Millennium: 2nd millennium

The 1990s, also known as "the Nineteen Nineties" or "9teen 90s" abbreviated as "the Nineties" or "the '90s", was the decade that started on Monday, January 1, 1990, and ended on Friday, December 31, 1999. It was the tenth and final decade in the 20th century and the last decade in all of the 2nd millennium.

The decade included new modern technology that we commonly see today. A combination of factors including the mass mobilization of capital markets through neoliberalism, the beginning of the widespread proliferation of new media such as the Internet, 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 1990s is often considered the end of Modernity and the dawn of the current Postmodern age.[1] Living standards and democratic governance generally improved in many areas of the world, notably East Asia, much of Eastern Europe, Latin America, and South Africa. New ethnic conflicts emerged in Africa, the Caucasus and the Balkans, and signs of any resolution of tensions in the Middle East remained elusive.[2]

Politics and wars[edit | edit source]

Wars[edit | edit source]

The most prominent armed conflicts of the decade include:

International wars[edit | edit source]

The Gulf War.

  • 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 August 2, 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.
  • Kargil War (1999) - In May 1999, Pakistan sends troops covertly to occupy strategic peaks in Kashmir. A month later the Kargil War with India results in a political fiasco for Nawaz Sharif, followed by a military withdrawal to the Line of Control. The incident leads to a military coup in October in which the Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is ousted by Army Chief Pervez Musharraf.
  • The Kosovo War (1998–1999):
    • War between ethnic-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 ethnic 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 Serbian tank fire.

Civil wars and Guerrilla wars[edit | edit source]

Rwandan Genocide.

  • The Rwandan Genocide - between April 6, 1994 until mid-July 1994 a mass killing of hundreds of thousands of Rwanda's Tutsis and Hutu political moderates occurred by the Hutu dominated government under the Hutu Power ideology. Over the course of approximately 100 days, at least 500,000 people were killed.[4] Estimates of the death toll have ranged between 500,000 and 1,000,000,[5] or as much as 20% of the total population of the country. It resulted in serious criticism of the United Nations and major countries for failing to stop the genocide.
  • In Algeria a long period of violence in the north African country starts by the cancellation of the first ever held democratic elections by a group of high ranking army officers.
  • The Ethiopian Civil War ends in 1991, ending over twenty years of internal conflict. The end of the war coincides with the establishment of a coalition government of various factions.
  • Oka Crisis takes place in 1990 involving an armed standoff between people of the Mohawk nation (North American indigenous peoples in Canada), and the Canadian military over a dispute involving land held via treaty to the Mohawk people.
  • A large number of the Zapatista indigenous people of Mexico join the Zapatista Army of National Liberation that begins armed conflict with the Mexican government in 1994 and continues through the 1990s.
  • The Taliban seize control of Afghanistan in 1996.
  • The 1992 Los Angeles riots occurred, with 53 deaths and 5,500 property fires in a 100-square-mile (260 km2) riot zone. The riots were a result of the state court acquittal of three White and one Hispanic L.A. police officers by an all-white jury in a police brutality case involving motorist Rodney King, but in 1993, all four officers were convicted in a federal civil rights case.
  • The Pakistan Army overthrows the democratically elected government of Pakistan on October 12, 1999. Army chief Pervez Musharraf takes control of government as Prime Minister of Pakistan; he would dominate Pakistan's political leadership for nine years.
  • The Somali Civil War (1991–Present) and the Battle of Mogadishu.
  • Severe political deadlock between Russian President Boris Yeltsin and the Supreme Soviet (Russia's parliament at this time) result in Yeltsin ordering the controversial shelling of the Russian parliament building by tanks in 1993.

Coups[edit | edit source]

Terrorist attacks[edit | edit source]

Oklahoma City bombing.

Nuclear threats[edit | edit source]

  • The rival countries India and Pakistan in succession reveal their acquisition of nuclear weapons in 1998 with two separate missile tests amid escalating tensions over the disputed region of Kashmir.

Decolonization and Independence[edit | edit source]

Prominent political events[edit | edit source]

  • The 1990s was an era of spreading democracy.[6] The former countries of the Warsaw Pact moved from totalitarian regimes to democratically elected governments.[6] The same happened in other non-communist countries, such as Taiwan, Chile, South Africa, and Indonesia. Capitalism made great changes to the economies of communist 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.


Nelson Mandela.

