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The 1970s (pronounced "nineteen-seventies"; commonly shortened to the "Seventies" or the "'70s") was a decade that began on January 1, 1970, and ended on December 31, 1979.
In the 21st century, historians have increasingly portrayed the 1970s as a "pivot of change" in world history, focusing especially on the economic upheavals that followed the end of the postwar economic boom. On a global scale, it was characterized by frequent coups, domestic conflicts and civil wars, and various political upheavals and armed conflicts which arose from or were related to decolonization, and the global struggle between NATO, the Warsaw Pact, and the Non-Aligned Movement. Many regions had periods of high-intensity conflict, notably Southeast Asia, the Middle East, Latin America, and Africa.
In the Western world, social progressive values that began in the 1960s, such as increasing political awareness and economic liberty of women, continued to grow. In the United Kingdom, the 1979 election resulted in the victory of its Conservative leader Margaret Thatcher, the first female British Prime Minister. Industrialized countries experienced an economic recession due to an oil crisis caused by oil embargoes by the Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries. The crisis saw the first instance of stagflation which began a political and economic trend of the replacement of Keynesian economic theory with neoliberal economic theory, with the first neoliberal government coming to power with the 1973 Chilean coup d'état.
The 1970s was also an era of great technological and scientific advances; since the appearance of the first commercial microprocessor, the Intel 4004 in 1971, the decade was characterised by a profound transformation of computing units – by then rudimentary, spacious machines – into the realm of portability and home accessibility. There were also great advances in fields such as physics, which saw the consolidation of quantum field theory at the end of the decade, mainly thanks to the confirmation of the existence of quarks and the detection of the first gauge bosons in addition to the photon, the Z boson and the gluon, part of what was christened in 1975 as the Standard Model.
In Asia, the People's Republic of China's international relations changed significantly following its recognition by the United Nations, the death of Mao Zedong and the beginning of market liberalization by Mao's successors. Despite facing an oil crisis due to the OPEC embargo, the economy of Japan witnessed a large boom in this period, overtaking the economy of West Germany to become the second-largest in the world. The United States withdrew its military forces from the Vietnam War. In 1979, the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan, which led to the Soviet–Afghan War.
The 1970s saw an initial increase in violence in the Middle East as Egypt and Syria declared war on Israel, starting the Yom Kippur War, but in the late 1970s, the situation was fundamentally altered when Egypt signed the Egyptian–Israeli Peace Treaty. Political tensions in Iran exploded with the Iranian Revolution in 1979, which overthrew the Pahlavi dynasty and established an Islamic republic under the leadership of Ayatollah Khomeini.
Africa saw further decolonization in the decade, with Angola and Mozambique gaining their independence in 1975 from the Portuguese Empire after the Carnation Revolution in Portugal. Furthermore, Spain withdrew its claim over Spanish Sahara in 1976, marking the formal end of the Spanish Empire. The continent was, however, plagued by endemic military coups, with the long-reigning Emperor of Ethiopia Haile Selassie being removed, civil wars and famine.
The economies of much of the developing world continued to make steady progress in the early 1970s because of the Green Revolution. However, their economic growth was slowed by the oil crisis, although it boomed afterwards.
The 1970s saw the world population increase from 3.7 to 4.4 billion, with approximately 1.23 billion births and 475 million deaths occurring during the decade.
Politics and wars
The most notable wars and/or other conflicts of the decade include:
- The Cold War (1945–1991)
- The Vietnam War came to a close in 1975 with the fall of Saigon and the unconditional surrender of South Vietnam on April 30, 1975. The following year, Vietnam was officially declared reunited.
- Soviet–Afghan War (1979–1989) – Although taking place almost entirely throughout the 1980s, the war officially started on December 27, 1979.
- Angolan Civil War (1975–2002) – resulting in intervention by multiple countries on the Marxist and anti-Marxist sides, with Cuba and Mozambique supporting the Marxist faction, and South Africa and Zaire supporting the anti-Marxists.
- Cambodian Civil War (1967–1975) ends with the Khmer Rouge establishing Democratic Kampuchea.
- Ethiopian Civil War (1974–1991)
- The Bangladesh Liberation War of 1971 in South Asia, engaging East Pakistan, West Pakistan, and India
- The Portuguese Colonial War (1961–1974)
- 1971 Bangladesh genocide
- Indo-Pakistani War of 1971
- Arab–Israeli conflict (Early 20th century–present)
- Yom Kippur War (1973) – the war was launched by Egypt and Syria against Israel in October 1973 to recover territories lost by the Arabs in the 1967 conflict. The Israelis were taken by surprise and suffered heavy losses before they rallied. In the end, they managed to repel the Egyptians (and a simultaneous attack by Syria in the Golan Heights) and crossed the Suez Canal into Egypt proper. In 1978, Egypt signed a peace treaty with Israel at Camp David in the United States, ending outstanding disputes between the two countries. Sadat's actions would lead to his assassination in 1981.
- Turkish invasion of Cyprus (1974)
- Indonesian invasion of East Timor (1975)
- Indian emergency (1975–1977)
- Lebanese Civil War (1975–1990) – A civil war in the Middle East which at times also involved the PLO and Israel during the early 1980s.
