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1989 (MCMLXXXIX) was a common year starting on Sunday of the Gregorian calendar, the 1989th year of the Common Era (CE) and Anno Domini (AD) designations, the 989th year of the 2nd millennium, the 89th year of the 20th century, and the 10th and last year of the 1980s decade.
1989 was a turning point in political history because a wave of revolutions swept the Eastern Bloc in Europe, starting in Poland and Hungary, with experiments in power sharing, coming to a head with the opening of the Berlin Wall in November, and the Velvet Revolution in Czechoslovakia, embracing the overthrow of the communist dictatorship in Romania in December, and ending in December 1991 with the dissolution of the Soviet Union. These are collectively known as the Revolutions of 1989. While revolutions against communist governments in Eastern Europe mainly succeeded, 1989 also saw the suppression of protests in communist China, most famously the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests in Beijing.
It was the year of the first Brazilian presidential election in 29 years, since the end of the military government in 1985 that ruled the country for more than twenty years, and marked the redemocratization process's final point.
F. W. de Klerk was elected as State President of South Africa, and his regime gradually dismantled the apartheid system over the next five years, culminating with the 1994 election that brought jailed African National Congress leader Nelson Mandela to power.
The first commercial Internet service providers surfaced in this year, as well as the first written proposal for the World Wide Web and New Zealand, Japan and Australia's first Internet connections. The first babies born after preimplantation genetic diagnosis were conceived in late 1989.
- January 1 – The New York Times discloses involvement of German company Imhausen and Salzgitter AG in building a chemical weapon plant in Rabta, Libya.
- January 2 – Prime Minister Ranasinghe Premadasa takes office as the third President of Sri Lanka.
- January 4 – Gulf of Sidra incident (1989): Two Libyan MiG-23 "Floggers" are engaged and shot down by two US Navy F-14 Tomcats.
- January 7 – Emperor Shōwa dies, his son Akihito is enthroned as the 125th Emperor of Japan immediately, followed by the change in the era name from Shōwa to Heisei on the following day.
- January 8 – Kegworth air disaster: A British Midland Boeing 737 crashes on approach to East Midlands Airport, leaving 47 dead.
- January 10 – In accordance with United Nations Security Council Resolution 626 and the New York Accords, Cuban troops begin withdrawing from Angola.
- January 11 – The Lexus and Infiniti luxury car brands are launched at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit with the unveiling of the 1990 Lexus LS and Infiniti Q45 sedans.
- January 15
- Thirty-five European nations, meeting in Vienna, agree to strengthen human rights and improve East–West trade.
- "Palach Week": A pro-democracy demonstration in Prague is attacked by the police.
- January 17 – Stockton schoolyard shooting: Patrick Edward Purdy kills five children, wounds thirty and then shoots himself in Stockton, California.
- January 18
- January 20 – George H. W. Bush is sworn in as the 41st President of the United States.
- January 23 – A powerful earthquake in the Tajik Soviet Socialist Republic kills around 275 people.
- January 23–24 – Armed civilian leftists briefly attack and occupy an Argentinian army base near Buenos Aires.
- January 24 – Florida executes Ted Bundy by electric chair for the murders of young women.
- January 30 – Prime Minister of Canada Brian Mulroney shuffles his cabinet, appointing six new ministers and reassigning the responsibilities of nineteen others.
Soviet unit pictured prior to their withdrawal from Afghanistan
Mass demonstration at the Hungarian state television headquarters
- March – Poland begins to liberalise its currency exchange in a move towards capitalism.
- March 1
- March 2 – Twelve European Community nations agree to ban the production of all chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) by the end of the century.
- March 3 – Jammu Siltavuori abducts and murders two eight-year-old girls in the Myllypuro suburb of Helsinki, Finland.
- March 4
- March 7 – Iran breaks off diplomatic relations with the United Kingdom over Salman Rushdie's The Satanic Verses.
- March 9 – Revolutions of 1989: The Soviet Union submits to the jurisdiction of the World Court.
