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December 31 is the 365th day of the year (366th in leap years) in the Gregorian Calendar. It is the final day of the Gregorian year.
- 406 - Vandals, Alans and Suebians cross the Rhine, beginning an invasion of Gallia.
- 535 - Byzantine General Belisarius completes the conquest of Sicily, defeating the Ostrogothic garrison of Syracuse, and ending his consulship for the year.
- 1229 - James I of Aragon the Conqueror enters Medina Mayurqa (nowadays Palma de Mallorca, Spain) thus consuming the Christian conquest of the island of Mallorca.
- 1600 - British East India Company is chartered.
- 1660 - James II of England is created Duke of Normandy by King Louis XIV.
- 1687 - The first Huguenots set sail from France to the Cape of Good Hope.
- 1695 - A window tax is imposed in England, causing many shopkeepers to brick up their windows to avoid the tax.
- 1775 - American Revolutionary War: Battle of Quebec British forces repulse an attack by Continental Army generals Richard Montgomery and Benedict Arnold.
- 1831 - Gramercy Park is deeded to New York City.
- 1857 - Queen Victoria chooses Ottawa, Ontario, 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 is fought near Murfreesboro, Tennessee.
- 1879 - Thomas Edison demonstrates incandescent lighting to the public for the first time.
- 1891 - A new immigration depot is opened on Ellis Island, New York.
- 1904 - 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.
- 1916 - The Hampton Terrace Hotel in North Augusta, South Carolina, one of the largest and most luxurious hotels in the United States at the time, burns to the ground.
- 1923 - The chimes of Big Ben are broadcast on radio for the first time by the BBC.
- 1929 - Guy Lombardo performs Auld Lang Syne at the Roosevelt Hotel in New York City for the first time.
- 1944 - World War II: Hungary declares war on Germany.
- 1946 - President Harry Truman officially proclaims the end of hostilities in World War II.
- 1955 - General Motors becomes the first U.S. corporation to make over USD $1 billion in a year.
- 1960 - The farthing coin ceases to be legal tender in the United Kingdom.
- 1961 - The Marshall Plan expires after distributing more than USD $12 billion in foreign aid to rebuild Europe.
- 1963 - The Central African Federation officially collapses and splits into Zambia, Malawi and Rhodesia.
- 1968 - Marien Ngouabi assumed the presidency of the Republic of the Congo.
- 1983 - The AT&T Bell System is broken up by the United States Government.
- 1986 - A fire at the Dupont Plaza Hotel in San Juan, Puerto Rico, kills 97 and injures 140.
- 1988 - Mario Lemieux became the first player in National Hockey League history to score one each of the five types of goals in a single game: an even-strength goal, a power-play goal, a short-handed goal, a penalty shot and an empty-net goal.
- 1990 - Garry Kasparov holds his title by winning the World Chess Championship match against his countryman Anatoly Karpov.
- 1991 - The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics is officially dissolved.
- 1991 - The civil war in El Salvador ends.
- 1992 - In the last of the great ITV franchise renewals, Thames Television, Television South West and Television South cease broadcasting, replaced by Carlton Television, Westcountry Television and Meridian Television respectively.
- 1994 - This date is skipped altogether in Kiribati as the Phoenix Islands and Line Islands change time zones from UTC-11 to UTC+13 and UTC-10 to UTC+14, respectively.
- 1995 - The last strip of the popular comic Calvin and Hobbes is published.
- 1997 - Quaker Oats settles a lawsuit involving the immoral use of child subjects in radioactivity experiments circa 1945-56.
- 1999 - Boris Yeltsin resigns as President of Russia, leaving Prime Minister Vladimir Putin as the acting President.
- 1999 - Five hijackers, who had been holding 155 hostages on an Indian Airlines plane, leave the plane with two Islamic clerics that they had demanded be freed.
- 1999 - The United States Government handed Panama Canal control over to Panama
- 2004 - The official opening of Taipei 101, the current tallest skyscraper in the world, standing at a height of 509 metres (1,670 feet).
- 2005 - AT&T and SBC Communications merge, SBC name is dropped. A new AT&T is formed.