- Western Sahara War (1975–1991) – A regional war pinning the rebel Polisario Front against Morocco and Mauritania.
- Ugandan–Tanzanian War (1978–1979) – the war which was fought between Uganda and Tanzania was based on an expansionist agenda to annex territory from Tanzania. The war resulted in the overthrow of Idi Amin's regime.
- The Ogaden War (1977–1978) was another African conflict between Somalia and Ethiopia over control of the Ogaden region.
- The Rhodesian Bush War (1964–1979)
The most notable International conflicts of the decade include:
- Major conflict between capitalist and communist forces in multiple countries, while attempts are made by the Soviet Union and the United States to lessen the chance for conflict, such as both countries endorsing nuclear nonproliferation.
- In June 1976, peaceful student protests in the Soweto township of South Africa by black students against the use of Afrikaans in schools led to the Soweto uprising which killed more than 176 people, overwhelmingly by South Africa's Security Police.
- Rise of separatism in the province of Quebec in Canada. In 1970, radical Quebec nationalist and Marxist militants of the Front de libération du Québec (FLQ) kidnapped the Quebec labour minister Pierre Laporte and British Trade Commissioner James Cross during the October Crisis, resulting in Laporte being killed, and the enactment of martial law in Canada under the War Measures Act, resulting in a campaign by the Canadian government which arrests suspected FLQ supporters. The election of the Parti Québécois led by René Lévesque in the province of Quebec in Canada, brings the first political party committed to Quebec independence into power in Quebec. Lévesque's government pursues an agenda to secede Quebec from Canada by democratic means and strengthen Francophone Québécois culture in the late 1970s, such as the controversial Charter of the French Language more commonly known in Quebec and Canada as "Bill 101".
- Martial law was declared in the Philippines on September 21, 1972, by dictator Ferdinand Marcos.
- In Cambodia, the communist leader Pol Pot led a revolution against the American-backed government of Lon Nol. On April 17, 1975, Pot's forces captured Phnom Penh, the capital, two years after America had halted the bombings of their positions. His communist government, the Khmer Rouge, forced people out of the cities to clear jungles and establish a radical, Marxist agrarian society. Buddhist priests and monks, along with anyone who spoke foreign languages, had any sort of education, or even wore glasses were tortured or killed. As many as 3 million people may have died. Vietnam invaded the country at the start of 1979, overthrowing the Khmer Rouge and installing a satellite government. This provoked a brief, but furious border war with China in February of that year.
- The Iranian Revolution of 1979 transformed Iran from an autocratic pro-Western monarchy under Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi to a theocratic Islamist government under the leadership of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. Distrust between the revolutionaries and Western powers led to the Iran hostage crisis on November 4, 1979, where 66 diplomats, mainly from the United States, were held captive for 444 days.
- Growing internal tensions take place in Yugoslavia beginning with the Croatian Spring movement in 1971 which demands greater decentralization of power to the constituent republics of Yugoslavia. Yugoslavia's communist ruler Joseph Broz Tito subdues the Croatian Spring movement and arrests its leaders, but does initiate major constitutional reform resulting in the 1974 Constitution which decentralized powers to the republics, gave them the official right to separate from Yugoslavia, and weakened the influence of Serbia (Yugoslavia's largest and most populous constituent republic) in the federation by granting significant powers to the Serbian autonomous provinces of Kosovo and Vojvodina. In addition, the 1974 Constitution consolidated Tito's dictatorship by proclaiming him president-for-life. The 1974 Constitution would become resented by Serbs and began a gradual escalation of ethnic tensions.
The most prominent coups d'état of the decade include:
- 1970 – Coup in Syria, led by Hafez al-Assad.
- 1971 – Military coup in Uganda led by Idi Amin.
- 1973 – Coup d'état in Chile on September 11th, Salvador Allende was overthrown and killed in a military attack on the presidential palace. Augusto Pinochet takes power backed by the military junta.
- 1974 – Military coup in Ethiopia led to the overthrowing of Haile Selassie by the communist junta led by General Aman Andom and Mengistu Haile Mariam, ending one of the world's longest-lasting monarchies in history.
- 1974 – (25 April) Carnation Revolution in Portugal started as a military coup organized by the Armed Forces Movement (Portuguese: Movimento das Forças Armadas, MFA) composed of military officers who opposed the Portuguese fascist regime, but the movement was soon coupled with an unanticipated and popular campaign of civil support. It would ultimately lead to the decolonization of all its colonies, but leave power vacuums that led to civil war in newly independent Lusophone African nations.
- 1975 – Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, President of Bangladesh, and almost his entire family was assassinated in the early hours of August 15, 1975, when a group of Bangladesh Army personnel went to his residence and killed him, during a coup d'état.
- 1976 – Jorge Rafael Videla seizes control of Argentina in 1976 through a coup sponsored by the Argentine military, establishing himself as a dictator of a military junta government in the country.
- 1977 – Military coup in Pakistan political leaders including Zulfikar Ali Bhutto arrested. Martial law declared
- 1979 – an Attempted coup in Iran, backed by the United States, to overthrow the interim government, which had come to power after the Iranian Revolution.