- March 13
- March 14
- March 15
- Israel hands over Taba to Egypt, ending a seven-year territorial dispute.
- Mass demonstrations in Hungary, demanding democracy.
- March 16 – The Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union approves agricultural reforms allowing farmers the right to lease state-owned farms for life.
- March 17
- March 20 – Australian Prime Minister Bob Hawke weeps on national television as he admits marital infidelity.
- March 22
- March 23 – Stanley Pons and Martin Fleischmann announce that they have achieved cold fusion at the University of Utah.
- March 23–28 – The Socialist Republic of Serbia passes constitutional changes revoking the autonomy of the Socialist Autonomous Province of Kosovo, triggering six days of rioting by the Albanian majority, during which at least 29 people are killed.
- March 24 – Exxon Valdez oil spill: In Alaska's Prince William Sound, the Exxon Valdez spills 240,000 barrels (38,000 m3) of oil after running aground.
- March 26 – 1989 Soviet Union legislative election: The first (and last) contested elections for the Soviet parliament, Congress of People's Deputies, result in losses for the Communist Party; the first session of the new Congress opens in late May. As a result, Boris Yeltsin gains a seat on the Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union.
- March 29 – The 61st Academy Awards are held at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, with Rain Man winning Best Picture, and Jodie Foster wins her first award for Best Actress.
- April 1 – Margaret Thatcher's new local government tax (the poll tax) is introduced in Scotland. It will be introduced in England and Wales the following year.
- April 2
- April 4 – A failed coup attempt against Prosper Avril, President of Haiti, leads to a standoff between mutinous troops and the government which ends on April 10, with the government regaining control of the country.
- April 5 – The Polish Government and the Solidarity trade union sign an agreement restoring Solidarity to legal status, and agreeing to hold democratic elections on June 4 (Polish Round Table Agreement), which initiates the 1989 revolution and the overthrow of communism in Central Europe.
- April 6 – National Safety Council of Australia chief executive John Friedrich is arrested after defrauding investors to the tune of $235,000,000.
- April 7 – The Soviet submarine K-278 Komsomolets sinks in the Barents Sea, killing 41.
- April 9
- April 14 – The U.S. government seizes the Irvine, California, Lincoln Savings and Loan Association; Charles Keating (for whom the Keating Five are named) eventually goes to jail, as part of the massive 1980s savings and loan crisis which costs U.S. taxpayers nearly $200,000,000 in bailouts, and many people their life savings.
- April 15
- April 17 – Solidarity (Polish trade union) is once again legalised and allowed to participate in semi-free elections on June 4.
- April 19
- April 20 – NATO debates modernising short range missiles; although the US and UK are in favour, West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl obtains a concession deferring a decision.
- April 21 – Students from Beijing, Shanghai, Xi'an and Nanjing begin protesting in Tiananmen Square in Beijing.
- April 23 – Zaid al-Rifai resigns as Prime Minister of Jordan in the wake of riots over government-imposed price hikes that began on April 18.
- April 25
- April 26
- April 27 – A major demonstration occurs in Beijing as part of the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests.
- May 1 – Andrés Rodríguez, who seized power and declared himself President of Paraguay during a military coup in February, wins a landslide victory at a general election marked by charges of fraud.
- May 2
- May 3 – Cold War: Perestroika – The first McDonald's restaurant in the USSR begins construction in Moscow. It will open on January 31, 1990.
- May 4 – Oliver North is convicted in the United States on charges related to the Iran–Contra affair. His conviction is thrown out on appeal in 1991 because of his immunised testimony.
- May 9 – Andrew Peacock deposes John Howard as Federal Opposition Leader of Australia.
- May 10 – The government of President of Panama Manuel Noriega declares void the result of the May 7 presidential election, which Noriega had lost to Guillermo Endara.
