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1980s

Decade of the Gregorian calendar that began on January 1, 1980

Top 10 1980s related articles

STS-1End of the Cold WarIran–Iraq WarFall of the Berlin WallLive AidIBM Personal ComputerChernobyl disaster
From left, clockwise: The first Space Shuttle, Columbia, lifts off in 1981; US president Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev eases tensions between the two superpowers, leading to the end of the Cold War; The fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 is considered to be one of the most momentous events of the 1980s; In 1981, the IBM Personal Computer is released; In 1985, the Live Aid concert is held in order to fund relief efforts for the famine in Ethiopia during the time Mengistu Haile Mariam ruled the country; Soviet Union and much of the world is filled with radioactive debris from the 1986 Chernobyl disaster; The Iran–Iraq War leads to over one million dead and $1 trillion spent.
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The 1980s (pronounced "nineteen-eighties", shortened to "the '80s") was a decade of the Gregorian calendar that began on January 1, 1980, and ended on December 31, 1989.

The decade saw major socioeconomic change due to advances in technology and a worldwide move away from planned economies and towards laissez-faire capitalism.

As economic deconstruction increased in the developed world, multiple multinational corporations associated with the manufacturing industry relocated into Thailand, Mexico, South Korea, Taiwan, and China. Japan and West Germany saw large economic growth during this decade. The AIDS epidemic became recognized in the 1980s and has since killed an estimated 39 million people (as of 2013).[1] Global warming became well known to the scientific and political community in the 1980s.

The United Kingdom and the United States moved closer to supply-side economic policies beginning a trend towards global instability of international trade that would pick up more steam in the following decade as the fall of the USSR made right wing economic policy more powerful.

The final decade of the Cold War opened with the US-Soviet confrontation continuing largely without any interruption. Superpower tensions escalated rapidly as President Reagan scrapped the policy of détente and adopted a new, much more aggressive stance on the Soviet Union. The world came perilously close to nuclear war for the first time since the Cuban Missile Crisis 20 years earlier, but the second half of the decade saw a dramatic easing of superpower tensions and ultimately the total collapse of Soviet communism.

Developing countries across the world faced economic and social difficulties as they suffered from multiple debt crises in the 1980s, requiring many of these countries to apply for financial assistance from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank. Ethiopia witnessed widespread famine in the mid-1980s during the corrupt rule of Mengistu Haile Mariam, resulting in the country having to depend on foreign aid to provide food to its population and worldwide efforts to address and raise money to help Ethiopians, such as the Live Aid concert in 1985.

Major civil discontent and violence occurred in the Middle East, including the Iran–Iraq War, the Soviet–Afghan War, the 1982 Lebanon War, the Nagorno-Karabakh War, the Bombing of Libya in 1986, and the First Intifada in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. Islamism became a powerful political force in the 1980s and many terrorist organizations, including Al Qaeda, started.

By 1986, nationalism was making a comeback in the Eastern Bloc and desire for democracy in communist-led socialist states combined with economic recession resulted in Mikhail Gorbachev's glasnost and perestroika, which reduced Communist Party power, legalized dissent and sanctioned limited forms of capitalism such as joint ventures with Western firms. After newly heated tension for most of the decade, by 1988 relations between the West and East had improved significantly[2] and the Soviet Union was increasingly unwilling to defend its governments in satellite states.

1989 brought the overthrow and attempted overthrow of a number of governments led by communist parties, such as in Hungary, the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989 in China, the Czechoslovak "Velvet Revolution", Erich Honecker's East German regime, Poland's Soviet-backed government, and the violent overthrow of the Nicolae Ceauşescu regime in Romania. Destruction of the 155-km Berlin Wall, at the end of the decade, signalled a seismic geopolitical shift. The Cold War ended in the early 1990s with the successful Reunification of Germany and the USSR's demise after the August Coup of 1991.

The 1980s saw great advances in genetic and digital technology. After years of animal experimentation since 1985 the first genetic modification of 10 adult human beings took place in May 1989, a gene tagging experiment[3] which led to the first true gene therapy implementation in September 1990. The first "designer babies", a pair of female twins were created in a laboratory in late 1989 and born in July 1990 after being sex-selected via the controversial assisted reproductive technology procedure preimplantation genetic diagnosis.[4] Gestational surrogacy was first performed in 1985 with the first birth in 1986, making it possible for a woman to become a biological mother without experiencing pregnancy for the first time in history.[5]

The 1980s was also an era of tremendous population growth around the world, surpassing even the 1970s and 1990s, thus arguably being the largest in human history. Population growth was particularly rapid in a number of African, Middle Eastern, and South Asian countries during this decade, with rates of natural increase close to or exceeding 4% annually.