North America

  • 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 January 21, 1998. After the U.S. House of Representatives impeached Clinton on December 19, 1998 for perjury under oath, following an investigation by federal prosecutor Kenneth Starr, the Senate acquitted Clinton of the charges on February 12, 1999 and he finished his second term.
  • Jean-Bertrand Aristide becomes the first democratically elected President of Haiti in 1990.
  • 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.
  • California voters passed Proposition 215 in 1996, to legalize cannabis only for medical 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 January 1, 1994, creating a North American free trade zone consisting of Canada, Mexico, and the United States.


Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, United States President Bill Clinton, and Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Chairman Yasser Arafat during the signing of the Oslo Accords on September 13, 1993.


  • The Moscow Coup and subsequent break-up of the Soviet Union on December 26, 1991.
  • 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 October 3, 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 communist culture became integrated with those living in democratic western Germany.
  • Margaret Thatcher who had been the United Kingdom's Prime Minister since 1979 resigned as Prime Minister on November 22, 1990 after being challenged for the leadership of the Conservative Party by Michael Heseltine because of widespread opposition to the introduction of the controversial Community Charge and the fact that her key allies such as Nigel Lawson and Geoffrey Howe resigned over the deeply sensitive issues of the Maastricht Treaty and Margaret Thatcher's resistance to Britain joining the European Exchange Rate Mechanism. Less than two years later on the infamous Black Wednesday of September 1992, the pound sterling crashed out of the system after the pound fell below the agreed exchange rate with the Deutsche Mark.
  • The Belfast Agreement (a.k.a. the Good Friday Agreement) is signed by U.K. and Irish politicians on April 10, 1998, declaring a joint commitment to a peaceful resolution of the territorial dispute between the Republic of Ireland and the United Kingdom over Northern Ireland.
  • The IRA agreed to a truce in 1994. This marked the beginning of the end of 25 years of violence between the IRA and the United Kingdom, and the start of political negotiations.
  • The European Union forms in 1992 under the Maastricht Treaty.

South America

Assassinations[edit | edit source]

Yitzhak Rabin.

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

Disasters[edit | edit source]

Natural disasters[edit | edit source]

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

Non-natural disasters[edit | edit source]

The crash site of El Al Flight 1862 in 1992.

  • Gulf War oil spill - Resulting from actions taken during the Gulf War in 1991 by the Iraq military, the oil spill caused considerable damage to wildlife in the Persian Gulf especially in areas surrounding Kuwait and Iraq.
  • On December 15, 1991, The Egyptian ferry Salem Express sinks in the Red Sea, killing more than 450.
  • On October 4, 1992 - El Al Flight 1862, a Boeing 747 cargo airplane heading to Tel Aviv, suffered physical engine separation of both right-wing engines (#3 and #4) just after taking off from Schiphol and crashed into an apartment building in the Bijlmer neighbourhood of Amsterdam while attempting to return to the airport. A total of 43 people were killed, including the plane's crew of three and a "non revenue passenger". Several others were injured.
  • On July 26, 1993, Asiana Airlines Flight 733 crashes into Mt. Ungeo in Haenam, South Korea killing 68.
  • On September 28, 1994 – The car ferry MS Estonia sinks in the Baltic Sea, killing 852.
  • On June 29, 1995, the Sampoong Department Store collapses in Seoul, South Korea, killing 502.
  • On July 17, 1996 Trans World Airlines Flight 800 (TWA 800), a Boeing 747-131, exploded and crashed into the Atlantic Ocean near East Moriches, New York.

Economics[edit | edit source]

  • 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.

North America

File:Dow jones.png

The Dow Jones Index of 1990s.


  • 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 President 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 death of a Chinese journalist during the bombing of Serbia by NATO forces, 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.


  • 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.
  • Eastern European economies struggled after the fall of communism, but Poland, Hungary, Estonia, and Lithuania saw healthy economic growth rates in the late 1990s.
  • 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.
  • Much of Europe had serious economic problems including the massive 1995 general strikes in France during its worst recession since World War II and the problems associated with German reunification. The French economy mildly rebounds at the end of the decade as does Germany. During the late 90s, the economies of particularly Spain, Scandinavia and former Eastern Bloc countries accelerate at rapid speed. After the early 1990s recession, the United Kingdom and Ireland experience rapid economic growth that continues throughout the decade. Unemployment is a persistent problem in many countries throughout the 90s.
  • With the creation of the E.U. 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 January 1, 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[edit | edit source]

Technology[edit | edit source]

The 1990s were an incredibly revolutionary decade for digital technology. Cell phones of the early 1990s and earlier 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. By 2001, more than 50% of some Western countries had Internet access, and more than 25% had cell phone access.