- May 11
- May 12–25 – San Bernardino train disaster: Southern Pacific freight locomotive SP 7551 East derails in a residential area of San Bernardino, California, killing four and destroying seven houses. On May 25, as a direct result of the derailment, the Calnev Pipeline explodes, killing an additional two people and destroying eleven more houses and 21 cars.
- May 14
- May 15
- Australia's first private tertiary institution, Bond University, opens on the Gold Coast.
- The last golden toad is seen in Costa Rica; the species is subsequently classified as extinct.
- May 16 – Senior Ethiopian military officers attempt a coup hours after President Mengistu Haile Mariam leaves on a visit to East Germany.
- May 17 – 1989 Tiananmen Square protests: More than 1,000,000 Chinese protesters march through Beijing demanding greater democracy, leading to a crackdown.
- May 19
- May 20 – 1989 Tiananmen Square protests: The Chinese government declares martial law in Beijing.
- May 22 – The Nordland Days in Leningrad region (Leningrad Oblast) open.
- May 24 – Assassinations of Jeffrey Brent Ball and Todd Ray Wilson: A terrorist organization, Zarate Willka Armed Forces of Liberation, kills two American missionaries of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as they return to their apartment, in La Paz, Bolivia.
- May 25 – The Calgary Flames defeat the Montreal Canadiens four games to two to win the franchise's first Stanley Cup in ice hockey.
- May 29
- May 31 – Six members of the guerrilla group Revolutionary Movement Tupac Amaru (MRTA) of Peru, shoot dead eight gay and transgender people in the city of Tarapoto.
- June 1–10 – Pope John Paul II visits Norway, Iceland, Finland, Denmark and Sweden.
- June 2 – Sōsuke Uno succeeds Noboru Takeshita as Prime Minister of Japan.
- June 3 – Death of Ruhollah Khomeini: Iranian leader Ayatollah Khomeini dies aged 89 in Tehran.
- June 4
- June 5 – 1989 Tiananmen Square protests: An unknown Chinese protester, "Tank Man", stands in front of a column of military tanks on Chang'an Avenue in Beijing, temporarily halting them, an incident which achieves iconic status internationally through images taken by Western photographers.
- June 6 – State funeral of Ruhollah Khomeini: The Ayatollah Khomeini's first funeral in Tehran is aborted by officials after a large crowd storms the funeral procession, nearly destroying Khomeini's wooden casket in order to get a last glimpse of his body. At one point, his body almost falls to the ground, as the crowd attempt to grab pieces of the death shroud.
- June 7 – Surinam Airways Flight 764 crashes in Paramaribo, Suriname, killing 176.
- June 12 – The Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. removes Robert Mapplethorpe's gay photography exhibition.
- June 13 – The wreck of German battleship Bismarck, which was sunk in 1941, is located 960 kilometres (600 mi) west of Brest, France.
- June 15 – At the 1989 Irish general election, Fianna Fáil, led by Taoiseach Charles Haughey, fails to win a majority.
- June 15 - American rock band Nirvana releases their debut studio album, Bleach.
- June 16 – A crowd of 250,000 gathers at Heroes Square in Budapest for the historic reburial of Imre Nagy, the former Hungarian Prime Minister who had been executed in 1958.
- June 18 – In the first Greek legislative election of the year, the Panhellenic Socialist Movement, led by Prime Minister of Greece Andreas Papandreou, loses control of the Hellenic Parliament.
- June 21 – English police arrest 250 people celebrating the summer solstice at Stonehenge.
- June 22 – Ireland's first universities established since independence in 1922, Dublin City University and the University of Limerick, open.
- June 24 – Jiang Zemin becomes General Secretary of the Communist Party of China.
- June 30 – 1989 Sudanese coup d'état A military coup led by Omar al-Bashir ousts the civilian government of Prime Minister of Sudan Sadiq al-Mahdi.
- July 2 – Andreas Papandreou, Prime Minister of Greece, resigns; a new government is formed under Tzannis Tzannetakis.
- July 5
- July 6 – The Tel Aviv–Jerusalem bus 405 suicide attack, the first Palestinian suicide attack on Israel, takes place.