- 1979 – Coup in El Salvador, President General Carlos Humberto Romero, was overthrown by junior ranked officers, who formed a Junta government, which lead to the beginning of a 12-year civil war.
The most notable terrorist attacks of the decade include:
- The Munich massacre takes place at the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich, Germany, where Palestinians belonging to the terrorist group Black September organization kidnapped and murdered eleven Israeli athletes.
- Rise in the use of terrorism by militant organizations across the world. Groups in Europe like the Red Brigades and the Baader-Meinhof Gang were responsible for a spate of bombings, kidnappings, and murders. Violence continued in Northern Ireland and the Middle East. Radical American groups existed as well, such as the Weather Underground and the Symbionese Liberation Army, but they never achieved the size or strength of their European counterparts.
- On September 6, 1970, the world witnessed the beginnings of modern rebellious fighting in what is today called as Skyjack Sunday. Palestinian terrorists hijacked four airliners and took over 300 people on board as hostage. The hostages were later released, but the planes were blown up.
Prominent political events
- 1973 oil crisis and 1979 energy crisis
- The presence and rise of a significant number of women as heads of state and heads of government in a number of countries across the world, many being the first women to hold such positions, such as Soong Ching-ling continuing as the first Chairwoman of the People's Republic of China until 1972, Isabel Perón as the first woman President in Argentina in 1974 until being deposed in 1976, Elisabeth Domitien becomes the first woman Prime Minister of Central African Republic, Indira Gandhi continuing as Prime Minister of India until 1977, Lidia Gueiler Tejada becoming the interim President of Bolivia beginning from 1979 to 1980, Maria de Lourdes Pintasilgo becoming the first woman Prime Minister of Portugal in 1979, and Margaret Thatcher becoming the first woman Prime Minister of the United Kingdom in 1979.
- United States President Richard Nixon resigned as president on August 9, 1974, while facing charges for impeachment for the Watergate scandal.
- Augusto Pinochet rose to power as ruler of Chile after overthrowing the country's Socialist president Salvador Allende in 1973 with the assistance of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) of the United States. Pinochet would remain the dictator of Chile until 1990.
- Argentine president Isabel Perón begins the Dirty War, where the military and security forces hunt down left-wing political dissidents as part of Operation Condor. She is overthrown in a military coup in 1976, and Jorge Rafael Videla comes to power and continues the Dirty War until the military junta relinquished power in 1983.
- Suriname was granted independence from the Netherlands on November 25, 1975.
- In Guyana, the Rev. Jim Jones led several hundred people from his People's Temple in California to create and maintain a Utopian Marxist commune in the jungle named Jonestown. Amid allegations of corruption, mental, sexual, and physical abuse by Jones on his followers, and denying them the right to leave Jonestown, a Congressional committee and journalists visited Guyana to investigate in November 1978. The visitors (and several of those trying to leave Jonestown with them) were attacked and shot by Jones' guards at the airport while trying to depart Guyana together. Congressman Leo Ryan was among those who were shot to death. The demented Jones then ordered everyone in the commune to commit suicide. The people drank or were forced to drink, cyanide-laced fruit punch (Flavor Aid). A total of over 900 dead were found (approximately 1/3 of which were children), including Jones, who had shot himself. Multiple units of the United States military were organized, mobilized, and sent to Guyana to recover over 900 deceased Jonestown residents. After rejections from the Guyanese Government for the United States to bury the Jonestown dead in Guyana, US military personnel were then tasked to prepare and transport the human remains from Guyana for burial in the USA. The US General Accounting Office later detailed an approximate cost of $4.4 million (in taxpayer dollars) for Jonestown's clean-up and recovery operation expenses.
- The Somoza dictatorship in Nicaragua is ousted in 1979 by the Sandinista National Liberation Front, leading to the Contra War in the 1980s.
- Greenland was granted self-government (or "home rule") within the Kingdom of Denmark on November 29, 1979.
- Margaret Thatcher and the Conservative party rose to power in the United Kingdom in 1979, initiating a neoliberal economic policy of reducing government spending, weakening the power of trade unions, and promoting economic and trade liberalization.
- Francisco Franco died after 39 years in power. Juan Carlos I was crowned king of Spain and called for the reintroduction of democracy. The dictatorship in Spain ended. The first general elections were held in 1977 and Adolfo Suárez became Prime minister of Spain after his Centrist Democratic Union won. The Socialist and Communist parties were legalized. The current Spanish Constitution was signed in 1978.
- In 1972, Erich Honecker was chosen to lead East Germany, a role he would fill for the whole of the 1970s and 1980s. The mid-1970s were a time of extreme recession for East Germany, and as a result of the country's higher debts, consumer goods became more and more scarce. If East Germans had enough money to procure a television set, a telephone, or a Trabant automobile, they were placed on waiting lists which caused them to wait as much as a decade for the item in question.
- The Troubles in Northern Ireland continued, with an explosion of political violence erupting in the early 1970s. Notable attacks include the McGurk's Car bombing, the Bloody Sunday massacre, and the Dublin and Monaghan bombings.
