Taiwan Independence Movement

A proposed flag for an independent Taiwan designed by Donald Liu in 1996
Flag of the World Taiwanese Congress
Flag of the 908 Taiwan Republic Campaign
The Taiwan independence movement is a political movement which advocates the formal declaration of an independent and sovereign Taiwanese state, as opposed to Chinese unification or the status quo in Cross-Strait relations. Into the 21st-century, Taiwan’s political status is ambiguous. China claims it is a province of the People’s Republic of China (PRC), whereas the Tsai Ing-wen administration of Taiwan maintains that Taiwan is already an independent country as the Republic of China (ROC) and thus does not have to push for any sort of formal independence.[1] As such, the ROC consisting of Taiwan and other islands under its control already conducts official diplomatic relations with and is recognized by 12 member states of the United Nations and the Holy See.[2] The use of “independence” for Taiwan can be ambiguous. If some supporters articulate that they agree to the independence of Taiwan, they may either be referring to the notion of formally creating an independent Taiwanese state or to the notion that Taiwan has become synonymous with the current Republic of China and is already independent (as reflected in the concept of One Country on Each Side). Some supporters advocate the exclusion of Kinmen and Matsu, which are controlled by Taiwan but are located off the coast of mainland China.[3] Taiwan independence is supported by the Pan-Green Coalition in Taiwan but opposed by the Pan-Blue Coalition, which seeks to retain the somewhat ambiguous status quo of the Republic of China (Taiwan) under the so-called “1992 Consensus” or gradually “reunify” with mainland China at some point. The governments of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and the Republic of China (ROC) oppose Taiwanese independence since they believe that Taiwan and mainland China comprise two portions of a single country’s territory. For the ROC, such a move would be considered a violation of its constitution. The process for a constitutional amendment or national territory alternation must be initiated by one-fourth (25%) of the members of the Legislative Yuan (the unicameral parliament of Taiwan), then voted in the Legislative Yuan with at least three-fourths (75%) members attended and by a three-fourths (75%) supermajority, then approved by majority popular vote in a referendum. Historically, both governments have formulated a “One China” policy, whereby foreign countries may only conduct official diplomatic relations with either the PRC or the ROC, on the condition that they sever official diplomatic relations with and formal recognition of the other. The ROC’s One-China policy was softened following democratization in the 1990s.[4]

History of Taiwan independence

Many supporters of independence for Taiwan view the history of Taiwan since the 17th century as a continuous struggle for independence and use it as an inspiration for the current political movement.[5][promotional source?] According to this view, the people indigenous to Taiwan and those who have taken up residence there have been repeatedly occupied by groups including the Dutch, the Spanish, the Ming, Koxinga and the Ming loyalists, the Qing, the Japanese and finally the Chinese Nationalists led by the Kuomintang. From a pro-independence supporter’s point of view, the movement for Taiwan independence began under Qing rule in the 1680s which led to a well known saying those days, “Every three years an uprising, every five years a rebellion”. Taiwan Independence supporters compared Taiwan under Kuomintang rule to South Africa under apartheid.[6] The Taiwan independence movement under Japan was supported by Mao Zedong in the 1930s as a means of freeing Taiwan from Japanese rule.[7] With the end of World War II in 1945, by issuing “General Order No. 1” to the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers, the Allies agreed that the Republic of China Army under the Kuomintang would “temporarily occupy Taiwan, on behalf of the Allied forces.”[8] From 1928 to 1942, the Chinese Communist Party maintained that Taiwan was a separate nation.[7] Mao Zedong was an early supporter of Taiwanese independence, telling Edgar Snow in the 1930s that the Chinese Communist Party would lend “our enthusiastic help in their struggle for independence.” He changed this position only after the Nationalists started claiming Taiwan with the Cairo Declaration.[9]

Martial law period

Woodcut print by Huang Rong-can, “The Terrible Inspection” describing the February 28 Incident massacre in 1947
“Terror In Formosa”, a news article from The Daily News of Perth, reported the status in March 1947.
The modern-day political movement for Taiwan independence dates back to the Japanese colonial period, but it only became a viable political force within Taiwan in the 1990s.[citation needed] Taiwanese independence was advocated periodically during the Japanese colonial period, but was suppressed by the Japanese government. These efforts were the goal of the Taiwanese Communist Party of the late 1920s. Unlike current formulations, and in line with the thinking of the Comintern, such a state would have been a proletarian one. With the end of World War II in 1945, Japanese rule ended, but the subsequent autocratic rule of the ROC’s Kuomintang (KMT) later revived calls for local rule. However, it was a movement supported by the Chinese students who were born on the Island and not associated with KMT. It found its roots in the US and Japan. In the 1950s a Republic of Taiwan Provisional Government was set up in Japan. Thomas Liao was nominally the President. At one time it held quasi-official relations with the newly independent Indonesia. This was possible mainly through the connections between Sukarno and the Provisional Government’s Southeast Asian liaison, Chen Chih-hsiung, who had assisted in Indonesia’s local resistance movements against Japanese rule. After the Kuomintang began to rule the island, the focus of the movement was as a vehicle for discontent from the native Taiwanese against the rule of “mainlanders” (i.e. mainland Chinese-born people who fled to Taiwan with KMT in the late 1940s). The February 28 Incident in 1947 and the ensuing martial law that lasted until 1987 contributed to the period of White Terror on the island. In 1979, the Kaohsiung Incident, occurred as the movement for democracy and independence intensified.[10] Between 1949 and 1991, the official position[11] of the ROC government on Taiwan was that it was the legitimate government of all of China and it used this position as justification for authoritarian measures such as the refusal to vacate the seats held by delegates elected on the mainland in 1947 for the Legislative Yuan. The Taiwan independence movement intensified in response to this and presented an alternative vision of a sovereign and independent Taiwanese state. This vision was represented through a number of symbols such as the use of Taiwanese in opposition to the school-taught Mandarin Chinese. Several scholars drafted various versions of a constitution, as both political statement or vision and as intellectual exercise. Most of these drafts favor a bicameral parliamentary rather than presidential system. In at least one such draft, seats in the upper house would be divided equally among Taiwan’s established ethnicities. In the 1980s the Chinese Nationalist government considered publication of these ideas criminal. In the most dramatic case, it decided to arrest the pro-independence publisher Cheng Nan-jung for publishing a version in his Tang-wai magazine, Liberty Era Weekly (自由時代週刊). Rather than giving himself up, Cheng self-immolated in protest. Other campaigns and tactics toward such a State have included soliciting designs from the public for a new national flag and anthem (for example, Taiwan the Formosa). More recently the Taiwan Name Rectification Campaign (台灣正名運動) has played an active role. More traditional independence supporters, however, have criticized name rectification as merely a superficial tactic devoid of the larger vision inherent in the independence agenda. Various overseas Taiwan Independence movements, such as the Formosan Association, World United Formosans for Independence, United Young Formosans for Independence, Union for Formosa’s Independence in Europe, United Formosans in America for Independence, and Committee for Human Rights in Formosa, published “The Independent Formosa” in several volumes with the publisher “Formosan Association.” In “The Independent Formosa, Volumes 2–3”, they tried to justify Taiwanese collaboration with Japan during World War II by saying that the “atmosphere covered the whole Japanese territories, including Korea and Formosa, and the Japanese mainlands as well”, when Taiwanese publications supported Japan’s “holy war”, and that the people who did it were not at fault.[12][promotional source?] The Anti-communist Kuomintang leader Chiang Kai-shek, President of the Republic of China on Taiwan, believed the Americans were going to plot a coup against him along with Taiwan Independence. In 1950, Chiang Ching-kuo became director of the secret police, which he remained until 1965. Chiang also considered some people who were friends to Americans to be his enemies. An enemy of the Chiang family, Wu Kuo-chen, was kicked out of his position of governor of Taiwan by Chiang Ching-kuo and fled to America in 1953.[13] Chiang Ching-kuo, educated in the Soviet Union, initiated Soviet style military organization in the Republic of China Military, reorganizing and Sovietizing the political officer corps, surveillance, and Kuomintang party activities were propagated throughout the military. Opposed to this was Sun Li-jen, who was educated at the American Virginia Military Institute.[14] Chiang orchestrated the controversial court-martial and arrest of General Sun Li-jen in August 1955, for plotting a coup d’état with the American CIA against his father Chiang Kai-shek and the Kuomintang. The CIA allegedly wanted to help Sun take control of Taiwan and declare its independence.[13][15] During the martial law era lasting until 1987, discussion of Taiwan independence was forbidden in Taiwan, at a time when recovery of the mainland and national unification were the stated goals of the ROC. During that time, many advocates of independence and other dissidents fled overseas, and carried out their advocacy work there, notably in Japan and the United States. Part of their work involved setting up think tanks, political organizations, and lobbying networks in order to influence the politics of their host countries, notably the United States, the ROC’s main ally at the time, though they would not be very successful until much later. Within Taiwan, the independence movement was one of many dissident causes among the intensifying democracy movement of the 1970s, which culminated in the 1979 Kaohsiung Incident. The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) was eventually formed to represent dissident causes.[citation needed]

Multiparty period

After the lifting of martial law in 1987, and the acceptance of multi-party politics, the Democratic Progressive Party became increasingly identified with Taiwan independence, which entered its party platform in 1991. At the same time, many overseas independence advocates and organizations returned to Taiwan and for the first time openly promoted their cause in Taiwan, gradually building up political support. Many had previously fled to the US or Europe and had been on a blacklist held by KMT, which had held them back from going back to Taiwan. Where they had fled, they built many organisations like European Federation of Taiwanese Associations or Formosan Association for Public Affairs. By the late 1990s, DPP and Taiwan independence have gained a solid electoral constituency in Taiwan, supported by an increasingly vocal and hardcore base.[citation needed]
Banner displaying the slogan “UN for Taiwan”
As the electoral success of the DPP, and later, the DPP-led Pan-Green Coalition grew in recent years, the Taiwan independence movement shifted focus to identity politics by proposing many plans involving symbolism and social engineering. The interpretation of historical events such as the February 28 Incident, the use of broadcast language and mother tongue education in schools, the official name and flag of the ROC, slogans in the army, orientation of maps all have been issues of concern to the present-day Taiwan independence movement. The movement, at its peak in the 70s through the 90s in the form of the Taiwan literature movement and other cultural upheavals, has moderated in recent years with the assimilation of these changes. Friction between “mainlander” and “native” communities on Taiwan has decreased due to shared interests: increasing economic ties with mainland China, continuing threats by the PRC to invade, and doubts as to whether or not the United States would support a unilateral declaration of independence. Since the late 1990s many supporters of Taiwan independence have argued that Taiwan, as the ROC, is already independent from the mainland, making a formal declaration unnecessary. In May 1999, the Democratic Progressive Party formalized this position in its “Resolution on Taiwan’s Future”.[citation needed]

Lee Teng-hui administration (1988–2000)

In 1995, Taiwanese president Lee Teng-hui was given permission to speak at Cornell University about his dream of Taiwanese independence, the first time a Taiwanese leader had been allowed to visit the United States. This led to a military response from China that included buying Russian submarines and conducting missile tests near Taiwan.[16]

Chen Shui-bian administration (2000–2008)

Republic of China passport mentioning Taiwan since 2003 in order to distinguish it from the People’s Republic of China passport. In 2020, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs launched a redesigned passport that highlights “Taiwan”[17][18]
An example of a “Taiwan passport”, which is typically not accepted in place of the R.O.C. passport
In February 2007, President Chen Shui-bian initiated changes to names of state-owned enterprises, and the nation’s embassies and overseas representative offices. As a result, Chunghwa Post Co. (中華郵政) was renamed Taiwan Post Co. (臺灣郵政) and Chinese Petroleum Corporation (中國石油) is now called CPC Corporation, Taiwan (臺灣中油) and the signs in Taiwan’s embassies now display the word “Taiwan” in brackets after “Republic of China”.[19] In 2007, the Taiwan Post Co. issued stamps bearing the name “Taiwan” in remembrance of the February 28 Incident. However, the name of the post office was reverted to “Chunghwa Post Co.” following the inauguration of Kuomintang president Ma Ying-jeou in 2008. The Pan-Blue camp voiced its opposition to the changes and the former KMT Chairman Ma Ying-jeou said that it would generate diplomatic troubles and cause cross-strait tensions. It also argued that without a change in the relevant legislation pertaining to state-owned enterprises, the name changes of these enterprises could not be valid. As the Pan-Blue camp held only a slim parliamentary majority throughout the administration of President Chen, the Government’s motion to change the law to this effect were blocked by the opposition. Later, U.S. Department of State spokesman Sean McCormack said that the U.S. does not support administrative steps that would appear to change the status-quo by either Taipei or Beijing as threats to regional security.[20] Former president Lee Teng-hui has stated that he never pursued Taiwanese independence. Lee views Taiwan as already an independent state, and that the call for “Taiwanese independence” could even confuse the international community by implying that Taiwan once viewed itself as part of China. From this perspective, Taiwan is independent even if it remains unable to enter the UN. Lee said the most important goals are to improve the people’s livelihoods, build national consciousness, make a formal name change and draft a new constitution that reflects the present reality so that Taiwan can officially identify itself as a country.[21]

Ma Ying-jeou administration (2008–2016)

Legislative elections were held on 12 January 2008, resulting in a supermajority (86 of the 113 seats) in the legislature for the Kuomintang (KMT) and the Pan-Blue Coalition. President Chen Shui-bian’s Democratic Progressive Party was handed a heavy defeat, winning only the remaining 27 seats. The junior partner in the Pan-Green Coalition, the Taiwan Solidarity Union, won no seats. Two months later, the election for the 12th-term President and Vice-President of the Republic of China was held on Saturday, 22 March 2008.[22] KMT nominee Ma Ying-jeou won, with 58% of the vote, ending eight years of Democratic Progressive Party rule.[23] Along with the 2008 legislative election, Ma’s landslide victory brought the Kuomintang back to power in Taiwan. On 1 August 2008, the Board of Directors of Taiwan Post Co. resolved to reverse the name change and restored the name “Chunghwa Post”.[24] The Board of Directors, as well as resolving to restore the name of the corporation, also resolved to re-hire the chief executive dismissed in 2007, and to withdraw defamation proceedings against him.[25] On 2 September 2008, President Ma defined the relations between Taiwan and mainland China as “special”, but “not that between two states” – they are relations based on two areas of one state, with Taiwan considering that state to be the Republic of China, and mainland China considering that state to be the People’s Republic of China.[26][27] Ma’s approach with the mainland is conspicuously evasive of political negotiations that may lead to unification which is the mainland’s ultimate goal. The National Unification Guidelines remain “frozen” and Ma precluded any discussion of unification during his term by his “three no’s” (no unification, no independence, and no use of force).[28]

Tsai Ing-wen administration (2016–present)

The Democratic Progressive Party, led by Tsai Ing-wen, won a landslide victory over the Kuomintang on 20 May 2016.[29][30] Her administration has stated she seeks to maintain the current political status of Taiwan.[31][32] The PRC government continues to criticize the ROC government, as the DPP administration has refused to officially recognize the 1992 Consensus and the One-China policy.[33][34]

Legal basis for Taiwan independence

Taiwan independence is supported by the Pan-Green Coalition in Taiwan, led by the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), but opposed by the Pan-Blue Coalition, led by the Kuomintang (KMT). The former coalition aims to eventually achieve full sovereign independence for Taiwan. Whereas, the latter coalition aims to improve relations with the Beijing government (PRC) — which it refers to as “mainland China” — and eventually “reunify” at some point. Both parties have long been forced to precariously dance around the so-called “status quo” of Taiwan’s political status. The DPP is unable to immediately declare independence due to pressure from the PRC and the KMT, whereas the KMT and PRC are unable to immediately achieve Chinese unification due to pressure from the DPP and its unofficial allies (including political factions within the United States (US), Japan, and the European Union (EU)).[35][failed verification] The 1895 Treaty of Shimonoseki and 1951 Treaty of San Francisco are often cited as the main bases for Taiwan independence in international law,[36][37][38] if such things as “self-determination” and the Montevideo Convention (on the Rights and Duties of States) are to be disregarded. These two treaties are not recognized by the Beijing government and the Pan-Blue Coalition of Taiwan. Whereas the PRC usually dismisses self-determination and the Montevideo Convention as conspiracies against Chinese sovereignty, the two aforementioned treaties have strong legal bases in international law and have been recognized by numerous countries across the globe. Notably, the Treaty of San Francisco forms the primary basis of modern Japan’s independence (from the WWII Allies), and largely dictates Japan’s modern geopolitics. The premise of citing these two treaties is that: a) Japan gained sovereignty over Taiwan in 1895, b) Japan lost sovereignty over Taiwan in 1951–1952, and c) Japan never indicated the “successor state” on Taiwan thereafter. Therefore, according to certain activists, this means that Taiwan is only controlled by the Republic of China on behalf of the WWII Allies, and does not constitute a part of the ROC’s sovereign territory. The Beijing government disregards these two treaties, claiming that: a) the Treaty of Shimonoseki has been nullified and b) the Treaty of San Francisco was illegal. Furthermore, the Potsdam Declaration and Cairo Communique are often cited as indisputable bases for Chinese sovereignty over Taiwan. The PRC also emphasizes that the United Nations (UN) refers to Taiwan as “Taiwan, Province of China”. However, this point is dubious given that it has a huge amount of influence over the UN as one of five permanent members of the UN Security Council. However, most countries do not recognize Taiwan, and only 13 have diplomatic relations with it. People’s Republic of China authorities also accuse the US, Japan, and the EU of interfering in “Chinese internal affairs”, claiming that the United States is responsible for separating Taiwan from China, and is responsible for manufacturing “artificial” pro-independence sentiments within Taiwan. Most governments, including the U.S. government, claim to adhere to a so-called “One-China Policy”, which is based on the Chinese “One-China Principle”. Within the Pan-Green Coalition of Taiwan, there are two main factions. The faction that is currently in power aims to attain official international recognition for the reality of “Two Chinas”, where the PRC and the ROC can coexist; later, the ROC can gradually “transform” itself into a Taiwanese state whilst avoiding a major conflict with the PRC. Whereas, the other faction aims to directly achieve Taiwan independence through a more abrupt and complete overthrowal of ROC institutions within Taiwan, which the faction views to be illegitimate. The use of “independence” for Taiwan can be ambiguous. If some supporters articulate that they agree to the independence of Taiwan, they may either be referring to the notion of formally creating an independent Taiwanese state, or to the notion that Taiwan has become synonymous with the current Republic of China from Resolution on Taiwan’s Future and that ROC-Taiwan is already independent (as reflected in the evolving concept from Four Noes and One Without to One Country on Each Side); both of these ideas run counter to the claims of China (PRC).

The issue of Quemoy and Matsu (Kinmen and Lienchiang)


When the government of the Republic of China (under the Kuomintang) was forced to retreat to Formosa and the Pescadores[39] (Taiwan and Penghu) in 1949, several Chinese (i.e. not Japanese) islands still remained under Kuomintang control. Because the Chinese Communist Party never gained control of the Kinmen, Wuqiu, and Matsu Islands, they are now governed by the Republic of China on Taiwan as Kinmen County (Kinmen and Wuqiu) and Lienchiang County (Matsu) within a streamlined Fujian Province. The islands are often referred to collectively as Quemoy and Matsu[40] or as “Golden Horse”. Historically, Kinmen County (“Quemoy”) and Lienchiang County (“Matsu”) served as important defensive strongholds for the Kuomintang during the 1950–1970s, symbolizing the frontline of Kuomintang resistance against the Communist rebellion. They represented the last Kuomintang presence in “mainland China”.[41] The islands received immense coverage from Western (especially United States) media during the First Taiwan Strait Crisis of 1954–1955 and the Second Taiwan Strait Crisis of 1958. They were very significant in the context of the Cold War, a period from 1946 until 1991 of geopolitical tension between the Soviet Union (and its allies) and the United States (and its allies). Ever since the transition into multi-party politics (i.e. “Democratization”) during the 1990s, Kinmen and Lienchiang counties have now essentially developed into two electorates that can be contested through democratic elections. Currently the two electorates are “strongholds” for the Kuomintang[42] due mainly to popular opinion within the electorates, rather than brute control (as in the past). The two electorates have recently developed close relations with the mainland, which lies only around 2–9 km west from the islands, whereas Taiwan lies around 166–189 km east from the islands.

Significance of Quemoy and Matsu

Quemoy and Matsu are unique and important for several reasons.
  • The islands straddle the southeastern coastline of mainland China, only a few kilometers away from mainland China’s Fujian Province.
  • The islands are geographically defined as being part of mainland China rather than Taiwan (aka “Formosa and the Pescadores”).
  • The islands are defined as comprising the truncated, streamlined Fujian Province (officially “Fuchien Province”) of the ROC on Taiwan.

Quemoy and Matsu in Cross-Strait relations

Reportedly, the local government of Kinmen County supports stronger business and cultural ties with mainland China, similarly to the Kuomintang, and views itself as an important proxy (representative) or nexus (focal point) for improving Cross-Strait relations (that is, in the favour of Chinese unification). In January 2001, direct travel between Kinmen County (and Lienchiang County) and mainland China re-opened under the “mini Three Links”.[43] As of 2015, Kinmen has plans to become a “special economic zone” in which free trade and free investment would be allowed between it and the neighbouring mainland SEZ of Xiamen.[44] This might be accomplished in part by building a huge bridge connecting Kinmen to Xiamen, via the island of Lesser Kinmen (Lieyu);[45] A bridge has since been constructed between Greater Kinmen and Lesser Kinmen.[46] Additionally, Kinmen has plans to become a “university island”.[47] In 2010, “National Kinmen Institute of Technology” was upgraded to “National Quemoy University”.[48] Kinmen County plans to establish several branches of mainland Chinese universities in Kinmen, and has bargained with the central Taiwanese (ROC) government so that universities in Kinmen don’t have to be bounded by the same quotas as other Taiwanese universities in terms of admitting mainland Chinese students. In 2018, the local government of Kinmen County unveiled a new undersea pipeline linking Kinmen to mainland China, through which drinking-water can be imported.[49] This business deal caused controversy in Taiwan and resulted in a “stand-off” between Kinmen County and the Mainland Affairs Council of Taiwan (ROC).[50]

Quemoy and Matsu as part of Taiwan

Within Taiwan, one camp[who?] believes that Kinmen County (Quemoy) and Lienchiang County (Matsu) should be abandoned from a potential independent and sovereign Taiwanese state. This view aligns with the aforementioned treaties and acts that do not define Kinmen and Matsu as being part of Taiwan. This same camp also believes that the PRC has only “allowed” the ROC to continue controlling Kinmen and Matsu in order to “tether” Taiwan to mainland China. The fact that the PRC propagandizes Kinmen and Matsu is evidence that this is true to at least a certain degree. In a hypothetical scenario where Kinmen and Matsu are abandoned by the Taiwanese state, they would likely be “ceded” to the People’s Republic of China via a peace treaty, officially ending the Chinese Civil War. Also within Taiwan, a second camp[who?] believes that Quemoy and Matsu belong to Taiwan. This camp believes that the ROC and Taiwan have become one and the same. By this logic, Taiwan effectively owns all of the same territories that the ROC is said to own. Among these territories is Quemoy and Matsu. If a potential Taiwanese state were to be created, this camp believes that the new country will actually be the successor state to the ROC, rather than an entirely new country. Therefore, if Taiwan independence were to be successfully achieved, then the islands of Quemoy and Matsu would hypothetically cease to be administered as “Fujian Province”, and would instead simply be classified as “satellite islands of Taiwan” (much in the same way as Penghu). Despite the differing views of these two camps, there is a general understanding throughout Taiwan that Quemoy and Matsu are not part of the historical region of “Taiwan”, due to having never been governed under the following regimes: Dutch Formosa, Spanish Formosa, Kingdom of Tungning, Republic of Formosa, and Japanese Formosa. Additionally, Quemoy and Matsu experienced a unique history for several years as military outposts of the ROC, further separating the islands from Taiwan in terms of culture.