Electronics and communications[edit | edit source]

The World Wide Web project historic logo designed by Robert Cailliau.

Mobile phones gained massive popularity worldwide during the decade.

  • On 6 August 1991, CERN, a pan European organization for particle research, publicized the new World Wide Web project.[9] 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.
  • Y2K spread fear throughout the United States and eventually the world in the last half of the decade particularly 1999 about possible massive computer malfunctions on January 1, 2000. As a result, many people stocked up on supplies for fear of a world wide disaster. Eventually no globally significant computer 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 Intel.
  • 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, 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 SLRs 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 unabated 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.

Software[edit | edit source]


Windows 95.

Automobiles[edit | edit source]

The 1990s began with another recession that dampened car sales. General Motors continued to suffer huge losses thanks to an inefficient structure and stale designs. Sales improved with the economy by the mid-'90s, but GM's US market share gradually declined to less than 40% (from a peak of 53% in the '70s). 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 shape than those of the 1970s and 1980s; this style would continue into the 2000s and to a lesser extent into the 2010s.

Chrysler ran into financial troubles again as the '90s 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 '70s. Ford continued to fare well in the '90s, with the second and third generations of the Ford Taurus being named the best selling car in the United States.

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. 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[edit | edit source]

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

Hubble Space Telescope.

Environment[edit | edit source]

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 a environmental governance. In 1992 was held the Earth Summit 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 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. 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 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. By the late 2000s, it became apparent that some areas of the world were actually cooling, and global warming became re-labeled climate change.

Society[edit | edit source]

The 1990s represented a social liberalization in most countries, though coupled with the 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: 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. 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 occurs in the western world throughout the 1990s and first decade of the 21st century.

Third-wave feminism[edit | edit source]

Women's rights demonstration in Paris, November 1995).

Additional significant world-wide events[edit | edit source]

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


File:Diana funeral.jpg

Funeral of Diana, Princess of Wales, 1997.

  • 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 (23.55 miles) being the longest undersea tunnel in the world.
  • The resignation of President Boris Yeltsin on December 31, 1999 resulting in Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's succession to the position.



Popular culture[edit | edit source]

Film[edit | edit source]

File:Kate and Leo Wax figures.jpg

The highest-grossing film of the decade was "Titanic" (1997).

The Nineties were an eventful time for film. Dogme 95 becomes an important European artistic film movement by the end of the decade. The film Titanic becomes a cultural phenomenon throughout the world, and eventually becomes the highest grossing film of all time grossing over $1.8 billion worldwide. It would hold this record for over a decade until 2010 when Titanic's director James Cameron had another one of his films take the title, that being Avatar.[10] The films produced by the Walt Disney Animation Studios became popular once more when the studio returned to making traditionally animated musical family films (however the films took on a darker more emotional theme), this era was known as the Disney Renaissance.

Television[edit | edit source]

File:Friends hi.svg

Friends which primered on NBC in 1994 became one of the most popular sitcoms of all time.

TV shows, mostly sitcoms, were popular with the American audience. Series such as Roseanne and Seinfeld, both which premiered in the late eighties, and Frasier, a spin-off of the 1980s hit Cheers were watched throughout the 1990s. These sitcoms, along with Friends, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Full House, and Martin, turned TV in new directions and defined the humor of the decade.

Medical dramas started to come into television in the 90s. One show stood out as a critical and ratings success for NBC. In 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). It made NBC the most watched channel in the USA. The show launched the career of George Clooney.

Beverly Hills, 90210 ran from 1990 to 2000 and established the teen soap genre paving the way for Dawson's Creek, Felicity, and other shows airing in later years. The show was then remade and renamed simply 90210 and premiered in 2008. Baywatch, a popular TV show that dominated throughout the nineties, became the most watched TV show in history and influenced pop culture.

The U.S. animated television comedy series The Simpsons, debuted in December 1989, becomes a domestic and international success in the 1990s. The show has made it beyond 2010 and has become an institution of pop culture, and has spawned the adult-oriented animated sitcom genre, inspiring racier shows such as Beavis and Butthead (1993–1997) along with South Park and Family Guy, the latter two of which began in 1997 and 1999 respectively and continue to air new episodes through the 2000s and into the 2010s.

