1970s

Fall of SaigonWatergate scandal1973 oil crisisDiscoIranian RevolutionCamp David Accords1970 Bhola cyclone
Clockwise from top left: U.S. President Richard Nixon doing the V for Victory sign after his resignation from office after the Watergate scandal in 1974; refugees aboard a US naval boat after the Fall of Saigon, leading to the end of the Vietnam War in 1975; the 1973 oil crisis puts the nation of America in gridlock and causes economic damage throughout the developed world; both the leaders of Israel and Egypt shake hands after the signing of the Camp David Accords in 1978; the 1970 Bhola cyclone kills an estimated 500,000 people in the densely populated Ganges Delta region of East Pakistan (which would become independent as Bangladesh in 1971) in November 1970; the Iranian Revolution of 1979 ousts Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi who is later replaced by an Islamic theocracy led by Ayatollah Khomeini; the popularity of the disco music genre peaks during the mid-to-late 1970s.
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The 1970s (pronounced "nineteen-seventies"; shortened to "the '70s") was a decade of the Gregorian calendar 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[1] that followed the end of the postwar economic boom.[2] 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 elections resulted in the victory of its Conservative leader Margaret Thatcher, the first female British Prime Minister. Industrialized countries, except Japan, 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 governments being created in Chile, where a military coup led by Augusto Pinochet took place in 1973.

Novelist Tom Wolfe coined the term "'Me' decade" in his essay "The 'Me' Decade and the Third Great Awakening", published by New York Magazine in August 1976 referring to the 1970s. The term describes a general new attitude of Americans towards atomized individualism and away from communitarianism, in clear contrast with the 1960s.

In Asia, affairs regarding the People's Republic of China changed significantly following the recognition of the PRC 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.[3] The United States withdrew its military forces from their previous involvement in the Vietnam War, which had grown enormously unpopular. In 1979, the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan, which led to an ongoing war for ten years.

The 1970s saw an initial increase in violence in the Middle East as Egypt and Syria declared war on Israel, but in the late 1970s, the situation in the Middle East was fundamentally altered when Egypt signed the Egyptian–Israeli Peace Treaty. Anwar El Sadat, President of Egypt, was instrumental in the event and consequently became extremely unpopular in the Arab world and the wider Muslim world.[4] He was assassinated in 1981. Political tensions in Iran exploded with the Iranian Revolution in 1979, which overthrew the Pahlavi dynasty and established an Islamic republic of Iran under the leadership of the Ayatollah Khomeini.

Africa saw further decolonization in the decade, with Angola and Mozambique gaining their independence in 1975 from the Portuguese Empire after the restoration of democracy in Portugal. 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. They might have thrived and become stable in the way that Europe recovered after World War II through the Marshall Plan; however, their economic growth was slowed by the oil crisis but boomed immediately after.

Politics and wars

Wars

The Vietnam War (1955–1975)

The most notable wars and/or other conflicts of the decade include:

International conflicts

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 1976, peaceful student protests in the Soweto township of South Africa led to the Soweto Uprising when more than 700 black school children were killed 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 President 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.

Coups

Haile Selassie was overthrown from power in Ethiopia, ending one of the longest-lasting monarchies in world history.

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 overthrown 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, that formed a Junta government, which lead the beginning of a 12-year civil war.

Terrorist attacks

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

Worldwide

Americas

Nixon displays the V-for-victory sign as he departs the White House after resigning
  • 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.
  • Suriname was granted independence from the Netherlands on November 25, 1975.
  • In Guyana, the Rev. Jim Jones led several hundred people from the United States to establish a Utopian Marxist commune in the jungle named Jonestown. Amid allegations of corruption, mental and physical abuse by Jones on his followers, and denying them the right to leave Jonestown, a Congressional committee visited Guyana to investigate in November 1978. They were attacked by Jones' guards, and Congressman Leo Ryan was killed. The demented Jones then ordered everyone in the commune to commit suicide. The people drank or were forced to drink, cyanide-laced fruit punch. A total of 900 dead were found, including Jones, who had shot himself.

