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was a leap year starting on Monday of the Gregorian calendar, the 1996th year of the Common Era (CE) and Anno Domini (AD) designations, the 996th year of the 2nd millennium, the 96th year of the 20th century, and the 7th year of the 1990s decade.
1996 was designated as:
- International Year for the Eradication of Poverty
- January 3 – Motorola introduces the Motorola StarTAC Wearable Cellular Telephone, the world's smallest and lightest mobile phone to date.
- January 5 – Hamas operative Yahya Ayyash is assassinated by an Israeli Shabak-planted, bomb-laden cell phone.
- January 7 – One of the worst blizzards in American history hits the eastern states, killing more than 150 people. Philadelphia receives a record 30.7 inches (78 cm) of snow, New York City's public schools close for the first time in eighteen years and the federal government in Washington, D.C. is closed for days.
- January 8 – A Zairean cargo plane crashes into a crowded market in the center of the capital city, Kinshasa, killing 300 people.
- January 9–20 – Serious fighting breaks out between Russian soldiers and rebel fighters in Chechnya.
- January 11 – Ryutaro Hashimoto, leader of the Liberal Democratic Party, becomes Prime Minister of Japan.
- January 13 – Italy's Prime Minister, Lamberto Dini, resigns after the failure of all-party talks to confirm him. New talks are initiated by President Oscar Luigi Scalfaro to form a new government.
- January 14 – Jorge Sampaio is elected President of Portugal.
- January 16 – President of Sierra Leone Valentine Strasser is deposed by the chief of defence, Julius Maada Bio. Bio promises to restore power following elections scheduled for February.
- January 19
- The North Cape oil spill occurs as an engine fire forces the tugboat Scandia ashore on Moonstone Beach in South Kingstown, Rhode Island. The North Cape Barge is pulled along with it and leaks 820,000 gallons of home heating oil.
- An Indonesian ferry sinks off the northern tip of Sumatra, drowning more than 100 people.
- January 20 – Yasser Arafat is re-elected president of the Palestinian Authority.
- February 4 – The 6.6 Mw earthquake near Lijiang in South-west China kills up to 322 people, injures 17,000, and leaves 300,000 homeless.
- February 6 – Birgenair Flight 301, on an unauthorised charter flight from the Caribbean to Germany, crashes into the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of the Dominican Republic, killing all 189 passengers and crew.
- February 7 – René Préval succeeds Jean-Bertrand Aristide as President of Haiti in the first peaceful handover of power since the nation achieved independence 192 years earlier, in 1804.
- February 9
- The element copernicium is created by fusing a 208Pb nucleus with a 70Zn nucleus, forming 278Cn. Given the placeholder name "ununbium", the element is not named until 2010.
- An IRA ceasefire ends with the Docklands bombing in London's Canary Wharf District, killing two people and causing over £85,000,000 worth of damage.
- February 10 – Bosnian Serbs break off contact with the Bosnian government and with representatives of Ifor, the NATO localised force, in reaction to the arrest of several Bosnian Serb war criminals.
- February 14 – Violent clashes erupt between Filipino soldiers and Vietnamese boat people, as the Filipino government attempts to forcibly repatriate hundreds of Vietnamese asylum seekers.
- February 15
- The American Embassy in Athens, Greece, comes under mortar fire.
- Begum Khaleda Zia is re-elected as Prime Minister of Bangladesh. The country's second democratic election is marred by low voter turnout, due to several boycotts and pre-election violence, which has resulted in at least thirteen deaths.
- The UK government publishes the Scott Report.
- March 1 – Iraq disarmament crisis: Iraqi forces refuse UNSCOM inspection teams access to five sites designated for inspection. The teams enter the sites only after delays of up to seventeen hours.
- March 2 – Australian federal election, 1996: The Liberal/National Coalition led by John Howard defeats the Labor Government led by Prime Minister Paul Keating. Howard was sworn in on March 11.
- March 3 – José María Aznar, leader of the Popular Party, is elected as Prime Minister of Spain, replacing Felipe González.
- March 3–4 – Two suicide bombs explode in Israel, killing 32 people. The Yahya Ayyash Units admit responsibility, and Palestinian president Yasser Arafat condemns the killings in a televised address. Israel warns of retaliation.
- March 6
- Mesut Yılmaz of ANAP forms the new government of Turkey (53rd government).
- A boat carrying market traders capsizes outside Freetown harbour in Sierra Leone, killing at least 86 people.
- Chechen rebels attack the Russian government headquarters in Grozny; 70 Russian soldiers and policemen and 130 Chechen fighters are killed.