- 1378 - Pope Callixtus III (d. 1458)
- 1491 - Jacques Cartier, French explorer (d. 1557)
- 1514 - Vesalius, Flemish anatomist (d. 1564)
- 1572 - Emperor Go-Yozei of Japan, (d. 1617)
- 1668 - Herman Boerhaave, Dutch humanist and physician (d. 1738)
- 1720 - Charles Edward Stuart, pretender to the British throne (d. 1788)
- 1738 - Charles Cornwallis, 1st Marquess Cornwallis, British general (d. 1805)
- 1763 - Pierre-Charles Villeneuve, French admiral (d. 1806)
- 1830 - Isma'il Pasha, Governor of Egypt (d. 1895)
- 1869 - Henri Matisse, French painter (d. 1954)
- 1880 - George C. Marshall, United States Secretary of State, Nobel Laureate (d. 1959)
- 1880 - Fred Beebe, baseball player (d. 1957)
- 1881 - Max Pechstein, German painter (d. 1955)
- 1882 - Martin O'Meara, Australian soldier (d. 1935)
- 1884 - Bobby Byrne, American baseball player (d. 1964)
- 1894 - Pola Negri, Polish actress (d. 1987)
- 1903 - Nathan Milstein, Ukrainian violinist (d. 1992)
- 1905 - Jule Styne, English-born composer (d. 1994)
- 1908 - Simon Wiesenthal, Austrian Holocaust survivor (d. 2005)
- 1910 - Carl Dudley, American film director (d. 1973)
- 1919 - Tommy Byrne, baseball player
- 1920 - Rex Allen, American actor and singer (d. 1999)
- 1924 - Taylor Mead, American actor
- 1928 - Siné, French cartoonist
- 1930 - Odetta, American singer
- 1931 - Bob Shaw, Irish writer (d. 1996)
- 1934 - Akram Awan, Islamic scholar
- 1937 - Avram Hershko, Israeli biologist, Nobel laureate
- 1937 - Anthony Hopkins, Welsh actor
- 1938 - Rosalind Cash, American actress (d. 1995)
- 1941 - Alex Ferguson, Scottish footballer
- 1942 - Andy Summers, British musician (The Police)
- 1943 - John Denver, American musician (d. 1997)
- 1943 - Ben Kingsley, English actor
- 1945 - Taylor Hackford, American film producer and director
- 1945 - Diane von Fürstenberg, Belgian-born fashion designer
- 1945 - Connie Willis, American writer
- 1947 - Burton Cummings, Canadian musician (The Guess Who)
- 1947 - Tim Matheson, American actor
- 1948 - Donna Summer, American singer
- 1949 - Ellen Datlow, American editor
- 1949 - Susan Shwartz, American writer
- 1951 - George Thorogood, American musician
- 1951 - Tom Hamilton, American musician (Aerosmith)
- 1953 - James Remar, American actor
- 1953 - Jane Badler, American actress
- 1954 - Alex Salmond, Scottish Politician
- 1958 - Bebe Neuwirth, American actress
- 1959 - Phill Kline, American politician
- 1959 - Val Kilmer, American actor
- 1959 - Paul Westerberg, American musician (The Replacements)
- 1960 - John Allen Muhammad, American serial killer
- 1961 - Rick Aguilera, baseball player
- 1962 - Heather McCartney, British activist
- 1963 - Scott Ian, American musician (Anthrax)
- 1964 - Allen D'Nulderf, American stuntman
- 1971 - Brent Barry, American basketball player
- 1971 - Esteban Loaiza, Mexican Major League Baseball player
- 1977 - Wardy Alfaro, Costa Rican footballer
- 1978 - Papoose (rapper), African American Rapper
- 1980 - Richie McCaw, New Zealand rugby player
- 1980 - Bob Bryar, American drummer (My Chemical Romance)
- 1980 - Matt Cross, American professional wrestler
- 1981 - Jason Campbell, American football player
- 1981 - Matthew Pavlich, Australian football player
- 192 - Commodus, Roman Emperor (b. 161)
- 1164 - Margrave Ottokar III of Styria (b. 1124)
- 1194 - Duke Leopold V of Austria (killed at a tournament) (b. 1157)
