December 31 events in history

406 Vandals, Alans and Suebians cross the Rhine, beginning an invasion of Gaul
535 Byzantine general Belisarius completes the conquest of Sicily, defeating the Gothic garrison of Palermo (Panormos), and ending his consulship for the year
1225 The Lý Dynasty of Vietnam ends after 216 years by the enthronement of the boy emperor Trần Thái Tông, husband of the last Lý monarch, Lý Chiêu Hoàng, starting the Trần Dynasty
1229 James I of Aragon the Conqueror enters Medina Mayurqa (now known as Palma, Spain) thus consummating the Christian reconquest of the island of Majorca
1501 The First Battle of Cannanore commences
1600 The British East India Company is chartered
1660 James II of England is named Duke of Normandy by Louis XIV of France
1687 The first Huguenots set sail from France to the Cape of Good Hope
1695 A window tax is imposed in England, causing many householders to brick up windows to avoid the tax
1757 Empress Elizabeth I of Russia issues her ukase incorporating Königsberg into Russia
1759 Arthur Guinness signs a 9,000 year lease at £45 per annum and starts brewing Guinness
1775 American Revolutionary War: Battle of Quebec: British forces repulse an attack by Continental Army General Richard Montgomery
1790 Efimeris, the oldest Greek newspaper of which issues have survived till today is published for the first time
1796 The incorporation of Baltimore as a city
1831 Gramercy Park is deeded to New York, New York
1853 A dinner party is held inside a life-size model of an Iguanodon created by Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins and Sir Richard Owen in south London, England
1857 Queen Victoria chooses Ottawa, then a small logging town, as the capital of Canada
1862 American Civil War: Abraham Lincoln signs an act that admits West Virginia to the Union, thus dividing Virginia in two
1862 American Civil War: The Battle of Stones River begins near Murfreesboro, Tennessee
1878 Karl Benz, working in Mannheim, Germany, filed for a patent on his first reliable two-stroke gas engine, and he was granted the patent in 1879
1879 Thomas Edison demonstrates incandescent lighting to the public for the first time, in Menlo Park, New Jersey
1906 Mozaffar ad-Din Shah Qajar signs the Persian Constitution of 1906
1907 The first New Year's Eve celebration is held in Times Square (then known as Longacre Square) in New York, New York
1909 Manhattan Bridge opens
1923 The chimes of Big Ben are broadcast on radio for the first time by the BBC
1944 World War II: Hungary declares war on Nazi Germany
1944 World War II: Operation Nordwind, the last major German offensive on the Western Front begins
1946 President Harry S. Truman officially proclaims the end of hostilities in World War II
1951 The Marshall Plan expires after distributing more than US$13.3 billion in foreign aid to rebuild Europe
1955 General Motors becomes the first U.S. corporation to make over US$1 billion in a year
1960 The farthing coin ceases to be legal tender in the United Kingdom
1961 RTÉ, Ireland's state broadcaster, launches its first national television service
1963 The Central African Federation officially collapses, subsequently becoming Zambia, Malawi and Rhodesia
1965 Jean-Bédel Bokassa, leader of the Central African Republic army, and his military officers begins a coup d'état against the government of President David Dacko
1967 The Youth International Party, popularly known as the "Yippies", is founded
1981 A coup d'état in Ghana removes President Hilla Limann's PNP government and replaces it with the Provisional National Defence Council led by Flight lieutenant Jerry Rawlings
1983 The AT&T Bell System is broken up by the United States Government
1983 In Nigeria a coup d'état led by Major General Muhammadu Buhari ends the Second Nigerian Republic
1986 A fire at the Dupont Plaza Hotel in San Juan, Puerto Rico, kills 97 and injures 140
1988 Pittsburgh Penguins' Mario Lemieux becomes the only National Hockey League player to score goals in five different ways: even strength, shorthanded, power play, penalty shot, and empty net, during an 8–6 win over the New Jersey Devils
1988 First Winter Ascent of Lhotse (8,516m) by Krzysztof Wielicki (solo)
1991 All official Soviet Union institutions have ceased operations by this date and the Soviet Union is officially dissolved
1992 Czechoslovakia is peacefully dissolved in what is dubbed by media as the Velvet Divorce, resulting in the creation of the Czech Republic and Slovakia
1994 This date is skipped altogether in Kiribati as the Phoenix Islands and Line Islands change time zones from UTC−11:00 to UTC+13:00 and UTC−10:00 to UTC+14:00, respectively
1994 The First Chechen War: Russian army began a New Year's storm of Grozny
1998 The European Exchange Rate Mechanism freezes the values of the legacy currencies in the Eurozone, and establishes the value of the euro currency
1999 First President of Russia, Boris Yeltsin, resigns from office, leaving Prime Minister Vladimir Putin as the acting President and successor
1999 The United States Government hands control of the Panama Canal (as well all the adjacent land to the canal known as the Panama Canal Zone) to Panama. This act complied with the signing of the 1977 Torrijos–Carter Treaties
1999 Indian Airlines Flight 814 hijacking ended after seven days with the release of 190 survivors at Kandahar Airport, Afghanistan
2004 The official opening of Taipei 101, the tallest skyscraper at that time in the world, standing at a height of 509 metres (1,670 ft)