A Timeline of the 20th Century

By Tim Lambert

1899-1902 The Boer War in South Africa

1900 The Boxer Rebellion in China

1901 The Australian colonies are united to form the Commonwealth of Australia

1903 The first plane flies

1904-1905 War between Russian and Japan


Revolution in Russia

Norway becomes independent from Sweden

1906 An earthquake in San Francisco

1907 New Zealand becomes a dominion

1908 Bulgaria becomes independent of Turkey

1910 Revolution in Portugal

1911 Revolution in China


The First World War begins

The Panama Canal opens


Tanks are used for the first time

In Ireland the Easter Rising takes place


The USA joins the war

Communists seize power in Russia

1918 Germany surrenders

1919 Germany is forced to sign the Treaty of Versailles, which causes much resentment in that country

1921 Southern Ireland becomes independent

1922 Mussolini seizes power in Italy


Alexander Flemingdiscovers penicillin

Stalin gains complete power in Russia. He introduces the first Five Year Plan

1929 The Wall Street Crash in the USA begins a world-wide depression


Adolf Hitler becomes ruler of Germany

Franklin D. Roosevelt becomes president of the USA

1936 The German army occupies the Rhineland (breaking the Treaty of Versailles)

1936-1939 The Spanish Civil War is fought. Franco becomes dictator of Spain.

1938 The Germans take Austria


Germany invades Poland so Britain and France declare war on Germany

Russia attacks Finland

1940 Germany conquers Norway, Holland, Belgium and France

Winston Churchill becomes prime minister of Britain


Germany conquers Yugoslavia and Greece and invades Russia

Japan attacks the USA at Pearl Harbor


The USA defeats Japan at Midway Island

The British defeat the Germans at El Alamein


The Russians defeat the Germans at Stalingrad and Kursk

German forces in North Africa surrender and allied forces invade Italy

1944 Allied forces invade France

1945 Germany and Japan surrender

1947 India becomes independent

1947-1948 Communists gain power in Eastern Europe


Israel is created

Burma becomes independent

The transistor is invented


Communists gain power in China

Indonesia becomes independent

1950 China invades Tibet

1950-53 The Korean War

1953 Stalin dies

1957 The EEC (forerunner of the EU) is created

1958 Charles de Gaulle becomes president of France

1961-1973 The USA becomes involved in the Vietnam War


Tanzania becomes independent

Communists build the Berlin Wall


The Cuban Missile Crisis takes place

Uganda becomes independent

1963 President John Kennedy is assassinated


Malawi and Zambia become independent

In the USA The Civil Rights Act is passed

1966 Botswana becomes independent

1967 War between the Arab states and Israel


Charles de Gaulle resigns as president of France

Neil Armstrong becomes the first person to set foot on the Moon

1972 Ceylon changes its name to Sri Lanka


Britain, Denmark and Ireland join the EU

Sydney Opera House is opened.

1974 President Richard Nixon resigns after the Watergate Scandal


General Franco, dictator of Spain dies. Spain becomes a monarchy again

Communists capture South VietnamLaos and Cambodia

1977 King Juan Carlos restores democracy in Spain

1979 The Shah of Iran is overthrown

1980 Solidarity, an independent trade union is formed in Poland

1981 The space shuttle is launched

1983 Democracy is restored in Argentina

1985 Democracy is restored in Brazil

1986 President Marcos is removed from power in the Philippines. Corazon Aquino takes over.

The Chinese army massacres student demonstrators in Tiananmen SquareCommunism collapses in East Germany, Hungary, Poland, Czechoslovakia and Romania


Germany is reunited

Lech Walesa become President of Poland


Communism collapses in the Soviet Union. It then breaks up into separate states

The Gulf War is fought in Iraq


The EU nations recognise Croatia and Slovenia as independent nations

Rioting takes place in Los Angeles when white policemen are acquitted of assaulting a black driver, Rodney King

1993 Czechoslovakia splits into the Czech Republic and Slovakia

1994 Nelson Mandela becomes president of South Africa

1995 Sweden, Finlandand Austria join the EU

1997 Hong Kong is returned to China