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.

Haiti

United States

  • United States President Bill Clinton was a dominant political figure in international affairs during the 1990s known especially for his attempts to negotiate peace in the Middle East and end the ongoing wars occurring in the former Yugoslavia; his promotion of international action to decrease human-created climate change; and his endorsement of advancing free trade in the Americas.
  • Lewinsky scandal – US president Bill Clinton was caught in a media-frenzied scandal involving inappropriate relations with a White House intern Monica Lewinsky, first announced on 21 January 1998. After the U.S. House of Representatives impeached Clinton on 19 December 1998 for perjury under oath, following an investigation by federal prosecutor Kenneth Starr, the Senate acquitted Clinton of the charges on 12 February 1999 and he finished his second term.
  • California voters passed Proposition 215 in 1996, to legalize cannabis for medicinal purposes. The debate over legalization of marijuana in the U.S. goes on today.
  • The enactment of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) on 1 January 1994, creating a North American free trade zone consisting of Canada, Mexico, and the United States.
  • Abortion reaches historical levels of high popularity in the United States from 1990 to 1996, before falling back again in the late 1990s.[14]
Asia

Middle East

Far East

  • 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 Korea would gain a reputation for being a large 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.
  • Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy in Burma 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.
  • North Yemen and South Yemen merge to form Yemen in 1991.
  • In the Philippines two Presidents were elected, Fidel V. Ramos in 1992 and Joseph Estrada in 1998.
Europe

The Continent

  • The improvement in relations between the countries of NATO and the former members of the Warsaw Pact ended the Cold War both in Europe and other parts of the world.
  • German reunification – Germany reunified on 3 October 1990 as a result of the fall of the Berlin Wall and after integrating the economic structure and provincial governments, focused on modernization of the former communist East. People who were brought up in a socialist culture became integrated with those living in capitalist western Germany.
  • The restructuring of the Soviet Union destabilizes, as nationalist and separatist demagogues gain popularity. Boris Yeltsin, then chairman of the Supreme Soviet of Russia, resigns from the Communist Party and becomes the opposition leader against Mikhail Gorbachev. The Communist Party loses its status as the governing force of the country and is banned after a coup attempt by Communist hardliners attempted to revert the effects of Gorbachev's policies. Yeltsin's counter-revolution is victorious on 25 December 1991 with the resignation of Gorbachev from presidency and the dissolution of the USSR. Yeltsin became president of the successor Russian Federation and presided over a period of political unrest, economic crisis, and social anarchy. On 31 December 1999, Yeltsin resigned leaving Vladimir Putin as acting president.
  • The European Union forms in 1992 under the Maastricht Treaty.

United Kingdom

South America

Peru

Assassinations

The 1990s were marked by several notable assassinations and assassination attempts:

