1990: The year that saw the emergence of a new political, social and cultural powerhouse in South Africa and the decline of another in Great Britain…

– Carmen Lawrence becomes Australia’s first ever female Premier, after the resignation of her predecessor Peter Dowding, in Western Australia

– Lawrence is joined later in the year by Joan Kirner of Victoria, after a series of financial scandals engulfs the previous Premier John Cain

– Bob Hawke is re-elected for a fourth consecutive term in office

– Federal Treasurer Paul Keating announces that Australia is in an economic recession

– World renowned Australian opera singer Dame Joan Sutherland announces her retirement

– Kerry Packer buys back the Nine Television Network from Alan Bond for $250 million, having only sold the company 3 years prior for $1 billion

– The VFL is renamed the AFL (Australian Football League)

– Mikhail Gorbachev is awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for leading his country into a new era of openness and restructuring which included ending the Warsaw Pact and withdrawing Soviet forces from Afghanistan. Gorbachev’s actions also help to officially end the cold war

– Iraqi troops invade the nation of Kuwait, beginning the Persian Gulf War

– East and West Germany are officially reunited

– After almost 28 years, Nelson Mandela is freed from prison as a sign of change by President F.W. De Clerk. Mandela embarks on a global tour that helps consolidate international support for the anti-apartheid movement

– Margaret Thatcher resigns from the British Prime Ministership after divisions over taxes and European regional issues culminate in a leadership challenge and John Major becomes the new Prime Minister

– The Hubble Space Telescope in launched into outer space

– The Simpsons and Seinfeld premier on US network television

Goodfellas, The Godfather Part III, King of New York, Home Alone, Dances With Wolves, Ghost and Total Recall are released

Births: Wyatt Roy (22 May)
Deaths: Greta Garbo (15 April), Sammy Davis Jnr and Jim Henson – pictured (both 16 May)