The 1980s saw the advent of the ongoing practice of sex-selective abortion in China and India as ultrasound technology permitted parents to selectively abort baby girls.[6]

The global Internet took shape in academia by the second half of the 1980s as well as many other computer networks of both academic and commercial use such as USENET, Fidonet and the Bulletin Board System. By 1989 the Internet and the networks linked to it were a global system with extensive transoceanic satellite links and nodes in most rich countries.[7] Based on earlier work from 1980 onwards Tim Berners Lee formalized the concept of the World Wide Web by 1989 and performed its earliest demonstrations in December 1990 and 1991. Television viewing became commonplace in the Third World, with the number of TV sets in China and India increasing by 15 and 10 times respectively.[8]

Video game consoles released in this decade included the continuing popularity of Atari 2600, Intellivision, Vectrex, Colecovision, SG-1000, NES/Famicom, Sega Master System, PC Engine/TurboGrafx-16, Mega Drive/Genesis and Game Boy. Super Mario Bros. and Tetris were the decade's two best selling and most popular video games. 1980's Atari VCS port of Space Invaders was the first killer app. Pac-Man was the decade's highest grossing arcade game. Home computers in that decade include the Commodore 64, VIC-20, the Apple II series, the Atari 8-bit family, Atari ST, Amiga, ZX Spectrum and MSX. Apple Macintosh, Microsoft Windows and IBM PC compatible were also introduced in that decade and helped popularize personal computers.

1980s Intro articles: 82

Politics and wars

The world map of military alliances in 1980:          NATO & Western allies,              Warsaw Pact & other Soviet allies,      Non-aligned countries,      China and Albania (communist countries, but not aligned with USSR), ××× Armed resistance

Terrorist attacks

The most notable terrorist attacks of the decade include:

Wars

The most prominent armed conflicts of the decade include:

International wars

Invasion of Grenada, October 1983

The most notable wars of the decade include:

  • The Cold War (1947–1991)
  • Argentina invaded the Falkland Islands, sparking the Falklands War. It occurred from April 2 to July 14, 1982 between the United Kingdom and Argentina as British forces fought to recover the islands. Britain emerged victorious and its stance in international affairs and its long-decaying reputation as a colonial power received an unexpected boost. The military junta of Argentina, on the other hand, was left humiliated by the defeat; and its leader Leopoldo Galtieri was deposed three days after the end of the war. A military investigation known as the Rattenbach report even recommended his execution.
  • Arab–Israeli conflict (early 20th century – present)
    • 1982 Lebanon War – the Government of Israel ordered the invasion as a response to the assassination attempt against Israel's ambassador to the United Kingdom, Shlomo Argov, by the Abu Nidal Organization and due to the constant terror attacks on northern Israel made by the terrorist organizations which resided in Lebanon. After attacking the PLO, as well as Syrian, leftist and Muslim Lebanese forces, Israel occupied southern Lebanon and eventually surrounded the PLO in west Beirut and subjected to heavy bombardment, they negotiated passage from Lebanon.
    • In October 1985 eight Israeli F-15 Eagles carried out Operation Wooden Leg intending to bomb the PLO's new headquarters in Tunis, Tunisia, more than 2,000 km from Israel. The attack cost 270 lives, most of them Tunisian civilians. The attack was later condemned by the United Nations Security Council. The United States is thought to have assisted or known of the attack.
  • The Iran–Iraq War took place from 1980 to 1988. Iraq was accused of using illegal chemical weapons to kill Iranian forces and against its own dissident Kurdish populations. Both sides suffered enormous casualties, but the poorly equipped Iranian armies suffered worse for it, being forced to use soldiers as young as 15 in human-wave attacks. Iran finally agreed to an armistice in 1988.
  • The United States launched an aerial bombardment of Libya in 1986 in retaliation for Libyan support of terrorism and attacks on US personnel in Germany and Turkey.
  • The South African Border War between South Africa and the alliance of Angola, Namibia and Zambia ended in 1989, ending over thirty years of conflict.
  • The United States engaged in significant direct and indirect conflict in the decade via alliances with various groups in a number of Central and South American countries claiming that the U.S. was acting to oppose the spread of communism and end illicit drug trade. The U.S. government supported the government of Colombia's attempts to destroy its large illicit cocaine-trafficking industry and provided support for right-wing military government in the Salvadoran civil war which became controversial after the El Mozote massacre on December 11, 1981, in which U.S.-trained Salvadoran paramilitaries killed 1000 Salvadoran civilians. The United States, along with members of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States, invaded Grenada in 1983. The Iran–Contra affair erupted which involved U.S. interventionism in Nicaragua, resulting in members of the U.S. government being indicted in 1986. U.S. military action began against Panama in December 1989 to overthrow its dictator, Manuel Noriega resulting in 3,500 civilian casualties and the restoration of democratic rule.
  • Battle of Cuito Cuanavale took place as part of the Angolan civil war and South African Border War from 1987 to 1988. The battle involved the largest fighting in Africa since World War II between military forces from Angola, Cuba (expeditionary forces) and Namibia versus military forces from South Africa and the dissident Angolan UNITA organization.
  • The Nagorno-Karabakh War between Azerbaijan and the Armenia started in 1988 and lasted six years.