- March 8 – China begins surface-to-surface missile testing and military exercises off Taiwanese coastal areas. The United States government condemns the act as provocation, and the Taiwanese government warns of retaliation.
- March 9 – Jorge Sampaio is the new Portuguese president.
- March 13 – Dunblane massacre: Unemployed former shopkeeper Thomas Hamilton walks into the Dunblane Primary School in Scotland and opens fire, killing sixteen infant school pupils and one teacher before committing suicide.
- March 14 – An international peace summit is held in Egypt in response to escalating terrorist attacks in the Middle East.
- March 16 – Robert Mugabe is re-elected as President of Zimbabwe, although only 32% of the electorate actually voted.
- March 17 – Sri Lanka wins the Cricket World Cup by beating Australia in the final.
- March 18 – The Ozone Disco Club fire in Quezon City, Philippines kills 163 people.
- March 22 – Sweden's Finance Minister Göran Persson becomes the new Prime Minister of Sweden.
- March 23 – Taiwan (Republic of China) holds its first direct elections for President; Lee Teng-hui is re-elected.
- March 24 – The Marcopper mining disaster on the island of Marinduque, Philippines takes place.
- March 25 – The 68th Academy Awards, hosted by Whoopi Goldberg, are held at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in Los Angeles with Braveheart winning Best Picture.
- March 26 – The International Monetary Fund approves a $10.2 billion loan to Russia for economic reform.
- May – Iraq disarmament crisis: UNSCOM supervises the destruction of Al-Hakam, Iraq's main production facility of biological warfare agents.
- May 9
- May 10
- May 11 – After takeoff from Miami, a fire started by improperly handled oxygen canisters in the cargo hold of Atlanta-bound ValuJet Flight 592 causes the Douglas DC-9 to crash in the Florida Everglades, killing all 110 people on board.
- May 13 – Severe thunderstorms and a tornado in Bangladesh kill 600 people.
- May 17–28 – Atal Bihari Vajpayee, leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party, is elected as Prime Minister of India, replacing P. V. Narasimha Rao of the Indian National Congress. However, the party does not receive an overall majority and Vajpayee resigns thirteen days later rather than face a no confidence vote and is replaced by the United Front leader, Deve Gowda.
- May 18 – The X Prize Foundation launches the $10,000,000 Ansari X Prize.
- May 21
- May 23 – Members of the Armed Islamic Group in Algeria kill seven French Trappist monks, after talks with French government concerning the imprisonment of several GIA sympathisers break down.
- May 27 – First Chechnya War: Russian President Boris Yeltsin meets with Chechnyan rebels for the first time and negotiates a ceasefire for the dispute.
- May 28 – Albania's general election of May 26 is declared unfair by international monitors, and the ruling Democratic Party under President Sali Berisha is charged by the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe with rigging the elections. Several hundred protestors gather in Tirana to demonstrate against the election result.
- May 30 – The Likud Party, led by Benjamin Netanyahu, wins a narrow victory in the Israeli general election.
- July 1
- July 3 – Boris Yeltsin is re-elected as President of Russia after the second round of elections.
- July 5 – Dolly the sheep, the first mammal to be successfully cloned from an adult cell, is born at the Roslin Institute in Midlothian, Scotland, UK.
- July 11 – Arrest warrants are issued for Bosnian Serb war criminals Radovan Karadžić and Ratko Mladić by the Russell Tribunal in The Hague.
- July 12 – Hurricane Bertha: made landfall in North Carolina as a Category 2 storm, causing $270 million in damage ($422 million in present-day terms) to the United States and its possessions and many indirect deaths.
- July 16 – An outbreak of E. coli food poisoning in Japan results in 6,000 children being ill, including two deaths, after a group of school children eat contaminated lunches.
- July 17
- July 19
- July 21 – The Saguenay Flood, one of Canada's most costly natural disasters, is caused by flooding on the Saguenay River in Quebec.
- July 24 – The Dehiwala train bombing kills 56 commuters outside Colombo.
- July 25 – The Tutsi-led Burundian army performs a coup and reinstalls previous president Pierre Buyoya, ousting current president Sylvestre Ntibantunganya.
- July 27 – The Centennial Olympic Park bombing at the 1996 Summer Olympics kills one person and injures 111.
The electron microscope reveals chain structures in meteorite fragment ALH84001
- August 1
- August 4 – The 1996 Summer Olympics conclude.
- August 6 – NASA announces that the Allan Hills 84001 meteorite, thought to originate from Mars, may contain evidence of primitive lifeforms.
- August 7 – Heavy rains kill more than 80 campers near Huesca, Spain.