The questions of independence and the island’s relationship to mainland China are complex and inspire very strong emotions among Taiwanese people. There are some who continue to maintain the KMT’s position, which states that the ROC is the sole legitimate government for all of China (of which they consider Taiwan to be a part), and that the aim of the government should be eventual unification of the mainland and Taiwan under the rule of the ROC. Some argue that Taiwan has been, and should continue to be, completely independent from China and should become a Taiwanese state with a distinct name. Then, there are numerous positions running the entire spectrum between these two extremes, as well as differing opinions on how best to manage either situation should it ever be realized. On 25 October 2004, in Beijing, the U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell said Taiwan is “not sovereign,” provoking strong comments from both the Pan-Green and Pan-Blue coalitions – but for very different reasons. From the DPP’s side, President Chen declared that “Taiwan is definitely a sovereign, independent country, a great country that absolutely does not belong to the People’s Republic of China”. The TSU (Taiwan Solidarity Union) criticized Powell, and questioned why the US sold weapons to Taiwan if it were not a sovereign state. From the KMT, then Chairman Ma Ying-jeou announced, “the Republic of China has been a sovereign state ever since it was formed [in 1912].” The pro-unification PFP Party Chairman, James Soong, called it “Taiwan’s biggest failure in diplomacy.”[51]

Support for independence

Parade of Taiwan independence supporters
The first view considers the move for Taiwan independence as a nationalist movement. Historically, this was the view of such pro-independence groups as the Tangwai movement (which later grew into the Democratic Progressive Party) who argued that the ROC under the Kuomintang had been a “foreign regime” forcibly imposed on Taiwan. Since the 1990s, supporters of Taiwan independence no longer actively make this argument. Instead, the argument has been that, in order to survive the growing power of the PRC, Taiwan must view itself as a separate and distinct entity from “China.” Such a change in view involves:
  • removing the name of “China” from official and unofficial items in Taiwan,
  • changes in history books, which now portrays Taiwan as a central entity,
  • promoting the use of Hokkien Language in the government and in the education system,
  • reducing economic links with mainland China,
  • opposing Chinese unification regardless of mainland China being a democracy and
  • promoting the general thinking that Taiwan is a separate entity.
The goal of this movement is the eventual creation of a country where China is a foreign entity, and Taiwan is an internationally recognized country separate from any concept of “China.” The proposed “state of Taiwan” will exclude areas such as Quemoy and Matsu off the coast of Fujian, and some of the islands in the South China Sea, which historically were not part of Taiwan. Some supporters of Taiwan independence argue that the Treaty of San Francisco justifies Taiwan independence by not explicitly granting Taiwan to either the ROC or the PRC, even though neither the PRC nor the ROC government accepts such legal justification. It is also thought that if formal independence were declared, Taiwan’s foreign policies would lean further towards Japan and the United States, and the desirable option of United Nations Trusteeship Council is also considered.[52] The Taiwan Independence Party won a single seat in the Legislative Yuan in the 1998 legislative election. The Taiwan Solidarity Union was formed in 2001, and is also supportive of independence. Though it gained more legislative support than TAIP in elections, the TSU’s legislative representation has dropped over time. In 2018, political parties and organizations demanding a referendum on Taiwan’s independence formed an alliance to further their objective. The Formosa Alliance was established on 7 April 2018, prompted by a sense of crisis in the face of growing pressure from China for unification. The alliance wanted to hold a referendum on Taiwan’s independence in April 2019, and change the island’s name from the “Republic of China” to “Taiwan,” and apply for membership in the United Nations.[53] In August 2019, another party supportive of independence, the Taiwan Action Party Alliance was founded.

Support for status quo

A second view is that Taiwan is already an independent nation with the official name “Republic of China,” which has been independent (i.e. de facto separate from mainland China/de jure separate from PRC) since the end of the Chinese Civil War in 1949, when the ROC lost control of mainland China, with only Taiwan (including the Penghu islands), Kinmen (Quemoy), the Matsu Islands off the coast of Fujian Province, and some of the islands in the South China Sea remaining under its administration.[54] Although previously no major political faction adopted this pro-status quo viewpoint, because it is a “compromise” in face of PRC threats and American warnings against a unilateral declaration of independence, the DPP combined it with their traditional belief to form their latest official policy. This viewpoint has not been adopted by more radical groups such as the Taiwan Solidarity Union, which favor only the third view described above and are in favor of a Republic or State of Taiwan. In addition, many members of the Pan-Blue Coalition are rather suspicious of this view, fearing that adopting this definition of Taiwan independence is merely an insincere stealth tactical effort to advance desinicization and the third view of Taiwan independence. As a result, supporters of Pan-Blue tend to make a clear distinction between Taiwan independence and Taiwan sovereignty, while supporters of Pan-Green tend to try to blur the distinction between the two.[55] Most Taiwanese and political parties of the ROC support the status quo, and recognize that this is de facto independence through sovereign self-rule.[56] Even among those who believe Taiwan is and should remain independent, the threat of war from PRC softens their approach, and they tend to support maintaining the status quo rather than pursuing an ideological path that could result in war with the PRC. When President Lee Teng-hui put forth the two-states policy, he received 80% support. A similar situation arose when President Chen Shui-bian declared that there was “one country on each side” of the Taiwan Strait. To this day, the parties disagree, sometimes bitterly, on such things as territory, name (R.O.C. or Taiwan), future policies, and interpretations of history. The Pan-Blue Coalition and the PRC believe that Lee Teng-hui and Chen Shui-bian are intent on publicly promoting a moderate form of Taiwan independence in order to advance secretly deeper forms of Taiwan independence, and that they intend to use popular support on Taiwan for political separation to advance notions of cultural and economic separation.

Opposition to independence

Anti-Taiwan independence protesters in Washington, D.C. during Lee Teng-hui’s visit in 2005
In 2023, in Taiwan, a joint anti-Taiwan independence and anti-intervention protest against William Lai Ching‑te
The third view, put forward by the government of the PRC and Nationalists of the KMT, defines Taiwan independence as “splitting Taiwan from China, causing division of the nation and the people.” What PRC claims by this statement is somewhat ambiguous according to supporters of Taiwanese independence, as some statements by the PRC seem to identify China solely and uncompromisingly with the PRC. Others propose a broader and more flexible definition suggesting that both mainland China and Taiwan are parts that form one cultural and geographic entity, although divided politically as a vestige of the Chinese Civil War. The PRC considers itself the sole legitimate government of all China, and the ROC to be a defunct entity replaced in the Communist revolution that succeeded in 1949. Therefore, assertions that the ROC is a sovereign state are construed as support for Taiwan independence, so are proposals to change the name of the ROC. Such a name change is met with even more disapproval since it rejects Taiwan as part of the greater China entity (as one side of a still-unresolved Chinese civil war). The ROC used to be recognized by the UN as the sole legal government of China until 1971. In that year, the UN Resolution 2758 was passed, and the PRC became recognized as the legal government of China by the UN. Chinese nationalists have called the Taiwan independence movement and its supporters to be hanjian (traitors).[citation needed] The Chinese Communist Party classifies Taiwan independence activists as one of the Five Poisons.[57][58]

Opinion polls

In an opinion poll conducted in Taiwan by the Mainland Affairs Council in 2019, 27.7% of respondents supported Taiwan’s independence: 21.7% said that the status quo has to be maintained for now but Taiwan should become independent in the future, while 6% said that independence must be declared as soon as possible. 31% of respondents supported the current situation as it is, and 10.3% agreed to unification with the mainland with 1.4% saying that it should happen as soon as possible.[59] Several polls have indicated an increase in support of Taiwanese independence in the three decades after 1990. In a Taiwanese Public Opinion Foundation poll conducted in June 2020, 54% of respondents supported de jure independence for Taiwan, 23.4% preferred maintaining the status quo, 12.5% favored unification with China, and 10% did not hold any particular view on the matter. This represented the highest level of support for Taiwanese independence since the survey was first conducted in 1991.[60][61] A later TPOF poll in 2022 showed similar results.[62][63] The Election Study Center, NCCU Taiwan Independence vs. Unification with the Mainland Survey shows a steady increase in respondents choosing “maintain the status quo and move toward independence in the future” since it started in 1994. However, the option “maintain the status quo indefinitely” had a similar increase in the same period and the most popular option was “maintain the status quo and decide in the future between independence or unification” every year between 1994 and 2022. The option “independence as soon as possible” never went above 10% in the same time period. “unification as soon as possible” has been more unpopular – never going above 4.5%.
LIFE Magazine March 2, 1953

D-Day | Normandy Landings

Normandy landings
Part of Operation Overlord and the Western Front of World War II
Taxis to Hell – and Back – Into the Jaws of Death, an iconic image of men of the 16th Infantry Regiment, US 1st Infantry Division wading ashore from their landing craft on Omaha Beach on the morning of 6 June 1944
Date6 June 1944; 80 years ago
Normandy, France
49.34°N 0.60°W
ResultAllied victory
Territorial changesFive Allied beachheads established in Normandy
  • United Kingdom
  • United States
  • Canada
  • France
  • Australia
  • Czechoslovakia
  • Polish government-in-exile Poland
  • Netherlands
  • Norway
  • New Zealand
  • Greece
  • South Africa
  • Southern Rhodesia
Commanders and leaders
  • United States Dwight D. Eisenhower
  • United Kingdom Arthur Tedder
  • United Kingdom Miles Dempsey
  • United Kingdom Bernard Montgomery
  • United Kingdom Trafford Leigh-Mallory
  • United Kingdom Bertram Ramsay
  • United States Omar Bradley
  • Nazi Germany Gerd von Rundstedt
  • Nazi Germany Erwin Rommel
  • Nazi Germany Hugo Sperrle
  • Nazi Germany Theodor Krancke
  • Nazi Germany Leo von Schweppenburg
  • Nazi Germany Friedrich Dollmann
  • Nazi Germany Hans von Salmuth
Units involved
United States First Army
United Kingdom Second Army
Nazi Germany 5th Panzer Army
Nazi Germany 7th Army
156,000 soldiers 195,700 naval personnel50,350+ 170 coastal artillery guns
Casualties and losses
10,000+ casualties; 4,414 confirmed dead 185 M4 Sherman tanks4,000–9,000 killed, wounded, missing, or captured
The Normandy landings were the landing operations and associated airborne operations on Tuesday, 6 June 1944 of the Allied invasion of Normandy in Operation Overlord during World War II. Codenamed Operation Neptune and often referred to as D-Day, it is the largest seaborne invasion in history. The operation began the liberation of France, and the rest of Western Europe, and laid the foundations of the Allied victory on the Western Front. Planning for the operation began in 1943. In the months leading up to the invasion, the Allies conducted a substantial military deception, codenamed Operation Bodyguard, to mislead the Germans as to the date and location of the main Allied landings. The weather on the day selected for D-Day was not ideal, and the operation had to be delayed 24 hours; a further postponement would have meant a delay of at least two weeks, as the planners had requirements for the phase of the moon, the tides, and time of day, that meant only a few days each month were deemed suitable. Adolf Hitler placed Field Marshal Erwin Rommel in command of German forces and developing fortifications along the Atlantic Wall in anticipation of an invasion. U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt placed Major General Dwight D. Eisenhower in command of Allied forces. The invasion began shortly after midnight on the morning of 6 June with extensive aerial and naval bombardment as well as an airborne assault—the landing of 24,000 American, British, and Canadian airborne troops. The early morning aerial assault was soon followed by Allied amphibious landings on the coast of France c.06:30. The target 50-mile (80 km) stretch of the Normandy coast was divided into five sectors: Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno, and Sword. Strong winds blew the landing craft east of their intended positions, particularly at Utah and Omaha. The men landed under heavy fire from gun emplacements overlooking the beaches, and the shore was mined and covered with obstacles such as wooden stakes, metal tripods, and barbed wire, making the work of the beach-clearing teams difficult and dangerous. Casualties were heaviest at Omaha, with its high cliffs. At Gold, Juno, and Sword, several fortified towns were cleared in house-to-house fighting, and two major gun emplacements at Gold were disabled using specialised tanks. The Allies failed to achieve any of their major goals beyond the establishment of the beachheads on the first day. Carentan, Saint-Lô, and Bayeux remained in German hands, and Caen, a major objective, was not captured until 21 July. Only two of the beaches (Juno and Gold) were linked on the first day, and all five beachheads were not connected until 12 June; however, the operation gained a foothold that the Allies gradually expanded over the coming months. German casualties on D-Day have been estimated at 4,000 to 9,000 men. Allied casualties were documented for at least 10,000, with 4,414 confirmed dead.


After the German Army invaded the Soviet Union in June 1941, the Soviet leader Joseph Stalin began pressing his new allies for the creation of a second front in western Europe. In late May 1942, the Soviet Union and the United States made a joint announcement that a “… full understanding was reached with regard to the urgent tasks of creating a second front in Europe in 1942.” However, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill persuaded U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt to postpone the promised invasion as, even with U.S. help, the Allies did not have adequate forces for such an activity. Instead of an immediate return to France, the western Allies staged offensives in the Mediterranean Theatre of Operations, where British troops were already stationed. By mid-1943, the campaign in North Africa had been won. The Allies then launched the invasion of Sicily in July 1943 and subsequently invaded the Italian mainland in September the same year. By then, Soviet forces were on the offensive and had won a major victory at the Battle of Stalingrad. The decision to undertake a cross-channel invasion within the next year was taken at the Trident Conference in Washington in May 1943. Initial planning was constrained by the number of available landing craft, most of which were already committed in the Mediterranean and Pacific.[20] At the Tehran Conference in November 1943, Roosevelt and Churchill promised Stalin that they would open the long-delayed second front in May 1944.
Meeting of the Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force (SHAEF), 1 February 1944. Front row: Air Chief Marshal Sir Arthur Tedder; General Dwight D. Eisenhower; General Sir Bernard Montgomery. Back row: Lieutenant General Omar Bradley; Admiral Sir Bertram Ramsay; Air Chief Marshal Sir Trafford Leigh-Mallory; Lieutenant General Walter Bedell Smith.
The Allies considered four sites for the landings: Brittany, the Cotentin Peninsula, Normandy, and the Pas-de-Calais. As Brittany and Cotentin are peninsulas, it would have been possible for the Germans to cut off the Allied advance at a relatively narrow isthmus, so these sites were rejected. With the Pas-de-Calais being the closest point in continental Europe to Britain, the Germans considered it to be the most likely initial landing zone, so it was the most heavily fortified region. But it offered few opportunities for expansion, as the area is bounded by numerous rivers and canals, whereas, landings on a broad front in Normandy would permit simultaneous threats against the port of Cherbourg, coastal ports further west in Brittany, and an overland attack towards Paris and eventually into Germany. Normandy was hence chosen as the landing site. The most serious drawback of the Normandy coast—the lack of port facilities—would be overcome through the development of artificial Mulberry harbors. A series of modified tanks, nicknamed Hobart’s Funnies, dealt with specific requirements expected for the Normandy Campaign such as mine clearing, demolishing bunkers, and mobile bridging. The Allies planned to launch the invasion on 1 May 1944. The initial draft of the plan was accepted at the Quebec Conference in August 1943. General Dwight D. Eisenhower was appointed commander of the Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force. General Bernard Montgomery was named commander of the 21st Army Group, which comprised all land forces involved in the invasion. On 31 December 1943, Eisenhower and Montgomery first saw the plan, which proposed amphibious landings by three divisions with two more divisions in support. The two generals insisted that the scale of the initial invasion be expanded to five divisions, with airborne descents by three additional divisions, to allow operations on a wider front and to hasten the capture of Cherbourg. The need to acquire or produce extra landing craft for the expanded operation meant that the invasion had to be delayed to June. Eventually, thirty-nine Allied divisions would be committed to the Battle of Normandy: twenty-two American, twelve British, three Canadian, one Polish, and one French, totaling over a million troops.[31]


Operation Overlord was the name assigned to the establishment of a large-scale lodgment on the continent. The first phase, the amphibious invasion and establishment of a secure foothold, was codenamed Operation Neptune. To gain the air superiority needed to ensure a successful invasion, the Allies undertook a bombing campaign (codenamed Operation Pointblank) that targeted German aircraft production, fuel supplies, and airfields. Elaborate deceptions, codenamed Operation Bodyguard, were undertaken in the months leading up to the invasion to prevent the Germans from learning the timing and location of the invasion. The landings were to be preceded by airborne operations near Caen on the eastern flank to secure the Orne River bridges and north of Carentan on the western flank. The Americans, assigned to land at Utah Beach and Omaha Beach, were to attempt to capture Carentan and Saint-Lô the first day, then cut off the Cotentin Peninsula and eventually capture the port facilities at Cherbourg. The British at Sword and Gold Beaches and the Canadians at Juno Beach would protect the U.S. flank and attempt to establish airfields near Caen on the first day. (A sixth beach, code-named “Band”, was considered to the east of the Orne.) A secure lodgment would be established with all invading forces linked together, with an attempt to hold all territory north of the Avranches-Falaise line within the first three weeks. Montgomery envisaged a ninety-day battle, lasting until all Allied forces reached the River Seine.

Deception plans

Shoulder patches were designed for units of the fictitious First United States Army Group under George Patton.
Under the overall umbrella of Operation Bodyguard, the Allies conducted several subsidiary operations designed to mislead the Germans as to the date and location of the Allied landings.[37] Operation Fortitude included Fortitude North, a misinformation campaign using fake radio traffic to lead the Germans into expecting an attack on Norway,[38] and Fortitude South, a major deception involving the creation of a fictitious First United States Army Group under Lieutenant General George S. Patton, supposedly located in Kent and Sussex. Fortitude South was intended to deceive the Germans into believing that the main attack would take place at Calais.[32][39] Genuine radio messages from 21st Army Group were first routed to Kent via landline and then broadcast, to give the Germans the impression that most of the Allied troops were stationed there.[40] Patton was stationed in England until 6 July, thus continuing to deceive the Germans into believing a second attack would take place at Calais.[41] Many of the German radar stations on the French coast were destroyed in preparation for the landings.[42] In addition, on the night before the invasion, a small group of Special Air Service operators deployed dummy paratroopers over Le Havre and Isigny. These dummies led the Germans to believe that an additional airborne landing had occurred. On that same night, in Operation Taxable, No. 617 Squadron RAF dropped strips of “window”, metal foil that caused a radar return which was mistakenly interpreted by German radar operators as a naval convoy near Le Havre. The illusion was bolstered by a group of small vessels towing barrage balloons. A similar deception was undertaken near Boulogne-sur-Mer in the Pas de Calais area by No. 218 Squadron RAF in Operation Glimmer.[43][2]


The invasion planners determined a set of conditions involving the phase of the moon, the tides, and the time of day that would be satisfactory on only a few days in each month. A full moon was desirable, as it would provide illumination for aircraft pilots and have the highest tides. The Allies wanted to schedule the landings for shortly before dawn, midway between low and high tide, with the tide coming in. This would improve the visibility of obstacles on the beach while minimizing the amount of time the men would be exposed in the open.[44] Eisenhower had tentatively selected 5 June as the date for the assault. However, on 4 June, conditions were unsuitable for a landing: high winds and heavy seas made it impossible to launch landing craft, and low clouds would prevent aircraft from finding their targets.[45] The weather forecast that reported the storms was sent from a weather station on the western coast of Ireland.[46]
Surface weather analysis map showing weather fronts on 5 June
Group Captain James Stagg of the Royal Air Force (RAF) met Eisenhower on the evening of 4June. He and his meteorological team predicted that the weather would improve enough for the invasion to proceed on 6 June.[47] The next available dates with the required tidal conditions (but without the desirable full moon) would be two weeks later, from 18 to 20 June. Postponement of the invasion would have required recalling men and ships already in position to cross the English Channel and would have increased the chance that the invasion plans would be detected.[48] After much discussion with the other senior commanders, Eisenhower decided that the invasion should go ahead on 6 June.[49] A major storm battered the Normandy coast from 19 to 22 June, which would have made the beach landings impossible.[45] Allied control of the Atlantic meant German meteorologists had less information than the Allies on incoming weather patterns.[42] As the Luftwaffe meteorological centre in Paris was predicting two weeks of stormy weather, many Wehrmacht commanders left their posts to attend war games in Rennes, and men in many units were given leave.[50] Field Marshal Erwin Rommel returned to Germany for his wife’s birthday and to petition Hitler for additional Panzer divisions.[51]

German order of battle

Germany had at its disposal fifty divisions in France and the Low Countries, with another eighteen stationed in Denmark and Norway. Fifteen divisions were in the process of formation in Germany.[52] Combat losses throughout the war, particularly on the Eastern Front, meant that the Germans no longer had a pool of able young men from which to draw. German soldiers were now on average six years older than their Allied counterparts. Many in the Normandy area were Ostlegionen (eastern legions)—conscripts and volunteers from Russia, Mongolia, and other areas of the Soviet Union. They were provided mainly with unreliable captured equipment and lacked motorised transport.[53][54] Many German units were under strength.[55] In early 1944, the German Western Front (OB West) was significantly weakened by personnel and materiel transfers to the Eastern Front. During the Soviet Dnieper–Carpathian offensive (24 December 1943 – 17 April 1944), the German High Command was forced to transfer the entire II SS Panzer Corps from France, consisting of the 9th and 10th SS Panzer Divisions, as well as the 349th Infantry Division, 507th Heavy Panzer Battalion and the 311th and 322nd StuG Assault Gun Brigades. All told, the German forces stationed in France were deprived of 45,827 troops and 363 tanks, assault guns, and self-propelled anti-tank guns.[56] It was the first major transfer of forces from France to the east since the creation of Führer Directive 51, which eased restrictions on troop transfers to the eastern front.[57] The 1st SS Panzer Division “Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler”, 9th, 11th, 19th and 116th Panzer divisions, alongside the 2nd SS Panzer Division “Das Reich”, had only arrived in France in March–May 1944 for extensive refit after being badly damaged during the Dnieper-Carpathian operation. Seven of the eleven panzer or panzergrenadier divisions stationed in France were not fully operational or only partially mobile in early June 1944.[58] German Supreme commander: Adolf Hitler
  • Oberbefehlshaber West (Supreme Commander West; OB West): Field Marshal Gerd von Rundstedt
  • (Panzer Group West: General Leo Geyr von Schweppenburg)
  • Army Group B: Field Marshal Erwin Rommel
    • 7th Army: Generaloberst Friedrich Dollmann
      • LXXXIV Corps under General der Artillerie Erich Marcks