Civil wars and guerrilla wars

The most notable internal conflicts of the decade include:

Coups

The most prominent coups d'état of the decade include:

Nuclear threats

The Israeli Air Force F-16A Netz '243' that was flown by Colonel Ilan Ramon during Operation Opera

Decolonization and independence

  • In 1982, Canada gained official independence from the United Kingdom with the Canada Act 1982, authorized by the signature by Elizabeth II. This act severed all political dependencies of the United Kingdom in Canada (although the Queen remained the head of state).
  • In 1986, Australia gained full independence from the United Kingdom with the Australia Act 1986, which severed the last remaining powers of the British government over the Australian government, including the removal of the privy council as the highest court of appeal. Australia retained the queen as head of state.
  • In 1986, New Zealand and the United Kingdom fully separated New Zealand's governments from the influence of the British Parliament, resulting in New Zealand's full independence with the Constitution Act 1986 which also reorganised the New Zealand government.
  • Independence was granted to Vanuatu from the British/French condominium (1980), Kiribati from joint US-British government (1981) and Palau from the United States (1986).
  • Zimbabwe becomes independent from official colonial rule of the United Kingdom in 1980.
  • Independence was given to Antigua and Barbuda, Belize (both 1981), and Saint Kitts and Nevis (1983) in the Caribbean; and Brunei in the Far East in 1984

Prominent political events

Americas

U.S. President Reagan and Soviet General Secretary Gorbachev signing the INF Treaty, 1987
  • Ronald Reagan was elected U.S. President in 1980. In international affairs, Reagan pursued a hardline policy towards preventing the spread of communism, initiating a considerable buildup of U.S. military power to challenge the Soviet Union. He further directly challenged the Iron Curtain by demanding that the Soviet Union dismantle the Berlin Wall.
  • The Reagan Administration accelerated the War on Drugs, publicized through anti-drug campaigns including the Just Say No campaign of First Lady Nancy Reagan. Drugs gained attention in the US as a serious problem in the '80s. Cocaine was relatively popular among celebrities and affluent youth, while crack, a cheaper offshoot of the drug, was linked to high crime rates in inner cities during the American crack epidemic.
  • The Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization (1968) (PATCO) declared a strike on August 3, 1981, seeking better working conditions, better pay, and a 32-hour workweek. The strike caused considerable disruption of the U.S. air transportation system. Resolution came when Ronald Reagan fired over 11,000 striking air traffic controllers who had ignored the order, banning them from federal service for life. After seeking appeals, many of the controllers were re-hired while the FAA attempted to replace much of their air traffic control staffing. The remainder continued to be banned until President Clinton lifted the final aspects in 1993.
  • Political unrest in the province of Quebec, which, due to the many differences between the dominant francophone population and the anglophone minority, and also to francophone rights in the predominantly English-speaking Canada, came to a head in 1980 when the provincial government called a public referendum on partial separation from the rest of Canada. The referendum ended with the "no" side winning majority (59.56% no, 40.44% yes).
  • Military dictatorships give way to democracy in Argentina (1983), Uruguay (1984–85), Brazil (1985–1988) and Chile (1988–89).