- The Soviet Union under the leadership of Leonid Brezhnev, having the largest armed forces and the largest stockpile of nuclear weapons in the world, pursued an agenda to lessen tensions with its rival superpower, the United States, for most of the seventies. That policy, known as détente, abruptly ended with the Soviet invasion in Afghanistan at the end of 1979. While known as a "period of stagnation" in Soviet historiography, the Seventies are largely considered as a sort of a golden age of the USSR in terms of stability and relative well-being. Nevertheless, hidden inflation continued to increase for the second straight decade, and production consistently fell short of demand in agriculture and consumer goods manufacturing. By the end of the 1970s, signs of social and economic stagnation were becoming very pronounced.
- Enver Hoxha's rule in Albania was characterized in the 1970s by growing isolation, first from a very public schism with the Soviet Union the decade before, and then by a split in friendly relations with China in 1978. Albania normalized relations with Yugoslavia in 1971, and attempted trade agreements with other European nations, but was met with vocal disapproval by the United Kingdom and the United States.
- In 1977 the Silver Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II was the international celebration marking the 25th anniversary of the accession of Elizabeth II to the thrones of seven countries.
- 1978 would become known as the "Year of Three Popes". In August, Paul VI, who had ruled since 1963, died. His successor was Cardinal Albino Luciano, who took the name John Paul. But only 33 days later, he was found dead, and the Catholic Church had to elect another pope. On October 16, Karol Wojtyła, a Polish cardinal, was elected, becoming Pope John Paul II. He was the first non-Italian pope since 1523.
- On September 17, 1978, the Camp David Accords were signed between Israel and Egypt. The Accords led directly to the 1979 Egypt–Israel peace treaty. They also resulted in Sadat and Begin sharing the 1978 Nobel Peace Prize.
- Major changes in the People's Republic of China. US president Richard Nixon visited the country in 1972 following visits by Henry Kissinger in 1971, restoring relations between the two countries, although formal diplomatic ties were not established until 1979. In 1976, Mao Zedong and Zhou Enlai both died, leading to the end of the Cultural Revolution and the beginning of a new era. After the brief rule of Mao's chosen successor Hua Guofeng, Deng Xiaoping emerged as China's paramount leader, and began to shift the country towards market economics and away from ideologically driven policies. In 1979, Deng Xiaoping visited the US.
- In 1971, the representatives of Chiang Kai-shek, then-President of the Republic of China (Taiwan), were expelled from the United Nations and replaced by the People's Republic of China. Chiang Kai-shek died in 1975, and in 1978 his son Chiang Ching-kuo became president, beginning a shift towards democratization in Taiwan.
- In Iraq, Saddam Hussein began to rise to power by helping to modernize the country. One major initiative was removing the Western monopoly on oil, which later during the high prices of 1973 oil crisis would help Hussein's ambitious plans. On July 16, 1979, he assumed the presidency cementing his rise to power. His presidency led to the breaking off of a Syrian-Iraqi unification, which had been sought under his predecessor Ahmed Hassan al-Bakr and would lead to the Iran–Iraq War starting in the 1980s.
- Japan's economic growth surpassed the rest of the world in the 1970s, unseating the United States as the world's foremost industrial power.
- On April 17, 1975, the Khmer Rouge, led by Pol Pot, took over Cambodia's capital Phnom Penh.
- From 1975 to 1979, the Khmer Rouge carried out the Cambodian genocide that killed nearly two million.
- On April 13, 1975, the Lebanese Civil War began.
- In 1978, Zia ul Haq came to power
- In 1979, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto was hanged in jail
- Idi Amin, President of Uganda from 1971 to 1979, after rising to power in a coup became infamous for his brutal dictatorship in Uganda. Amin's regime persecuted opposition to his rule and pursued a racist agenda of removing Asians from Uganda (particularly Indians who arrived in Uganda during British colonial rule). Amin initiated the Ugandan–Tanzanian War in 1978 in alliance with Libya based on an expansionist agenda to annex territory from Tanzania which resulted in Ugandan defeat and Amin's overthrow in 1979.
- South African activist Steve Biko died in 1977.
- Francisco Macías Nguema ruled Equatorial Guinea as a brutal dictator from 1969 until his overthrow and execution in 1979.
- Jean-Bédel Bokassa, who had ruled the Central African Republic since 1965, proclaimed himself Emperor Bokasa I and renamed his impoverished country the Central African Empire in 1977. He was overthrown two years later and went into exile.
- On January 5, 1970, the 7.1 Mw Tonghai earthquake shakes Tonghai County, Yunnan, China, with a maximum Mercalli intensity of X (Extreme). Between 10,000 and 14,621 were killed and 26,783 were injured.
- On May 31, 1970, the 1970 Ancash earthquake caused a landslide that buried the town of Yungay, Peru; more than 47,000 people were killed. "Essay on Super Cyclone in Orissa"
- The 1970 Bhola cyclone, a 120-mph (193 km/h) tropical cyclone, hit the densely populated Ganges Delta region of East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) on November 12 and 13, 1970, killing an estimated 500,000 people. The storm remains to date the deadliest tropical cyclone in world history.
- On October 29, 1971, the 1971 Odisha cyclone in the Bay of Bengal, in the Indian state of Odisha, killed 10,000 people.