- August 9 – Boris Yeltsin is sworn in at the Kremlin for a second term as President of Russia.
- August 13 – Data sent back by the Galileo space probe indicates there may be water on one of Jupiter's moons.
- August 14 – A rocket ignited during a fireworks display in Arequipa, Peru knocks down a high-tension power cable into a dense crowd, electrocuting 35 people.
- August 15 – Bob Dole is nominated for President of the United States, and Jack Kemp for Vice President, at the Republican National Convention in San Diego, California.
- August 16 – Brookfield Zoo, Chicago. After a 3-year-old boy falls into the 20-foot (6.1 m) deep gorilla enclosure, Binti Jua, a female lowland gorilla sits with the injured boy until his rescue.
- August 21
- August 23 – Osama bin Laden writes "The Declaration of Jihad on the Americans Occupying the Country of the Two Sacred Places," a call for the removal of American military forces from Saudi Arabia.
- August 28 – Their Royal Highnesses, the Prince and Princess of Wales, are formally divorced at the High Court of Justice in London. Her Royal Highness The Princess of Wales is restyled Diana, Princess of Wales, due to the Queen's letters patent issued a week earlier.
- August 29
- August 31 – Iraq disarmament crisis: Iraqi forces launch an offensive into the northern No-Fly Zone and capture Arbil.
- February 1
- February 2 – Harry Winks, English footballer
- February 5 – Zeng Siqi, Chinese artistic gymnast
- February 7
- February 8 – Kenedy, Brazilian footballer
- February 9
- February 11 – Jonathan Tah, German footballer
- February 13 – Muhammad Rian Ardianto, Indonesian badminton player
- February 14
- February 17
- February 18 – Ikumi Hisamatsu, Japanese fashion model and actress
- February 21 – Sophie Turner, English actress
- February 23 – D'Angelo Russell, American basketball player
- February 24 – Cristian Imparato, Italian singer
- February 25 – Emel Dereli, Turkish shot putter
- February 28 – Danilo Barbosa, Brazilian footballer
- March 1
- March 4
- March 6
- March 8
- March 9 – Giorgio Minisini, Italian synchronized swimmer
- March 14 – Janai Haupapa, Canadian rugby league player
- March 15 – Levin Öztunalı, German footballer
- March 16 – Anna Ovcharova, Russian/Swiss figure skater
- March 17 – Saeed Blacknall, American wide receiver
- March 18 – Madeline Carroll, American actress
- March 19 – Feodosiy Efremenkov, Russian figure skater
- March 22 – Gig Morton, Canadian actor
- March 23 – Lauri Kivari, Finnish freestyle skier
- March 24
- March 26 – Kathryn Bernardo, Filipina actress
- March 27 – Rosabell Laurenti Sellers, Italian-American actress
- March 28 – Xie Siyi, Chinese diver
- March 29 – Wade Baldwin IV, American basketball player
- May 1 – Christopher J. Alexis Jr., Grenadian road cyclist
- May 2 – Julian Brandt, German footballer
- May 3
- May 4
- May 5
- May 8 – 6ix9ine, American rapper
- May 10 – Tyus Jones, American basketball player
- May 11 – Adrián Cubas, Argentinian footballer
- May 14
- May 15 – Birdy, English singer and songwriter
- May 17 – Ryan Ochoa, American actor
- May 18 – Violett Beane, American actress
- May 19 – Lakshmi Menon, Indian film actress
- May 18 – Yuki Kadono, Japanese snowboarder
- May 23 – Katharina Althaus, German ski jumper
- May 26 – Tyler Hilinski, American football player (d. 2018)
- May 30
- June 1 – Tom Holland, British actor
- June 3 – Han Tianyu, Chinese short track speed skater
- June 4 – Ruby Harrold, British artistic gymnast
- June 7 – Christian McCaffrey, American football player
- June 11 – Hakeeb Adelakun, English footballer
- June 12
- June 13
- June 15 – Aurora, Norwegian singer
- June 16 – Lily Zhang, American table tennis player
- June 17 – Godfred Donsah, Ghanese footballer
- June 18 – Alen Halilović, Croatian footballer
- June 19 – Larisa Iordache, Romanian artistic gymnast
- June 20
- June 22
- June 24 – Harris Dickinson, English actor, writer, and director
- June 28
- June 29 – Bart Ramselaar, Dutch footballer
- July 1 – Adelina Sotnikova, Russian figure skater
- July 3