  • 9 September 1990 - Samuel Doe, the President of Liberia, is captured by rebels and is tortured and murdered. The spectacle was videotaped and seen on news reports around the world.
  • 19 September 1990 – The Provisional Irish Republican Army tries to assassinate Air Chief Marshal Sir Peter Terry at his home near Stafford, England. Hit by at least 9 bullets, the former Governor of Gibraltar survives.
  • 21 May 1991 – In Sriperumbudur, India, former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi is assassinated.
  • 7 August 1991 – Shapour Bakhtiar, former prime minister of Iran, is assassinated.
  • 23 May 1992 – A remote car bomb causes the death of Judge Giovanni Falcone, a hero in the fight against organized crime. Less than two months later, on 19 July, Falcone's co-worker and friend, magistrate Paolo Borsellino was killed by a car bomb in via D'Amelio, Palermo, in front of his mother's house.
  • 29 June 1992 – A bodyguard assassinates President Mohamed Boudiaf of Algeria.
  • April 1993 – The Kuwaiti government claims to uncover an Iraqi assassination plot against former U.S. President George H. W. Bush shortly after his visit to Kuwait. Two Iraqi nationals confess to driving a car-bomb into Kuwait on behalf of the Iraqi Intelligence Service.[23]
  • 1 May 1993 – A Tamil Tigers suicide bomber assassinates President Ranasinghe Premadasa of Sri Lanka.
  • 21 October 1993 - Burundian President Melchior Ndadaye is killed during an attempted military coup.
  • 2 December 1993 - Pablo Escobar also known as "The King of Cocaine" was killed by Members of Colonel Hugo Martínez's Search Bloc in Medellín, Colombia
  • 23 March 1994 - Luis Donaldo Colosio Murrieta was assassinated at a campaign rally in Tijuana during the Mexican Presidential campaign of 1994.
  • 6 April 1994 - The airplane carrying Rwandan President Juvénal Habyarimana and Burundian President Cyprien Ntaryamira is shot down as it prepared to land in Kigali, Rwanda, sparking the Rwandan Genocide and eventually, the First Congo War. The perpetrators have never been identified.
  • 2 July 1994 - Colombian football player Andrés Escobar was shot by Humberto Castro Muñoz in Medellín, Colombia
  • 29 August 1995 – Eduard Shevardnadze, the Georgian head of state, survives an assassination attempt in Tbilisi.
  • 4 November 1995 – Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin is assassinated at a peace rally in Tel Aviv by a radical Jewish militant who opposed the Oslo Accords.
  • 31 March 1995 - Tejano pop singer Selena is shot by fan club president Yolanda Saldívar over financial problems and missing records. 2 weeks after death, her birthday is named Selena Day in Texas.
  • 21 April 1996 - Dzhokhar Dudayev, the President of Chechnya, is killed by two laser-guided missiles, after his location was detected by a Russian reconnaissance aircraft, which intercepted his phone call.
  • 2 October 1996 – The former prime minister of Bulgaria, Andrei Lukanov, is assassinated.
  • 13 September 1996- Rapper/Actor Tupac Shakur was shot multiple times in a drive-by shooting on September 7, 1996, at the intersection of Flamingo Road and Koval Lane in Las Vegas, Nevada. He was taken to the University Medical Center of Southern Nevada, where he died six days later.
  • 9 March 1997- Rapper Christopher Wallace also known as The Notorious B.I.G. was killed by an unknown assailant in a drive-by shooting in Los Angeles. Wallace's SUV stopped at a red light at the corner of Wilshire Blvd & South Fairfax Ave 50 yards (46 m) from the museum. A dark colored Chevrolet Impala SS pulled up alongside Wallace's SUV. The driver of the Impala, a black male dressed in a blue suit and bow tie, rolled down his window, drew a 9mm blue-steel pistol and fired at the SUV. Four bullets hit Wallace.
  • 15 July 1997 Gianni Versace was shot dead, aged 50, on the steps of his Miami Beach mansion as he returned from a morning walk on Ocean Drive. He was murdered by Andrew Cunanan, who used the same gun to commit suicide on a boat several days later. Police have said they do not know why Versace was killed.[dubious ]
  • 9 February 1998 – Eduard Shevardnadze, the Georgian head of state, survives an assassination attempt in Tbilisi.
  • 16 February 1999 – In Uzbekistan, an apparent assassination attempt against President Islam Karimov takes place at government headquarters.
  • 23 March 1999 – Gunmen assassinate Paraguay's Vice President Luis María Argaña.
  • 9 April 1999 – Ibrahim Baré Maïnassara, president of Niger, is assassinated.

Disasters

Natural disasters

The 1999 İzmit earthquake which occurred in the northwestern of Turkey killed 17,217 and injured 43,959. - 1990s
The 1999 İzmit earthquake which occurred in the northwestern of Turkey killed 17,217 and injured 43,959.

Non-natural disasters

The crash site of El Al Flight 1862 in 1992. - 1990s
The crash site of El Al Flight 1862 in 1992.

Economics

  • 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.
  • 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 Seattle in December 1999.
  • The anti-globalization protests at the World Trade Organization Ministerial Conference of 1999 in Seattle, Washington began on 30 November 1999. This marks the beginning of a steady increase in anti-globalization protests which occurred in the first decade of the 21st century as well as increasing hostility to neoliberalism.

North America

The Dow Jones Index of the 1990s. - 1990s
The Dow Jones Index of the 1990s.
  • The decade is seen as a time of great prosperity in the United States under the Presidency of Bill Clinton, largely due to the unexpected advent of the Internet and the explosion of technology industries that came with it. The U.S. economy experiences its longest period of peace time economic expansion during the decade beginning in 1991. Personal incomes doubled from the recession in 1990, and there was higher productivity overall. The Wall Street 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".
  • The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which phases out trade barriers between the United States, Mexico, and Canada is signed into law by U.S. President Bill Clinton.

