| First confirmed case of COVID-19 in China.
| Riots break out in Singapore after a fatal accident in Little India.
| Metallica performs a show in Antarctica, making them the first band to perform on all seven continents.
| With the second launch of the Falcon 9 and the first launch of the Dragon, SpaceX becomes the first private company to successfully launch, orbit and recover a spacecraft.
| The Japanese solar-sail spacecraft IKAROS passes the planet Venus at a distance of about 80,800 km.
| Bombings in Baghdad, Iraq, kill 127 people and injure 448 others.
| The Cusco Declaration is signed in Cusco, Peru, establishing the South American Community of Nations.
| Columbus nightclub shooting: Nathan Gale opens fire at the Alrosa Villa nightclub in Columbus, Ohio, killing former Pantera guitarist Dimebag Darrell and three others before being shot dead by a police officer.
| A raid conducted by the Internal Security Department (ISD) of Singapore foils a Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) plot to bomb foreign embassies in Singapore.
| Eighty-one people are killed by armed groups in Algeria.
| The Galileo spacecraft flies past Earth for the second time.
| The leaders of Russia, Belarus and Ukraine sign an agreement dissolving the Soviet Union and establishing the Commonwealth of Independent States.
| The Galileo spacecraft flies past Earth for the first time.
| A United States Air Force A-10 Thunderbolt II crashes into an apartment complex in Remscheid, Germany, killing five people and injuring 50 others.
| Cold War: The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty is signed by U.S. President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev in the White House.
| An Israeli army tank transporter kills four Palestinian refugees and injures seven others during a traffic accident at the Erez Crossing on the Israel–Gaza Strip border, which has been cited as one of the events which sparked the First Intifada.
| The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation, the regional intergovernmental organization and geopolitical union in South Asia, is established.
| John Lennon is murdered by Mark David Chapman in front of The Dakota in New York City.
| A plebiscite results in the abolition of monarchy in Greece.
| United Airlines Flight 553, a Boeing 737, crashes after aborting its landing attempt at Chicago Midway International Airport, killing 45. This is the first-ever loss of a Boeing 737.
| Indo-Pakistani War: The Indian Navy launches an attack on West Pakistan's port city of Karachi.
| Olympic Airways Flight 954 strikes a mountain outside of Keratea, Greece, killing 90 people in the worst crash of a Douglas DC-6 in history.
| The Greek ship SS Heraklion sinks in a storm in the Aegean Sea, killing over 200.
| Pan Am Flight 214, a Boeing 707, is struck by lightning and crashes near Elkton, Maryland, killing all 81 people on board.
| Workers at four New York City newspapers (this later increases to nine) go on strike for 114 days.
| The Flag of Europe is adopted by Council of Europe.
| U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower delivers his "Atoms for Peace" speech, which leads to an American program to supply equipment and information on nuclear power to schools, hospitals, and research institutions around the world.
| World War II: The German 117th Jäger Division destroys the monastery of Mega Spilaio in Greece and executes 22 monks and visitors as part of reprisals that culminated a few days later with the Massacre of Kalavryta.
| World War II: U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt declares December 7 to be "a date which will live in infamy", after which the U.S. declares war on Japan.
| World War II: Japanese forces simultaneously invade Shanghai International Settlement, Malaya, Thailand, Hong Kong, the Philippines, and the Dutch East Indies. (See December 7 for the concurrent attack on Pearl Harbor in the Western Hemisphere.)
| Two days after coming into existence, the Irish Free State executes four leaders of the Irish Republican Army.
| World War I: A squadron of Britain's Royal Navy defeats the Imperial German East Asia Squadron in the Battle of the Falkland Islands in the South Atlantic.
| Leaders of the German Empire hold an Imperial War Council to discuss the possibility that war might break out.
| King Gustaf V of Sweden accedes to the Swedish throne.
| Pope Pius IX promulgates the encyclical Quanta cura and its appendix, the Syllabus of Errors, outlining the authority of the Catholic Church and condemning various liberal ideas.
| In his Apostolic constitution Ineffabilis Deus, Pope Pius IX proclaims the dogmatic definition of Immaculate Conception, which holds that the Blessed Virgin Mary was conceived free of Original Sin.
| Conservative Santiago-based government troops defeat rebels at the Battle of Loncomilla, signaling the end of the 1851 Chilean Revolution.
| A woman (either Margaret Hughes or Anne Marshall) appears on an English public stage for the first time, in the role of Desdemona in a production of Shakespeare's play Othello.
| Ahmad ibn Abi Jum'ah writes his Oran fatwa, arguing for the relaxation of Islamic law requirements for the forcibly converted Muslims in Spain.
| Louis the Stammerer (son of Charles the Bald) is crowned king of the West Frankish Kingdom at Compiègne.
| The poet Du Fu returns to Chang'an as a member of Emperor Xuanzong's court, after having escaped the city during the An Lushan Rebellion.
| Later Yan is defeated by its former vassal Northern Wei at the Battle of Canhe Slope.