Cotentin Peninsula

Allied forces attacking Utah Beach faced the following German units stationed on the Cotentin Peninsula:
  •  709th Static Infantry Division under Generalleutnant Karl-Wilhelm von Schlieben numbered 12,320 men, many of them Ostlegionen (non-German conscripts recruited from Soviet prisoners of war).[59]
    • 729th Grenadier Regiment[60]
    • 739th Grenadier Regiment[60]
    • 919th Grenadier Regiment[60]

Grandcamps Sector

Americans assaulting Omaha Beach faced the following troops:
  •  352nd Infantry Division under Generalleutnant Dietrich Kraiss, a full-strength unit of around 12,000 brought in by Rommel on 15 March and reinforced by two additional regiments.[61]
    • 914th Grenadier Regiment[62]
    • 915th Grenadier Regiment (as reserves)[62]
    • 916th Grenadier Regiment[62]
    • 726th Infantry Regiment (from 716th Infantry Division)[62]
    • 352nd Artillery Regiment[62]
Allied forces at Gold and Juno faced the following elements of the 352nd Infantry Division:
  • 914th Grenadier Regiment[63]
  • 915th Grenadier Regiment[63]
  • 916th Grenadier Regiment[63]
  • 352nd Artillery Regiment[63]

Forces around Caen

Allied forces attacking Gold, Juno, and Sword Beaches faced the following German units:
  •  716th Static Infantry Division under Generalleutnant Wilhelm Richter. At 7,000 troops, the division was significantly understrength.[64]
    • 736th Infantry Regiment[65]
    • 1716th Artillery Regiment[65]
  •  21st Panzer Division, (south of Caen) under Generalmajor Edgar Feuchtinger included 146 tanks and 50 assault guns, plus supporting infantry and artillery.[66]
    • 100th Panzer Regiment[63] (at Falaise under Hermann von Oppeln-Bronikowski; renamed 22nd Panzer Regiment in May 1944 to avoid confusion with 100th Panzer Battalion) [67]
    • 125th Panzergrenadier Regiment[63](under Hans von Luck from April 1944)[68]
    • 192nd Panzergrenadier Regiment[63]
    • 155th Panzer Artillery Regiment[63]

Atlantic Wall

Map of the Atlantic Wall, shown in yellow
 Axis and occupied countries
 Allies and occupied countries
 Neutral countries
Czech hedgehogs deployed on the Atlantic Wall near Calais
Alarmed by the raids on St Nazaire and Dieppe in 1942, Hitler had ordered the construction of fortifications all along the Atlantic coast, from Spain to Norway, to protect against an expected Allied invasion. He envisioned 15,000 emplacements manned by 300,000 troops, but shortages, particularly of concrete and manpower, meant that most of the strongpoints were never built.[69] As it was expected to be the site of the invasion, the Pas de Calais was heavily defended.[69] In the Normandy area, the best fortifications were concentrated at the port facilities at Cherbourg and Saint-Malo.[30] Rommel was assigned to oversee the construction of further fortifications along the expected invasion front, which stretched from the Netherlands to Cherbourg,[69][70] and was given command of the newly re-formed Army Group B, which included the 7th Army, the 15th Army, and the forces guarding the Netherlands. Reserves for this group included the 2nd, 21st, and 116th Panzer divisions.[71][72] Rommel believed that the Normandy coast could be a possible landing point for the invasion, so he ordered the construction of extensive defensive works along that shore. In addition to concrete gun emplacements at strategic points along the coast, he ordered wooden stakes, metal tripods, mines, and large anti-tank obstacles to be placed on the beaches to delay the approach of landing craft and impede the movement of tanks.[73] Expecting the Allies to land at high tide so that the infantry would spend less time exposed on the beach, he ordered many of these obstacles to be placed at the high water mark.[44] Tangles of barbed wire, booby traps, and the removal of ground cover made the approach hazardous for infantry.[73] On Rommel’s order, the number of mines along the coast was tripled.[30] The Allied air offensive over Germany had crippled the Luftwaffe and established air supremacy over western Europe, so Rommel knew he could not expect effective air support.[74] The Luftwaffe could muster only 815 aircraft[75] over Normandy in comparison to the Allies’ 9,543.[76] Rommel arranged for booby-trapped stakes known as Rommelspargel (Rommel’s asparagus) to be installed in meadows and fields to deter airborne landings.[30] German armaments minister Albert Speer notes in his 1969 autobiography that the German high command, concerned about the susceptibility of the airports and port facilities along the North Sea coast, held a conference on 6–8 June 1944 to discuss reinforcing defences in that area.[77] Speer wrote:
In Germany itself we scarcely had any troop units at our disposal. If the airports at Hamburg and Bremen could be taken by parachute units and the ports of these cities seized by small forces, invasion armies debarking from ships would, I feared, meet no resistance and would be occupying Berlin and all of Germany within a few days.[78]

Armoured reserves

Rommel believed that Germany’s best chance was to stop the invasion at the shore. He requested that the mobile reserves, especially tanks, be stationed as close to the coast as possible. Rundstedt, Geyr, and other senior commanders objected. They believed that the invasion could not be stopped on the beaches. Geyr argued for a conventional doctrine: keeping the Panzer formations concentrated in a central position around Paris and Rouen and deploying them only when the main Allied beachhead had been identified. He also noted that in the Italian Campaign, the armoured units stationed near the coast had been damaged by naval bombardment. Rommel’s opinion was that because of Allied air supremacy, the large-scale movement of tanks would not be possible once the invasion was under way. Hitler made the final decision, which was to leave three Panzer divisions under Geyr’s command and give Rommel operational control of three more as reserves. Hitler took personal control of four divisions as strategic reserves, not to be used without his direct orders.[79][80][81]

Allied order of battle

D-day assault routes into Normandy
Commander, SHAEF: General Dwight D. Eisenhower Commander, 21st Army Group: General Bernard Montgomery[82]

U.S. zones

Commander, First Army: Lieutenant General Omar Bradley[82] The First Army contingent totalled approximately 73,000 men, including 15,600 from the airborne divisions.[15]
Utah Beach
  •  VII Corps, commanded by Major General J. Lawton Collins[83]
    •  4th Infantry Division: Major General Raymond O. Barton[83]
    •  82nd Airborne Division: Major General Matthew Ridgway[83]
    •  90th Infantry Division: Brigadier General Jay W. MacKelvie[83]
    •  101st Airborne Division: Major General Maxwell D. Taylor[83]
Omaha Beach
  •  V Corps, commanded by Major General Leonard T. Gerow, making up 34,250 men[84]
    •  1st Infantry Division: Major General Clarence R. Huebner[85]
    •  29th Infantry Division: Major General Charles H. Gerhardt[85]

British and Canadian zones

Royal Marine Commandos attached to 3rd Infantry Division move inland from Sword Beach, 6 June 1944. An armoured bridgelayer tank is in the background
Commander, Second Army: Lieutenant General Sir Miles Dempsey[82] Overall, the Second Army contingent consisted of 83,115 men, 61,715 of them British.[15] The British and Commonwealth air and naval support units included a large number of personnel from Allied nations, including several RAF squadrons manned almost exclusively by overseas air crew. For example, the Australian contribution to the operation included a regular Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) squadron, nine Article XV squadrons, and hundreds of personnel posted to RAF units and RN warships.[86] The RAF supplied two-thirds of the aircraft involved in the invasion.[87]
Gold Beach
  •  XXX Corps (UK), commanded by Lieutenant General Gerard Bucknall[88]
    •  50th (Northumbrian) Infantry Division: Major General Douglas Graham[88]
    • reinforced with
      •  56th Infantry Brigade
      •  8th Armoured Brigade
      • 47th (Royal Marine) Commando
Juno Beach
  •  British I Corps, commanded by Lieutenant General John Crocker[89]
    •  3rd Canadian Division: Major General Rod Keller[89]
Sword Beach
  • British I Corps, commanded by Lieutenant General John Crocker[90]
    •  3rd Infantry Division: Major General Tom Rennie[90]
    •  6th Airborne Division (UK): Major General Richard Gale[90]
 79th Armoured Division: Major General Percy Hobart[91] provided specialised armoured vehicles which supported the landings on all beaches in Second Army’s sector.

Coordination with the French Resistance

Members of the French Resistance and the US 82nd Airborne division during the Battle of Normandy in 1944.
Through the London-based État-major des Forces Françaises de l’Intérieur (French Forces of the Interior), the British Special Operations Executive orchestrated a campaign of sabotage to be implemented by the French Resistance. The Allies developed four plans for the Resistance to execute on D-Day and the following days:
  • Plan Vert was a 15-day operation to sabotage the rail system.
  • Plan Bleu dealt with destroying electrical facilities.
  • Plan Tortue was a delaying operation aimed at the enemy forces that would potentially reinforce Axis forces at Normandy.
  • Plan Violet dealt with cutting underground telephone and teleprinter cables.[92]
The resistance was alerted to carry out these tasks by messages personnels transmitted by the BBC’s French service from London. Several hundred of these messages, which might be snippets of poetry, quotations from literature, or random sentences, were regularly transmitted, masking the few that were actually significant. In the weeks preceding the landings, lists of messages and their meanings were distributed to resistance groups.[93] An increase in radio activity on 5 June was correctly interpreted by German intelligence to mean that an invasion was imminent or underway. However, because of the barrage of previous false warnings and misinformation, most units ignored the warning.[94][95] A 1965 report from the Counter-insurgency Information Analysis Center details the results of the French Resistance’s sabotage efforts: “In the southeast, 52 locomotives were destroyed on 6 June and the railway line cut in more than 500 places. Normandy was isolated as of 7 June.”[96]

Naval activity

D-Day planning map, used at Southwick House near Portsmouth
Large landing craft convoy crosses the English Channel on 6 June 1944
Naval operations for the invasion were described by historian Correlli Barnett as a “never surpassed masterpiece of planning”.[97] In overall command was British Admiral Sir Bertram Ramsay, who had served as Flag officer at Dover during the Dunkirk evacuation four years earlier. He had also been responsible for the naval planning of the invasion of North Africa in 1942, and one of the two fleets carrying troops for the invasion of Sicily the following year.[98] The invasion fleet, which was drawn from eight different navies, comprised 6,939 vessels: 1,213 warships, 4,126 landing craft of various types, 736 ancillary craft, and 864 merchant vessels.[15] The majority of the fleet was supplied by the UK, which provided 892 warships and 3,261 landing craft.[87] In total there were 195,700 naval personnel involved; of these 112,824 were from the Royal Navy with another 25,000 from the Merchant Navy; 52,889 were American; and 4,998 sailors from other allied countries.[15][10] The invasion fleet was split into the Western Naval Task Force (under Admiral Alan G. Kirk) supporting the U.S. sectors and the Eastern Naval Task Force (under Admiral Sir Philip Vian) in the British and Canadian sectors.[99][98] Available to the fleet were five battleships, 20 cruisers, 65 destroyers, and two monitors.[100] German ships in the area on D-Day included three torpedo boats, 29 fast attack craft, 36 R boats, and 36 minesweepers and patrol boats.[101] The Germans also had several U-boats available, and all the approaches had been heavily mined.[44]

Naval losses

At 05:10, four German torpedo boats reached the Eastern Task Force and launched fifteen torpedoes, sinking the Norwegian destroyer HNoMS Svenner off Sword Beach but missing the British battleships HMS Warspite and Ramillies. After attacking, the German vessels turned away and fled east into a smoke screen that had been laid by the RAF to shield the fleet from the long-range battery at Le Havre.[102] Allied losses to mines included the American destroyer USS Corry off Utah and submarine chaser USS PC-1261, a 173-foot patrol craft.[103]


Map of the invasion area showing channels cleared of mines, location of vessels engaged in bombardment, and targets on shore
Bombing of Normandy began around midnight with more than 2,200 British, Canadian, and U.S. bombers attacking targets along the coast and further inland.[44] The coastal bombing attack was largely ineffective at Omaha, because low cloud cover made the assigned targets difficult to see. Concerned about inflicting casualties on their own troops, many bombers delayed their attacks too long and failed to hit the beach defences.[104] The Germans had 570 aircraft stationed in Normandy and the Low Countries on D-Day, and another 964 in Germany.[44] Minesweepers began clearing channels for the invasion fleet shortly after midnight and finished just after dawn without encountering the enemy.[105] The Western Task Force included the battleships ArkansasNevada, and Texas, plus eight cruisers, twenty-eight destroyers, and one monitor.[106] The Eastern Task Force included the battleships Ramillies and Warspite and the monitor Roberts, twelve cruisers, and thirty-seven destroyers.[1] Naval bombardment of areas behind the beach commenced at 05:45, while it was still dark, with the gunners switching to pre-assigned targets on the beach as soon as it was light enough to see, at 05:50.[107] Since troops were scheduled to land at Utah and Omaha starting at 06:30 (an hour earlier than the British beaches), these areas received only about 40 minutes of naval bombardment before the assault troops began to land on the shore.[108]

Airborne operations

The success of the amphibious landings depended on the establishment of a secure lodgement from which to expand the beachhead to allow the build-up of a well-supplied force capable of breaking out. The amphibious forces were especially vulnerable to strong enemy counter-attacks before the arrival of sufficient forces in the beachhead could be accomplished. To slow or eliminate the enemy’s ability to organise and launch counter-attacks during this critical period, airborne operations were used to seize key objectives such as bridges, road crossings, and terrain features, particularly on the eastern and western flanks of the landing areas. The airborne landings some distance behind the beaches were also intended to ease the egress of the amphibious forces off the beaches, and in some cases to neutralise German coastal defence batteries and more quickly expand the area of the beachhead.[109][110] The U.S. 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions were assigned to objectives west of Utah Beach, where they hoped to capture and control the few narrow causeways through terrain that had been intentionally flooded by the Germans. Reports from Allied intelligence in mid-May of the arrival of the German 91st Infantry Division meant the intended drop zones had to be shifted eastward and to the south.[111] The British 6th Airborne Division, on the eastern flank, was assigned to capture intact the bridges over the Caen Canal and River Orne, destroy five bridges over the Dives 6 miles (9.7 km) to the east, and destroy the Merville Gun Battery overlooking Sword Beach.[112] Free French paratroopers from the British SAS Brigade were assigned to objectives in Brittany from 5 June until August in Operations Dingson, Samwest, and Cooney.[113][114] BBC war correspondent Robert Barr described the scene as paratroopers prepared to board their aircraft:
Their faces were darkened with cocoa; sheathed knives were strapped to their ankles; tommy guns strapped to their waists; bandoliers and hand grenades, coils of rope, pick handles, spades, rubber dinghies hung around them, and a few personal oddments, like the lad who was taking a newspaper to read on the plane … There was an easy familiar touch about the way they were getting ready, as though they had done it often before. Well, yes, they had kitted up and climbed aboard often just like this—twenty, thirty, forty times some of them, but it had never been quite like this before. This was the first combat jump for every one of them.[115]

United States

Gliders delivered reinforcements to the Cotentin Peninsula towed by Douglas C-47 Skytrains. evening of 6 June 1944
The U.S. airborne landings began with the arrival of pathfinders at 00:15. Navigation was difficult because of a bank of thick cloud, and as a result, only one of the five paratrooper drop zones was accurately marked with radar signals and Aldis lamps.[116] Paratroopers of the 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions, numbering over 13,000 men, were delivered by Douglas C-47 Skytrains of the IX Troop Carrier Command.[117] To avoid flying over the invasion fleet, the planes arrived from the west over the Cotentin Peninsula and exited over Utah Beach.[118][116] Paratroops from 101st Airborne were dropped beginning around 01:30, tasked with controlling the causeways behind Utah Beach and destroying road and rail bridges over the Douve River.[119] The C-47s could not fly in a tight formation because of thick cloud cover, and many paratroopers were dropped far from their intended landing zones. Many planes came in so low that they were under fire from both flak and machine-gun fire. Some paratroopers were killed on impact when their parachutes did not have time to open, and others drowned in the flooded fields.[120] Gathering together into fighting units was made difficult by a shortage of radios and by the bocage terrain, with its hedgerows, stone walls, and marshes.[121][122] Some units did not arrive at their targets until afternoon, by which time several of the causeways had already been cleared by members of the 4th Infantry Division moving up from the beach.[123] Troops of the 82nd Airborne began arriving around 02:30, with the primary objective of capturing two bridges over the River Merderet and destroying two bridges over the Douve.[119] On the east side of the river, 75 per cent of the paratroopers landed in or near their drop zone, and within two hours they captured the important crossroads at Sainte-Mère-Église (the first town liberated in the invasion)[124] and began working to protect the western flank.[125] Because of the failure of the pathfinders to accurately mark their drop zone, the two regiments dropped on the west side of the Merderet were extremely scattered, with only four per cent landing in the target area.[125] Many landed in nearby swamps, with much loss of life.[126] Paratroopers consolidated into small groups, usually a combination of men of various ranks from different units, and attempted to concentrate on nearby objectives.[127] They captured but failed to hold the Merderet River bridge at La Fière, and fighting for the crossing continued for several days.[128] Reinforcements arrived by glider around 04:00 (Mission Chicago and Mission Detroit), and 21:00 (Mission Keokuk and Mission Elmira), bringing additional troops and heavy equipment. Like the paratroopers, many landed far from their drop zones.[129] Even those that landed on target experienced difficulty, with heavy cargo such as Jeeps shifting during landing, crashing through the wooden fuselage, and in some cases crushing personnel on board.[130] After 24 hours, only 2,500 men of the 101st and 2,000 of the 82nd Airborne were under the control of their divisions, approximately a third of the force dropped. This wide dispersal had the effect of confusing the Germans and fragmenting their response.[131] The 7th Army received notification of the parachute drops at 01:20, but Rundstedt did not initially believe that a major invasion was underway. The destruction of radar stations along the Normandy coast in the week before the invasion meant that the Germans did not detect the approaching fleet until 02:00.[132]

British and Canadian

A destroyed Waco CG-4 glider is examined by German troops
The first Allied action of D-Day was the capture of the Caen canal and Orne river bridges via a glider assault at 00:16 (since renamed Pegasus Bridge and Horsa Bridge). Both bridges were quickly captured intact, with light casualties by the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry Regiment. They were then reinforced by members of the 5th Parachute Brigade and the 7th (Light Infantry) Parachute Battalion.[133][134] The five bridges over the Dives were destroyed with minimal difficulty by the 3rd Parachute Brigade.[135][136] Meanwhile, the pathfinders tasked with setting up radar beacons and lights for further paratroopers (scheduled to begin arriving at 00:50 to clear the landing zone north of Ranville) were blown off course and had to set up the navigation aids too far east. Many paratroopers, also blown too far east, landed far from their intended drop zones; some took hours or even days to be reunited with their units.[137][138] Major General Richard Gale arrived in the third wave of gliders at 03:30, along with equipment, such as antitank guns and jeeps, and more troops to help secure the area from counter-attacks, which were initially staged only by troops in the immediate vicinity of the landings.[139] At 02:00, the commander of the German 716th Infantry Division ordered Feuchtinger to move his 21st Panzer Division into position to counter-attack. However, as the division was part of the armoured reserve, Feuchtinger was obliged to seek clearance from OKW before he could commit his formation.[140] Feuchtinger did not receive orders until nearly 09:00, but in the meantime on his own initiative he put together a battle group (including tanks) to fight the British forces east of the Orne.[141] Only 160 men out of the 600 members of the 9th Battalion tasked with eliminating the enemy battery at Merville arrived at the rendezvous point. Lieutenant Colonel Terence Otway, in charge of the operation, decided to proceed regardless, as the emplacement had to be destroyed by 06:00 to prevent it firing on the invasion fleet and the troops arriving on Sword Beach. In the Battle of Merville Gun Battery, Allied forces disabled the guns with plastic explosives at a cost of 75 casualties. The emplacement was found to contain 75 mm guns rather than the expected 150 mm heavy coastal artillery. Otway’s remaining force withdrew with the assistance of a few members of the 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion.[142] With this action, the last of the D-Day goals of the British 6th Airborne Division was achieved.[143] They were reinforced at 12:00 by commandos of the 1st Special Service Brigade, who landed on Sword Beach, and by the 6th Airlanding Brigade, who arrived in gliders at 21:00 in Operation Mallard.[144]

Beach landings

Map of the beaches and first day advances


Some of the landing craft had been modified to provide close support fire, and self-propelled amphibious Duplex-Drive tanks (DD tanks), specially designed for the Normandy landings, were to land shortly before the infantry to provide covering fire. However, few arrived in advance of the infantry, and at Omaha many sank before reaching the shore.[145][146] Other specialist tanks landed in the early waves to clear the beach defences.