- July 9–12 – U.S. President George H. W. Bush travels to Poland and Hungary, pushing for U.S. economic aid and investment.
- July 10 – Approximately 300,000 Siberian coal miners go on strike, demanding better living conditions and less bureaucracy; it is the largest Soviet labour strike since the 1920s.
- July 12
- July 14 – France celebrated the 200th anniversary of the French Revolution, notably with a monumental show on the Champs-Élysées in Paris, directed by French designer Jean-Paul Goude. President François Mitterrand acted as host for invited world leaders.
- July 14–16 – At the 15th G7 summit, leaders call for restrictions on gas emissions.
- July 17
- July 18 – Actress Rebecca Schaeffer is murdered by an obsessed fan, leading to stricter stalking laws in California.
- July 19
- July 20 – Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi is placed under house arrest. She is released in 2010.
- July 23
- July 26 – A federal grand jury indicts Cornell University student Robert Tappan Morris for releasing a computer virus, making him the first person to be prosecuted under the United States' 1986 Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.
- July 27 – In the largest prison sentence to date, Thai financial scammer Mae Chamoy Thipyaso and her accomplices are each sentenced to 141,078 years in prison.
- July 28 – At the Iranian presidential election, electors overwhelmingly elect Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani as President of Iran and endorse changes to the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran, increasing the powers of the president.
- July 31
- October – Cold War: Perestroika – Nathan's Famous opens a hot dog stand in Moscow.
- October 1 – Civil union between partners in a same-sex relationship becomes legal in Denmark under a law enacted on June 7, the world's first such legislation.
- October 3
- October 5 – The Dalai Lama wins the Nobel Peace Prize.
- October 7
- October 9
- October 13
- October 15 – Walter Sisulu is released from prison in South Africa.
- October 17 – The 6.9 Loma Prieta earthquake shakes the San Francisco Bay Area and the Central Coast with a maximum Mercalli intensity of IX (Violent). Sixty-three people are killed and the 1989 World Series in baseball is postponed for ten days as a result of the earthquake.
- October 18
- October 19 – The Guildford Four are freed after fourteen years' imprisonment in Britain.
- October 21 – The Commonwealth Heads of Government issue the Langkawi Declaration on the Environment, making environmental sustainability one of the Commonwealth of Nations's main priorities.
- October 23
- October 24 – The 1989 Bhagalpur violence, a major incident of religious violence, breaks out in Bhagalpur, Bihar, India; it will kill nearly 1,000 people.
- October 26 - In the UK, Nigel Lawson resigns as Chancellor of the Exchequer.
- October 28
- October 30 – Shawn Eichman, Dave Blalock, Dread Scott and Joey Johnson burn American flags on the steps of U.S. Capitol Building to protest the Flag Protection Act.
- October 31
- November 1
- November 3 – East German refugees arrive at the West German town of Hof after being allowed through Czechoslovakia.
- November 4
- November 6 – The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) is established.
- November 7
- November 9
- Cold War and Fall of the Berlin Wall: Günter Schabowski accidentally states in a live broadcast press conference that new rules for traveling from East Germany to West Germany will be put in effect "immediately". Late this evening, East Germany opens checkpoints in the Berlin Wall, allowing its citizens to travel freely to West Germany for the first time in decades. In the first week, travel visas will be issued to around 25% of the East German population. (November 17 celebrates Germans tearing the wall down).
- Yıldırım Akbulut of Motherland Party (Turkey) (ANAP) forms the new government of Turkey (47th government).
- November 10
- November 11 – The FMLN launched a major offensive with the aim of unseating the Salvadoran government.
- November 12 – Brazil holds its first free presidential election since 1960.
- November 13 – Hans-Adam II becomes Prince of Liechtenstein on the death of his father, Prince Franz Joseph II.
- November 14 – Elections are held in Namibia, leading to a victory for the South West Africa People's Organisation.