- June, 1972, Hurricane Agnes hit the east coast of the United States, resulting in 128 deaths and causing over $2.1 Billion in damage.
- On April 3, 1974, the 1974 Super Outbreak occurred in the U.S. producing 148 tornadoes and killing a total of 330 people.
- On December 24, 1974, Cyclone Tracy devastated the Australian city of Darwin.
- Bangladesh famine of 1974 — Official records claim a death toll of 26,000. However, various sources claim about 1,000,000.
- On August 8, 1975, the Banqiao Dam, in China's Henan, failed after a freak typhoon; over 200,000 people perished.
- On February 4, 1976, a major earthquake in Guatemala and Honduras killed more than 22,000.
- On July 28, 1976, a 7.5 earthquake flattened Tangshan, China, killing 242,769 people and injuring 164,851.
- On August 17, 1976, a magnitude 8 earthquake struck Moro Gulf near the island of Sulu in Mindanao, Philippines causing a tsunami killing 5,000 to 8,000 people.
- Super Typhoon Tip affected areas in the southwestern Pacific Ocean from October 4–19, 1979. Off the coast of Guam, Tip became the largest and most powerful tropical cyclone ever recorded, with a gale diameter of almost 1,400 miles, 190-mph winds, and a record intensity of 870 millibars.
- On October 2, 1970, there was a Plane Crash involving the Wichita State University Football Team
- On November 14, 1970, Southern Airways Flight 932 carrying the entire Marshall (West Virginia) football team and boosters crashed into a mountainside near Ceredo, West Virginia, on approach to Tri-State Airport in heavy rain and fog. They were returning from a road game loss at East Carolina University in Greenville, North Carolina. There were no survivors.
- On July 30, 1971, All Nippon Airways Flight 58 collided with a JASDF fighter plane, killing all 162 on board. The JASDF pilot survived.
- On December 29, 1972, Eastern Air Lines Flight 401 crashed in the Florida Everglades while its crew was distracted. 101 people died in the accident while 75 survived.
- On January 22, 1973, an Alia Boeing 707, chartered by Nigeria Airways, crashed upon landing at Nigeria's Kano Airport after one of its landing gear struts collapsed. 176 of the 202 people on board perished, leaving 26 survivors.
- On March 3, 1974, Turkish Airlines Flight 981 crashed in northern France after a cargo hatch blowout, killing all 346 people aboard.
- On April 4, 1975, the rear loading ramp on a USAF Lockheed C-5 Galaxy blew open mid-flight, causing explosive decompression that crippled the aircraft. 153 were killed in the incident while 175 survived.
- On November 10, 1975, the U.S. Great Lakes bulk freighter SS Edmund Fitzgerald foundered on Lake Superior with the loss of all 29 crewmen.
- On September 10, 1976, in the Zagreb mid-air collision, a British Airways Hawker Siddeley Trident and an Inex-Adria Aviopromet Douglas DC-9 collided near Zagreb, Yugoslavia (now Croatia), killing all 176 aboard both planes and another person on the ground.
- On March 27, 1977, two Boeing 747s (a KLM and a Pan Am) collided on the runway in heavy fog at Los Rodeos Airport in Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain, killing 583 people – the worst aviation disaster on record.
- On January 1, 1978, Air India Flight 855 crashed into the sea off the coast of India, killing all 213 aboard.
- On September 25, 1978, PSA Flight 182 collided with a private Cessna 172 over San Diego, California, and crashed into a local neighborhood. All 135 on the PSA aircraft, both pilots of the Cessna, and 7 people on the ground (144 total) were killed.
- On May 25, 1979, American Airlines Flight 191, outbound from O'Hare International Airport in Chicago, Illinois, lost an engine during take-off and crashed, killing all 271 on board and 2 others on the ground. It was and remains the deadliest single-plane crash on American soil.
- On November 28, 1979, Air New Zealand Flight 901 crashed on the flanks of Mount Erebus in Antarctica, killing all 257 people on board.
- On March 28, 1979, there was a partial meltdown of the Three Mile Island Unit 2 reactor in Pennsylvania, United States. It is the most significant accident in U.S. commercial nuclear power plant history.
Superpower tensions had cooled by the 1970s, with the bellicose US–Soviet confrontations of the 1950s–60s giving way to the policy of "détente", which promoted the idea that the world's problems could be resolved at the negotiating table. Détente was partially a reaction against the policies of the previous 25 years, which had brought the world dangerously close to nuclear war on several occasions, and because the US was in a weakened position following the failure of the Vietnam War. As part of détente, the US also restored ties with the People's Republic of China, partially as a counterweight against Soviet expansionism.
The US–Soviet geopolitical rivalry nonetheless continued through the decade, although in a more indirect faction as the two superpowers jockeyed relentlessly for control of smaller countries. American and Soviet intelligence agencies gave funding, training, and material support to insurgent groups, governments, and armies across the globe, each seeking to gain a geopolitical advantage and install friendly governments. Coups, civil wars, and terrorism went on across Asia, Africa, and Latin America, and also in Europe where a spate of Soviet-backed Marxist terrorist groups were active throughout the decade. Over half the world's population in the 1970s lived under a repressive dictatorship. In 1979, a new wrinkle appeared in the form of Islamic fundamentalism, as the Shia theocracy of Ayatollah Khomeini overthrew the Shah of Iran and declared itself hostile to both Western democracy and godless communism.