Utah Beach

Carrying their equipment, U.S. assault troops move onto Utah Beach. Landing craft can be seen in the background.
Utah Beach was in the area defended by two battalions of the 919th Grenadier Regiment.[147] Members of the 8th Infantry Regiment of the 4th Infantry Division were the first to land, arriving at 06:30. Their landing craft were pushed to the south by strong currents, and they found themselves about 2,000 yards (1.8 km) from their intended landing zone. This site turned out to be better, as there was only one strongpoint nearby rather than two, and bombers of IX Bomber Command had bombed the defences from lower than their prescribed altitude, inflicting considerable damage. In addition, the strong currents had washed ashore many of the underwater obstacles. The assistant commander of the 4th Infantry Division, Brigadier General Theodore Roosevelt Jr., the first senior officer ashore, made the decision to “start the war from right here,” and ordered further landings to be re-routed.[148][149] The initial assault battalions were quickly followed by 28 DD tanks and several waves of engineer and demolition teams to remove beach obstacles and clear the area directly behind the beach of obstacles and mines. Gaps were blown in the sea wall to allow quicker access for troops and tanks. Combat teams began to exit the beach at around 09:00, with some infantry wading through the flooded fields rather than travelling on the single road. They skirmished throughout the day with elements of the 919th Grenadier Regiment, who were armed with antitank guns and rifles. The main strongpoint in the area and another 1,300 yards (1.2 km) to the south were disabled by noon.[150] The 4th Infantry Division did not meet all of their D-Day objectives at Utah Beach, partly because they had arrived too far to the south, but they landed 21,000 troops at the cost of only 197 casualties.[151][152]

Pointe du Hoc

US Rangers scaling the wall at Pointe du Hoc
Pointe du Hoc, a prominent headland situated between Utah and Omaha, was assigned to two hundred men of the 2nd Ranger Battalion, commanded by Lieutenant Colonel James Rudder. Their task was to scale the 30 m (98 ft) cliffs with grappling hooks, ropes, and ladders to destroy the coastal gun battery located at the top. The cliffs were defended by the German 352nd Infantry Division and French collaborators firing from above.[153] Allied destroyers USS Satterlee and HMS Talybont provided fire support. After scaling the cliffs, the Rangers discovered that the guns had already been withdrawn. They located the weapons, unguarded but ready to use, in an orchard some 550 metres (600 yd) south of the point, and disabled them with explosives.[153] The Rangers fended off numerous counter-attacks from the German 914th Grenadier Regiment. The men were isolated, and some were captured. By dawn on 7 June, Rudder had only 90 men able to fight. Relief did not arrive until 8 June, when members of the 743rd Tank Battalion and others arrived.[154][155] By then, Rudder’s men had run out of ammunition and were using captured German weapons. Several men were killed as a result, because the German weapons made a distinctive noise, and the men were mistaken for the enemy.[156] By the end of the battle, the Rangers casualties were 135 dead and wounded, while German casualties were 50 killed and 40 captured. An unknown number of French collaborators were executed.[157][158]

Omaha Beach

U.S. assault troops in an LCVP landing craft approach Omaha Beach, 6 June 1944.
Omaha, the most heavily defended beach, was assigned to the 1st Infantry Division and 29th Infantry Division.[159] They faced the 352nd Infantry Division rather than the expected single regiment.[160] Strong currents forced many landing craft east of their intended position or caused them to be delayed.[161] For fear of hitting the landing craft, U.S. bombers delayed releasing their loads and as a result most of the beach obstacles at Omaha remained undamaged when the men came ashore.[162] Many of the landing craft ran aground on sandbars, and the men had to wade 50–100m in water up to their necks while under fire to get to the beach.[146] In spite of the rough seas, DD tanks of two companies of the 741st Tank Battalion were dropped 5,000 yards (4,600 m) from shore; however, 27 of the 32 flooded and sank, with the loss of 33 crew.[163] Some tanks, disabled on the beach, continued to provide covering fire until their ammunition ran out or they were swamped by the rising tide.[4] Casualties were around 2,000, as the men were subjected to fire from the cliffs above.[164] Problems clearing the beach of obstructions led to the beachmaster calling a halt to further landings of vehicles at 08:30. A group of destroyers arrived around this time to provide fire support so landings could resume.[165] Exit from the beach was possible only via five heavily defended gullies, and by late morning barely 600 men had reached the higher ground.[166] By noon, as the artillery fire took its toll and the Germans started to run out of ammunition, the Americans were able to clear some lanes on the beaches. They also started clearing the gullies of enemy defences so that vehicles could move off the beach.[166] The tenuous beachhead was expanded over the following days, and the D-Day objectives for Omaha were accomplished by 9 June.[167]

Gold Beach

British troops come ashore at Jig Green sector, Gold Beach
The first landings on Gold Beach were set for 07:25 because of the differences in the tide between there and the U.S. beaches.[168] High winds made conditions difficult for the landing craft, and the amphibious DD tanks were released close to shore or directly on the beach instead of further out as planned.[169] Three of the four guns in a large emplacement at the Longues-sur-Mer battery were disabled by direct hits from the cruisers HMS Ajax and Argonaut at 06:20. The fourth gun resumed firing intermittently in the afternoon, and its garrison surrendered on 7 June.[170] Aerial attacks had failed to hit the Le Hamel strongpoint, which had its embrasure facing east to provide enfilade fire along the beach and had a thick concrete wall on the seaward side.[171] Its 75 mm gun continued to do damage until 16:00, when an Armoured Vehicle Royal Engineers (AVRE) tank fired a large demolition charge into its rear entrance.[172][173] A second casemated emplacement at La Rivière containing an 88 mm gun had been neutralised by a tank at 07:30.[174] Meanwhile, infantry began clearing the heavily fortified houses along the shore and advanced on targets further inland.[175] The No. 47 (Royal Marine) Commando moved toward the small port at Port-en-Bessin and captured it the following day in the Battle of Port-en-Bessin.[176] Company Sergeant Major Stanley Hollis received the only Victoria Cross awarded on D-Day for his actions including attacking two pillboxes at the Mont Fleury high point.[177] On the western flank, the 1st Battalion, Royal Hampshire Regiment captured Arromanches (future site of Mulberry “B”), and contact was made on the eastern flank with the Canadian forces at Juno.[178] Bayeux was not captured the first day because of stiff resistance from the 352nd Infantry Division.[175] Allied casualties at Gold Beach are estimated at 1,000.[15]

Juno Beach

Royal Canadian Naval Beach Commando “W” land on Mike Beach sector of Juno Beach, 6 June 1944
The landing at Juno Beach was delayed because of choppy seas, and the men arrived ahead of their supporting armour, suffering many casualties while disembarking. Most of the offshore bombardment had missed the German defences.[179] Several exits from the beach were created, but not without difficulty. At Mike Beach on the western flank, a large crater was filled using an abandoned AVRE tank and several rolls of fascine, which were then covered by a temporary bridge.[d].[180] The beach and nearby streets were clogged with traffic for most of the day, making it difficult to move inland.[181] Major German strongpoints with 75 mm guns, machine-gun nests, concrete fortifications, barbed wire, and mines were located at Courseulles-sur-Mer, St Aubin-sur-Mer, and Bernières-sur-Mer.[182] The towns had to be cleared in house-to-house fighting.[183] Soldiers on their way to Bény-sur-Mer, 3 miles (5 km) inland, discovered that the road was well covered by machine gun emplacements that had to be outflanked before the advance could proceed.[184] Elements of the 9th Canadian Infantry Brigade advanced to within sight of the Carpiquet airfield late in the afternoon, but by this time their supporting armour was low on ammunition so the Canadians dug in for the night. The airfield was not captured until a month later as the area became the scene of fierce fighting.[185] By nightfall, the contiguous Juno and Gold beachheads covered an area 12 miles (19 km) wide and 7 miles (10 km) deep.[186] Casualties at Juno were 961 men.[187]

Sword Beach

British troops take cover after landing on Sword Beach.
On Sword Beach, 21 of 25 DD tanks of the first wave were successful in getting safely ashore to provide cover for the infantry, who began disembarking at 07:30.[188] The beach was heavily mined and peppered with obstacles, making the work of the beach clearing teams difficult and dangerous.[189] In the windy conditions, the tide came in more quickly than expected, so manoeuvring the armour was difficult. The beach quickly became congested.[190] Brigadier Simon Fraser, 15th Lord Lovat and his 1st Special Service Brigade arrived in the second wave, piped ashore by Private Bill Millin, Lovat’s personal piper.[191] Members of No. 4 Commando moved through Ouistreham to attack from the rear a German gun battery on the shore. A concrete observation and control tower at this emplacement had to be bypassed and was not captured until several days later.[192] French forces under Commander Philippe Kieffer (the first French soldiers to arrive in Normandy) attacked and cleared the heavily fortified strongpoint at the casino at Riva Bella, with the aid of one of the DD tanks.[192] The ‘Morris’ strongpoint near Colleville-sur-Orne was captured after about an hour of fighting.[190] The nearby ‘Hillman’ strongpoint, headquarters of the 736th Infantry Regiment, was a large complex defensive work that had come through the morning’s bombardment essentially undamaged. It was not captured until 20:15.[193] The 2nd Battalion, King’s Shropshire Light Infantry began advancing to Caen on foot, coming within a few kilometres of the town, but had to withdraw due to lack of armour support.[194] At 16:00, the 21st Panzer Division mounted a counter-attack between Sword and Juno and nearly succeeded in reaching the Channel. It met stiff resistance from the British 3rd Division and was soon recalled to assist in the area between Caen and Bayeux.[195][196] Estimates of Allied casualties on Sword Beach are as high as 1,000.[15]


Situation map for 24:00, 6 June 1944
The Normandy landings were the largest seaborne invasion in history, with nearly 5,000 landing and assault craft, 289 escort vessels, and 277 minesweepers participating.[197] Nearly 160,000 troops crossed the English Channel on D-Day,[9] with 875,000 men disembarking by the end of June.[198] Allied casualties on the first day were at least 10,000, with 4,414 confirmed dead[13] and the Germans had 4,000–9,000 casualties (killed, wounded, missing, or captured).[15] The Germans never achieved Hitler’s stated aim of “throwing the Allies back into the sea” on D-Day or anytime thereafter.[199] The Allied invasion plans had demanded a rapid build-up of troops and the establishment of a secure bridgehead, which was achieved with fewer casualties than expected.[200] The plan had also called for the capture of Carentan, Saint-Lô, Caen, and Bayeux on the first day, with all the beaches (other than Utah) linked with a front line 10 to 16 kilometres (6 to 10 mi) from the beaches; none of these latter objectives were achieved.[34] At Utah the 4th Division made significant progress inland, making a rendezvous with the airborne troops, and the British and Canadians were between four and seven miles inland (six to eleven kilometres).[200] The five beachheads were not connected until 12 June, by which time the Allies held a front around 97 kilometres (60 mi) long and 24 kilometres (15 mi) deep.[201] Caen, a major objective, was still in German hands at the end of D-Day and would not be completely captured until 21 July.[202] The Germans had ordered French civilians other than those deemed essential to the war effort to leave potential combat zones in Normandy.[203] Civilian casualties on D-Day and D+1 are estimated at 3,000.[204] The Allied victory in Normandy stemmed from several factors. German preparations along the Atlantic Wall were only partially finished; shortly before D-Day Rommel reported that construction was only 18 per cent complete in some areas as resources were diverted elsewhere.[205] The deceptions undertaken in Operation Fortitude were successful, leaving the Germans obliged to defend a huge stretch of coastline.[206] Rommel was in Berlin[51] and the forecasted stormy weather meant that some German other commanders and troops were not present in Normandy.[50] The Allies achieved and maintained air supremacy, which meant that the Germans were unable to make observations of the preparations underway in Britain and were unable to interfere via bomber attacks.[207] Infrastructure for transport in France was severely disrupted by Allied bombers and the French Resistance, making it difficult for the Germans to bring up reinforcements and supplies.[208] Some of the opening bombardment was off-target or not concentrated enough to have any impact,[162] but the specialised armour worked well except on Omaha (where most of it had been lost at sea), providing close artillery support for the troops as they disembarked onto the beaches.[209] Indecisiveness and an overly complicated command structure on the part of the German high command were also factors in the Allied success.[210]

War memorials and tourism

At Omaha Beach, parts of the Mulberry harbour are still visible, and a few of the beach obstacles remain. A memorial to the U.S. National Guard sits at the location of a former German strongpoint. Pointe du Hoc is little changed from 1944, with the terrain covered with bomb craters and most of the concrete bunkers still in place. The Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial is nearby, in Colleville-sur-Mer.[211] A museum about the Utah landings is located at Sainte-Marie-du-Mont, and there is one dedicated to the activities of the U.S. airmen at Sainte-Mère-Église. Two German military cemeteries are located nearby.[212] Pegasus Bridge, a target of the British 6th Airborne, was the site of some of the earliest action of the Normandy landings. The bridge was replaced in 1994 by one similar in appearance, and the original is housed on the grounds of a nearby museum complex.[213] Sections of Mulberry Harbour B still sit in the sea at Arromanches, and the well-preserved Longues-sur-Mer battery is nearby.[214] The Juno Beach Centre, opened in 2003, was funded by the Canadian federal and provincial governments, France, and Canadian veterans.[215] The British Normandy Memorial above Gold Beach was designed by the architect Liam O’Connor and opened in 2021.[216]
LIFE Magazine June 19, 1944 / D-Day

Father’s Day (United States)

Father’s Day
Observed byUnited States
SignificanceHonors fathers and fatherhood
DateThird Sunday in June
2023 dateJune 18
2024 dateJune 16
2025 dateJune 15
2026 dateJune 21
Related toMother’s Day
Father’s Day is an annual holiday honoring people’s fathers and celebrating the fatherhood, paternal bonds, and the influence of fathers in society. It was first proposed by Sonora Smart Dodd of Spokane, Washington, in 1909. It is currently celebrated in the United States annually on the third Sunday in June.


Father’s Day was inaugurated in the United States in the early 20th century to complement Mother’s Day in celebrating fathers, fathering, and fatherhood. Father’s Day was founded in Spokane, Washington, at the YMCA in 1910 by Sonora Smart Dodd, who was born in Arkansas. Its first celebration was in the Spokane YMCA on June 19, 1910. Her father, the Civil War veteran William Jackson Smart, was a single parent who raised his six children there. After hearing a sermon about Anna Jarvis’s Mother’s Day at Central Methodist Episcopal Church in 1909, she told her pastor that fathers should have a similar holiday honoring them. Although she initially suggested June 5, her father’s birthday, the pastors of the Spokane Ministerial Alliance did not have enough time to prepare their sermons, and the celebration was deferred to the third Sunday of June. It did not have much success initially. In the 1920s, Dodd stopped promoting the celebration because she was studying at the Art Institute of Chicago, and it faded into relative obscurity, even in Spokane. In the 1930s, Dodd returned to Spokane and started promoting the celebration again, raising awareness at a national level. She had the help of those trade groups that would benefit most from the holiday, for example the manufacturers of ties, tobacco pipes, and any traditional present to fathers. Since 1938, she had the help of the Father’s Day Council, founded by the New York Associated Men’s Wear Retailers to consolidate and systematize the commercial promotion. Americans resisted the holiday at first, perceiving it as just an attempt by merchants to replicate the commercial success of Mother’s Day, and newspapers frequently featured cynical and sarcastic attacks and jokes. But the trade groups did not give up: they kept promoting it and even incorporated the jokes into their adverts, and they eventually succeeded. By the mid-1980s, the Father’s Council wrote that “(…) [Father’s Day] has become a Second Christmas for all the men’s gift-oriented industries.” A bill to accord national recognition of the holiday was introduced in Congress in 1913. In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson went to Spokane to speak at a Father’s Day celebration and wanted to make it official, but Congress resisted, fearing that it would become commercialized. US President Calvin Coolidge recommended in 1924 that the day be observed by the nation but stopped short of issuing a national proclamation. Two earlier attempts to formally recognize the holiday had been defeated by Congress.[16][18] In 1957, Maine Senator Margaret Chase Smith wrote a proposal accusing Congress of ignoring fathers for 40 years while honoring mothers, thus “[singling] out just one of our two parents”. In 1966, President Lyndon B. Johnson issued the first presidential proclamation honoring fathers, designating the third Sunday in June as Father’s Day. Six years later, the day was made a permanent national holiday when President Richard Nixon signed it into law on April 24, 1972. In addition to Father’s Day, International Men’s Day is celebrated in many countries on November 19 for men and boys who are not fathers. A “Father’s Day” service was held on July 5, 1908, in Fairmont, West Virginia, in the Williams Memorial Methodist Episcopal Church South, now known as Central United Methodist Church.[6] Grace Golden Clayton was mourning the loss of her father who died when, on December 6, 1907, the Monongah mining disaster in nearby Monongah killed 361 men, 250 of them fathers, leaving around a thousand fatherless children. Clayton suggested to her pastor, Robert Thomas Webb, that he should honor all those fathers. Clayton chose the Sunday nearest to the birthday of her father, Methodist minister Fletcher Golden. Clayton’s event did not have repercussions outside of Fairmont for several reasons, among them: the city was overwhelmed by other events, the celebration was never promoted outside of the town itself and no proclamation was made in the City Council. Also two events overshadowed this event: the celebration of Independence Day July 4, 1908, with 12,000 attendees and several shows including a hot air balloon event, which took over the headlines in the following days, and the death of a 16-year-old girl on July 4. The local church and Council were overwhelmed and they did not even think of promoting the event, and it was not celebrated again for many years. The original sermon was not reproduced in the press, and it was lost. Finally, Clayton was a quiet person, who never promoted the event or even talked to other persons about it. Clayton also may have been inspired by Anna Jarvis’ crusade to establish Mother’s Day; two months prior, Jarvis had held a celebration for her dead mother in Grafton, West Virginia, a town about 15 miles (24 km) away from Fairmont. In 1911, Jane Addams proposed a citywide Father’s Day in Chicago, but she was turned down. In 1912, there was a Father’s Day celebration in Vancouver, Washington, suggested by Methodist pastor J. J. Berringer of the Irvingtom Methodist Church. They believed mistakenly that they had been the first to celebrate such a day. They followed a 1911 suggestion by the Portland Oregonian. Harry C. Meek, member of Lions Clubs International, claimed that he had the first idea for Father’s Day in 1915. Meek claimed that the third Sunday of June was chosen because it was his birthday (it would have been more natural to choose his father’s birthday). The Lions Club has named him “Originator of Father’s Day”. Meek made many efforts to promote Father’s Day and make it an official holiday.


In the United States, Dodd used the “Fathers’ Day” spelling on her original petition for the holiday, but the spelling “Father’s Day” was already used in 1913 when a bill was introduced to the U.S. Congress as the first attempt to establish the holiday, and it was still spelled the same way when its creator was commended in 2008 by the U.S. Congress.

Baby Boomers

Baby boomers, often shortened to boomers, are the demographic cohort following the Silent Generation and preceding Generation X. The generation is often defined as people born from 1946 to 1964 during the mid-20th century baby boom. The dates, the demographic context, and the cultural identifiers may vary by country. Most baby boomers are the children of either the Greatest Generation or the Silent Generation, and are often parents of Gen Xers and Millennials. In the West, boomers’ childhoods in the 1950s and 1960s had significant reforms in education, both as part of the ideological confrontation that was the Cold War, and as a continuation of the interwar period. Theirs was a time of economic prosperity and rapid technological progress. In the 1960s and 1970s, as this relatively large number of young people entered their teens and young adulthood—the oldest turned 18 in 1964—they, and those around them, created a very specific rhetoric around their cohort, and the social movements brought about by their size in numbers, such as the counterculture of the 1960s and its backlash. In many countries, this period was one of deep political instability due to the postwar youth bulge. In China, boomers lived through the Cultural Revolution and were subject to the one-child policy as adults. These social changes and rhetoric had an important impact in the perceptions of the boomers, as well as society’s increasingly common tendency to define the world in terms of generations, which was a relatively new phenomenon. This group reached puberty and maximum height earlier than previous generations. In Europe and North America, many boomers came of age in a time of increasing affluence and widespread government subsidies in postwar housing and education, and grew up genuinely expecting the world to improve with time. Those with higher standards of living and educational levels were often the most demanding of betterment. In the early 21st century, baby boomers in some developed countries are the single biggest cohort in their societies due to sub-replacement fertility and population aging. In the United States, they are the second most numerous age demographic after millennials.


The term baby boom refers to a noticeable increase in the birth rate. The post-World War II population increase was described as a “boom” by various newspaper reporters, including Sylvia F. Porter in a column in the May 4, 1951, edition of the New York Post, based on the increase of 2,357,000 in the population of the U.S. from 1940 to 1950. The first recorded use of “baby boomer” is in a January 1963 Daily Press article by Leslie J. Nason describing a massive surge of college enrollments approaching as the oldest boomers were coming of age. The Oxford English Dictionary dates the modern meaning of the term to a January 23, 1970, article in The Washington Post.