- July 5 – Risa Shoji, Japanese figure skater
- July 6 – Robert Naylor, Canadian actor
- July 8 – Marlon Humphrey, American football player
- July 9 – Shanice Williams, American actress and singer
- July 10 – Moon Ga-young, South Korean actress
- July 11
- July 12 – Moussa Dembélé, French footballer
- July 16
- July 18
- July 20 – Ben Simmons, Australian basketball player
- July 21 – Joey Bragg, American actor
- July 22
- July 23
- July 24 – Joe Mixon, American football player
- July 27 – Trenton Thompson, American football player
- July 30 – Dylan Larkin, American hockey player
- July 31 – Blake Michael, American actor
- August 1 – Cymphonique Miller, American actress and singer
- August 2 – Simone Manuel, American swimmer
- August 3 – Derwin James, American football player
- August 5
- August 7
- August 10 – Jacob Latimore, American singer, actor and dancer
- August 12 – Torri Webster, Canadian actress
- August 13 – Antonia Lottner, German tennis player
- August 14
- August 19 – Laura Tesoro, Belgian singer and actress
- August 21 – Jamia Simone Nash, American actress and singer
- August 22
- August 24 – Kenzo Shirai, Japanese gymnast
- August 25 – Naelee Rae, American actress and singer
- August 27
- August 30
- March 2 – Lyle Talbot, American actor (b. 1902)
- March 3 – Marguerite Duras, French author and director (b. 1914)
- March 4 – Minnie Pearl, American comedian (b. 1912)
- March 5
- March 6 – Simon Cadell, English actor (b. 1950)
- March 9 – George Burns, American comedian (b. 1896)
- March 10
- March 11 – Vince Edwards, American actor (b. 1928)
- March 12 – Gyula Kállai, 48th Prime Minister of Hungary (b. 1910)
- March 13 – Krzysztof Kieślowski, Polish film director (b. 1941)
- March 14
- March 15 – Olga Rudge, American violinist (b. 1895)
- March 17
- March 18 – Odysseas Elytis, Greek writer (b. 1911)
- March 19
- March 25 – Lola Beltrán, Mexican singer, actress, and television presenter (b. 1932)
- March 25 – John Snagge, British radio personality (b. 1904)
- March 26
- March 29 – Frank Daniel, Czech writer, director and producer (b. 1926)
- March 31 – Jeffrey Lee Pierce, American musician (b. 1958)
- April 3
- April 4 – Barney Ewell, American athlete (b. 1918)
- April 6
- April 7 – Colleen Clifford, Australian actress (b. 1898)
- April 8
- April 12 – Fred Alexander, Australian historian (b. 1899)
- April 16 – Lucille Bremer, American actress and dancer (b. 1917)
- April 18 – Ronald Davies, American judge (b. 1904)
- April 20 – Christopher Robin Milne, English author and bookseller (b. 1920)
- April 21 – Dzhokhar Dudayev, Chechen politician and President of Ichkeria (b. 1944)
- April 22
- April 23 – P. L. Travers, British actress, journalist, novelist and writer (b. 1899)
- April 25 – Saul Bass, American graphic designer (b. 1920)
- April 26
- April 28
- May 1 – David M. Kennedy, American politician, businessman (b. 1905)
- May 2 – Queen Mother Moore, American civil rights leader (b. 1898)
- May 3 – Jack Weston, American actor (b. 1924)
- May 11
- May 15
- May 17 – Scott Brayton, American race car driver (b. 1959)
- May 19 – John Beradino, American baseball player and actor (b. 1917)
- May 20 – Jon Pertwee, British actor (b. 1919)
- May 21
- May 22 – Seymour H. Knox III, American businessman (b. 1926)
- May 23 – Sim Iness, American Olympic athlete (b. 1930)
- May 24
- May 25 – Bradley Nowell, American musician (b. 1968)
- May 29 – Tamara Toumanova, Russian dancer and actress (b. 1919)
- May 31 – Timothy Leary, American writer and social activist (b. 1920)
- June 1 – Neelam Sanjiva Reddy, 6th President of India (b. 1913)
- June 2
- June 3 – Peter Glenville, English film director (b. 1913)
- June 6
- June 9 – Salme Reek, Estonian actress (b. 1907)
- June 10
- June 11 – Brigitte Helm, German actress (b. 1908)
- June 12 – Mary Field, American film actress (b. 1909)
- June 15 – Ella Fitzgerald, American singer (b. 1917)
- June 16 – Mel Allen, American sportscaster (b. 1913)
- June 19
- June 23
- June 26 – Veronica Guerin, Irish journalist (b. 1958)