Asia

  • The government of the People's Republic of China announces major privatization of state-owned industries in September 1997.
  • China started the '90s in a bad way, shunned by much of the world after the Tiananmen Square Massacre 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 CPC General Secretary 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 bombing of the Chinese embassy during the bombing of Serbia by NATO forces, which caused three deaths, and allegations of Chinese espionage at the Los Alamos Nuclear Facility.
  • South-East Asia economic crisis starting from 1997.
  • 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 begins to be felt by the end of the decade.
  • 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 first decade of the 21st century, bringing an end to the seemingly unlimited prosperity that the country had hitherto enjoyed.
  • The Philippines saw great economic development after the People Power Revolution. The economy gains 5% from its deficit until the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis.
  • Less affluent nations such as India, Malaysia, and Vietnam 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.
Boris Yeltsin and Bill Clinton share a laugh in October 1995. - 1990s
Boris Yeltsin and Bill Clinton share a laugh in October 1995.

Europe

  • 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.
  • Russian financial crisis in the 1990s results in mass hyperinflation and prompts economic intervention from the International Monetary Fund and western countries to help Russia's economy recover.
  • The first McDonald's restaurant opens in Moscow 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.
  • 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.
  • Most of Europe enjoyed growing prosperity during the '90s, however, problems including the massive 1995 general strikes in France following a recession and the difficulties associated with German reunification lead to sluggish growth in these countries. However, both the French and German economies improve in the latter half of the decade. Meanwhile, the economies of particularly Spain, Scandinavia and former Eastern Bloc countries accelerate at rapid speed during the decade although unemployment being mild due to many having experienced a deep recession for the start of the decade.
  • After the early 1990s recession, the United Kingdom and Ireland experience rapid economic growth and falling unemployment that continues throughout the decade. Economic growth would continue until the Late 2000s recession marking the longest uninterrupted period of economic growth in history.
  • Some Eastern European economies struggled after the fall of communism, but Poland, Hungary, Czech Republic, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania saw healthy economic growth rates in the late 1990s.
  • With the creation of the EU there is freedom of movement between member states, such as the 1992 and 1995 free trade agreements.
  • The Euro is adopted by the European Union on 1 January 1999, which begins a process of phasing out national currencies of EU countries.

South America

  • The sluggish economies of Brazil, 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.

Technology and science

Technology

The 1990s were a revolutionary decade for digital technology. Between 1990 and 1997, individual personal computer ownership in the US rose from 15 to 35%.[24] Cell phones of the early-1990s and earlier ones were very large, lacked extra features, and were used by only a few percent of the population of even the wealthiest nations. Only a few million people used online services in 1990, and the World Wide Web had only just been invented. The first web browser went online in 1993[25] and by 2001, more than 50% of some Western countries had Internet access, and more than 25% had cell phone access.