Date range and definitions

United States birth rate (births per 1,000 population per year): The segment for the years 1946 to 1964 is highlighted in red, with birth rates peaking in 1949, dropping steadily around 1958, and reaching prewar Depression-era levels in 1965.
A significant degree of consensus exists around the date range of the baby boomer cohort, with the generation considered to cover those born from 1946 to 1964 by various organizations such as the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary, Pew Research Center, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Federal Reserve Board, Australian Bureau of Statistics, Gallup,[33] YouGov[34] and Australia’s Social Research Center. The United States Census Bureau defines baby boomers as “individuals born in the United States between mid-1946 and mid-1964”. Landon Jones, in his book Great Expectations: America and the Baby Boom Generation (1980), defined the span of the baby-boom generation as extending from 1946 through 1964. Others have delimited the baby boom period differently. Authors William Strauss and Neil Howe, in their 1991 book Generations, define the social generation of boomers as that cohort born from 1943 to 1960, who were too young to have any personal memory of World War II, but old enough to remember the postwar American High before John F. Kennedy’s assassination. David Foot, author of Boom, Bust and Echo: Profiting from the Demographic Shift in the 21st Century (1997), defined a Canadian boomer as someone born from 1947 to 1966, the years in which more than 400,000 babies were born. He acknowledges, though, that this is a demographic definition, and that culturally, it may not be as clear-cut. Doug Owram argues that the Canadian boom took place from 1946 to 1962, but that culturally, boomers everywhere were born between the late war years and about 1955 or 1956. Those born in the 1960s might feel disconnected from the cultural identifiers of the earlier boomers. French sociologist Michèle Delaunay in her book Le Fabuleux Destin des Baby-Boomers (2019), places the baby-boom generation in France between 1946 and 1973, and in Spain between 1958 and 1975. Another French academic, Jean-François Sirinelli, in an earlier study, Les Baby-Boomers: Une génération 1945-1969 (2007) denotes the generation span between 1945 and 1969.
Baby boomers are sometimes referred to as the “Vietnam generation” due to the significance of the War in Vietnam. In the United States, roughly 1 in 10 baby boomer men served in the U.S. Armed Forces. Some of them were deployed to Vietnam.
The Office for National Statistics has described the UK as having had two baby booms in the middle of the 20th century, one in the years immediately after World War II and one around the 1960s with a noticeably lower birth rate (but still significantly higher than that seen in the 1930s or later in the ’70s) during part of the 1950s.Bernard Salt places the Australian baby boom between 1946 and 1961. In the US, the generation can be segmented into two broadly defined cohorts: the “leading-edge baby boomers” are individuals born between 1946 and 1955, those who came of age during the Vietnam War and Civil Rights eras. This group represents slightly more than half of the generation, or roughly 38,002,000 people. The other half of the generation, usually called “Generation Jones”, but sometimes also called names like the “late boomers” or “trailing-edge baby boomers”, was born between 1956 and 1964, and came of age after Vietnam and the Watergate scandal. This second cohort includes about 37,818,000 people. Others use the term Generation Jones to refer to a cusp generation, which includes those born in the latter half of the Baby Boomers to the early years of Generation X, with a typical range of 1954 to 1965.
LIFE Magazine September 14, 1962

Dow Jones Industrial Average

Dow Jones Industrial Average
A historical graph. The Dow rises periodically through the decades with corrections along the way, from its record low of under 35 in the late 1890s to a high of around 36,000 in 2022.
Historical logarithmic graph of the DJIA from 1896 to 2018
FoundationFebruary 16, 1885; 139 years ago (as DJA) May 26, 1896 (as DJIA)
OperatorS&P Dow Jones Indices
  • New York Stock Exchange
  • Nasdaq
Trading symbol
  • ^DJI
  • $INDU
  • .DJI
  • DJIA
TypeLarge cap
Market capUS$12.0 trillion (as of December 29, 2023)
Weighting methodPrice-weighted index
The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA), Dow Jones, or simply the Dow (/ˈd/), is a stock market index of 30 prominent companies listed on stock exchanges in the United States. The DJIA is one of the oldest and most commonly followed equity indexes. Many professionals consider it to be an inadequate representation of the overall U.S. stock market compared to a broader market index such as the S&P 500. The DJIA includes only 30 large companies. It is price-weighted, unlike stock indices, which use market capitalization. Furthermore, the DJIA does not use a weighted arithmetic mean. The value of the index can also be calculated as the sum of the stock prices of the companies included in the index, divided by a factor, which is approximately 0.152 as of April 2024. The factor is changed whenever a constituent company undergoes a stock split so that the value of the index is unaffected by the stock split. First calculated on May 26, 1896, the index is the second-oldest among U.S. market indices, after the Dow Jones Transportation Average. It was created by Charles Dow, co-founder of both The Wall Street Journal and the Dow Jones & Company, and named after him and his business associate, statistician Edward Jones. The index is maintained by S&P Dow Jones Indices, an entity majority-owned by S&P Global. Its components are selected by a committee. The ten components with the largest dividend yields are commonly referred to as the Dogs of the Dow. As with all stock prices, the prices of the constituent stocks and consequently the value of the index itself are affected by the performance of the respective companies as well as macroeconomic factors.
Dow Jones Industrial Average 1970–2022


As of February 26, 2024, the Dow Jones Industrial Average consists of the following companies, with a weighting as shown:
DJIA component companies, showing trading exchange, ticker symbols and industry
CompanyExchangeSymbolIndustryDate addedNotesIndex weighting
3MNYSEMMMConglomerate1976-08-09As Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing1.54%
American ExpressNYSEAXPFinancial services1982-08-303.64%
AppleNASDAQAAPLInformation technology2015-03-193.04%
BoeingNYSEBAAerospace and defense1987-03-123.36%
CaterpillarNYSECATConstruction and mining1991-05-065.45%
ChevronNYSECVXPetroleum industry2008-02-19Also 1930-07-18 to 1999-11-012.59%
CiscoNASDAQCSCOInformation technology2009-06-080.81%
Coca-ColaNYSEKODrink industry1987-03-12Also 1932-05-26 to 1935-11-201.02%
DisneyNYSEDISBroadcasting and entertainment1991-05-061.81%
DowNYSEDOWChemical industry1991-05-060.94%
Goldman SachsNYSEGSFinancial services2019-04-026.54%
Home DepotNYSEHDHome Improvement1999-11-016.23%
HoneywellNASDAQHONConglomerate2020-08-31AlliedSignal and Honeywell3.34%
IBMNYSEIBMInformation technology1979-06-29Also 1932-05-26 to 1939-03-043.09%
IntelNASDAQINTCSemiconductor industry1999-11-010.72%
Johnson & JohnsonNYSEJNJPharmaceutical industry1997-03-172.70%
JPMorgan ChaseNYSEJPMFinancial services1991-05-063.07%
McDonald’sNYSEMCDFood industry1985-10-304.98%
MerckNYSEMRKPharmaceutical industry1979-06-292.16%
MicrosoftNASDAQMSFTInformation technology1999-11-016.83%
NikeNYSENKEClothing industry2013-09-201.75%
Procter & GambleNYSEPGFast-moving consumer goods1932-05-262.69%
SalesforceNYSECRMInformation technology2020-08-315.04%
UnitedHealth GroupNYSEUNHManaged health care2012-09-248.81%
VerizonNYSEVZTelecommunications industry2004-04-080.67%
VisaNYSEVFinancial services2013-09-204.76%

Former components

As of February 26, 2024, the components of the DJIA have changed 58 times since its beginning on May 26, 1896. General Electric had the longest continuous presence on the index, beginning in the original index in 1896 and ending in 2018. Changes to the index since 1991 are as follows:
  • On May 6, 1991, Caterpillar Inc., J.P. Morgan & Co., and The Walt Disney Company replaced American Can, Navistar, and U.S. Steel.
  • On March 17, 1997, Travelers Inc., Hewlett-Packard, Johnson & Johnson, and Walmart replaced Westinghouse Electric, Texaco, Bethlehem Steel, and F. W. Woolworth Company.
  • On November 1, 1999, Microsoft, Intel, SBC Communications, and Home Depot replaced Goodyear Tire, Sears Roebuck, Union Carbide, and Chevron Corporation. Intel and Microsoft became the first and second companies traded on the Nasdaq to be part of the Dow.
  • On April 8, 2004, American International Group, Pfizer, and Verizon Communications replaced AT&T Corporation, Kodak, and International Paper.
  • On February 19, 2008, Chevron Corporation and Bank of America replaced Altria Group and Honeywell. Chevron was previously a Dow component from July 18, 1930, to November 1, 1999. During Chevron’s absence, its split-adjusted price per share went from $44 to $85, while the price of petroleum rose from $24 to $100 per barrel.
  • On September 22, 2008, Kraft Foods Inc. replaced American International Group (AIG) in the index.
  • On June 8, 2009, The Travelers Companies and Cisco Systems replaced Motors Liquidation Company (formerly General Motors) and Citigroup. Cisco became the third company traded on the NASDAQ to be part of the Dow.
  • On September 24, 2012, UnitedHealth Group replaced Kraft Foods Inc. following Kraft’s split into Mondelez International and Kraft Foods.
  • On September 20, 2013, Goldman Sachs, Nike, Inc., and Visa Inc. replaced Alcoa, Bank of America, and Hewlett-Packard. Visa replaced Hewlett-Packard because of the split into HP Inc. and Hewlett Packard Enterprise.
  • On March 19, 2015, Apple Inc. replaced AT&T, which had been a component of the DJIA since November 1916. Apple became the fourth company traded on the NASDAQ to be part of the Dow.
  • On September 1, 2017, DowDuPont replaced DuPont. DowDuPont was formed by the merger of Dow Chemical Company with DuPont.
  • On June 26, 2018, Walgreens Boots Alliance replaced General Electric, which had been a component of the DJIA since November 1907, after being part of the inaugural index in May 1896 and much of the 1896 to 1907 period.
  • On April 2, 2019, Dow Inc. replaced DowDuPont. Dow, Inc. is a spin-off of DowDuPont, itself a merger of Dow Chemical Company and DuPont.
  • On April 6, 2020, Raytheon Technologies replaced United Technologies. Raytheon is the name of the combination of United Technologies and the Raytheon Company, which merged as of April 3, 2020. The newly combined conglomerate does not include previous subsidiaries Carrier Global or Otis Worldwide.
  • On August 31, 2020, Amgen, Honeywell, and Salesforce.com replaced ExxonMobil, Pfizer, and Raytheon Technologies.
  • On February 26, 2024, Amazon replaced Walgreens Boots Alliance.
LIFE Magazine June 5, 1970

Mark 84 (2,000-pound) bomb

Mark 84 General Purpose bomb
TypeLow-drag general-purpose bomb
Place of originUnited States
Service history
In serviceSince 1950s
Production history
ManufacturerGeneral Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems
Unit costUS$16,000
  • GBU-10 Paveway II
  • GBU-15
  • GBU-24 Paveway III
  • GBU‐31 JDAM
Mass2,039 lb (925 kg)
Length12 ft 7 in (3.84 m)
Diameter18 in (460 mm)

FillingTritonal, H6 or PBXN-109
Filling weight946 lb (429 kg)
ReferencesJanes[1][2][3][4][5] & The War Zone[6]
The Mark 84 or BLU-117 is a 2,000-pound (900 kg) American general-purpose bomb. It is the largest of the Mark 80 series of weapons. Entering service during the Vietnam War, it became a commonly used US heavy unguided bomb to be dropped. At the time, it was the third largest bomb by weight in the US inventory behind the 15,000-pound (6,800 kg) BLU-82 “Daisy Cutter” and the 3,000-pound (1,400 kg) M118 “demolition” bomb. It is currently sixth in size due to the addition of the 5,000 lb (2,300 kg) GBU-28 in 1991, the 22,600 lb (10,300 kg) GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast bomb (MOAB) in 2003, and the 30,000 lb (14,000 kg) Massive Ordnance Penetrator.

Development and use

An aviation ordnance technician handling the bomb body of a “thermally protected” (insulated to slow cook-off time in case of fire) Mark 84 aboard the USS George Washington
Sailors remove hoisting sling from a crate containing a pair of Mark 84 bomb bodies. Tailfins and fuzes have not yet been fitted
The Mark 84 has a nominal weight of 2,000 lb (907 kg), but its actual weight varies depending on its fin, fuze options, and retardation configuration, from 1,972 to 2,083 lb (894 to 945 kg). It is a streamlined steel casing filled with 945 lb (429 kg) of Tritonal high explosive. The Mark 84 is capable of forming a crater 50 feet (15 m) wide and 36 ft (11 m) deep. It can penetrate up to 15 inches (38 cm) of metal or 11 ft (3.4 m) of concrete, depending on the height from which it is dropped, and causes lethal fragmentation to a radius of 400 yards (370 m). Many Mark 84s have been retrofitted with stabilizing and retarding devices to provide precision guidance capabilities. They serve as the warhead of a variety of precision-guided munitions, including the GBU-10/GBU-24/GBU-27 Paveway laser-guided bombs, GBU-15 electro-optical bomb, GBU-31 JDAM and Quickstrike sea mines. The HGK is a Turkish guidance kit used to convert 2000-lb Mark 84 bombs into GPS/INS guided smart bombs. According to a test report conducted by the United States Navy’s Weapon System Explosives Safety Review Board (WSESRB) established in the wake of the 1967 USS Forrestal fire, the cooking off time for a Mk 84 is approximately 8 minutes 40 seconds.

Deployment in wars

Mk 84 exploding in North Vietnam, 1972
MK 84 were used by U.S. forces in the Vietnam War, Iraq War and Afghanistan war and bombing of Yugoslavia in 1999 and by Israel in the 2014 Gaza War. According to a forensic investigation by Human Rights Watch, MK 84 bombs were also in the Saudi-led intervention in the Yemeni civil war. In 2023 and 2024, the Mark 84 bombs are currently being used extensively in the Israel-Hamas War.


The text "Jeopardy!" in a stylized font
GenreGame show
Created byMerv Griffin
Directed by
  • Bob Hultgren
  • Eleanor Tarshis
  • Jeff Goldstein
  • Dick Schneider
  • Kevin McCarthy
  • Clay Jacobsen
  • Lucinda Owens Margolis
  • Russell Norman
Presented by
  • Art Fleming
  • Alex Trebek
  • Mike Richards
  • Mayim Bialik
  • Ken Jennings
Narrated by
  • Don Pardo
  • John Harlan
  • Johnny Gilbert
Theme music composer
  • Julann Griffin
  • Merv Griffin
  • Steve Kaplan
  • Chris Bell Music & Sound Design
  • Bleeding Fingers Music
Ending theme“Think!”
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons40
No. of episodes9,000
Executive producers
  • Robert Rubin
  • Merv Griffin
  • Harry Friedman
  • Mike Richards
  • Michael Davies
Producersee below
Production locationsAlex Trebek Stage (formerly Stage 10) Sony Pictures Studios, Culver City
Running time22–26 minutes
Production companies
  • January Enterprises (1964–1975)
  • Califon Enterprises (1978–1979)
  • Jeopardy Productions, Inc. (1984–present)
  • Merv Griffin Productions (1964–1975, 1978–1979)
  • Merv Griffin Enterprises (1984–1994)
  • Columbia TriStar (Domestic) Television (1994–2002)
  • Sony Pictures Television (2002–present)
Original release
ReleaseMarch 30, 1964 – January 3, 1975
NetworkWeekly syndication
Release1974 – 1975
ReleaseOctober 2, 1978 – March 2, 1979
NetworkDaily syndication
ReleaseSeptember 10, 1984 – present
  • Jep!
  • Rock & Roll Jeopardy!
  • Sports Jeopardy!
  • Jeopardy! The Greatest of All Time
  • Jeopardy! National College Championship
  • Celebrity Jeopardy!
  • Jeopardy! Masters
Jeopardy! is an American television game show created by Merv Griffin. The show is a quiz competition that reverses the traditional question-and-answer format of many quiz shows. Rather than being given questions, contestants are instead given general knowledge clues in the form of answers and they must identify the person, place, thing, or idea that the clue describes, phrasing each response in the form of a question. The original daytime version debuted on NBC on March 30, 1964, and aired until January 3, 1975. A nighttime syndicated edition aired weekly from September 1974 to September 1975, and a revival, The All-New Jeopardy!, ran on NBC from October 1978 to March 1979 on weekdays. The syndicated show familiar to modern viewers and aired daily (currently by Sony Pictures Television) premiered on September 10, 1984. Art Fleming served as host for all versions of the show between 1964 and 1979. Don Pardo served as announcer until 1975, and John Harlan announced for the 1978–1979 season. The daily syndicated version premiered in 1984 with Alex Trebek as host and Johnny Gilbert as announcer. Trebek hosted until his death, with his last episode airing January 8, 2021, after over 36 years in the role. Following his death, a variety of guest hosts completed the season[1] beginning with consulting producer and former contestant Ken Jennings, each hosting for a few weeks before passing the role onto someone else. Then-executive producer Mike Richards initially assumed the position of permanent host in September 2021, but relinquished the role within a week. Mayim Bialik and Jennings served as permanent rotating hosts of the syndicated series until December 2023, when Jennings became the sole syndicated host. While Bialik was originally arranged to host additional primetime specials on ABC, and spin-offs, the announcement of Jeopardy! Masters in 2023 meant these duties were shared as well. Following Bialik’s withdrawal in part of supporting writers and actors due to the 2023 Hollywood labor disputes, Jennings assumed hosting duties for all forms of media. Currently in its 40th season, Jeopardy! is one of the longest-running game shows of all time. The show has consistently enjoyed a wide viewership and received many accolades from professional television critics. With over 8,000 episodes aired, the daily syndicated version of Jeopardy! has won a record 39 Daytime Emmy Awards as well as a Peabody Award. In 2013, the program was ranked No. 45 on TV Guides list of the 60 greatest shows in American television history. Jeopardy! has also gained a worldwide following with regional adaptations in many other countries.


Each game of Jeopardy! features three contestants competing in three rounds: Jeopardy!, Double Jeopardy!, and Final Jeopardy! In each round, contestants are presented trivia clues phrased as answers, to which they must respond in the form of a question that correctly identifies whatever the clue is describing. For example, if a contestant were to select “Presidents for $200”, the resulting clue could be “This ‘Father of Our Country’ didn’t really chop down a cherry tree”, to which the correct response is “Who is/was George Washington?”
A depiction of the Jeopardy! game board
The layout of the Jeopardy! game board since November 26, 2001, showing the dollar values used in the first round (in the second round, the values are doubled). Categories at the top of the board vary between each round and episode.
The Jeopardy! and Double Jeopardy! rounds each feature large electronic game boards consisting of six categories with five clues each. The clues are valued by dollar amounts from lowest to highest, ostensibly by difficulty. The values of the clues increased over time, with those in the Double Jeopardy! round always being double the range of the Jeopardy! round. On the original Jeopardy! series, clue values in the first round ranged from $10 to $50 in the Jeopardy! round and $20 to $100 in Double Jeopardy! On The All-New Jeopardy!, they ranged from $25 to $125 and $50 to $250. The 1984 series’ first round originally ranged from $100 to $500 in Jeopardy! and $200 to $1,000 in Double Jeopardy! These ranges were increased to $200–$1,000 and $400–$2,000, respectively, on November 26, 2001. Gameplay begins when the returning champion (or in Tournament of Champions play, the highest seeded player, or in all tournaments’ second or first leg of final round play, or in the second leg of a two-legged tie, the player in the lead after the first leg, the player with the highest score in the previous round) selects a clue by indicating its category and dollar value on the game board. The two (or if there is no returning champion, three) challengers, or in non-Tournament of Champions play, first round tournament contestants, participate in a random draw prior to taping to determine contestant order, and if there is no returning champion or in first round play of regular tournaments, the contestant who drew the first lectern starts first. The underlying clue is revealed and read aloud by the host, after which any contestant may ring in using a lock-out device. The first contestant to ring in successfully is prompted to respond to the clue by stating a question containing the correct answer to the clue. Any grammatically coherent question with the correct answer within it counts as a correct response. If the contestant responds correctly, its dollar value is added to the contestant’s score, and they may select a new clue from the board. An incorrect response or a failure to respond within five seconds deducts the clue’s value from the contestant’s score and allows the other contestants the opportunity to ring in and respond. If the response is not technically incorrect but otherwise judged too vague to be correct, the contestant is given additional time to provide a more specific response. Whenever none of the contestants ring in and respond correctly, the host gives the correct response, and the player who selected the previous clue chooses the next clue. Gameplay continues until the board is cleared or the round’s time length expires, which is typically indicated by a beeping sound. The contestant who has the lowest score selects the first clue to start the Double Jeopardy! round. If there is a tie for the contestant with the lowest score, the contestant with the last correct question among the tied players will select first in the round, a rule change since season 38 (2021) and made public on an August 2022 show podcast. A “Daily Double” clue is hidden behind one clue in the Jeopardy! round, and two in Double Jeopardy! The name and inspiration were taken from a horse-racing term. Daily Double clues with a sound component are known as “Audio Daily Doubles”, and clues with a video component are known as “Video Daily Doubles”. Before the clue is revealed, the contestant who has selected the Daily Double must declare a wager, from a minimum of $5 to a maximum of their entire score (known as a “true Daily Double”) or the highest clue value available in the round, whichever is greater. Only the contestant who chooses the Daily Double is allowed to answer the clue and they must provide a response. A correct response adds the value of the wager to the contestant’s score while an incorrect response (or failure to provide any response at all) deducts the same value. Whether or not the contestant responds correctly, they choose the next clue. During the Jeopardy! round, contestants are not penalized for forgetting to phrase their response in the form of a question, although the host will remind them to watch their phrasing in future responses if they do. In the Double Jeopardy! round and in the Daily Double in the Jeopardy! round, the phrasing rule is followed more strictly, with a response only able to be ruled as correct if it is phrased properly in question form. A contestant who initially does not phrase a response in the form of a question must re-phrase it before the host rules against them. Contestants are encouraged to select the clues in order from lowest to highest value, as the clues are sometimes written in each category to flow from one to the next, as is the case with game shows that ask questions in a linear string. Deviating from this is known as the “Forrest Bounce”, a strategy in which contestants randomly pick clues to confuse opponents that was first used in 1985 by Chuck Forrest, who won over $70,000 in his initial run as champion. Trebek expressed that this strategy not only annoyed him but the staffers as well since it also disrupts the rhythm that develops when revealing the clues and increases the potential for error. Another strategy used by some contestants is to play all of the higher-valued clues first and build up a substantial lead, starting at the bottom of the board. James Holzhauer, whose April–June 2019 winning streak included the ten highest single-day game totals, regularly used this strategy, in conjunction with the Forrest Bounce and aggressive Daily Double wagering. From the premiere of the original Jeopardy! until the end of the 1984–85 syndicated season, contestants were allowed to ring in as soon as the clue was revealed. Since September 1985, contestants have been required to wait until the clue is read before ringing in. To accommodate the rule change, lights were added to the game board (unseen by home viewers) to signify when it is permissible for contestants to signal. Attempting to signal before the light goes on locks the contestant out for half of a second. The change was made to allow the home audience to play along more easily and to keep an extremely fast contestant from potentially dominating the game. In pre-1985 episodes, a sound accompanied a contestant ringing in. According to Trebek, the sound was eliminated because it was “distracting to the viewers” and presented a problem when contestants rang in while Trebek was still reading the clue. Contestants who are visually impaired or blind have been given a card with the category names printed in Braille before each round begins. To ensure fairness in competition and accuracy in scores, the judges double-check their own rulings throughout the production of each episode. If it is determined at any point that a previous response was wrongly ruled correct or incorrect during the taping of an episode, the scores are adjusted at the first available opportunity, typically either at the start of the next round/segment or immediately after a Daily Double is found, with the host providing any necessary explanation regarding the changes. If an error that may have affected the result is not discovered until after taping of an episode is completed, the affected contestant(s) are invited back to compete on a future show, complying with federal quiz show regulations. However, this is rare, as most errors are found in the course of an episode’s taping itself. Contestants who finish Double Jeopardy! with $0 or a negative score are automatically eliminated from the game at that point and awarded a consolation prize. On at least one episode hosted by Art Fleming, all three contestants finished Double Jeopardy! with $0 or less, and as a result, no Final Jeopardy! round was played. This rule is still in place for the syndicated version, although staff has suggested that it is not set in stone and they may decide to display the clue for home viewers’ play if such a situation were ever to occur.

Final Jeopardy!

The Final Jeopardy! round features a single clue. At the end of the Double Jeopardy! round, the host announces the Final Jeopardy! category and a commercial break follows. Contestants who finish Double Jeopardy! with less than $1 do not participate in this round. During the break, partitions are placed between the contestant lecterns, and each contestant makes a final wager; they may wager any amount of their earnings, but may not wager certain numbers with connotations that are deemed inappropriate. Contestants write their wagers using a light pen on an electronic display on their lectern, and are limited to five minutes (although the limit may be adjusted if production issues delay the resumption of taping). During this time, contestants also phrase the question, which is pre-written during the wager. After the break, the Final Jeopardy! clue is revealed and read by the host. The contestants have 30 seconds to write their responses on the electronic display, while the show’s “Think!” music plays. If either the display or the pen malfunctions, contestants can manually write their responses and wagers using an index card and marker, although the index card has the required phrasing pre-printed on each side (“Who/What”). Visually impaired or blind contestants typically type their responses and wagers with a computer keyboard. Contestants’ responses are revealed in order of their pre-Final Jeopardy! scores from lowest to highest. Once a correct response is revealed the host confirms it. Otherwise, the host reveals the correct response if all contestants responded incorrectly. A correct response adds the amount of the contestant’s wager to their score. A miss, failure to respond, insufficiently specific response, misspelling that affects the pronunciation of the answer, or failure to phrase the response as a question (even if correct) deducts it. The contestant with the highest score at the end of the round is that day’s winner. If there is a tie for second place, consolation prizes are awarded based on the scores going into the Final Jeopardy! round. If all three contestants finish with $0, if the game does not require a winner, no one returns as champion for the next show, and based on scores going into the Final Jeopardy! round, the two contestants who were first and second receive the second-place prize, and the contestant in third receives the third-place prize. If the game requires a winner (as in tournament play), the tiebreaker will be used. Various researchers have studied Final Jeopardy! wagering strategies. If the leader’s score is more than twice the second place contestant’s score (a situation known as a “runaway game”), the leader can guarantee victory by making a sufficiently small wager. Otherwise, according to Jeopardy! College Champion Keith Williams, the leader usually wagers an amount that would be a dollar greater than twice the second place contestant’s score, guaranteeing a win with a correct response. Writing about Jeopardy! wagering in the 1990s, mathematicians George Gilbert and Rhonda Hatcher said that “most players wager aggressively.”