- June 27 – Albert R. Broccoli, American film producer (b. 1909)
- June 28 – Kwan Tak-hing, Hong Kong actor (b. 1905)
- July 1
- July 3 – Raaj Kumar, Indian film actor (b. 1926)
- July 5 – Erik Wickberg, Swedish Salvation Army general (b. 1904)
- July 9
- July 12
- July 13 – Pandro S. Berman, American film producer (b. 1905)
- July 14 – Jeff Krosnoff, American race car driver (b. 1964)
- July 15 – Dana Hill, American actress (b. 1964)
- July 16 – John Panozzo, American drummer (b. 1948)
- July 17
- July 20
- July 21
- July 22 – Jessica Mitford, British-American author, journalist and political campaigner (b. 1917)
- July 23 – Jean Muir, American actress (b. 1911)
- July 28 – Roger Tory Peterson, American naturalist and artist (b. 1908)
- July 30 – Claudette Colbert, French-born American Academy Award-winning actress (b. 1903)
- September 1
- September 7
- September 8 – Eyre de Lanux, American artist, writer and art deco designer (b. 1894)
- September 9 – Bill Monroe, American musician (b. 1911)
- September 10
- September 11 – Deane Waldo Malott, American academic and administrator (b. 1898)
- September 12 – Ernesto Geisel, Brazilian general, 29th President of Brazil (b. 1907)
- September 13 – Tupac Shakur, American rapper (b. 1971)
- September 14
- September 16 – Gene Nelson, American dancer and actor (b. 1920)
- September 17 – Spiro Agnew, American politician (b. 1918)
- September 18 – Annabella, French actress (b. 1907)
- September 20
- September 21
- September 22 – Dorothy Lamour, American actress (b. 1914)
- September 23 – Fujiko Fujio, Japanese cartoonist (b. 1933)
- September 26
- September 27 – Mohammad Najibullah, President of Afghanistan (b. 1947)
- September 29 – Leslie Crowther, British comedian and game show host (b. 1933)
- October 1 – Pat McGeown, Provisional Irish Republican Army member (b. 1956)
- October 4 – Silvio Piola, Italian footballer (b. 1913)
- October 5 – Seymour Cray, American computer scientist (b. 1925)
- October 6 – Ted Bessell, American actor (b. 1935)
- October 8 – Mignon G. Eberhart, American author (b. 1899)
- October 11
- October 12
- October 13 – Henri Nannen, German journalist (b. 1913)
- October 13 – Beryl Reid, British actress (b. 1919)
- October 14 – Laura La Plante, American actress (b. 1904)
- October 16 – Jason Bernard, American actor (b. 1938)
- October 20 – J. Bracken Lee, American politician (b. 1899)
- October 24
- October 28 – Morey Amsterdam, American comedian (b. 1908)
- October 31 – Marcel Carné, French film director (b. 1909)
- November 1 – J. R. Jayewardene, 2nd President of Sri Lanka (b. 1906)
- November 2 – Eva Cassidy, American vocalist (b. 1963)
- November 3
- November 5 – Eddie Harris, American jazz musician (b. 1934)
- November 15 – Alger Hiss, American diplomat (b. 1904)
- November 16 – Loretta Alvarez, Pascua Yaqui midwife (b. 1892)
- November 17 – Sven Hörstadius, Swedish embryologist (b. 1898)
- November 18 – Zinovy Gerdt, Russian actor (b. 1916)
- November 20 – Franciszek Strynkiewicz, Polish sculptor (b. 1893)
- November 21 – Abdus Salam, Pakistani Nobel physicist (b. 1926)
- November 22
- November 26 – Paul Rand, American graphic designer (b. 1914)
- November 27 – Gertrude Blanch, American mathematician (b. 1897)
- November 28 – Don McNeill, American tennis champion (b. 1918)
- November 30 – Tiny Tim, American musician (b. 1932)
- December 3 – Babrak Karmal, President of Afghanistan (b. 1929)
- December 6 – Pete Rozelle, American football official (b. 1926)
- December 8 – Howard Rollins, American actor (b. 1950)
- December 9
- December 10
- December 11 – Willie Rushton, English comedian, actor and cartoonist (b. 1937)
- December 13
- December 16
- December 17
- December 18 – Irving Caesar, American lyricist (b. 1895)
- December 19 – Marcello Mastroianni, Italian actor (b. 1924)
- December 20
- December 21 – Margret Rey, American author and illustrator (b. 1906)
- December 27 – Kourkène Medzadourian, Armenian activist (b. 1908)
- December 28 – Lyman S. Ayres II, American businessman (b. 1908)
- December 30
Right Livelihood Award