People were deeply influenced by the rapid pace of societal change and the aspiration for a more egalitarian society in cultures that were long colonized and have an even longer history of hierarchical social structure.
The Green Revolution of the late 1960s brought about self-sufficiency in food in many developing economies. At the same time an increasing number of people began to seek urban prosperity over agrarian life. This consequently saw the duality of transition of diverse interaction across social communities amid increasing information blockade across social class.
Another common global ethos of the 1970s world included increasingly flexible and varied gender roles for women in industrialized societies. More women could enter the workforce. However, the gender role of men remained as that of a breadwinner. The period also saw the socioeconomic effect of an ever-increasing number of women entering the non-agrarian economic workforce. The Iranian revolution also affected global attitudes toward and among those of the Muslim faith toward the end of the 1970s.
The global experience of the cultural transition of the 1970s and an experience of a global zeitgeist revealed the interdependence of economies since World War II, in a world increasingly polarized between the United States and the Soviet Union.
Assassinations and attempts
Prominent assassinations, targeted killings, and assassination attempts include:
|June 1, 1970
|Pedro Eugenio Aramburu. former President of Argentina, Kidnapped and killed by the Montoneros, a guerrilla organization.
|April 19, 1972
|Ntare V, the final King of Burundi, was detained and assassinated upon his return from exile.
|March 25, 1975
|Faisal bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, King of Saudi Arabia, is assassinated by his half-brother's son, Faisal bin Musaid.
|August 15, 1975
|Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, 1st and 5th President of Bangladesh, and almost his entire family was assassinated when a group of Bangladesh Army personnel went to his residence and killed him, during a coup d'état.
|September 5 and 22, 1975
|Gerald Ford, 38th President of the United States, survives two attempts on his life in September 1975 when two separate women open fire on him at two different events. The first occurring in Sacramento, and the second occurring in San Francisco.
|April 28, 1978
|Mohammad Daoud Khan, first President of Afghanistan, is killed by People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan affiliated military officers during the Saur Revolution.
|May 9, 1978
|Aldo Moro, former Prime Minister of Italy, is kidnapped and later killed by the Red Brigades, an Italian Marxist organization.
|October 26, 1979
|Park Chung Hee, President of South Korea, is assassinated by KCIA director Kim Jae-gyu during a dinner at the Blue House in Seoul.
|October 27, 1979
|Hafizullah Amin, leader of Democratic Republic of Afghanistan, is assassinated by the Soviet Union in the early stages of the Soviet–Afghan War.
The 1970s were perhaps the worst decade of most industrialized countries' economic performance since the Great Depression. Although there was no severe economic depression as witnessed in the 1930s, economic growth rates were considerably lower than previous decades. As a result, the 1970s adversely distinguished itself from the prosperous postwar period between 1945 and 1973. The oil shocks of 1973 and 1979 added to the existing ailments and conjured high inflation throughout much of the world for the rest of the decade. U.S. manufacturing industries began to decline as a result, with the United States running its last trade surplus (as of 2009[update]) in 1975. In contrast, Japan and West Germany experienced economic booms and started overtaking the U.S. as the world's leading manufacturers. In 1970, Japan overtook West Germany to become the world's second-largest economy. Japan would rank as the world's second-largest economy until 1994 when the European Economic Area (18 countries under a single market) came into effect.
In the US, the average annual inflation rate from 1900 to 1970 was approximately 2.5%. From 1970 to 1979, however, the average rate was 7.06%, and topped out at 13.29% in December 1979. This period is also known for "stagflation", a phenomenon in which inflation and unemployment steadily increased. It led to double-digit interest rates that rose to unprecedented levels (above 12% per year). The prime rate hit 21.5 in December 1980, the highest in history. A rising cost of housing was reflected in the average price of a new home in the U.S. The average price of a new home in the U.S. was $23,450 in 1970 up to $68,700 by 1980. By the time of 1980, when U.S. President Jimmy Carter was running for re-election against Ronald Reagan, the misery index (the sum of the unemployment rate and the inflation rate) had reached an all-time high of 21.98%. The economic problems of the 1970s would result in a sluggish cynicism replacing the optimistic attitudes of the 1950s and 1960s and a distrust of government and technology. Faith in government was at an all-time low in the aftermath of Vietnam and Watergate, as exemplified by the low voter turnout in the 1976 United States presidential election. There was also the 1973–74 stock market crash.
Great Britain also experienced considerable economic turmoil during the decade as outdated industries proved unable to compete with Japanese and German wares. Labor strikes happened with such frequency as to almost paralyze the country's infrastructure. Following the Winter of Discontent, Margaret Thatcher was elected prime minister in 1979 with the purpose of implementing extreme economic reforms.
In Eastern Europe, Soviet-style command economies began showing signs of stagnation, in which successes were persistently dogged by setbacks. The oil shock increased East European, particularly Soviet, exports, but a growing inability to increase agricultural output caused growing concern to the governments of the COMECON block, and a growing dependence on food imported from democratic nations.