- 1297 - Humphrey de Bohun, 3rd Earl of Hereford, English soldier (b. 1249)
- 1302 - Frederick III, Duke of Lorraine (b. 1238)
- 1384 - John Wycliffe, English theologian and Bible translator
- 1424 - Thomas Beaufort, 1st Duke of Exeter, English military leader
- 1460 - Edmund, Earl of Rutland, brother of Kings Edward IV of England and Richard III of England (executed) (b. 1443)
- 1460 - Richard Neville, 5th Earl of Salisbury, English politician (b. 1400)
- 1510 - Bianca Maria Sforza, wife of Maximilian I, Holy Roman Emperor (b. 1472)
- 1535 - William Skeffington, Lord Deputy of Ireland (b. 1465)
- 1568 - Shimazu Tadayoshi, Japanese warlord (b. 1493)
- 1575 - Pierino Belli, Italian soldier and jurist (b. 1502)
- 1583 - Thomas Erastus, Swiss theologian (b. 1524)
- 1610 - Ludolph van Ceulen, German mathematician (b. 1540)
- 1650 - Dorgon, Chinese emperor (b. 1612)
- 1673 - Oliver St John, English statesman and judge
- 1679 - Giovanni Alfonso Borelli, Italian physiologist and physicist (b. 1608)
- 1691 - Dudley North, English economist (b. 1641)
- 1719 - John Flamsteed, English astronomer (b. 1646)
- 1742 - Karl III Philip, Elector Palatine (b. 1661)
- 1799 - Jean-François Marmontel, French historian and writer (b. 1723)
- 1872 - Aleksis Kivi, Finnish author (b. 1834)
- 1877 - Gustave Courbet, French painter (b. 1819)
- 1888 - Samson Raphael Hirsch, German rabbi (b. 1808)
- 1889 - Ion Creangă, Romanian writer (b. 1837 or 1839)
- 1894 - Thomas Joannes Stieltjes, Dutch mathematician (b. 1856)
- 1905 - Alexander Popov, Russian physicist (b. 1859)
- 1921 - Boies Penrose, U.S. Senator from Pennsylvania (b. 1860)
- 1936 - Miguel de Unamuno, Spanish writer and philosopher (b. 1864)
- 1948 - Malcolm Campbell, English race car driver (b. 1885)
- 1953 - Albert Plesman, Dutch aviation pioneer (b. 1889)
- 1964 - Ólafur Thors, Prime Minister of Iceland (b. 1892)
- 1964 - Bobby Byrne, baseball player (b. 1884)
- 1969 - George Lewis, American clarinetist (b. 1900)
- 1971 - Pete Duel American actor (b. 1940)
- 1971 - Marin Sais, American actress (b. 1890)
- 1971 - Vikram Sarabhai, Indian physicist (b. 1919)
- 1972 - Roberto Clemente, Puerto Rican baseball player (b. 1934)
- 1977 - Sabah III Al-Salim Al-Sabah, ruler of Kuwait (b. 1924)
- 1980 - Marshall McLuhan, Canadian writer (b. 1911)
- 1980 - Raoul Walsh, American film director (b. 1887)
- 1985 - Rick Nelson, American singer (b. 1940)
- 1986 - Lloyd Haynes, American actor (b. 1934)
- 1990 - Vasili Lazarev, Soviet cosmonaut (b. 1928)
- 1993 - Zviad Gamsakhurdia, first President of Georgia (b. 1939)
- 1997 - Floyd Cramer, American musician (b. 1933)
- 1997 - Michael Kennedy, American politician (b. 1958)
- 1999 - Elliot Richardson, American politician (b. 1920)
- 2000 - Alan Cranston, American politician (b. 1914)
- 2003 - Arthur R. von Hippel German-born physicist (b. 1898)
- 2004 - Gerard Debreu, French-born economist, Bank of Sweden Prize laureate (b. 1921)
- 2005 - Phillip Whitehead, British politician (b. 1937)
 Holidays and observances
 External links
December 30 - January 1 - November 30 - January 31 — listing of all days
nov:31 de desembre
ca:31 de desembre
co:31 di decembre
es:31 de diciembre
eo:31-a de decembro
fur:31 di Dicembar
gl:31 de decembro
io:31 di decembro
ia:31 de decembre
nap:31 'e dicembre
oc:31 de decembre
pt:31 de Dezembro
scn:31 di dicèmmiru
vi:31 tháng 12
vec:31 de diçenbre
wa:31 di decimbe