The top scorer in each game is paid their winnings in cash and returns to play in the next match. Non-winners receive consolation prizes instead of their winnings in the game. Since May 16, 2002, consolation prizes have been awarded in cash — $2,000 for the second-place contestant(s) and $1,000 for the third-place contestant. Since travel and lodging are generally not provided for contestants, cash consolation prizes offset these costs. Production covers the cost of travel for returning champions and players invited back because of errors who must make multiple trips to Los Angeles. Production also covers the cost of travel if a tournament travels (does not stay in Los Angeles) on the second week. Starting in Season 40, according to the official podcast in August 2023, as a result of inflation, consolation prizes were raised $1,000 each to $3,000 for second and $2,000 for third. During Art Fleming’s hosting run, all three contestants received their winnings in cash where applicable. This was changed at the start of Trebek’s hosting run to avoid the problem of contestants who stopped participating in the game, or avoided wagering in Final Jeopardy!, rather than risk losing the money they had already won. This also allowed the increase to clue values since only one contestant’s score is paid instead of three. From 1984 to 2002, non-winning contestants on the Trebek version received vacation packages and merchandise, which were donated by manufacturers as promotional consideration. Since 2004, a presenting sponsor has provided cash prizes to the losing contestants.

Returning champions

The winner of each episode returns to compete against two new contestants on the next episode. Originally, a contestant who won five consecutive days retired undefeated and was guaranteed a spot in the Tournament of Champions. The five-day limit was eliminated September 8, 2003. In rare instances, contestants tie for first place. The rules related to ties have changed over time. Since November 24, 2014, ties for first place following Final Jeopardy! are broken with a tie-breaker clue, resulting in only one champion being named, keeping their winnings, and returning to compete in the next show. The tied contestants are given the single clue, and the first contestant to buzz-in must give the correct question. A contestant cannot win by default if the opponent gives an incorrect question or forgets to phrase the response as a question (even if correct). The contestant must give a correct question to win the game. If neither player gives the correct question, another clue is given. Previously, if two or all three contestants tied for first place, they were declared “co-champions”, and each retained his or her winnings and (unless one was a five-time champion who retired prior to 2003) returned on the following episode. A tie occurred on the January 29, 2014, episode when Arthur Chu, leading at the end of Double Jeopardy!, wagered to tie challenger Carolyn Collins rather than winning. Chu followed Jeopardy! College Champion Keith Williams’s advice to wager for the tie to increase the leader’s chances of winning. A three-way (non-zero) tie for first place has only occurred once on the syndicated version hosted by Trebek, on March 16, 2007, when Scott Weiss, Jamey Kirby, and Anders Martinson all ended the game with $16,000. Until March 1, 2018, no regular game had ended in a tie-breaker. If no contestant finishes Final Jeopardy! with a positive total, and the game does not have a provision that the game must have a winner, as in the case of tournaments, there is no winner and three new contestants compete on the next episode. This has happened on several episodes, including the second episode hosted by Trebek. A winner unable to return as champion because of a change in personal circumstances – for example, illness or a job offer – may be allowed to appear as a co-champion (now a rare occurrence since the co-champion rule was disestablished in early Season 31) in a later episode. From midway into Season 38 until the end of Season 39, Johnny Gilbert announces the names of the next two contestants on the following episode at the end of each episode.

Variations for tournament play

Throughout each season, Jeopardy! features various special tournaments for particular groups, including among others college students, teenagers, and teachers. Each year at the Tournament of Champions, the players who had won the most games and money in the previous season come back to compete against each other for a large cash prize. Tournaments generally feature 15 contestants and run for 10 consecutive episodes. They generally take place across three rounds: the quarterfinal round (five games), the semifinal round (three games), and the final round (two games). The first five episodes, the quarterfinals, feature three new contestants each day. Other than in the Tournament of Champions, the quarterfinals are unseeded and contestants participate in a random draw to determine playing order and lectern positions over the course of the five games. The Tournament of Champions is seeded based on total winnings in regular games to determine playing order and lectern positions, with the top five players occupying the champion’s lectern for the quarterfinal games. Since the removal of the five-game limit in regular gameplay, in the unlikely case of a tie in total winnings between two Tournament of Champions players, the player who won the most games receives the higher seed. If still tied, seeding is determined by comparing the tied players’ aggregate Double Jeopardy! and (if still tied) Jeopardy! round scores. The winners of the five quarterfinal games and the four highest-scoring non-winners (“wild cards”) advance to the semifinals, which run for three days. The semifinals are seeded with the quarterfinal winners being seeded 1–5 based on their quarterfinal scores, and the wild cards being seeded 6–9. The winners of the quarterfinal games with the three highest scores occupy the champion’s lectern for the semifinals. The winners of the three semifinal games advance to play in a two-game final match, in which the scores from both games are combined to determine the overall standings. This format has been used since the first Tournament of Champions in 1985 and was devised by Trebek himself. To prevent later contestants from playing to beat the earlier wild card scores instead of playing to win, contestants are “completely isolated from the studio until it is their time to compete”. If none of the contestants in a standard 15-player tournament format quarterfinal end with a positive score, no contestant automatically qualifies from that game, and an additional wild card contestant advances instead. This occurred in the quarterfinals of the 1991 Seniors Tournament and the semifinals of the 2013 Teen Tournament, where the rule was in effect during the semifinals, but after that tournament the rule has changed for semifinals and finals. As the players are not isolated during the semifinals the way they are during the quarterfinals, show officials discovered a flaw after the 2013 Teen Tournament, because the triple zero loss happened in the second semifinal that allowed the third semifinal of the 2013 Teen Tournament to be played differently from the first (which was played before the triple zero loss). Starting with the 2013 Tournament of Champions, semifinal games, like the two-game finals, must have a winner. Players who participate in Final Jeopardy! will participate in the standard tie-breaker, regardless of the score being zero or a positive score. Similarly, if all three players have a zero score at the end of a two-game match, a normal tournament finals format will proceed to a tie-breaker. In a tournament format where a player must win multiple games to win the tournament, such as the 2020 Greatest of All Time or 2022 Tournament of Champions, or in the quarterfinals of tournaments without wild cards where a player must win the game to advance (21 or 27 players), the tie-breaker will be used regardless of the score being zero or positive for players to win the game and either advance to the next round or receive the point towards winning the tournament. That was confirmed during the Season 40 Champions Wildcard Tournament, when during a post-match interview posted on the show’s Web site, host Ken Jennings noted if there was a triple-zero score loss in a tournament match that requires a winner, the tiebreaker will be used.[46] In the standard tournament finals format, contestants who finish Double Jeopardy! with a $0 or negative score on either day do not play Final Jeopardy! that day. Their score for that leg is recorded as $0.

Conception and development

The text "Jeopardy!" in a stylized font with staggered letters
Logo for the original “Jeopardy!” (1964–1975)
In a 1963 Associated Press profile released shortly before the original Jeopardy! series premiered, Merv Griffin offered the following account of how he created the quiz show:
My wife Julann just came up with the idea one day when we were in a plane bringing us back to New York City from Duluth. I was mulling over game show ideas, when she noted that there had not been a successful ‘question and answer’ game on the air since the quiz show scandals. Why not do a switch, and give the answers to the contestant and let them come up with the question? She fired a couple of answers to me: “5,280”—and the question of course was ‘How many feet in a mile?’. Another was ’79 Wistful Vista’; that was Fibber and Mollie McGee’s address. I loved the idea, went straight to NBC with the idea, and they bought it without even looking at a pilot show.
Griffin’s first conception of the game used a board comprising ten categories with ten clues each, but after finding that this board could not easily be shown on camera, he reduced it to two rounds of thirty clues each, with five clues in each of six categories. He originally intended requiring grammatically correct phrasing (e.g., only accepting “Who is…” for a person), but after finding that grammatical correction slowed the game down, he decided to accept any correct response that was in question form. Griffin discarded his initial title of What’s the Question? when skeptical network executive Ed Vane rejected his original concept of the game, claiming, “It doesn’t have enough jeopardies.” The format of giving contestants the answers and requiring the questions had previously been used by the Gil Fates-hosted program CBS Television Quiz, which aired from July 1941 until May 1942.



Art Fleming was the original host of the show throughout both NBC runs and its brief weekly syndicated run, between 1964 and 1979. Alex Trebek served as host of the daily syndicated version from its premiere in 1984 until his death in 2020, except when he switched places with Wheel of Fortune host Pat Sajak as an April Fool’s joke on April 1, 1997. On a Fox News program in July 2018, Trebek said the odds of his retirement in 2020 were 50/50 “and a little less”. He added that he might continue if he’s “not making too many mistakes” but would make an “intelligent decision” as to when he should give up the emcee role. In November 2018, Trebek renewed his contract as host through 2022, stating in January 2019 that the work schedule consisting of 46 taping sessions each year was still manageable for a man of his age. On March 6, 2019, Trebek announced he had been diagnosed with stage IV pancreatic cancer (a disease from which Fleming also died on April 25, 1995). In a prepared video statement announcing his diagnosis, Trebek noted that his prognosis was poor but that he would aggressively fight the cancer in hopes of beating the odds and would continue hosting Jeopardy! for as long as he was able, joking that his contract obligated him to do so for three more years regardless of health. Trebek was still serving as host, having taped his last episode on October 29, 2020, for an intended Christmas Day broadcast, when contingency plans were made for him to miss the next taping, scheduled for November 9–10, 2020. In an October 13, 2022, interview for New York magazine’s Vulture section, Ken Jennings noted supervising producers Lisa Broffman and Rocky Schmidt had named him interim host for that taping and remembered his last conversation with Trebek days before rehearsal was to commence.
I was scheduled to come into the studio to rehearse for some games; even if Alex bounced back as he had before, he wanted somebody to fill in for him for a little while. A producer set up a call, and his voice was notably weaker than we’d ever heard it on the air, which really struck me at first. It was a tough moment. But once you got over the timbre of the voice, he was still very much Alex — going down conversational side paths about old movies he liked. At one point, he started talking about tennis players he compared to various Jeopardy! champions. But the thing that stuck with me is he thanked me for coming in to fill in for him. That just broke me. I said, “Alex, are you kidding? We should be thanking you. I’d take a bullet for you, Alex. I’m happy to help.”
— Ken Jennings, on the phone call by producers between him and Alex Trebek on November 6, 2020.
  In an August 2, 2023, podcast by Sony Pictures Television and Sony Music, This is Jeopardy!: The Story of America’s Favorite Quiz Show, supervising producer Lisa Broffman noted the rehearsal for Jennings was scheduled November 8, 2020, but cancelled when Rocky Schmidt gave staff the news Alex Trebek had died that day.
We had planned on having Ken (Jennings) come in to rehearse on November 8th, 2020. So we had a crew in, and that morning, (supervising producer) Rocky Schmidt called me and said, “He’s gone.” So we canceled the rehearsal day.
— Lisa Broffman, supervising producer
  At the time of Trebek’s death, producers publicly declined to discuss any plans to introduce his successor while stating that they had enough new episodes with Trebek as host to run through Christmas Day, even though the show’s official podcast in 2023 admitted Ken Jennings was officially scheduled as interim host, with his first taping cancelled on the news of Trebek’s death. On November 9, 2020, the first episode to air after Trebek’s death, executive producer Mike Richards paid tribute to Trebek, after a few seconds of silence where the lights on the Jeopardy! set (which had been set up for Jennings to host before Trebek’s death) slowly dimmed. That episode, as well as subsequent episodes that aired after Trebek’s death, also included a dedication screen at the end of the credits through the remainder of the season. To compensate for concerns over pre-emptions caused by holiday week specials and sports, Sony announced on November 23, 2020, that the air dates of Trebek’s final week were postponed, with episodes scheduled for the week of December 21–25 being postponed to January 4–8, 2021. Reruns of episodes in which Trebek recorded clues on location aired from December 21, 2020, to January 1, 2021, before his final episodes aired January 4–8, 2021. Jennings took over hosting when production resumed on November 30, 2020, three weeks after he had been scheduled to host. The six weeks of episodes began airing January 11, 2021. Sony announced the hosts would come from “within the Jeopardy! family”. Between January and February 2021, additional guest hosts were announced, including executive producer Mike Richards; television news personalities Katie Couric, Bill Whitaker, Savannah Guthrie, Sanjay Gupta, and Anderson Cooper; athlete Aaron Rodgers; talk show host Mehmet Oz; and actress Mayim Bialik. An April 2021 announcement listed the final group of guest hosts, including: television news personalities George Stephanopoulos and Robin Roberts; Reading Rainbow host LeVar Burton; Squawk on the Street co-host David Faber; and Fox Sports broadcaster Joe Buck. In addition, Buzzy Cohen, the 2017 Jeopardy! Tournament of Champions winner, hosted the 2021 Tournament of Champions. On August 11, 2021, it was announced that Richards would succeed Trebek as host of the daily show and Bialik would host Jeopardy! primetime specials and spin-offs. On August 20, 2021, following a report from The Ringer exposing controversial remarks made on his podcast in the past, resurfaced controversies from Richards’s time on The Price Is Right, and accusations of self-dealing regarding his executive producer position, Richards stepped down as host after taping the first week of episodes while remaining executive producer, before being dismissed from the latter role on August 31. Richards’s five episodes as host aired in September 2021. Bialik and Jennings then alternated hosting the show for the rest of season 38, through the end of July 2022. Bialik also hosted the season’s various tournaments and primetime specials. In July 2022, it was announced that Bialik and Jennings would continue splitting hosting duties for the 39th season of the syndicated version. Jennings would also host the Tournament of Champions and the new Second Chance Tournament, while Bialik would also again host primetime specials and spinoffs, including a new celebrity edition of Jeopardy!, which premiered in September 2022. However, in January 2023, ABC announced Jennings would host a Jeopardy! Masters spinoff, indicating a change of arrangement. In May 2023, Bialik opted not to host the final episodes of the season in support of writers during the 2023 Writers Guild of America strike, with Jennings stepping in to host the remaining episodes. Bialik formally went on strike with her union, SAG-AFTRA, shortly thereafter, precluding her from hosting the program during the course of the strike. It was later announced that Jennings would host the second season of the new celebrity edition. In December 2023, after the strike was resolved, Sony announced that Jennings would remain the sole host of the syndicated series permanently, noting that it was still open to having Bialik host the prime time specials.


Don Pardo held the role of announcer on the NBC version and weekly syndicated version, while John Harlan replaced him for The All-New Jeopardy! In the daily syndicated version’s first pilot, from 1983, Jay Stewart served as the announcer, but Johnny Gilbert took over the role at Trebek’s recommendation when that version was picked up as a series.

Clue Crew

The Jeopardy! Clue Crew, introduced on September 24, 2001, was a team of roving correspondents who appeared in videos, recorded around the world, to narrate some clues. Explaining why the Clue Crew was added, executive producer Harry Friedman said, “TV is a visual medium, and the more visual we can make our clues, the more we think it will enhance the experience for the viewer.” Following the initial announcement of auditions for the team, over 5,000 people applied for Clue Crew posts. The original Clue Crew members were Cheryl Farrell, Jimmy McGuire, Sofia Lidskog, and Sarah Whitcomb Foss. Jon Cannon and Kelly Miyahara joined the Clue Crew in 2005. Farrell recorded clues until October 2008, and Cannon until July 2009. Miyahara, who also served as announcer for the Sports Jeopardy! spin-off series, left in 2019. The Clue Crew was eliminated beginning with the 39th season in September 2022; Foss became a producer for the show and McGuire a stage manager. Foss also serves as in-studio announcer when Johnny Gilbert is unable to attend a taping. In such cases, her voice is replaced with Gilbert’s in post-production. The Clue Crew traveled to over 300 cities worldwide, spanning all 50 of the United States and 46 other countries. Occasionally, they visited schools to showcase the educational game Classroom Jeopardy!

Production staff

A head shot of Merv Griffin
Merv Griffin created the show and was executive producer from 1984 to 2000.
A waist-up shot of Harry Friedman holding an award
Harry Friedman was executive producer from 1999 to 2020.
Robert Rubin served as the producer of the original Jeopardy! series for most of its run and later became its executive producer. Following Rubin’s promotion, the line producer was Lynette Williams. Griffin was the daily syndicated version’s executive producer until his retirement in 2000. Trebek served as producer as well as host until 1987, when he began hosting NBC’s Classic Concentration for the next four years. At that time, he handed producer duties to George Vosburgh, who had formerly produced The All-New Jeopardy! In 1997, Harry Friedman, Lisa Finneran, and Rocky Schmidt succeeded Vosburgh as producers of the show. Beginning in 1999, Friedman became executive producer, and Gary Johnson became the third producer. In 2006, Deb Dittmann and Brett Schneider became producers, while Finneran, Schmidt, and Johnson became supervising producers. The original Jeopardy! series was directed at different times by Bob Hultgren, Eleanor Tarshis, and Jeff Goldstein. Dick Schneider, who directed episodes of The All-New Jeopardy!, returned as director from 1984 to 1992. From 1992 to 2018, Kevin McCarthy served as director, who had previously served as associate director under Schneider. McCarthy announced his retirement after 26 years on June 26, 2018, and was succeeded as director by Clay Jacobsen. As of 2012, Jeopardy! employs nine writers and five researchers to create and assemble the categories and clues. Billy Wisse is the editorial producer and Michele Loud is the editorial supervisor. Previous writing and editorial supervisors have included Jules Minton, Terrence McDonnell, Harry Eisenberg, and Gary Johnson. Trebek himself also contributed to writing clues and categories. Naomi Slodki is the production designer for the program. Previous art directors have included Henry Lickel, Dennis Roof, Bob Rang, and Ed Flesh (who also designed sets for other game shows such as The $25,000 PyramidName That Tune, and Wheel of Fortune). On August 1, 2019, Sony Pictures Television announced that Friedman would retire as executive producer of both Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune at the end of the 2019–20 season. On August 29, 2019, it was announced that Mike Richards replaced Friedman in 2020. On August 31, 2021, after Richards had resigned as permanent host earlier in the month, he was fired from his executive producer position at both Jeopardy! and Wheel, with Sony executives citing continued internal turmoil that Richards’s resignation as host had failed to quell as they had hoped. Michael Davies from Embassy Row, which also produces Sony game show Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, was selected as interim executive producer through the 2021–22 season. On April 14, 2022, Davies accepted the role on a permanent basis.


The daily syndicated version of Jeopardy! is produced by Sony Pictures Television (previously known as Columbia TriStar Television, the successor company to original producer Merv Griffin Enterprises). The copyright holder is Jeopardy Productions, which, like SPT, operates as a subsidiary of Sony Pictures Entertainment. The rights to distribute the program worldwide are owned by CBS Media Ventures, which absorbed original distributor King World Productions in 2007. The original Jeopardy! series was taped in Studio 6A at NBC Studios at 30 Rockefeller Plaza in New York City, and The All-New Jeopardy! was taped in Studio 3 at NBC’s Burbank Studios at 3000 West Alameda Avenue in Burbank, California. The Trebek version was initially taped at Metromedia Stage 7, KTTV, on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood, but moved its production facilities to Hollywood Center Studios’ Stage 1 in 1985. In 1994 the Jeopardy! production facilities moved to Sony Pictures Studios’ Stage 10 on Washington Boulevard in Culver City, California, where production has remained since. Stage 10 was dedicated in Trebek’s honor when episodes for the 38th season began taping in August 2021, with the stage being renamed to “The Alex Trebek Stage”, with help from the Trebek family (Alex’s wife, Jean, son, Matthew, and daughters, Emily and Nicky). Five episodes are taped each day, with two days of taping every other week. However, taping slowed after Alex Trebek’s health issues in 2019 until his last taping day on October 29, 2020. Some weeks had three episodes taped within a single day, while some had two episodes taped within a single day.


Various screen shots of the Jeopardy! set
Various sets used by the syndicated version over the years. From top to bottom: 1984–85, 1985–91, 1991–96, 1996–2002, 2002–06, and 2009–13.
Various technological and aesthetic changes have been made to the Jeopardy! set over the years. The original game board was exposed from behind a curtain and featured clues printed on cardboard pull cards which were revealed as contestants selected them. The All-New Jeopardy!‘s game board was exposed from behind double-slide panels and featured pull cards with the dollar amount in front and the clue behind it. When the Trebek version premiered in 1984, the game board used individual television monitors for each clue within categories. The original monitors were replaced with larger and sleeker ones in 1991. In 2006, these monitors were discarded in favor of a nearly seamless projection video wall, which was replaced in 2009 with 36 high-definition flat-panel monitors manufactured by Sony Electronics. From 1985 to 1997, the sets were designed to have a background color of blue for the Jeopardy! round and red for the Double Jeopardy! and Final Jeopardy! rounds. In 1991 a brand new set was introduced that resembled a grid. On the episode aired November 11, 1996, Jeopardy! introduced the first of several sets designed by Naomi Slodki, who intended the set to resemble “the foyer of a very contemporary library, with wood and sandblasted glass and blue granite”. In 2002, another new set was introduced, which was given slight modifications when Jeopardy! and sister show Wheel of Fortune transitioned to high-definition broadcasting in 2006. During this time, virtual tours of the set began to be featured on the official web site. The various HD improvements for Jeopardy! and Wheel represented a combined investment of approximately $4 million, 5,000 hours of labor, and 6 miles (9.7 km) of cable. Both programs had been shot using HD cameras for several years before beginning to broadcast in HD. On standard-definition television broadcasts, episodes continue displaying with an aspect ratio of 4:3. In 2009, Jeopardy! updated its set once again. The new set debuted with special episodes taped at the 42nd annual International CES technology trade show, hosted at the Las Vegas Convention Center in Winchester (Las Vegas Valley), Nevada, and became the primary set for Jeopardy! when the 2009–2010 season began. In 2013, Jeopardy! introduced another new set. This set underwent several modifications in 2020, with a wider studio without any studio audience (the last episodes of the 2019–2020 season were also taped without an audience), and new lecterns for contestants and the host. The lecterns are spaced considerably apart to comply with California state regulations imposed when filming resumed after the coronavirus pandemic ended the 2020 season early. Although the modified COVID-era set from the previous two seasons was kept, the live studio audience fully returned for season 39, which began airing on September 12, 2022.