Anime was popular in the 1980s, and expanded to a worldwide audience by the 1990s. TV Shows such as Sailor Moon, Dragonball Z, and Pokémon led people into embracing the Japanese culture around the world.

Reality television began on MTV; this would grow in importance in the western world into the next decade.

American animated children’s programs went through a renaissance during the decade with studios producing many high quality shows. Examples include Tiny Toon Adventures, Animaniacs and Batman: The Animated Series.

Music[edit | edit source]

Spice Girls became one of the biggest European pop acts of the decade.

Nirvana performing at the 1992 MTV Video Music Awards.

Mariah Carey at Edwards Air Force Base during the making of I Still Believe video in 1998.

File:Baby One More Time (1).jpg

Britney Spears performing at the ...Baby One More Time Tour in 1999.

The 1990s were a decade of many diverse scenes in music, however they are perhaps best known for grunge, teen pop, Eurodance and electronic dance music, and for being the decade that hip hop and alternative rock became mainstream. U2 were one of the most popular 90s bands, their groundbreaking Zoo TV and PopMart tours were the top selling tours of 1992 and 1997. Celine Dion is the biggest female selling artist of all time , becoming the best-selling music artists of all-time, with sales of over 200 million albums.

Grunge music, and the culture marketed around it, born out of the Pacific Northwest American states of Washington and Oregon, becomes a fad in 1991 with the success of Nirvana and similar groups following. The style would come to be strongly associated with the 1990s by the 2000s.

Parallel to American Grunge, in the UK the uniquely British alternative rock Britpop genre emerged as part of the more general Cool Britannia culture, with Oasis, Blur, The Verve, Supergrass, Pulp, Radiohead, Manic Street Preachers, Suede, Elastica, Ride, Shed Seven. Female pop icons "Spice Girls" manage to break America, taking the world by storm and becoming the most commercially successful British Group since The Beatles.[12][13] Their impact brings about a widespread invasion of teen pop acts around the world[14][15] such as Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, 'N Sync, Backstreet Boys and Hanson who come to prominence into the new millennium.

The Tibetan Freedom Concert brings 120,000 people together in the interest of increased human rights and autonomy for Tibet from China.

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.

Controversy surrounded The Prodigy with the release of the track 'Smack My Bitch Up'. The National organization for Women(NOW) claimed that the track was "advocating violence against women" due to the lyrics of that song. The music video (directed by Jonas Åkerlund) featured a first-person POV of someone going clubbing, indulging in large amounts of drugs and alcohol, getting into fist fights with men, abusing women and picking up a prostitute. At the end of the video the camera pans over to a mirror, revealing the subject to be a woman.

1994 became a breakthrough year for punk rock in California, with the success of bands like Bad Religion, Blink-182, Green Day, The Offspring, Rancid, and similar groups following. This success would continue to grow in over the next two decades, 2000s and 2010s. The 1990s also became the most important decade for ska punk/reggae rock, with the success of many bands like Buck-O-Nine, Goldfinger, Less Than Jake, The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Murphy's Law, No Doubt, Reel Big Fish, Save Ferris, Sublime and Sugar Ray. Sleepy Hollow wrote about the era in their pop punk hit 90s "Child".

The rave movement that emerged in the late 1980s rises incredibly in the early to mid 1990s, and continues to exist as late as 2010.

The Rise of industrial music, somewhat a fusion of synthpop and heavy metal, to worldwide popularity with bands like Nine Inch Nails, Ministry and Marilyn Manson. Groove metal was born through the efforts of Pantera whose album, Far Beyond Driven (1994), was the first metal album to go number one on Billboard.

Video gaming[edit | edit source]

The PlayStation was released in the mid 1990s and bec.ame the best-selling gaming console of its time.

Popular notable video games of the 1990s include: Super Mario World, Pokémon Red and Blue Versions, Pokémon Yellow Version, Super Mario 64, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Gran Turismo, Mario Kart 64, Half-Life, Super Mario Kart, Tomb Raider series, Metal Gear series, Final Fantasy, Crash Bandicoot series, Street Fighter II, Spyro the Dragon series, Myst, Commander Keen series, Test Drive series, Monkey Island, Civilization, Fifa 97, Fifa 98, Fifa 99, Dune series, Mortal Kombat series, Warcraft series, Rayman series, Duke Nukem 3D, Tekken series, StarCraft, Unreal series, Counter-Strike, and the Sonic the Hedgehog series.

