1997 events in history

Jan 1 Ghanaian diplomat Kofi Annan is appointed Secretary-General of the United Nations
Jan 1 Zaire officially joins the World Trade Organization
Jan 3 China announces it will spend US$27.7 billion to fight erosion and pollution in the Yangtze and Yellow River valleys
Jan 17 A Delta 2 carrying a GPS2R satellite explodes 13 seconds after launch, dropping 250 tons of burning rocket remains around the launch pad
Jan 18 Børge Ousland of Norway becomes the first person to cross Antarctica alone and unaided
Jan 18 In northwest Rwanda, Hutu militia members kill 3 Spanish aid workers, 3 soldiers and seriously wound one other
Jan 19 Yasser Arafat returns to Hebron after more than 30 years and joins celebrations over the handover of the last Israeli-controlled West Bank city
Jan 21 The U.S. House of Representatives votes 395–28 to reprimand Newt Gingrich for ethics violations, making him the first Speaker of the House to be so disciplined
Jan 23 Madeleine Albright becomes the first woman to serve as United States Secretary of State
Jan 23 Greek Serial Killer Antonis Daglis is sentenced to thirteen consecutive life sentences, plus 25 years for the serial slayings of three women and the attempted murder of six others
Feb 4 After at first contesting the results, Serbian President Slobodan Milošević recognizes opposition victories in the November 1996 elections
Feb 4 En route to Lebanon, two Israeli Sikorsky CH-53 troop-transport helicopters collide in mid-air over northern Galilee, Israel killing 73
Feb 5 The so-called Big Three banks in Switzerland announce the creation of a $71 million fund to aid Holocaust survivors and their families
Feb 11 Space Shuttle Discovery is launched on a mission to service the Hubble Space Telescope
Feb 22 In Roslin, Scotland, scientists announce that an adult sheep named Dolly has been successfully cloned
Feb 25 Yi Han-yong, North Korean defector was murdered by unidentified assailants in Bundang, South Korea
Feb 28 The North Hollywood shootout takes place, resulting in the injury of 19 people and the deaths of both perpetrators
Feb 28 GRB 970228, a highly luminous flash of gamma rays, strikes the Earth for 80 seconds, providing early evidence that gamma-ray bursts occur well beyond the Milky Way
Feb 28 An earthquake in northern Iran is responsible for about 3,000 deaths
Feb 28 Military Coup in Turkey
Mar 3 The tallest free-standing structure in the Southern Hemisphere, Sky Tower in downtown Auckland, New Zealand, opens after two-and-a-half years of construction
Mar 9 Comet Hale–Bopp: Observers in China, Mongolia and eastern Siberia are treated to a rare double feature as an eclipse permits Hale-Bopp to be seen during the day
Mar 13 The Phoenix lights are seen over Phoenix, Arizona by hundreds of people, and by millions on television
Mar 13 India's Missionaries of Charity chooses Sister Nirmala to succeed Mother Teresa as its leader
Mar 18 The tail of a Russian Antonov An-24 charter plane breaks off while en route to Turkey causing the plane to crash and killing all 50 people on board and leading to the grounding of all An-24s
Mar 22 The Comet Hale-Bopp has its closest approach to Earth
Mar 22 Tara Lipinski, age 14 years and 10 months, becomes the youngest champion women's World Figure Skating Champion
Mar 26 Thirty-nine bodies are found in the Heaven's Gate mass suicides
Apr 1 Comet Hale-Bopp is seen passing over perihelion
Apr 3 The Thalit massacre begins in Algeria; all but one of the 53 inhabitants of Thalit are killed by guerrillas
Apr 13 Tiger Woods becomes the youngest golfer to win the Masters Tournament
Apr 19 The Red River Flood of 1997 overwhelms the city of Grand Forks, North Dakota. Fire breaks out and spreads in downtown Grand Forks, but high water levels hamper efforts to reach the fire, leading to the destruction of 11 buildings
Apr 22 The Japanese embassy hostage crisis ends in Lima, Peru
Apr 22 Haouch Khemisti massacre in Algeria – 93 villagers killed
Apr 23 Omaria massacre in Algeria: Forty-two villagers are killed
Apr 29 The Chemical Weapons Convention of 1993 enters into force, outlawing the production, stockpiling and use of chemical weapons by its signatories
May 6 The Bank of England is given independence from political control, the most significant change in the bank's 300-year history
May 8 A China Southern Airlines Boeing 737 crashes on approach into Bao'an International Airport, killing 35 people
May 10 The Maeslantkering, a storm surge barrier in the Netherlands that is one of the world's largest moving structures, is opened by Queen Beatrix
May 10 A 7.3 Mw earthquake strikes Iran's Khorasan Province, killing 1,567, injuring over 2,300, leaving 50,000 homeless, and damaging or destroying over 15,000 homes
May 11 Deep Blue, a chess-playing supercomputer, defeats Garry Kasparov in the last game of the rematch, becoming the first computer to beat a world-champion chess player in a classic match format
May 15 The United States government acknowledges the existence of the "Secret War" in Laos and dedicates the Laos Memorial in honor of Hmong and other "Secret War" veterans
May 16 Mobutu Sese Seko, the President of Zaire, flees the country
May 17 Troops of Laurent Kabila march into Kinshasa. Zaire is officially renamed Democratic Republic of the Congo
May 19 The Sierra Gorda biosphere, the most ecologically diverse region in Mexico, is established as a result of grassroots efforts
May 22 Kelly Flinn, the US Air Force's first female bomber pilot certified for combat, accepts a general discharge in order to avoid a court-martial
May 25 A military coup in Sierra Leone replaces President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah with Major Johnny Paul Koromah
May 27 The U.S. Supreme Court rules that Paula Jones can pursue her sexual harassment lawsuit against President Bill Clinton while he is in office
May 27 The unusual tornado outbreak in Jarrell, Texas
Jun 2 In Denver, Colorado, Timothy McVeigh is convicted on 15 counts of murder and conspiracy for his role in the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. He was executed four years later