Theme music

Since the debut of Jeopardy! in 1964, several songs and arrangements have been used as the theme music, most of which were composed by Griffin. The main theme for the original Jeopardy! series was “Take Ten”, composed by Griffin’s wife Julann. The All-New Jeopardy! opened with “January, February, March” and closed with “Frisco Disco”, both of which were composed by Griffin himself. The best-known theme song on Jeopardy! is “Think!”, originally composed by Griffin under the title “A Time for Tony”, as a lullaby for his son. “Think!” has always been used for the 30-second period in Final Jeopardy! when the contestants write down their responses, and since the syndicated version debuted in 1984, a rendition of that tune has been used as the main theme song. “Think!” has become so popular that it has been used in many different contexts, from sporting events to weddings; “its 30-second countdown has become synonymous with any deadline pressure”. Griffin estimated that the use of “Think!” had earned him royalties of over $70 million throughout his lifetime. “Think!” led Griffin to win the Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI) President’s Award in 2003, and during GSN’s 2009 Game Show Awards special, it was named “Best Game Show Theme Song”. In 1997, the main theme (later rearranged in 2001) and Final Jeopardy! “Think!” cue were rearranged by Steve Kaplan, who served as music director until his December 2003 death. Then in 2008, the Jeopardy! music package was rearranged again, this time by Chris Bell Music & Sound Design. A fully-synthesized version of the main theme, which is based on the 2008 arrangement, was composed by Bleeding Fingers Music and has been used since 2021.  


Frosted Strawberry flavor Pop-Tarts
Product typeToaster pastry
CountryUnited States
IntroducedSeptember 14, 1964; 59 years ago
Related brandsPop-Tart Bites, Pop-Tart Crisps, Pop-Tart Cereal
Previous ownersKellogg’s (1964–2023)
Tagline“Crazy Good!”
Pop-Tarts (stylized as pop•tarts) is a brand of toaster pastries produced and distributed by Kellanova (formerly Kellogg’s) since 1964, consisting of a sweet filling sealed inside two layers of thin, rectangular pastry crust. Most varieties are also frosted. Although sold precooked, they are designed to be warmed inside a toaster or microwave oven. They are usually sold in pairs inside Mylar (previously foil) packages and do not require refrigeration. Pop-Tarts is Kellanova’s most popular brand to date in the United States, with millions of units sold each year. They are distributed mainly in the United States, but are also available in Canada and the United Kingdom. Pop-Tarts are produced in dozens of flavors, plus various one-time, seasonal, and “limited-edition” flavors that appear for a short time.


Pop-Tarts World, New York
In the early 1960s, Kellogg’s biggest competitor, Post, invented a process for dehydrating food and enclosing it in foil to keep it fresh. Originally used for dog food, they were looking to expand their breakfast market and adapted the process to a new toaster-prepared breakfast pastry. Post announced its new product to the press in 1964 several months before they went to market, calling them “Country Squares”. Because Post had revealed Country Squares before they were ready for the marketplace, Kellogg’s rushed to develop their own version. They hired Bill Post, a former Keebler employee, for the task and created their own breakfast pastry in just four months. Initially called Fruit Scones, the name was soon changed to Pop-Tarts as a pun on the then popular Pop Art movement.[9] The product became so popular that Kellogg could not keep up with demand. The first shipment of Pop-Tarts to stores sold out in two weeks, and Kellogg’s ran advertisements apologizing for the empty shelves. This only increased demand. The first Pop-Tarts came in four flavors: strawberry, blueberry, brown sugar cinnamon, and apple currant, which was soon renamed apple-berry. Originally unfrosted when first introduced in 1964, Kellogg’s soon developed a frosting that could withstand the toaster, and the first frosted Pop-Tarts were released in 1967. Sprinkles were added to several flavors in 1968. As of 2024, there are over 20 standard Pop-Tart flavors, including hot fudge sundae, s’mores, raspberry, and grape. Pop-Tarts were introduced with fairly substantial marketing to the United Kingdom in the early 1990s. Chocotastic and Strawberry Sensation are available in most major UK supermarkets. The United States military airdropped 2.4 million Pop-Tarts in Afghanistan during the initial attack in 2001. A temporary store called Pop-Tarts World opened in Times Square on August 10, 2010 which included Pop-Tarts memorabilia, T-shirt making, a Pop-Tarts World Cafe featuring a sushi bar, and a vending machine called the Varietizer. The store closed on December 31, 2010. As of 2014, sales of Pop-Tarts had increased for 32 straight years. In 2023, Pop-Tarts became a product of Kellanova following the spinoff of Kellogg’s breakfast cereal operations into WK Kellogg Co. Sales continued to increase year after year, topping $985 million in 2023.


Kellanova keeps between 20 and 30 flavors in production at any time, and is constantly testing and trying new flavors to meet shifting consumer tastes.
Frosted Strawberry
Brown Sugar Cinnamon
Unfrosted Blueberry
Dunkin’ Donuts Vanilla Latte

Standard flavors

Pop Tart’s core flavors have been unchanged for over 30 years and include favorites such as frosted strawberry and brown sugar cinnamon. In addition, Kellanova is constantly introducing new flavors into regular production and removing ones that do not sell well. In 2020, they introduced three new Pretzel flavors while ceasing production of most of the ‘wild’ flavor line.

Seasonal flavors

Kellanova produces some flavors for a short time every year, to coincide with seasonal or holiday events. Some examples include Pumpkin Pie, released every Fall since 2011, and Red White and Blueberry, brought back every summer since 2012.

Limited flavors

Between 2005–2021, Kellogg’s produced special Limited flavors. These were each released for only a short time, about six months, and had a “Limited Edition” banner on the box. They were sometimes made in cooperation with another food brand, such as Dunkin Donuts, Jolly Rancher, and A&W Root Beer. They have also worked with other Kellogg’s brands to make Froot Loops and Eggo flavored Pop-Tarts. Occasionally a limited flavor would sell so well that Kellogg’s kept producing it longer or made it a standard flavor. Red Velvet was initially released as a limited flavor in 2013, but sold so well that it was kept in production until 2017 and returned as a standard flavor in 2021. In the summer of 2021, the Limited flavor “Mister-E” was discontinued shortly after its two-month marketing surge. Kellogg’s pulled the plug on the flavor after receiving numerous complaints. It was confirmed to be known as “Everything Bagel” on the Pop-Tart website prior to its conclusion.

Outside the United States

A much more limited number of flavors are available outside the US. This is due to local laws that may prohibit the use of specific food dyes, or the use of high fructose corn syrup. Only three flavors are available in Europe:
  • Frosted Apple Blast
  • Frosted Chocotastic
  • Frosted Strawberry Sensation

Related products

Danish Go-Rounds, later renamed Danish Rings, were an oval shaped tubular toaster pastry with fruit filling. Kellogg’s made them between 1968–1972. Presto Pizza was a pizza flavored toaster pastry produced by Kellogg’s in 1971, and retired less than a year later. Pastry Swirls were introduced in the mid-1990s and were similar to a competitor Pillsbury’s Toaster Strudels. Pastry Swirls were bigger and thicker than regular Pop-Tarts and had less icing. Flavors included Cherry Cheese Danish and Cinnamon Cream. Sales were disappointing, and the products were discontinued in 2001. Snak-Stix, a portable break-apart version intended as an after-school snack for children, was introduced in 1999. In 2002, Kellogg’s launched a massive media promotion along with the American Idol TV show and live tour. It did not sell well and was discontinued a year later. Go-Tarts were another attempt at a snack-sized product, released in 2006. These were thicker, narrow, and wrapped individually (instead of in packages of two). Go-Tarts were discontinued in 2008. Mini Crisps were introduced in 2011 as a bite-sized, cracker-like pastry with no filling. They originally sold in 60-calorie pouches but were discontinued after poor sales. They were brought back in a larger size in 2018, as Pop Tart Crisps. The newer version is a larger bar-sized crispy pastry with filling and frosting. Pop-Tarts Bites are a smaller, bite-sized version sold in pouches. They were originally introduced in 1994 but ceased production the next year. Kellogg’s brought them back in 2018 in Frosted Strawberry and Brown Sugar Cinnamon flavors and has announced plans to expand to more flavors. Pop Tarts Cereal was originally made in 1994, and sold through the early 2000s. Kellogg’s brought it back in 2019 with two flavors: strawberry and brown sugar cinnamon.

In popular culture

In June 2021, Jerry Seinfeld announced he would write, direct, produce, and star in a movie about the creation of Pop-Tarts. The film, Unfrosted, will be released on Netflix in May 2024. The History Channel series The Food That Built America has two episodes that include Pop Tarts. The first episode of the first season includes the rivalry between the Kellogg and Post companies, and mentions the invention of the Pop-Tart. The first episode of season four goes into more detail about the creation of the Pop Tart and the rival Country Squares from Post. The TV show Family Guy featured a song about Pop-Tarts, and how good they taste with butter.


In the 1970s, Kellogg’s revitalized Pop-Tarts advertising with a talking toaster named Milton. The character, voiced by actor William Schallert in TV and radio ads, enjoyed a popular merchandising run. Products with Milton’s likeness included mugs, plates, paint sets, and even board games. Pop-Tarts introduced a new advertising campaign, “Crazy Good”, in 2004.[36] Characters that appeared often were a singing lizard and a group of children, dubbed “crazy-good kids”, who commonly frightened the Pop-Tarts and caused them to be eaten or chased away. The sound design and signature “TaDa” opening and closings were created by Kamen Entertainment Group, Inc. The ads employ squiggly animation, surrealist humor, and non sequitur, all of which bear a strong resemblance to the signature work of animator Don Hertzfeldt. However, Hertzfeldt was not involved in any way with these advertisements. In 2023, Kellanova sponsored the Pop-Tarts Bowl, a college football bowl game. The mascot, a giant dancing strawberry Pop-Tart, went viral on social media after he descended into a massive toaster and was eaten by the winning team, Kansas State Wildcats. In 2006, the Children’s Advertising Review Unit (CARU) of the Council of Better Business Bureaus, prompted by a customer complaint, “recommended that Kellogg modify packaging, eliminate the phrase ‘made with real fruit’.” Kellogg agreed to do so, and redesigned packages for the Pop-Tarts line accordingly; they assured CARU that the “claim does not appear on television or print advertising” and offered to “participate in CARU’s self-regulatory process” and “take CARU’s focus areas into consideration” as Kellogg proceeds with its “future child-directed advertising.” Cable in the Classroom has used a Pop-Tarts television commercial as an example in its media literacy program for children. They ask adults to watch a Pop-Tarts commercial with their children or students and “have them look at how much product information is presented and how much is really about lifestyle or attitude.”


Thomas Nangle filed a lawsuit in 1992, suing Kellogg’s for damages after his Pop-Tart became stuck in his toaster and caught fire. The case gained wider notoriety when humorist Dave Barry wrote a column about starting a fire in his own toaster with Pop-Tarts. Texas A&M University Corpus Christi professor Patrick Michaud performed a 1994 experiment showing that when left in the toaster too long, strawberry Pop-Tarts could produce flames to about 1.5 ft (46 cm) high. The discovery triggered a number of lawsuits. Since then, Pop-Tarts carry the warning: “Due to possible risk of fire, never leave your toasting appliance or microwave unattended.” In October 2021, a woman in New York sued Kellogg’s for $5 million over what she claimed was misleading advertising about Strawberry Pop-Tarts. Her suit alleged, “The strawberry representations are misleading because the Product has less strawberries than consumers expect based on the labeling.” This lawsuit was dismissed in March 2022, with US District Judge Marvin Aspin writing “The word ‘Strawberry,’ combined with a picture of half of a strawberry and a Pop-Tart oozing red filling, does not guarantee that there will be a certain amount of strawberries in the product’s filling.”


Pop-Tarts have been the subject of recalls when mislabeling could lead to serious allergic reactions. On August 4, 1995, it was announced that 94,500 cartons of Smucker’s Real Fruit Frosted Strawberry pastries actually contained the Chocolate Fudge variety. In 2002, Kellogg alerted the public that egg was an undeclared ingredient in its Frosted Brown Sugar Cinnamon Pop-Tarts. In 2006, they alerted the public that some Frosted Blueberry Pop-Tarts contained milk as an undeclared ingredient.
LIFE Magazine March 4, 1966


Україна (Ukrainian)
Flag of Ukraine
Coat of arms of Ukraine
Coat of arms
Anthem: Державний Гімн України Derzhavnyi Himn Ukrainy “State Anthem of Ukraine”
Territory of Ukraine shown in dark green
and largest city
Kyiv 49°N 32°E
  • Official language
  • and national language
Ethnic groups
  • 78% Ukrainians
  • 17% Russians
  • 4.9% other
  • 87.3% Christianity
  • 11.0% no religion
  • 0.8% other
  • 0.9% unanswered
GovernmentUnitary semi-presidential republic
• President
Volodymyr Zelenskyy
• Prime Minister
Denys Shmyhal
• Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada
Ruslan Stefanchuk
LegislatureVerkhovna Rada
• Kievan Rus’
• Galicia–Volhynia
• Cossack Hetmanate
18 August 1649
• People’s Republic
20 November 1917
• Soviet Republic
10 March 1919
• UN membership
24 October 1945
• Independence declared
24 August 1991
• Current constitution
28 June 1996
• Total
603,628 km2 (233,062 sq mi) (45th)
• Water (%)
• 2024 estimate
Increase 33,365,000 (36th)
• Density
60.9/km2 (157.7/sq mi) (126th)
GDP (PPP)2024 estimate
• Total
Increase $515.947 billion (49th)
• Per capita
Increase $15,464 (102nd)
GDP (nominal)2024 estimate
• Total
Increase $188.943 billion (58th)
• Per capita
Increase $5,663 (111st)
Gini (2020)Positive decrease 25.6 low
HDI (2022)Decrease 0.734 high (100th)
CurrencyHryvnia (₴) (UAH)
Time zoneUTC+2 (EET)
• Summer (DST)
Date formatdd.mm.yyyy
Driving sideright
Calling code+380
ISO 3166 codeUA
Internet TLD
  • .ua
  • .укр
Ukraine is a country in Eastern Europe. It is the second-largest European country after Russia, which borders it to the east and northeast. It also borders Belarus to the north; Poland, Slovakia, and Hungary to the west; and Romania and Moldova to the southwest; with a coastline along the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov to the south and southeast. Kyiv is the nation’s capital and largest city, followed by Kharkiv, Dnipro and Odesa. Ukraine’s official language is Ukrainian; Russian is also widely spoken, especially in the east and south. During the Middle Ages, Ukraine was the site of early Slavic expansion and the area later became a key centre of East Slavic culture under the state of Kievan Rus’, which emerged in the 9th century. The state eventually disintegrated into rival regional powers and was ultimately destroyed by the Mongol invasions of the 13th century. The area was then contested, divided, and ruled by a variety of external powers for the next 600 years, including the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, the Austrian Empire, the Ottoman Empire, and the Tsardom of Russia. The Cossack Hetmanate emerged in central Ukraine in the 17th century marked on maps as “Ukraine, land of the Cossacks”, but was partitioned between Russia and Poland, and ultimately absorbed by the Russian Empire. Ukrainian nationalism developed and, following the Russian Revolution in 1917, the short-lived Ukrainian People’s Republic was formed. The Bolsheviks consolidated control over much of the former empire and established the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, which became a constituent republic of the Soviet Union when it was formed in 1922. In the early 1930s, millions of Ukrainians died in the Holodomor, a human-made famine. The German occupation during World War II in Ukraine was devastating, with 7 million Ukrainian civilians killed, including most Ukrainian Jews. Ukraine gained independence in 1991 as the Soviet Union dissolved, and declared itself neutral. A new constitution was adopted in 1996. A series of mass demonstrations, known as the Euromaidan, led to the establishment of a new government in 2014 after a revolution. Russia then unilaterally annexed Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula, and pro-Russian unrest culminated in a war in the Donbas between Russian-backed separatists and government forces in eastern Ukraine. Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine in 2022. Since the outbreak of war with Russia, Ukraine has continued to seek closer ties with the United States, European Union, and NATO. Ukraine is a unitary state and its system of government is a semi-presidential republic. A developing country, it is the poorest country in Europe by nominal GDP per capita[15] and corruption remains a significant issue. However, due to its extensive fertile land, pre-war Ukraine was one of the largest grain exporters in the world. It is a founding member of the United Nations, as well as a member of the Council of Europe, the World Trade Organization, and the OSCE. It is in the process of joining the European Union and has applied to join NATO.[19]

Etymology and orthography

The name of Ukraine is frequently interpreted as coming from the old Slavic term for ‘borderland’ as is the word krajina. Another interpretation is that the name of Ukraine means “region” or “country.” In the English-speaking world during most of the 20th century, Ukraine (whether independent or not) was referred to as “the Ukraine”. This is because the word ukraina means ‘borderland’ so the definite article would be natural in the English language; this is similar to Nederlanden, which means ‘low lands’ and is rendered in English as “the Netherlands”. However, since Ukraine’s declaration of independence in 1991, this usage has become politicised and is now rarer, and style guides advise against its use. US ambassador William Taylor said that using “the Ukraine” implies disregard for Ukrainian sovereignty. The official Ukrainian position is that “the Ukraine” is both grammatically and politically incorrect.


Early history

Early Indo-European migrations from the Pontic steppes of present-day Ukraine and Russia[29]
1.4 million year old stone tools from Korolevo, western Ukraine, are the earliest securely dated hominin presence in Europe. Settlement by modern humans in Ukraine and its vicinity dates back to 32,000 BC, with evidence of the Gravettian culture in the Crimean Mountains. By 4,500 BC, the Neolithic Cucuteni–Trypillia culture was flourishing in wide areas of modern Ukraine, including Trypillia and the entire Dnieper-Dniester region. Ukraine is considered to be the likely location of the first domestication of the horse. The Kurgan hypothesis places the Volga-Dnieper region of Ukraine and southern Russia as the linguistic homeland of the Proto-Indo-Europeans. Early Indo-European migrations from the Pontic steppes in the 3rd millennium BC spread Yamnaya Steppe pastoralist ancestry and Indo-European languages across large parts of Europe. During the Iron Age, the land was inhabited by Iranian-speaking Cimmerians, Scythians, and Sarmatians. Between 700 BC and 200 BC it was part of the Scythian kingdom. From the 6th century BC, Greek, Roman, and Byzantine colonies were established on the north-eastern shore of the Black Sea, such as at Tyras, Olbia, and Chersonesus. These thrived into the 6th century AD. The Goths stayed in the area, but came under the sway of the Huns from the 370s. In the 7th century, the territory that is now eastern Ukraine was the centre of Old Great Bulgaria. At the end of the century, the majority of Bulgar tribes migrated in different directions, and the Khazars took over much of the land. In the 5th and 6th centuries, the Antes, an early Slavic people, lived in Ukraine. Migrations from the territories of present-day Ukraine throughout the Balkans established many South Slavic nations. Northern migrations, reaching almost to Lake Ilmen, led to the emergence of the Ilmen Slavs and Krivichs. Following an Avar raid in 602 and the collapse of the Antes Union, most of these peoples survived as separate tribes until the beginning of the second millennium.[need quotation to verify]

Golden Age of Kyiv

The furthest extent of Kievan Rus’, 1054–1132
The establishment of the state of Kievan Rus’ remains obscure and uncertain. The state included much of present-day Ukraine, Belarus and the western part of European Russia. According to the Primary Chronicle, the Rus’ people initially consisted of Varangians from Scandinavia. In 882, the pagan Prince Oleg (Oleh) conquered Kyiv from Askold and Dir and proclaimed it as the new capital of the Rus’. Anti-Normanist historians however argue that the East Slavic tribes along the southern parts of the Dnieper River were already in the process of forming a state independently. The Varangian elite, including the ruling Rurik dynasty, later assimilated into the Slavic population. Kievan Rus’ was composed of several principalities ruled by the interrelated Rurikid kniazes (“princes”), who often fought each other for possession of Kyiv. During the 10th and 11th centuries, Kievan Rus’ became the largest and most powerful state in Europe, a period known as its Golden Age. It began with the reign of Vladimir the Great (980–1015), who introduced Christianity. During the reign of his son, Yaroslav the Wise (1019–1054), Kievan Rus’ reached the zenith of its cultural development and military power. The state soon fragmented as the relative importance of regional powers rose again. After a final resurgence under the rule of Vladimir II Monomakh (1113–1125) and his son Mstislav (1125–1132), Kievan Rus’ finally disintegrated into separate principalities following Mstislav’s death, though ownership of Kyiv would still carry great prestige for decades. In the 11th and 12th centuries, the nomadic confederacy of the Turkic-speaking Cumans and Kipchaks was the dominant force in the Pontic steppe north of the Black Sea. The Mongol invasions in the mid-13th century devastated Kievan Rus’; following the Siege of Kyiv in 1240, the city was destroyed by the Mongols. In the western territories, the principalities of Halych and Volhynia had arisen earlier, and were merged to form the Principality of Galicia–Volhynia. Daniel of Galicia, son of Roman the Great, re-united much of south-western Rus’, including Volhynia, Galicia, as well as Kyiv. He was subsequently crowned by a papal envoy as the first king of Galicia–Volhynia (also known as the Kingdom of Ruthenia) in 1253.

Foreign domination

The Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth at its maximum extent in 1619, superimposed on modern borders. Poland and the Polish Crown exercised power over much of Ukraine after 1569.   Crown of the Kingdom of Poland   Grand Duchy of Lithuania   Duchy of Livonia   Duchy of Prussia, Polish fief   Duchy of Courland and Semigallia, Commonwealth fief
In 1349, in the aftermath of the Galicia–Volhynia Wars, the region was partitioned between the Kingdom of Poland and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. From the mid-13th century to the late 1400s, the Republic of Genoa founded numerous colonies on the northern coast of the Black Sea and transformed these into large commercial centers headed by the consul, a representative of the Republic. In 1430, the region of Podolia was incorporated into Poland, and the lands of modern-day Ukraine became increasingly settled by Poles. In 1441, Genghisid prince Haci I Giray founded the Crimean Khanate on the Crimean Peninsula and the surrounding steppes; the Khanate orchestrated Tatar slave raids. Over the next three centuries, they would enslave an estimated two million in the region. In 1569, the Union of Lublin established the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, and most of the Ukrainian lands were transferred from Lithuania to the Crown of the Kingdom of Poland, becoming de jure Polish territory. Under the pressures of Polonisation, many landed gentry of Ruthenia converted to Catholicism and joined the circles of the Polish nobility; others joined the newly created Ruthenian Uniate Church.