Electronics and communications

The World Wide Web project historic logo designed by Robert Cailliau. - 1990s
The World Wide Web project historic logo designed by Robert Cailliau.
The logo created by The President's Council on the Year 2000 Conversion, for use on Y2K.gov - 1990s
The logo created by The President's Council on the Year 2000 Conversion, for use on Y2K.gov
  • On August 6, 1992, CERN, a pan European organization for particle research, publicized the new World Wide Web project.[26] Although the basic applications and guidelines that make the Internet possible had existed for almost two decades, the network did not gain a public face until the 1990s.
  • Driven by mass adoption, consumer personal computer specifications increased dramatically during the 1990s, from 512Kb RAM 12 MHz Turbo XTs in 1990,[27] to 25-66Mhz 80486-class at the start of the popularization of the World Wide Web mid-decade,[28] to over 1 GHz CPUs with close to a gigabyte of RAM by 2000.
  • Y2K spread fear throughout the United States and eventually the world in the last half of the decade, particularly in 1999, about possible massive computer malfunctions on January 1, 2000. As a result, many people stocked up on supplies for fear of a worldwide disaster. After significant effort to upgrade systems on the part of software engineers, no failures occurred when the clocks rolled over into 2000.
  • Advancements in computer modems, ISDN, cable modems, and DSL lead to faster connection to the Internet.
  • The Pentium processor is developed by the Intel Corporation.
  • E-mail becomes popular; as a result, Microsoft acquires the popular Hotmail webmail service.
  • Instant messaging and the Buddy list becomes popular. AIM and ICQ are two early protocols.
  • Businesses start to build E-commerce websites; E-commerce-only companies such as Amazon.com, eBay, AOL, and Yahoo! grow rapidly.
  • The introduction of affordable, smaller satellite dishes and the DVB-S standard in the mid-1990s expanded satellite television services that carried up to 500 television channels.
  • The first MP3 Player, the MPMan, is released in late spring of 1998. It came with 32Mb of flash memory expandable to 64Mb. By the mid-2000s, the Mp3 player would overtake the CD player in popularity.
  • The first GSM network is launched in Finland in 1991.
  • Digital single-lens reflex cameras and regular digital cameras become commercially available. They would replace film cameras by the mid-2000s.
  • IBM introduces the 1-inch (25 mm) wide Microdrive hard drive in 170 MB and 340 MB capacities.
  • Apple introduces the iMac computer, initiating a trend in computer design towards translucent plastics and multicolor case design, discontinuing many legacy technologies like serial ports, and beginning a resurgence in the company's fortunes that continues to this day.
  • CD burner drives are introduced.
  • The CD-ROM drive became standard for most personal computers during the decade.
  • The DVD media format is developed and popularized along with a plethora of Flash memory card standards.
  • Pagers are initially popular but ultimately are replaced by mobile phones by the early-2000s.
  • Hand-held satellite phones are introduced towards the end of the decade.
  • The 24-hour news cycle becomes popular with the Gulf War between late-1990 and early-1991 and CNN's coverage of Desert Storm and Desert Shield. Though CNN had been running 24-hour newscasts since 1980, it was not until the Gulf War that the general public took large notice and others imitated CNN's non-stop news approach.[29]
  • Portable CD players, introduced during the late-1980s, became very popular and had a profound impact on the Music industry and youth culture during the 1990s.

Software

Eurostars

The opening of the Channel Tunnel between France and the United Kingdom saw the commencement by the three national railway companies of Belgium, France and the United Kingdom, respectively SNCB/NMBS, SNCF and British Rail of the joint Eurostar service.

Eurostar logo 1994–2011 - 1990s
Eurostar logo 1994–2011

On 14 November 1994 Eurostar services began between Waterloo International station in London, Gare du Nord in Paris and Brussels South in Brussels.[30][31][32] In 1995 Eurostar was achieving an average end-to-end speed of 171.5 km/h (106.6 mph) between London and Paris.[33] On 8 January 1996 Eurostar launched services from a second railway station in the UK when Ashford International was opened.[34] Journey times between London and Brussels were reduced by the opening of HSL 1 on 14 December 1997.

A pair of Eurostar trains at the former Waterloo International since moved to St Pancras International railway station. - 1990s
A pair of Eurostar trains at the former Waterloo International since moved to St Pancras International railway station.

The trains are based on the TGV and are British Rail Class 373.

Automobiles

The 1990s began with another recession that dampened car sales. General Motors continued to suffer huge losses thanks to an inefficient structure, stale designs, and poor quality. Sales improved with the economy by the mid-1990s, but GM's US market share gradually declined to less than 40% (from a peak of 50% in the 1970s). 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, more streamlined shape than those from the 1970s and 1980s; this style would continue early into the 2000s and to a lesser extent later on.

Chrysler ran into financial troubles again as the 1990s 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 1970s. Ford continued to fare well in the 1990s, with the second and third generations of the Ford Taurus being named the best selling car in the United States from 1992 to 1996. However, the Taurus would be outsold and dethroned by the Toyota Camry starting in 1997, which became the best selling car in the United States for the rest of the decade and into the 2000s. Ford also introduced the Ford Explorer, 1991 being the first model year. Fords Explorer became the best selling SUV on the market; out selling both the Chevy Blazer and Jeep Cherokee

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 during the early part of the decade. Although launched in 1989, the luxury brands Lexus and Infiniti began car sales of 1990 model year vehicles and saw great success. Lexus would go on to outsell Mercedes-Benz and BMW in the United States by 1991, and would outsell Cadillac and Lincoln by the end of the decade. 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.