On the other hand, export-driven economic development in Asia, especially by the Four Asian Tigers (Hong Kong, South Korea, Singapore, and Taiwan), resulted in rapid economic transformation and industrialization. Their abundance of cheap labor, combined with educational and other policy reforms, set the foundation for development in the region during the 1970s and beyond.
Economically, the 1970s were marked by the energy crisis which peaked in 1973 and 1979 (see 1973 oil crisis and 1979 oil crisis). After the first oil shock in 1973, gasoline was rationed in many countries. Europe particularly depended on the Middle East for oil; the United States was also affected even though it had its own oil reserves. Many European countries introduced car-free days and weekends. In the United States, customers with a license plate ending in an odd number were only allowed to buy gasoline on odd-numbered days, while even-numbered plate-holders could only purchase gasoline on even-numbered days. The realization that oil reserves were not endless and technological development was not sustainable without potentially harming the environment ended the belief in limitless progress that had existed since the 19th century. As a result, ecological awareness rose substantially, which had a major effect on the economy.
Science and technology
The 1970s witnessed an explosion in the understanding of solid-state physics, driven by the development of the integrated circuit, and the laser. Stephen Hawking developed his theories of black holes and the boundary-condition of the universe at this period with his theory called Hawking radiation. The biological sciences greatly advanced, with molecular biology, bacteriology, virology, and genetics achieving their modern forms in this decade. Biodiversity became a cause of major concern as habitat destruction, and Stephen Jay Gould's theory of punctuated equilibrium revolutionized evolutionary thought.
As the 1960s ended, the United States had made two successful crewed lunar landings. Many Americans lost interest afterward, feeling that since the country had accomplished President John F. Kennedy's goal of landing on the Moon by the end of the 1960s, there was no need for further missions. There was also a growing sentiment that the billions of dollars spent on the space program should be put to other uses. The Moon landings continued through 1972, but the near loss of the Apollo 13 mission in April 1970 served to further anti-NASA feelings. Plans for missions up to Apollo 20 were canceled, and the remaining Apollo and Saturn hardware was used for the Skylab space station program in 1973–1974, and for the Apollo–Soyuz Test Project (ASTP), which was carried out in July 1975. Many of the ambitious projects NASA had planned for the 1970s were canceled amid heavy budget cutbacks, and instead it would devote most of the decade to the development of the Space Shuttle. ASTP was the last crewed American space flight for the next five years. The year 1979 witnessed the spectacular reentry of Skylab over Australia. NASA had planned for a Shuttle mission to the space station, but the shuttles were not ready to fly until 1981, too late to save it.
Meanwhile, the Soviets, having failed in their attempt at crewed lunar landings, canceled the program in 1972. By then, however, they had already begun Salyut, the world's first space station program, which began in 1971. This would have problems of its own, especially the tragic loss of the Soyuz 11 crew in July 1971 and the near-loss of the Soyuz 18a crew during launch in April 1975. It eventually proved a success, with missions as long as six months being conducted by the end of the decade.
In terms of uncrewed missions, a variety of lunar and planetary probes were launched by the US and Soviet programs during the decade. The most successful of these include the Soviet Lunokhod program, a series of robotic lunar missions which included the first uncrewed sample return from another world, and the American Voyagers, which took advantage of a rare alignment of the outer planets to visit all of them except Pluto by the end of the 1980s.
China entered the space race in 1970 with the launching of its first satellite, but technological backwardness and limited funds would prevent the country from becoming a significant force in space exploration. Japan launched a satellite for the first time in 1972. The European Space Agency was founded during the decade as well.
- The second generation of face lifts were first attempted in the 1970s, popularizing the procedure for millions.
- The first MRI image was published in 1973.
- César Milstein and Georges Köhler reported their discovery of how to use hybridoma cells to isolate monoclonal antibodies, effectively beginning the history of monoclonal antibody use in science.
- Carl Woese and George E. Fox classified archaea as a new, separate domain of life.
- "Lucy", a fossilized hominid of the species Australopithecus afarensis, was discovered in the Afar region of Ethiopia by Donald Johanson in 1974, providing evidence for bipedalism as an early occurrence in human evolution.
- After successful vaccination campaigns throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, the WHO certified the eradication of smallpox in December 1979 after the last smallpox case in 1977.
- The first organisms genetically engineered were bacteria in 1973 and then mice in 1974.
- 1977 The first complete DNA genome to be sequenced is that of bacteriophage φX174.
- In 1978, Louise Brown became the first child to be born via in vitro fertilisation, or IVF.
Social science intersected with hard science in the works in natural language processing by Terry Winograd (1973) and the establishment of the first cognitive sciences department in the world at MIT in 1979. The fields of generative linguistics and cognitive psychology went through a renewed vigor with symbolic modeling of semantic knowledge while the final devastation of the long-standing tradition of behaviorism came about through the severe criticism of B. F. Skinner's work in 1971 by the cognitive scientist Noam Chomsky.
Concorde makes the world's first commercial passenger-carrying supersonic flight.
