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What Happened in 1989?

1989 is a pretty pivotal year for millions of us all over the world. It was the end of an era – the 80s, the decade that fashion arguably forgot – and it’s highly popular with fans of a certain musical sensation (hint: it’s Taylor Swift).

However, there’s more than just music and fashion to recount from ‘89. In this review, we’ll take you through the highs and the lows of the year, and even take a look at some famous births and deaths. Whether or not you were around at the time, we hope you find this trip down memory lane… memorable!

Here are some of the biggest events that took place in 1989.

In this year

Emperor Shōwa


In Japan, Emperor Shōwa passed away on January 7th, 1989. His son, Akihito, officially took the throne as 125th Emperor of Japan following his death. Once he was enthroned, the era name changed, too – from Shōwa to Heisei.

La Noche de la Candelaria


On February 3rd, a swift Paraguayan coup d’état took place. The anti-governmental strikeforce overthrew the infamous Alfredo Stroessner, who had been the nation's dictator since 1954. The event was known to many as "La Noche de la Candelaria.”

Hydro-Québec power grid


The Earth truly shook on March 13th, 1989! A geomagnetic storm caused a major power outage in the northern US and towards Sweden, as it caused the devastating collapse of the Hydro-Québec power grid. In doing so, around six million people were left stranded without power for up to nine hours. That might not sound like much, but imagine how you’d cope!

Hillsborough Disaster


On April 15th, 1989, the Hillsborough Disaster claimed the lives of 94 Liverpool FC fans during a soccer match against Nottingham Forest at the Hillsborough Stadium in Sheffield. The event would spark mass controversy, with three more people later dying from injuries in the mass crushing.

Iron Curtain


As of May 2nd, 1989, the infamous Iron Curtain started its dismantling! It was on this day that Hungary ceremoniously removed 240 kilometers of barbed wire along its border with Austria. It was one of several bold steps towards reunifying nations as the Cold War in Europe and North America began fizzling to a close.

tank man


June 1989 proved to be a time of great controversy in China – as protests in the name of democracy were met with military action, causing a disputed number of deaths. One such moment during the violence saw a man stand in front of a line of proceeding tanks – an iconic photo captured this, and saw the individual dubbed “Tank Man.”

Mae Chamoy Thipyaso


The longest-ever prison sentences were handed out on July 27th, 1989, as Mae Chamoy Thipyaso and a team of financial scammers faced lengthy stays behind bars – 141,078 years each!

the Baltic Way


During the Singing Revolution, indigenous people of Estonia, Lithuania, and Latvia came together and joined hands to demand independence from Soviet rule. They formed a 600 km-long chain – the Baltic Way – with two million different people taking part.

facts about Vietnam


Vietnam announced on September 26th, 1989 that it had removed the very last of its occupied troops from the State of Cambodia. In so doing, bringing an end to an 11-year occupation.



Denmark officially made same-sex civil partnerships legal as of October 1st, 1989. The country was the very first in the world to produce such legislation – following laws being passed on June 7th.



Remember the sound of dial-up internet? Well, we all heard it for the first time back in November 1989 – as the first-ever web connection via phone line occurred in North America, thanks to The World STD. Weirdly enough, there’s a whole generation of adults out there who have never heard it!

Manuel Noriega


In a bold mission known as "Operation Just Cause", the US' strategic invasion of Panama began on December 20th, 1989 The goal was to overthrow Manuel Noriega, the dictator overseeing the country. The operation was a success – with Noriega deposed and Guillermo Endara sworn in as the new President.

1989 was the year of the…

chinese year of the snake 2013


Like 1941, 1953, 1965, 1977, 2001, and 2013, 1989 was, according to the Chinese Zodiac, a year for recognizing Snakes everywhere. People born in Snake years are very intuitive, competent, sensitive, creative, passionate, and quite persuassssssssive when they need to be. The next Snake year won't be until 2025.

This page was last modified on February 9, 2024. Suggest an edit