1975 1976 1977 - 1978 - 1979 1980 1981
1940s 1950s 1960s - 1970s - 1980s 1990s 2000s
Events of 1978
- January 1 – Air India Flight 855, a Boeing 747 passenger jet, crashes into the ocean near Bombay, killing 213.
- January 4 – A referendum in Chile supports the policies of Augusto Pinochet.
- January 6 – The Holy Crown of Hungary (also known as Stephen of Hungary Crown) is returned to Hungary from the United States, where it was held since World War II.
- January 10 – Pedro Joaquín Chamorro Cardenal, a critic of the Nicaraguan government, is assassinated. Riots erupt against Somoza's government.
- January 14–15 – The body of former U.S. Vice President Hubert Humphrey lies in state in the Capitol Rotunda, following his death from cancer.
- January 18 – The European Court of Human Rights finds the United Kingdom government guilty of mistreating prisoners in Northern Ireland, but not guilty of torture.
- January 19 – Federal Appeals Court Judge William H. Webster is appointed FBI Director.
- January 22 – Ethiopia declares the ambassador of West Germany Persona non grata.
- January 24 – Soviet satellite Cosmos 954 burns up in Earth's atmosphere, scattering debris over Canada's Northwest Territories.
- January 30 – Blizzards in the U.S. kill 90.
- February 1 – A bomb explodes outside the Hilton Hotel in Sydney, Australia, killing 2 garbagemen, a policeman and several others.
- February 1 – Hollywood film director Roman Polanski skips bail and flees to France, after pleading guilty to charges of engaging in sex with a 13-year-old girl.
- February 11 – Pacific Western Airlines Flight 314, a Boeing 737-200, crashes in Cranbrook, British Columbia, killing 44 of the 50 people onboard.
- February 11 – Somalia mobilizes its troops, due to an apparent Ethiopian attack.
- February 11 – The People's Republic of China lifts a ban on works by Aristotle, William Shakespeare and Charles Dickens.
- February 15 – Rhodesia's prime minister Ian Smith and three Black leaders agree on the transfer to black majority rule.
- February 15 – Serial killer Ted Bundy is captured in Pensacola, Florida.
- February 16 – The first computer bulletin board system (CBBS) is created in Chicago.
- February 21 – Electrical workers in Mexico City find the remains of the Great Pyramid of Tenochtitlan in the middle of the city.
- March 1 – Charlie Chaplin's remains are stolen from Cosier-sur-Vevey, Switzerland.
- March 2 – Soyuz 28 (Aleksei Gubarev, Vladimir Remek) is launched on a rendezvous with Salyut 6, with the first cosmonaut from a third country (besides the Soviet Union and United States) – Czechoslovak citizen Vladimír Remek.
- March 3 – Ethiopia admits that its troops are fighting with the aid of Cuban soldiers against Somalian troops in Ogaden.
- March 3 – Rhodesia attacks Zambia.
- March 6 – American porn publisher Larry Flynt is shot and paralyzed in Lawrenceville, Georgia.
- March 10 – Soyuz 28 lands.
- March 11 – Coastal Road Massacre: Palestinian terrorists kill 34 Israelis.
- March 14 – Operation Litani: Israeli forces invade Lebanon.
- March 16 – Former Italian Premier Aldo Moro is kidnapped by the Red Brigades; 5 bodyguards are killed.
- March 17 – The oil tanker Amoco Cadiz runs aground on the coast of Brittany.
- March 18 – Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, Prime Minister of Pakistan, is sentenced to death by hanging for ordering the assassination of a political opponent.
- April 7 – U.S. President Jimmy Carter decides to postpone production of the neutron bomb – a weapon which kills people with radiation but leaves buildings relatively intact.
- April 9 – Somali military officers stage an unsuccessful coup against the government of Siad Barre; security forces thwart the attempt within hours, and several conspirators are arrested.
- April 14 – 1978 Tbilisi Demonstrations: Thousands of Georgians demonstrate against an attempt by Soviet authorities to change the constitutional status of the Georgian language.
- April 18 – The U.S. Senate votes 68-32 to turn the Panama Canal over to Panamanian control on December 31, 1999.
- April 27 – Afghanistan President Daoud Khan is killed during a military coup; Nur Mohammed Taraki succeeds him.
- April 30 – The Democratic Republic of Afghanistan is proclaimed, under pro-communist leader Nur Mohammed Taraki.
- May 4 – Battle of Cassinga occurs in southern Angola.
- May 4 – Communist conspirator Henri Curiel is eliminated in Paris.
- May 9 – In Rome, the body of Aldo Moro, the Italian president of the Christian Democrats, is found in a parked car.
- May 12–13 – A group of mercenaries lead by Bob Denard oust Ali Soilih in the Comoros; 10 local soldiers are killed. Denard forms a new government.
- May 12 – In Zaire, rebels occupy the city of Kolwezi, the mining centre of the province of Shaba. The Zairean government asks the U.S., France and Belgium to restore order.
- May 15 – Students of the University of Tehran riot in Tabriz; the army stops the riot.
- May 17 – Charles Chaplin's coffin is found 10 miles from the cemetery it was stolen from, near Lake Geneva.
- May 18–19 – Belgian and French paratroopers fly to Zaire to aid the fight against the rebels.