Europe

United States President Jimmy Carter and Soviet Union leader Leonid Brezhnev sign the SALT II treaty, June 18, 1979, in Vienna, Austria.
  • 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 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 United States.
  • 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.

Asia

Nixon and Zhou toast, 1972
  • On September 17, 1978 the Camp David Accords are 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, restoring relations between the two countries, although diplomatic ties were not established until 1979. In 1976, Mao Zedong and Zhou Enlai both died, beginning 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 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.
  • 1978 Zia ul Haq comes to power
  • 1979 Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto hanged in jail

Africa

  • Idi Amin, President of Uganda from 1971 to 1979, after rising to power in a coup becomes infamous for his brutal dictatorship in Uganda. Amin's regime persecutes opposition to his rule, pursues a racist agenda of removing Asians from Uganda (particularly Indians who arrived in Uganda during British colonial rule). Amin initiates the Ugandan–Tanzanian War in 1978 in alliance with Libya based on an expansionist agenda to annex territory from Tanzania which results in Ugandan defeat and Amin's overthrow in 1979.
  • South African activist Steve Biko dies 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.
Other Languages
العربية: عقد 1970
aragonés: Anyos 1970
asturianu: Década de 1970
azərbaycanca: 1970-ci illər
Bân-lâm-gú: 1970 nî-tāi
беларуская: 1970-я
беларуская (тарашкевіца)‎: 1970-я
български: 1970-те
bosanski: 1970-e
Чӑвашла: 1970-мĕш çулсем
čeština: 1970–1979
Cymraeg: 1970au
dansk: 1970'erne
davvisámegiella: 1970-lohku
Deutsch: 1970er
Ελληνικά: Δεκαετία 1970
emiliàn e rumagnòl: An 1970
эрзянь: 1970 це иеть
español: Años 1970
Esperanto: 1970-aj jaroj
Fiji Hindi: 1970s
føroyskt: 1970-árini
français: Années 1970
Gaeilge: 1970idí
Gàidhlig: 1970an
ГӀалгӀай: 1970-гIа шераш
贛語: 1970年代
客家語/Hak-kâ-ngî: 1970 ngièn-thoi
한국어: 1970년대
հայերեն: 1970-ականներ
hrvatski: 1970-ih
Bahasa Indonesia: 1970-an
interlingua: Annos 1970
Ирон: 1970-тæ
íslenska: 1971-1980
italiano: Anni 1970
Jawa: 1970-an
ქართული: 1970-იანები
қазақша: 1970 жж.
Kiswahili: Miaka ya 1970
Latina: Anni 1970
latviešu: 1970. gadi
Ligure: Anni 1970
Livvinkarjala: 1970-lugu vuvvet
македонски: 1970-ти
Bahasa Melayu: 1970-an
Mìng-dĕ̤ng-ngṳ̄: 1970 nièng-dâi
မြန်မာဘာသာ: ၁၉၇၀ ဆယ်စုနှစ်
Nederlands: 1970-1979
Nedersaksies: 1970-1979
日本語: 1970年代
Napulitano: Anne 1970
norsk nynorsk: 1970-åra
Nouormand: Annaées 1970
occitan: Ans 1970
oʻzbekcha/ўзбекча: 1970-lar
ਪੰਜਾਬੀ: 1970 ਦਾ ਦਹਾਕਾ
português: Década de 1970
română: Anii 1970
Runa Simi: 1970 watakuna
русский: 1970-е годы
саха тыла: 1970-с
Sesotho sa Leboa: 1970s
shqip: Vitet 1970
sicilianu: 1970ini
Simple English: 1970s
slovenščina: 1970.
српски / srpski: 1970-е
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: 1970-e
Sunda: 1970-an
suomi: 1970-luku
svenska: 1970-talet
தமிழ்: 1970கள்
татарча/tatarça: 1970-еллар
тоҷикӣ: Даҳаи 1970
Türkçe: 1970'ler
Türkmençe: 1970ýý
українська: 1970-ті
Tiếng Việt: Thập niên 1970
吴语: 1970年代
ייִדיש: 1970ער
粵語: 1970年代
中文: 1970年代