Electronics and communications
The birth of modern computing was in the 1970s, which saw the development of:
- Intel 4004, the world's first general microprocessor
- the C programming language
- rudimentary personal computers, with the launch of the Datapoint 2200
- pocket calculators
- the Magnavox Odyssey, the first home video game console
- the Sony Walkman, built in 1978 by Japanese audio-division engineer Nobutoshi Kihara
- consumer video games, after the release of Computer Space
- the earliest floppy disks, invented at IBM, which were 8 inches wide and long, commercially available by 1971
- email, with the first transmission in 1971
- electronic paper, developed by Nick Sheridon at Xerox's Palo Alto Research Center (PARC)
- the Xerox Alto of 1973, the first computer to use the desktop metaphor and mouse-driven graphical user interface (GUI)
The 1970s were also the start of:
- fiber optics, which transformed the communications industry
- microwave ovens, which became commercially available
- Betamax and VHS VCRs which became commercially available and especially VHS would become widely used for home entertainment in the 1980s and 1990s.
- the first voicemail system, known as the Speech Filing System (SFS), invented by Stephen J. Boies in 1973
- e-commerce, invented in 1979 by Michael Aldrich
- DiscoVision in 1978, the first commercial optical disc storage medium
- positron emission tomography, invented in 1972 by Edward J. Hoffman and fellow scientist Michael Phelps
- cell phones, with the first call transmitted in 1973, Martin Cooper of Motorola
- car phone services, first available in Finland in 1971 in form of the zero-generation ARP (Autoradiopuhelin, or Car Radiophone) service
- Apple Computer Company, founded in 1976 and incorporated the following year by Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak
British Rail introduced high-speed trains on InterCity services. The trains consisted of British Rail Class 43 diesel-electric locomotives at either end with British Rail Mark 3 carriages. The trains were built in the United Kingdom by British Rail Engineering Limited. The high speed trains ran at 125 miles per hour (201 km/h) speeding up journeys between towns and cities and is still known as the InterCity 125.
Amtrak was formed in the United States in 1971, assuming responsibility for inter-city passenger operations throughout the country. In 1976, Conrail was formed to take over the assets of six bankrupt freight railroads in the northeastern US.
The 1970s was an era of fuel price increases, rising insurance rates, safety concerns, and emissions controls. The 1973 oil crisis caused a move towards smaller, fuel-efficient vehicles. Attempts were made to produce electric cars, but they were largely unsuccessful. In the United States, imported cars became a significant factor for the first time, and several domestic-built subcompact models entered the market. American-made cars such as the "quirky" AMC Gremlin, the jelly bean shaped AMC Pacer, and Pontiac Firebird's powerful Trans Am "sum up" the decade. Muscle cars and convertible models faded from favor during the early-1970s. It was believed that the 1976 Cadillac Eldorado would be the last American-built convertible; ending the open body style that once dominated the auto industry.
Cars in the U.S. from the early 1970s are noted more for their power than their styling, but they even lost their power by Malaise era of the late-1970s. Styling on American cars became progressively more boxy and rectilinear during the 1970s, with coupes being the most popular body style. Wood paneling and shag carpets dominated the interiors. Many automobiles began to lose their character and looked the same across brands and automakers, as well as featuring "luxury" enhancements such as vinyl roofs and opera windows. Only a few had "real personalities" such as the AMC Gremlin, which was America's first modern subcompact, and the AMC Pacer. "These two cars embody a sense of artful desperation that made them stand out from the crowd and epitomize at once the best and worst of the seventies."
Automobiles in the U.S. reached the largest sizes they would ever attain, but by 1977, General Motors managed to downsize its full-size models to more manageable dimensions. Ford followed suit two years later, with Chrysler offering new small front-wheel-drive models, but was suffering from a worsening financial situation caused by various factors. By 1979, the company was near bankruptcy, and under its new president Lee Iacocca (who had been fired from Ford the year before), asked for a government bailout. American Motors beat out the U.S. Big Three to subcompact sized model (the Gremlin) in 1970, but its fortunes declined throughout the decade, forcing it into a partnership with the French automaker Renault in 1979.
European car design underwent major changes during the 1970s due to the need for performance with high fuel efficiency—designs such as the Volkswagen Golf and Passat, BMW 3, 5, and 7 series, and Mercedes-Benz S-Class appeared at the latter half of the decade. Ford Europe, specifically Ford Germany, also eclipsed the profits of its American parent company. The designs of Giorgetto Giugiaro became dominant, along with those of Marcello Gandini in Italy. The 1970s also saw the decline and practical failure of the British car industry—a combination of militant strikes and poor quality control effectively halted development at British Leyland, owner of all other British car companies during the 1970s.
The Japanese automobile industry flourished during the 1970s, compared to other major auto markets. Japanese vehicles became internationally renowned for their affordability, reliability, and fuel-efficiency, which was very important to many customers after the oil crisis of 1973. Japanese car manufacturing focused on computerized robotic manufacturing techniques and lean manufacturing, contributing to high-efficiency and low production costs. The Honda Civic was introduced in 1973, and sold well due to its high fuel-efficiency. By 1975 Toyota overtook Volkswagen as the top-selling imported automobile brand in the U.S., with over a million cars sold per year by this point. Other popular compact cars included the Toyota Corolla and the Datsun Sunny, in addition to other cars from those companies and others such as Subaru, Mitsubishi, and Mazda.