Sony's PlayStation becomes the top selling game console and changes the standard media storage type from cartridges to compact discs in consoles. Crash Bandicoot is released on September 9, 1996 becoming one of the most successful platforming series for the Sony PlayStation. Tomb Raider's (PlayStation)Lara Croft became a video game sex symbol, becoming a recognizable figure in the entertainment industry throughout the late 1990s.

3-D graphics become the standard by end of decade. Although FPSs had long since seen the transition to full 3D, other genres begin to copy this trend by the end of the decade.

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). By the end of the decade, Sega's hold on the market becomes tenuous after the end of the Saturn in 1999 and the Dreamcast in 2002.

Mario as Nintendo's mascot finds a rival in Sega's Sonic the Hedgehog with the release of the original game on the Genesis in 1991.

Arcade games rapidly decrease in popularity.[16]

Fighting games like Capcom's Street Fighter II, Sega's futuristic Virtua Fighter, and especially the more violent Mortal Kombat from Acclaim prompted the video game industry to adopt a game rating system, and hundreds of knock-offs are widely popular in mid-to-late 1990s. Doom (1993) bursts onto the world scene and instantly popularizes the FPS genre, and even how games are played, as Doom is among the first games to feature multiplayer capabilities. It is not until Quake (1996), however, that game developers begin to take multiplayer features into serious consideration when making games. Half-Life (1998) features the next evolutionary step in the genre with continual progression of the game (no levels in the traditional sense) and an entirely in-person view, and becomes one of the most popular computer games in history.

The real-time strategy (RTS) genre is introduced in 1992 with the release of Dune II. Warcraft: Orcs & Humans (1994) popularizes the genre, with Command & Conquer and Warcraft II: Tides of Darkness in 1995 setting up the first major real-time strategy competition and popularizing multiplayer capabilities in RTS games. 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. Homeworld in 1999 becomes the first successful 3d RTS game. The rise of the RTS genre is often credited with the fall of the turn-based strategy (TBS) genre, popularized with Civilization in 1991. Final Fantasy first debuted (in North America) in 1990 for the NES, and remains among the most popular video game franchises, with many new titles to date and more in development, plus numerous spin-offs, sequels, movies and related titles. Final Fantasy VII, released in 1997, especially popularized the series.

Zelda continues its massive popularity with a series of groundbreaking releases, including A Link to the Past in 1991 and Ocarina of Time in 1998, both of which are considered some of the greatest and most influential games of all time.[17][18]

Massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs) see their entrance into the computer game world with Ultima Online in 1997, although they do not gain widespread popularity until EverQuest and Asheron's Call in 1999. MMORPGs go on to become among the most popular genres in the first decade of the 21st century.

Pokémon enters the world scene with the release of the original Game Boy Pokémon Red and Pokémon Green games in Japan in 1996, later changed to Pokémon Red and Pokémon Blue for worldwide release in 1998. It soon becomes popular in the U.S., spurring the term Pokémania and is adapted into a popular anime series and trading card game, among other media forms.

Resident Evil is released in 1996 and becomes the most popular survival-horror series in video gaming well into the next decade and inspires several movies.

Sports[edit | edit source]

Architecture[edit | edit source]

Petronas Twin Towers were the world's tallest buildings when completed in 1999.

Literature[edit | edit source]

  • From July 1992 to December 1997, sixty-two books were written by R.L. Stine and published by Scholastic for the Goosebumps series. The series was very popular amongst pre-teens and older children, and as of 2008, the series had sold more than 300 million copies worldwide.[19]

Fashion[edit | edit source]

Grunge-style flannel shirt and curtained hair


Significant fashion trends of the 1990s include:

  • The Rachel, Jennifer Aniston's hairstyle on the hit show Friends, became a cultural phenomenon with millions of women copying it worldwide.
  • The Curtained Haircut increased in popularity in fashion and culture amongst teenage boys and young men in the 1990s, mainly after it was popularized in the film "Terminator 2: Judgment Day" by the actor Edward Furlong.
  • Edward Furlong popularizes the Curtained Haircut after the success of the movie,
  • The model 1300 Wonderbra style has a resurgence of popularity in Europe in 1992 which kicks off a multinational media sensation, the 1994 re-introduction of "The Wonderbra" brand, and a spike in push-up, plunge bras around the world.
  • Additional fashion trends of the 1990s include the Tamagotchi, Rollerblades, Pogs and Dr. Martens shoes.
  • Bleached Blond hair became very popular in the late '90s, as was men with short hair with the bangs "flipped up"
  • Beverly Hills 90210 sideburns also became popular in the early and mid '90s
  • Slap bracelets were a popular fad among children, pre-teens and teenagers in the late 1980s and early 1990s and was available in a wide variety of patterns and colors.
  • The Grunge hype at the beginning of the decade popularized the flannel shirts among both sexes during the 1990s.