Science

Dolly the sheep is the first mammal to be cloned from an adult somatic cell. - 1990s
Dolly the sheep is the first mammal to be cloned from an adult somatic cell.

Environment

NASA satellite observation of deforestation in the Mato Grosso state of Brazil. The transformation from forest to farm is evident by the paler square shaped areas under development. - 1990s
NASA satellite observation of deforestation in the Mato Grosso state of Brazil. The transformation from forest to farm is evident by the paler square shaped areas under development.

At the beginning of the decade, sustainable development and environmental protection became serious issues for governments and the international community. In 1987, the publication of the Brundtland Report by the United Nations had paved the way to establish an environmental governance. In 1992 the Earth Summit was held in Rio de Janeiro, in which several countries committed to protect the environment, signing a Convention on Biological Diversity.

The prevention of the destruction of the tropical rainforests of the world is a major environmental cause that first came into wide public concern in the early 1990s, and has continued and accelerated.

The Chernobyl disaster had significant impact on public opinion at the end of the 1980s, and the fallout was still causing cancer deaths well into the 1990s and possibly even into the 21st century.[citation needed] All along the 1990s, several environmental NGOs helped improve environmental awareness among public opinion and governments. The most famous of these organizations during this decade was Greenpeace, which did not hesitate to lead illegal actions in the name of environmental preservation. These organizations also drawn attention on the large deforestion of the Amazon Rainforest during the period.

Global warming as an aspect of climate change also became a major concern, and the creation of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) after the Earth Summit helped coordinate efforts to reduce carbon emissions in the atmosphere. From 1995, the UNFCCC held annual summits on climate change, leading to the adoption of the Kyoto Protocol in December 1997, a binding agreement signed by several developed countries.

Society

The 1990s represented continuing social liberalization in most countries, though coupled with an increase in the influence of capitalism, which would continue until the Great Recession of the late 2000s/early 2010s.

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, which was influenced by Generation X and Generation Y/Millennials: 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 extreme sports and outdoor activities that combined embracing athletics with the appreciation of nature.

Those born between 1990-1998 are usually considered part of Generation Y/Millennials, along with those born in the 1980s. However, dates vary, with some considering those born from 1995 to 1999 as part of Generation Z,[35] overlapping with Millennials.

The slacker and Valley Girl cultures were prevalent, and the decade was heavily influenced by Californian culture.

In 1990, the World Health Organization removed homosexuality from its list of diseases. Increasing acceptance of homosexuality occurred in the western world, slowly starting in the early 1990s.[36]

Third-wave feminism

Women's rights demonstration in Paris, November 1995 - 1990s
Women's rights demonstration in Paris, November 1995

Additional significant world-wide events

  • Worldwide New Year's Eve celebrations on 31 December 1999 welcoming the year 2000.

Europe

  • 1991 – Soviet Union military troops attack Lithuanian independence supporters in Vilnius. Killed 14 people and wounding 1000.
  • In Paris, Diana, Princess of Wales and her friend, Dodi Al-Fayed, were killed in a car accident in August 1997, when their chauffeured, hired Mercedes-Benz S-Class crashed in the Pont de l'Alma tunnel. The chauffeur, Henri Paul died at the scene, as did Al-Fayed. Diana and an Al-Fayed bodyguard, Trevor Rees-Jones, survived the accident. The former Princess of Wales died at a Paris hospital hours later. The bodyguard, Rees-Jones, is the sole survivor of the now infamous accident.
  • Mother Teresa, the Roman Catholic nun who won the Nobel Peace Prize, dies at age 87.
  • The birth of the "Second Republic" in Italy, with the Mani Pulite investigations of 1994.
  • The Channel Tunnel across the English Channel 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 (23.5 mi) being the longest undersea tunnel in the world.
  • The resignation of President Boris Yeltsin on 31 December 1999 resulting in Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's succession to the position.