Europe

The fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 marked the beginning of German reunification
  • The European Community's enlargement continued with the accession of Greece in 1981 and Spain and Portugal in 1986.
  • In 1983, Bettino Craxi became the first socialist to hold the office of Prime Minister of Italy; he remained in power until 1987, becoming one of the longest-serving Prime Ministers in the history of Italian Republic. At the end of his presidency the Mani pulite corruption scandal broke up, causing the collapse of the political system.
  • Significant political reforms occurred in a number of communist countries in eastern Europe as the populations of these countries grew increasingly hostile and politically active in opposing communist governments. These reforms included attempts to increase individual liberties and market liberalization, and promises of democratic renewal. The collapse of communism in eastern Europe was generally peaceful, the exception being Romania, whose leader Nicolae Ceaușescu tried to keep the people isolated from the events happening outside the country. While making a speech in Bucharest in December 1989, he was booed and shouted down by the crowd, and then tried to flee the city with his wife Elena. Two days later, they were captured, charged with genocide, and shot on Christmas Day.
  • In Yugoslavia, following the death of communist leader Josip Broz Tito in May 1980, the trend of political reform of the communist system occurred along with a trend towards ethnic nationalism and inter-ethnic hostility, especially in Serbia, beginning with the 1986 Memorandum of the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts followed by the agenda of Serbian communist leader Slobodan Milošević who aggressively pushed for increased political influence of Serbs in the late 1980s, condemning non-Serb Yugoslav politicians who challenged his agenda as being enemies of Serbs.
  • There was continuing civil strife in Northern Ireland, including the adoption of hunger strikes by Irish Republican Army prisoners seeking the reintroduction of political status.
  • Mikhail Gorbachev became leader of the Soviet Union in 1985, and initiated major reforms to the Soviet Union's government through increasing the rights of expressing political dissent and opening elections to opposition candidates (while maintaining legal dominance of the Communist Party). Gorbachev pursued negotiation with the United States to decrease tensions and eventually end the Cold War.
  • At the end of the decade, the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 would be followed in 1990 by the German reunification. During 1989, most of the communist governments in Eastern Europe collapsed.
  • The United Kingdom was governed by the Conservative Party under Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, the first female leader of a Western country. Under her Premiership, the party introduced widespread economic reforms including the privatisation of industries and the de-regulation of stock markets echoing similar reforms of U.S. President Ronald Reagan. She was also a staunch opponent of communism, earning her the nickname The Iron Lady.
  • Poor industrial relations marked the beginning of the decade; the UK miners' strike (1984–85) was a major industrial action affecting the UK coal industry. The strike by the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) was led by Arthur Scargill, although some NUM members considered it to be unconstitutional and did not observe it. The BBC has referred to the strike as "the most bitter industrial dispute in British history."[9] At its height, the strike involved 142,000 mineworkers, making it the biggest since the 1926 General Strike.[10]
  • In November 1982, Leonid Brezhnev, who had led the Soviet Union since 1964, died. He was followed in quick succession by Yuri Andropov, the former KGB chief, and Konstantin Chernenko, both of whom were in poor health during their short tenures in office.

Asia

  • South Korean president Chun Doo Hwan came to power at the end of 1979 and ruled as a dictator until his presidential term expired in 1987. He was responsible for the Kwangju Massacre in May 1980 when police and soldiers battled armed protesters. Relations with North Korea showed little sign of improvement during the 1980s. In 1983, when Chun was in Burma, a bomb apparently planted by North Korean agents killed a number of South Korean government officials. After leaving office, he was succeeded by Roh Tae Woo, the first democratic ruler of the country, which saw its international prestige greatly rise with hosting the Olympics in 1988. Roh pursued a policy of normalizing relations with China and the Soviet Union, but had to face militant left-wing student groups who demanded reunification with North Korea and the withdrawal of US troops.
  • In the Philippines, after almost 20 years of dictatorship, Philippine president Ferdinand Marcos left the presidency and was replaced by Corazon Aquino through the "People Power Revolution" from February 22 to 25, 1986. This has been considered by some a peaceful revolution despite the fact that the Armed Forces of the Philippines issued an order to disperse the crowds on EDSA (the main thoroughfare in Metro Manila).
  • Martial law in Taiwan ended in 1987, having lasted 38 years.

World leaders

1980198119821983198419851986198719881989

1980s Politics and wars articles: 195