Germany was also entering a new era of hope, and not just because West Germany had won the World Cup and reduced England's Paul "Gazza" Gascoigne to tears. At midnight on 3 October, Germany became one nation, only 11 months after the Berlin Wall had come down.
The year also brought independence from the USSR for Lithuania, the Russian Federation and Uzbekistan.
The Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein announced that all foreign "guests" in Iraq and Kuwait would be detained, as a "human shield" to ensure the good conduct of their native countries, but on 28 August Hussein was forced to appease the international forces lined up against him, and release all women and children taken as hostages.
In Britain, Margaret Thatcher resigned after losing a key ballot of her own MPs. The first woman prime minister was replaced by the relatively unknown John Major.
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