Miscellaneous[edit | edit source]

  • Anime and manga become popular and known in the mainstream. Previously restricted to fringe or niche circles within existing science fiction and comic book fandom, anime and manga fandom in the west begins expanding and organizing its own fan conventions such as Otakon and Katsucon. Such conventions have continued to expand covering gaming, cosplay, and J-pop as well as other elements of Japanese and east Asian culture in general.

People[edit | edit source]

World leaders[edit | edit source]

Entertainers[edit | edit source]

Jerry Seinfeld, 1997.

Musicians[edit | edit source]

Bands[edit | edit source]

Sports figures[edit | edit source]

Football[edit | edit source]

Hockey[edit | edit source]

Basketball[edit | edit source]

Wrestling[edit | edit source]

Other[edit | edit source]

See also[edit | edit source]

Wikimedia Commons has media related to:

Timeline[edit | edit source]

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


References[edit | edit source]

  1. ^ Cyprus At a Crossroads
  2. ^ Stiglitz, Joseph E. (2004). The Roaring Nineties. W. W. Norton & Company. ISBN 978-0-393-32618-5. 
  3. ^, Second Chechnya War - 1999-???
  4. ^ Des Forges, Alison (1999). Leave None to Tell the Story: Genocide in Rwanda. Human Rights Watch. ISBN 978-1-56432-171-8. Retrieved 2007-01-12. 
  5. ^ See, e.g., Rwanda: How the genocide happened, BBC, April 1, 2004, which gives an estimate of 800,000, and OAU sets inquiry into Rwanda genocide, Africa Recovery, Vol. 12 1#1 (August 1998), page 4, which estimates the number at between 500,000 and 1,000,000. 7 out of every 10 Tutsis were killed.
  6. ^ a b Sorin Antohi and Vladimir Tismăneanu, "Independence Reborn and the Demons of the Velvet Revolution" in Between Past and Future: The Revolutions of 1989 and Their Aftermath, Central European University Press. ISBN 978-963-9116-71-9. p.85.
  7. ^ Archived October 14, 2002 at the Wayback Machine.
  8. ^ "The Urban Institute | Welfare Reform: Ten Years Later". Archived from the original on 2009-05-08. Retrieved 2009-04-06. 
  9. ^ Grossman, Lev (31 March 2003). "How the Web Was Spun". Time Magazine. Archived from the original on 18 July 2009. Retrieved 19 July 2009. "Berners-Lee's computer faithfully logged the exact second the site was launched: 2:56:20 p.m., Aug. 6, 1991." 
  10. ^ "Titanic (1997)". Archived from the original on 2009-05-27. Retrieved 2009-05-22. 
  11. ^ All-Time Worldwide Box Office
  12. ^ BBC - Press Office - New Spice Girls documentary on BBC One
  13. ^ "1998: Ginger leaves the Spice Girls". BBC News. May 31, 1998. Retrieved March 29, 2010. 
  14. ^ "Teen Pop Music: A Guide". Archived from the original on 2009-09-04. Retrieved 2009-08-26. 
  15. ^
  16. ^ Wolf, Mark J.P. (2008). "Arcade Games of the 1990s and Beyond". The video game explosion: a history from PONG to PlayStation and beyond. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press. p. 135. ISBN 978-0-313-33868-7. OCLC 154776597. Retrieved 19 July 2009. "The decline of arcade video games would come back in the 1990s, despite attempts to redefine the arcade experience and attract players back to the arcade." 
  17. ^ "The Greatest Games of All-Time: The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past". GameSpot. 2006-03-17. Retrieved 2007-03-07. 
  18. ^ "The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (Inducted 2008)". IGN Entertainment, Inc. Archived from the original on 18 July 2009. Retrieved 19 July 2009. "Get past the fact that it is one of the few videogames to ever get a score of 10 on IGN, and you'll be left with a deep, engaging and rewarding tale" 
  19. ^ Neary, Lynn (2008-10-31). "Goosebumps And Guffaws In Stine's 'HorrorLand'". National Public Radio. Retrieved 2010-02-16. 

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