- May 22 – Exiled leaders Ahmed Abdallah and Mohammed Ahmed return to the Comoros.
- May 25 – A bomb explodes in the security section of Northwestern University, wounding a security guard (the first Unabomber attack).
- May 26 – In Atlantic City, New Jersey, Resorts International, the first legal casino in the eastern United States, opens.
- June 8 – The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints extends the priesthood and temple blessings to 'all worthy males', ending a general policy of excluding 'Canaanites' from Priesthood ordination and temple ordinances (see Blacks and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints).
- June 12 – Serial killer David Berkowitz, the "Son of Sam," is sentenced to 25 years to life in prison.
- June 15 – King Hussein of Jordan marries 26-year-old Lisa Halaby, who takes the name Queen Noor.
- June 20 – A magnitude 6.5 earthquake hits Thessaloniki, Greece's second largest city, killing 45 people, injuring hundreds and damaging some of the city's Byzantine landmarks.
- June 21 – A shootout between Provisional IRA members and the British Army leaves 1 civilian and 3 IRA men dead.
- June 22 – Charon, a satellite of Pluto, is discovered.
- June 23 – Josip Broz Tito is named Yugoslav president for life.
- June 24 – Yemen Arab Republic President Ahmad al-Ghashmi is killed.
- June 26 – A bombing by Breton nationalists causes destruction in Versailles.
- June 28 – The U.S. scientific satellite Seasat is launched.
- June 28 – University of California Regents v. Bakke: The Supreme Court of the United States bars quota systems in college admissions but affirms the constitutionality of programs which give advantages to minorities.
- June 30 – Ethiopia begins a massive offensive in Eritrea.
- July 7 – The Solomon Islands become independent from the United Kingdom.
- July 11 – More than 200 tourists die in an explosion of a tanker-truck at a campsite in Costa Daurada, Spain.
- July 25 – Louise Brown, the worlds first test tube baby was born in Oldham, Manchester, UK.
- August 6 – Pope Paul VI dies in Rome.
- August 17 – Double Eagle II becomes the first balloon to successfully cross the Atlantic Ocean, flying from Presque Isle, Maine, to Miserey, France.
- August 26 – Pope John Paul I succeeds Pope Paul VI as the 263rd Pope.
- September 5 – Camp David Accords: Menachem Begin and Anwar Sadat begin the peace process at Camp David, Maryland.
- September 7 – In London, England, a poison-filled pellet, supposedly injected using an umbrella, poisons Bulgarian defector Georgi Markov, probably on orders of Bulgarian intelligence; he dies 4 days later.
- September 8 – Iranian Army troops open fire on rioters in Teheran, killing 122, wounding 4,000.
- September 16 – General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq officially assumes the post of President of Pakistan.
- September 17 – The Camp David Accords are signed between Israel and Egypt.
- September 20 – General Rahimuddin Khan assumes the post of Martial Law Governor of Balochistan.
- September 25 – PSA Flight 182, a Boeing 727, collides with a small private airplane and crashes in San Diego, California; 144 are killed.
- September 27 – The last Forest Brother guerilla movement fighter is discovered and killed in Estonia.
- September 28 – Pope John Paul I dies after only 33 days of papacy.
- October 1 – Vietnam attacks Cambodia.
- October 1 – Tuvalu become independent from the United Kingdom.
- October 10 – A massive short circuit in Seasat's electrical system ends the satellite's scientific mission.
- October 14 – Daniel arap Moi becomes president of Kenya.
- October 16 – Pope John Paul II succeeds Pope John Paul I as the 264th pope. He is the first Polish pope in history.
- October 27 – Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin win the Nobel Peace Prize for their progress toward achieving a Middle East accord.
- November 3 – Dominica gains its independence from the United Kingdom.
- November 5 – Rioters sack the British Embassy in Tehran.
- November 7 – Indira Gandhi is re-elected to the Indian parliament.
- November 18 – Jonestown incident: In Guyana, Jim Jones leads his Peoples Temple cult in a mass murder-suicide that claims 918 lives in all, 909 of them at Jonestown itself, including over 270 children. Congressman Leo J. Ryan is assassinated by members of Peoples Temple shortly beforehand.
- November 27 – In San Francisco, California, Mayor George Moscone and City Supervisor Harvey Milk are assassinated by former Supervisor Dan White.
- December 3 – The Southern Crescent passenger train derails at Shipman, Virginia, killing 6, injuring 60.
- December 4 – Dianne Feinstein succeeds the murdered George Moscone as San Francisco, California's first woman mayor (she serves until January 8, 1988).
- December 6 – The Spanish Constitution officially restores the country's democratic government.
- December 11 – Two million demonstrate against the Shah in Iran.
- December 16 – Train 87 from Nanjing to Xining collides with train 368 from Xi'an to Xuzhou near Yangzhuang railway station in China, killing 106, injuring 218.
- December 19 – Former Prime Minister of India Indira Gandhi is arrested and jailed for a week for breach of privilege and contempt of parliament.
- December 25 – Vietnam launches a major offensive against the Khmer Rouge of Cambodia.
- December 27 – The Spanish Constitution is approved in a referendum, officially ending 40 years of military dictatorship.