North America

  • The Columbine High School massacre occurred on 20 April 1999, in Columbine, Colorado when Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold killed 12 students and a teacher before committing suicide, making it the deadliest high school shooting in United States history.
  • O. J. Simpson murder caseO. 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 3 October 1995, Simpson was found "not guilty" of double-murder of ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend, Ronald Goldman.
  • With help from clinical fertility drugs, an Iowa mother, Bobbie McCaughey, gave birth to the first surviving septuplets in 1997. There followed a media frenzy and widespread support for the family.
  • John F. Kennedy, Jr., his wife Carolyn Bessette and sister-in-law Lauren Bessette are killed when Kennedy's private plane crashes off the coast of Martha's Vineyard in July 1999.
  • Debate on assisted suicide highly publicized by Michigan doctor Jack Kevorkian, charged with multiple counts of homicide of his terminally ill patients through the decade.
  • Beer keg registration becomes popular public policy in U.S.
  • The 500th anniversary of Christopher Columbus' discovery of the Americas in 1992 was popularly observed in the USA, 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.
  • Matthew Shepard is murdered near the University of Wyoming for being gay. This sparks intense national and international media attention and outrage. He becomes a major symbol in the LGBT rights movement and the fight against homophobia.
  • Shanda Sharer (6 June 1979 – 11 January 1992) was a murder victim. She was lured away from her house and held captive by a group of teenage girls. She was tortured for hours and burned alive. She died from smoke inhalation. Those that were found guilty and sentenced to prison were Melinda Loveless, Laurie Tackett, Hope Rippey, and Toni Lawrence. According to Melinda, she was jealous of the relationship that her former partner Amanda Heavrin had with Shanda Sharer. This senseless murder shocked the nation.
  • Polly Klaas (3 January 1981 - October 1993) was kidnapped by Richard Allen Davis from her home during a sleepover party. She was later strangled to death. After her death, her father, Marc Klaas, established the KlaasKids Foundation.
  • Jonbenet Ramsey (6 August 1990 – 25 December 1996) was a child beauty pageant contestant who was missing and found dead in her Boulder, Colorado home. The crime horrified the nation and the world. Her parents were initially considered to be suspects in her death but were cleared in 2003 when DNA from her clothes were tested. To this day, her murderer has not been found and brought to justice.

Canada

  • Karla Homolka was arrested with her husband, Paul Bernardo in 1993. Both sexually tortured and killed their victims. Their first victim was Karla's fifteen-year-old sister Tammy Homolka. The second and third victims were Leslie Mahaffy and Kristen French. Karla told the investigators that she unwillingly did what Paul told her to do because he was abusive and was given a deal. She was sentenced to only 12 years in prison (10 years for Mahaffy and French but only 2 years for Tammy). Later, investigators discovered videotapes of the crimes which proved that Karla was a willing participant. But by that time the deal had already been made. In 1995, Paul was sentenced to life in prison. Karla was released from prison in 2005.

Asia

Literature

See also

Timeline

The following articles contain brief timelines which list the most prominent events of the decade:

1990199119921993199419951996199719981999

References

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Further reading

  • Ash, Timothy Garton. History of the Present: Essays, Sketches, and Dispatches from Europe in the 1990s (2009) excerpts
  • Bender, Thomas. "'Venturesome and Cautious': American History in the 1990s." Journal of American History (1994): 992-1003. in JSTOR
  • Bentley, Nick, ed. British Fiction of the 1990s (Routledge, 2007)
  • Cornia, Giovanni Andrea, Ralph van der Hoeven, and Thandika Mkandawire. Africa's recovery in the 1990s: from stagnation and adjustment to human development (St. Martin's Press, 1992)
  • Harrison, Thomas. Music of the 1990s (2011) excerpt
  • O'Neill, William. A Bubble in Time: America During the Interwar Years, 1989-2001 (2009) Excerpt
  • Parratt, Catriona M. "About Turns: Reflecting on Sport History in the 1990s." Sport History Review (1998) 29#1 pp: 4-17.
  • Sierz, Aleks. Modern British Playwriting: The 1990s: Voices, Documents, New Interpretations (A&C Black, 2012)
  • Stiglitz, Joseph E. The roaring nineties: A new history of the world's most prosperous decade (Norton, 2004), economic history
  • Turner, Alwyn. A Classless Society: Britain in the 1990s Aurum Press (2013)
  • van der Hoeven, Arno. "Remembering the popular music of the 1990s: dance music and the cultural meanings of decade-based nostalgia." International journal of heritage studies (2014) 20#3 pp: 316-330.
  • Yoda, Tomiko, and Harry Harootunian, eds. Japan After Japan: Social and Cultural Life from the Recessionary 1990s to the Present (2006)
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