- November 15
- November 16
- November 17 – Cold War: Velvet Revolution – A peaceful student demonstration in Prague, Czechoslovakia, is severely beaten back by riot police. This sparks a revolution aimed at overthrowing the Communist government (it succeeds on December 29).
- November 20 – Cold War: Velvet Revolution – The number of peaceful protesters assembled in Prague, Czechoslovakia, swells from 200,000 the day before to an estimated half-million.
- November 21 – The Members of the Constituent Assembly of Namibia begin to draft the Constitution of Namibia, which will be the constitution of the newly independent Namibia.
- November 22 – In West Beirut, a bomb explodes near the motorcade of Lebanese President René Moawad, killing him.
- November 24 – Following a week of demonstrations demanding free elections and other reforms, General Secretary Miloš Jakeš and other leaders of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia resign. Jakeš is replaced by Karel Urbánek.
- November 26 – 1989 Uruguayan general election: Luis Alberto Lacalle is elected President of Uruguay.
- November 27 – Colombian domestic passenger flight Avianca Flight 203 is bombed by the Medellín drug cartel in an (unsuccessful) attempt to kill presidential candidate for the 1990 elections César Gaviria Trujillo.
- November 28 – Cold War: Velvet Revolution – The Communist Party of Czechoslovakia announces they will give up their monopoly on political power (elections held in December bring the first non-Communist government to Czechoslovakia in more than forty years).
- November 29 – Rajiv Gandhi resigns as Prime Minister of India after his party, the Indian National Congress, loses about half of its seats at the 1989 Indian general election.
- November 30 – Deutsche Bank board member Alfred Herrhausen is killed by a bomb in Bad Homburg (the Red Army Faction claims responsibility for the murder).
- December 1
- December 2
- December 3
- December 4 – Prime Minister of Jordan Zaid ibn Shaker resigns and is replaced by Mudar Badran.
- December 6
- December 7
- December 9 – The Socialist Unity Party of Germany elects the reformist Gregor Gysi as party leader.
- December 10
- December 11 – The International Trans-Antarctica Expedition, a group of six explorers from six nations, reaches the South Pole.
- December 12 – Hong Kong begins the forcible repatriation of Vietnamese boat people, starting with a group of 59 who were flown to Hanoi.
- December 14 – Chile holds its first free election in sixteen years, electing Patricio Aylwin as president. This marks the first time that all Ibero-American nations, except Cuba, have elected constitutional governments simultaneously.
- December 15 – Drug baron José Gonzalo Rodríguez Gacha is killed by Colombian police.
- December 16 – The Romanian Revolution begins in Timișoara, initiated by the Hungarian minority.
- December 17
- The Romanian Revolution continues in Timișoara when rioters break into the building housing the District Committee of the Romanian Communist Party and cause extensive damage. The military is called in but fails fully to control the situation.
- Brazil holds the second round of its first free election in 29 years; Fernando Collor de Mello is elected to serve as president from 1990.
- The Simpsons aired its first episode on the FOX network.
- December 19
- Romanian Revolution: Workers in the cities go on strike in protest against the Communist regime. On December 20 about 100,000 occupy Timișoara.
- Homosexual acts between consenting adult males are decriminalised in Western Australia by the Law Reform (Decriminalization of Sodomy) Act.
- December 20 – The United States invasion of Panama ("Operation Just Cause") is launched in an attempt to overthrow Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega.
- December 21 – Nicolae Ceaușescu addresses an assembly of some 110,000 people outside the Romanian Communist Party headquarters in Bucharest. Unprecedentedly, most of the crowd turns against him.
- December 22
- December 23 – Nicolae and Elena Ceaușescu are captured in Târgoviște.
- December 25
- December 28
- December 29
- December 30 – Alan Bond's Bond Corporation is placed into receivership with the largest debt in Australian history.
- December 31 – Poland's president signs the Balcerowicz Plan, ending the Communist system in Poland in favor of a capitalist system, leading to abandonment of the Warsaw Pact.