Cossack Hetmanate

Deprived of native protectors among the Ruthenian nobility, the peasants and townspeople began turning for protection to the emerging Zaporozhian Cossacks. In the mid-17th century, a Cossack military quasi-state, the Zaporozhian Host, was formed by Dnieper Cossacks and Ruthenian peasants. Poland exercised little real control over this population, but found the Cossacks to be useful against the Turks and Tatars, and at times the two were allies in military campaigns. However, the continued harsh enserfment of Ruthenian peasantry by Polish szlachta (many of whom were Polonized Ruthenian nobles) and the suppression of the Orthodox Church alienated the Cossacks. The latter did not shy from taking up arms against those they perceived as enemies and occupiers, including the Catholic Church with its local representatives.
Hetman Bohdan Khmelnytsky established an independent Cossack state after the 1648 uprising against Poland.
In 1648, Bohdan Khmelnytsky led the largest of the Cossack uprisings against the Commonwealth and the Polish king, which enjoyed wide support from the local population.[66] Khmelnytsky founded the Cossack Hetmanate, which existed until 1764 (some sources claim until 1782).[67] After Khmelnytsky suffered a crushing defeat at the Battle of Berestechko in 1651, he turned to the Russian tsar for help. In 1654, Khmelnytsky was subject to the Pereiaslav Agreement, forming a military and political alliance with Russia that acknowledged loyalty to the Russian monarch. After his death, the Hetmanate went through a devastating 30-year war amongst Russia, Poland, the Crimean Khanate, the Ottoman Empire, and Cossacks, known as “The Ruin” (1657–1686), for control of the Cossack Hetmanate. The Treaty of Perpetual Peace between Russia and Poland in 1686 divided the lands of the Cossack Hetmanate between them, reducing the portion over which Poland had claimed sovereignty to Ukraine west of the Dnieper river. In 1686, the Metropolitanate of Kyiv was annexed by the Moscow Patriarchate through a synodal letter of the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople Dionysius IV, thus placing the Metropolitanate of Kyiv under the authority of Moscow. An attempt to reverse the decline was undertaken by Cossack Hetman Ivan Mazepa (1639–1709), who ultimately defected to the Swedes in the Great Northern War (1700–1721) in a bid to get rid of Russian dependence,[68] but they were crushed in the Battle of Poltava (1709).[68] The Hetmanate’s autonomy was severely restricted since Poltava. In the years 1764–1781, Catherine the Great incorporated much of Central Ukraine into the Russian Empire, abolishing the Cossack Hetmanate and the Zaporozhian Sich, and was one of the people responsible for the suppression of the last major Cossack uprising, the Koliivshchyna.[69] After the annexation of Crimea by Russia in 1783, the newly acquired lands, now called Novorossiya, were opened up to settlement by Russians.[70] The tsarist autocracy established a policy of Russification, suppressing the use of the Ukrainian language and curtailing the Ukrainian national identity.[71] The western part of present-day Ukraine was subsequently split between Russia and Habsburg-ruled Austria after the fall of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth in 1795.

19th and early 20th century

Polish troops enter Kyiv in May 1920 during the Polish–Soviet War. Following the Peace of Riga signed on 18 March 1921, Poland took control of modern-day western Ukraine while Soviets took control of eastern and central Ukraine.
The 19th century saw the rise of Ukrainian nationalism. With growing urbanization and modernization and a cultural trend toward romantic nationalism, a Ukrainian intelligentsia committed to national rebirth and social justice emerged. The serf-turned-national-poet Taras Shevchenko (1814–1861) and political theorist Mykhailo Drahomanov (1841–1895) led the growing nationalist movement.[72][73] While conditions for its development in Austrian Galicia under the Habsburgs were relatively lenient,[74] the Russian part (historically known as “Little Russia” or “South Russia”)[75] faced severe restrictions, going as far as banning virtually all books from being published in Ukrainian in 1876. Ukraine, like the rest of the Russian Empire, joined the Industrial Revolution later than most of Western Europe[76][failed verification] due to the maintenance of serfdom until 1861.[citation needed] Other than near the newly discovered coal fields of the Donbas, and in some larger cities such as Odesa and Kyiv, Ukraine largely remained an agricultural and resource extraction economy.[77] The Austrian part of Ukraine was particularly destitute, which forced hundreds of thousands of peasants into emigration, who created the backbone of an extensive Ukrainian diaspora in countries such as Canada, the United States and Brazil.[78] Some of the Ukrainians settled in the Far East, too. According to the 1897 census, there were 223,000 ethnic Ukrainians in Siberia and 102,000 in Central Asia.[79] An additional 1.6 million emigrated to the east in the ten years after the opening of the Trans-Siberian Railway in 1906.[80] Far Eastern areas with an ethnic Ukrainian population became known as Green Ukraine.[81] Ukraine plunged into turmoil with the beginning of World War I, and fighting on Ukrainian soil persisted until late 1921. Initially, the Ukrainians were split between Austria-Hungary, fighting for the Central Powers, though the vast majority served in the Imperial Russian Army, which was part of the Triple Entente, under Russia.[82] As the Russian Empire collapsed, the conflict evolved into the Ukrainian War of Independence, with Ukrainians fighting alongside, or against, the Red, White, Black and Green armies, with the Poles, Hungarians (in Transcarpathia), and Germans also intervening at various times.
Youth in national Ukrainian dress during a ceremony commemorating the 22nd January 1919 “Act of Reunification of the Ukrainian People’s Republic and the Western Ukrainian People’s Republic”, which is honored yearly across 22 cities of Ukraine.
An attempt to create an independent state, the left-leaning Ukrainian People’s Republic (UNR), was first announced by Mykhailo Hrushevsky, but the period was plagued by an extremely unstable political and military environment. It was first deposed in a coup d’état led by Pavlo Skoropadskyi, which yielded the Ukrainian State under the German protectorate, and the attempt to restore the UNR under the Directorate ultimately failed as the Ukrainian army was regularly overrun by other forces. The short-lived West Ukrainian People’s Republic and Hutsul Republic also failed to join the rest of Ukraine.[83] The result of the conflict was a partial victory for the Second Polish Republic, which annexed the Western Ukrainian provinces, as well as a larger-scale victory for the pro-Soviet forces, which succeeded in dislodging the remaining factions and eventually established the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic (Soviet Ukraine). Meanwhile, modern-day Bukovina was occupied by Romania and Carpathian Ruthenia was admitted to Czechoslovakia as an autonomous region.[84] The conflict over Ukraine, a part of the broader Russian Civil War, devastated the whole of the former Russian Empire, including eastern and central Ukraine. The fighting left over 1.5 million people dead and hundreds of thousands homeless in the former Russian Empire’s territory. The eastern provinces were additionally impacted by a famine in 1921.[85][86]

Inter-war period

Starved peasants on a street in Kharkiv, 1933. Collectivization of crops and their confiscation by Soviet authorities led to a major famine in Soviet Ukraine known as the Holodomor.
During the inter-war period, in Poland, Marshal Józef Piłsudski sought Ukrainian support by offering local autonomy as a way to minimise Soviet influence in Poland’s eastern Kresy region.[87][88] However, this approach was abandoned after Piłsudski’s death in 1935, due to continued unrest among the Ukrainian population, including assassinations of Polish government officials by the Organisation of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN); with the Polish government responding by restricting rights of people who declared Ukrainian nationality.[89][90] In consequence, the underground Ukrainian nationalist and militant movement, which arose in the 1920s gained wider support. Meanwhile, the recently constituted Soviet Ukraine became one of the founding republics of the Soviet Union. During the 1920s,[91] under the Ukrainisation policy pursued by the national Communist leadership of Mykola Skrypnyk, Soviet leadership at first encouraged a national renaissance in Ukrainian culture and language. Ukrainisation was part of the Soviet-wide policy of Korenisation (literally indigenisation), which was intended to promote the advancement of native peoples, their language and culture into the governance of their respective republics. Around the same time, Soviet leader Vladimir Lenin instituted the New Economic Policy (NEP), which introduced a form of market socialism, allowing some private ownership of small and medium-sized productive enterprises, hoping to reconstruct the post-war Soviet Union that had been devastated by both WWI and later the civil war. The NEP was successful at restoring the formerly war-torn nation to pre-WWI levels of production and agricultural output by the mid-1920s, much of the latter based in Ukraine.[92] These policies attracted many prominent former UNR figures, including former UNR leader Hrushevsky, to return to Soviet Ukraine, where they were accepted, and participated in the advancement of Ukrainian science and culture.[93] This period was cut short when Joseph Stalin became the leader of the USSR following Lenin’s death. Stalin did away with the NEP in what became known as the Great Break. Starting from the late 1920s and now with a centrally planned economy, Soviet Ukraine took part in an industrialisation scheme which quadrupled its industrial output during the 1930s. However, as a consequence of Stalin’s new policy, the Ukrainian peasantry suffered from the programme of collectivization of agricultural crops. Collectivization was part of the first five-year plan and was enforced by regular troops and the secret police known as Cheka. Those who resisted were arrested and deported to gulags and work camps. As members of the collective farms were sometimes not allowed to receive any grain until unrealistic quotas were met, millions starved to death in a famine known as the Holodomor or the “Great Famine”, which was recognized by some countries as an act of genocide perpetrated by Joseph Stalin and other Soviet notables.[94] Following on the Russian Civil War and collectivisation, the Great Purge, while killing Stalin’s perceived political enemies, resulted in a profound loss of a new generation of Ukrainian intelligentsia, known today as the Executed Renaissance.[95]

World War II

Territorial evolution of the Ukrainian SSR, 1922–1954[citation needed]
Following the Invasion of Poland in September 1939, German and Soviet troops divided the territory of Poland. Thus, Eastern Galicia and Volhynia with their Ukrainian population became part of Ukraine. For the first time in history, the nation was united.[96][97] Further territorial gains were secured in 1940, when the Ukrainian SSR incorporated the northern and southern districts of Bessarabia, Northern Bukovina, and the Hertsa region from the territories the USSR forced Romania to cede, though it handed over the western part of the Moldavian Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic to the newly created Moldavian SSR. These territorial gains of the USSR were internationally recognized by the Paris peace treaties of 1947.[98]
Marshal Semyon Timoshenko (born in the Budjak region) commanded numerous fronts throughout the war, including the Southwestern Front east of Kyiv in 1941.
German armies invaded the Soviet Union on 22 June 1941, initiating nearly four years of total war. The Axis initially advanced against desperate but unsuccessful efforts of the Red Army. In the battle of Kyiv, the city was acclaimed as a “Hero City”, because of its fierce resistance. More than 600,000 Soviet soldiers (or one-quarter of the Soviet Western Front) were killed or taken captive there, with many suffering severe mistreatment.[99][100] After its conquest, most of the Ukrainian SSR was organised within the Reichskommissariat Ukraine, with the intention of exploiting its resources and eventual German settlement. Some western Ukrainians, who had only joined the Soviet Union in 1939, hailed the Germans as liberators, but that did not last long as the Nazis made little attempt to exploit dissatisfaction with Stalinist policies.[101] Instead, the Nazis preserved the collective-farm system, carried out genocidal policies against Jews, deported millions of people to work in Germany, and began a depopulation program to prepare for German colonisation.[101] They blockaded the transport of food on the Dnieper River.[102] Although the majority of Ukrainians fought in or alongside the Red Army and Soviet resistance,[103] in Western Ukraine an independent Ukrainian Insurgent Army movement arose (UPA, 1942). It was created as the armed forces of the underground Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN).[104][105] Both organizations, the OUN and the UPA, supported the goal of an independent Ukrainian state on the territory with a Ukrainian ethnic majority. Although this brought conflict with Nazi Germany, at times the Melnyk wing of the OUN allied with the Nazi forces. From mid-1943 until the end of the war, the UPA carried out massacres of ethnic Poles in the Volhynia and Eastern Galicia regions, killing around 100,000 Polish civilians, which brought reprisals.[106][107] These organized massacres were an attempt by the OUN to create a homogeneous Ukrainian state without a Polish minority living within its borders, and to prevent the post-war Polish state from asserting its sovereignty over areas that had been part of pre-war Poland.[108] After the war, the UPA continued to fight the USSR until the 1950s.[109][110] At the same time, the Ukrainian Liberation Army, another nationalist movement, fought alongside the Nazis.[111]
Kyiv suffered significant damage during World War II, and was occupied by the Germans from 19 September 1941 until 6 November 1943.
In total, the number of ethnic Ukrainians who fought in the ranks of the Soviet Army is estimated from 4.5 million[103] to 7 million;[112][e] half of the Pro-Soviet partisan guerrilla resistance units, which counted up to 500,000 troops in 1944, were also Ukrainian.[113] Generally, the Ukrainian Insurgent Army’s figures are unreliable, with figures ranging anywhere from 15,000 to as many as 100,000 fighters.[114][115] The vast majority of the fighting in World War II took place on the Eastern Front.[116] The total losses inflicted upon the Ukrainian population during the war are estimated at 6 million,[117][118] including an estimated one and a half million Jews killed by the Einsatzgruppen,[119] sometimes with the help of local collaborators. Of the estimated 8.6 million Soviet troop losses,[120][121][122] 1.4 million were ethnic Ukrainians.[120][122][e][f] The Victory Day is celebrated as one of eleven Ukrainian national holidays.[123]

Post–war Soviet Ukraine

Two future leaders of the Soviet Union, Nikita Khrushchev (left, pre-war CPSU chief in Ukraine) and Leonid Brezhnev (an engineer from Kamianske, Ukraine)
The republic was heavily damaged by the war, and it required significant efforts to recover. More than 700 cities and towns and 28,000 villages were destroyed.[124] The situation was worsened by a famine in 1946–1947, which was caused by a drought and the wartime destruction of infrastructure, killing at least tens of thousands of people.[118] In 1945, the Ukrainian SSR became one of the founding members of the United Nations (UN),[125] part of a special agreement at the Yalta Conference, and, alongside Belarus, had voting rights in the UN even though they were not independent.[126][127] Moreover, Ukraine once more expanded its borders as it annexed Zakarpattia, and the population became much more homogenized due to post-war population transfers, most of which, as in the case of Germans and Crimean Tatars, were forced. As of 1 January 1953, Ukrainians were second only to Russians among adult “special deportees”, comprising 20% of the total.[128] Following the death of Stalin in 1953, Nikita Khrushchev became the new leader of the USSR, who began the policies of De-Stalinization and the Khrushchev Thaw. During his term as head of the Soviet Union, Crimea was transferred from the Russian SFSR to the Ukrainian SSR, formally as a friendship gift to Ukraine and for economic reasons.[129] This represented the final extension of Ukrainian territory and formed the basis for the internationally recognized borders of Ukraine to this day. Ukraine was one of the most important republics of the Soviet Union, which resulted in many top positions in the Soviet Union being occupied by Ukrainians, including notably Leonid Brezhnev, General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union from 1964 to 1982. However, it was he and his appointee in Ukraine, Volodymyr Shcherbytsky, who presided over the extensive Russification of Ukraine and who were instrumental in repressing a new generation of Ukrainian intellectuals known as the Sixtiers.[130] By 1950, the republic had fully surpassed pre-war levels of industry and production.[131] Soviet Ukraine soon became a European leader in industrial production[132] and an important centre of the Soviet arms industry and high-tech research, though heavy industry still had an outsided influence.[133] The Soviet government invested in hydroelectric and nuclear power projects to cater to the energy demand that the development carried. On 26 April 1986, however, a reactor in the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant exploded, resulting in the Chernobyl disaster, the worst nuclear reactor accident in history.[134]


Ukrainian President Leonid Kravchuk and Russian President Boris Yeltsin signing the Belavezha Accords, which dissolved the Soviet Union, on 8 December 1991
Mikhail Gorbachev pursued a policy of limited liberalization of public life, known as perestroika, and attempted to reform a stagnating economy. The latter failed, but the democratization of the Soviet Union fuelled nationalist and separatist tendencies among the ethnic minorities, including Ukrainians.[135] As part of the so-called parade of sovereignties, on 16 July 1990, the newly elected Supreme Soviet of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic adopted the Declaration of State Sovereignty of Ukraine;[136] after a putsch of some Communist leaders in Moscow failed to depose Gorbachov, outright independence was proclaimed on 24 August 1991[137] and approved by 92% of the Ukrainian electorate in a referendum on 1 December.[138] Ukraine’s new President, Leonid Kravchuk, went on to sign the Belavezha Accords and made Ukraine a founding member of the much looser Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS),[139] though Ukraine never became a full member of the latter as it did not ratify the agreement founding CIS.[140] These documents sealed the fate of the Soviet Union, which formally voted itself out of existence on 26 December.[141] Ukraine was initially viewed as having favourable economic conditions in comparison to the other regions of the Soviet Union,[142] though it was one of the poorer Soviet republics by the end of the Soviet Union.[143] However, during its transition to the market economy, the country experienced deeper economic slowdown than almost all of the other former Soviet Republics. During the recession, between 1991 and 1999, Ukraine lost 60% of its GDP[144][145] and suffered from hyperinflation that peaked at 10,000% in 1993.[146] The situation only stabilized well after the new currency, the hryvnia, fell sharply in late 1998 partially as a fallout from the Russian debt default earlier that year.[147] The legacy of the economic policies of the nineties was the mass privatization of state property that created a class of extremely powerful and rich individuals known as the oligarchs.[143] The country then fell into a series of sharp recessions as a result of the 2008 global financial crisis,[143] the start of the Russo-Ukrainian War in 2014,[148] and finally, the full-scale invasion by Russia in starting from 24 February 2022.[149] Ukraine’s economy in general underperformed since the time independence came due to pervasive corruption and mismanagement,[150] which, particularly in the 1990s, led to protests and organized strikes.[151] The war with Russia impeded meaningful economic recovery in the 2010s,[152] while efforts to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, which arrived in 2020, were made much harder by low vaccination rates[153] and, later in the pandemic, by the ongoing invasion.[154]
Euromaidan protest in Kyiv, December 2013
From the political perspective, one of the defining features of the politics of Ukraine is that for most of the time, it has been divided along two issues: the relation between Ukraine, the West and Russia, and the classical left-right divide.[155] The first two presidents, Kravchuk and Leonid Kuchma, tended to balance the competing visions of Ukraine,[156] though Yushchenko and Yanukovych were generally pro-Western and pro-Russian, respectively. There were two major protests against Yanukovych: the Orange Revolution in 2004, when tens of thousands of people went in protest of election rigging in his favour (Yushchenko was eventually elected president), and another one in the winter of 2013/2014, when more gathered on the Euromaidan to oppose Yanukovych’s refusal to sign the European Union–Ukraine Association Agreement. By the end of the protests on 21 February 2014, he fled from Ukraine and was removed by the parliament in what is termed the Revolution of Dignity, but Russia refused to recognize the interim pro-Western government, calling it a junta and denouncing the events as a coup d’état sponsored by the United States.[157][158][159] Even though Russia had signed the Budapest memorandum in 1994 that said that Ukraine was to hand over nuclear weapons in exchange of security guarantees and those of territorial integrity, it reacted violently to these developments and started a war against its western neighbour. In late February and early March 2014, it annexed Crimea using its Navy in Sevastopol as well as the so- called little green men; after this succeeded, it then launched a proxy war in the Donbas via the breakaway Donetsk People’s Republic and Luhansk People’s Republic.[160] The first months of the conflict with the Russian-backed separatists were fluid, but Russian forces then started an open invasion in Donbas on 24 August 2014. Together they pushed back Ukrainian troops to the frontline established in February 2015, i.e. after Ukrainian troops withdrew from Debaltseve.[161] The conflict remained in a sort of frozen state until the early hours of 24 February 2022,[162] when Russia proceeded with an ongoing invasion of Ukraine.[163] Russian troops control about 17% of Ukraine’s internationally recognized territory, which constitutes 94% of Luhansk Oblast, 73% of Kherson Oblast, 72% of Zaporizhzhia Oblast, 54% of Donetsk Oblast and Crimea.[164] though Russia failed with its initial plan, with Ukrainian troops recapturing some territory in counteroffensives.[165]
Russian-occupied territories of Ukraine as of 17 April 2024
The military conflict with Russia shifted the government’s policy towards the West. Shortly after Yanukovych fled Ukraine, the country signed the EU association agreement in June 2014, and its citizens were granted visa-free travel to the European Union three years later. In January 2019, the Orthodox Church of Ukraine was recognized as independent of Moscow, which reversed the 1686 decision of the patriarch of Constantinople and dealt a further blow to Moscow’s influence in Ukraine.[166] Finally, amid a full-scale war with Russia, Ukraine was granted candidate status to the European Union on 23 June 2022.[167] A broad anti-corruption drive began in early 2023 with the resignations of several deputy ministers and regional heads during a reshuffle of the government.[168]


Topographic map of Ukraine, with borders, cities and towns
Ukraine is the second-largest European country, after Russia. Lying between latitudes 44° and 53° N, and longitudes 22° and 41° E., it is mostly in the East European Plain. Ukraine covers an area of 603,550 square kilometres (233,030 sq mi), with a coastline of 2,782 kilometres (1,729 mi).[49] The landscape of Ukraine consists mostly of fertile steppes (plains with few trees) and plateaus, crossed by rivers such as the Dnieper (Dnipro), Seversky Donets, Dniester and the Southern Bug as they flow south into the Black Sea and the smaller Sea of Azov. To the southwest, the Danube Delta forms the border with Romania. Ukraine’s regions have diverse geographic features, ranging from the highlands to the lowlands. The country’s only mountains are the Carpathian Mountains in the west, of which the highest is Hoverla at 2,061 metres (6,762 ft), and the Crimean Mountains, in the extreme south along the coast.[169] Ukraine also has a number of highland regions such as the Volyn-Podillia Upland (in the west) and the Near-Dnipro Upland (on the right bank of the Dnieper). To the east there are the south-western spurs of the Central Russian Upland over which runs the border with Russia. Near the Sea of Azov are the Donets Ridge and the Near Azov Upland. The snow melt from the mountains feeds the rivers and their waterfalls. Significant natural resources in Ukraine include lithium,[170] natural gas,[171] kaolin,[171] timber[172] and an abundance of arable land.[173] Ukraine has many environmental issues.[174][175] Some regions lack adequate supplies of potable water.[176] Air and water pollution affects the country, as well as deforestation, and radiation contamination in the northeast from the 1986 accident at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant.[177] The environmental damage caused by the Russian invasion of Ukraine has been described as an ecocide, the destruction of Kakhovka Dam, severe pollution and millions of tonnes of contaminated debris is estimated to cost over USD 50 billion to repair.[178][179][180][181][182][183][184][excessive citations]


Köppen climate classification map of Ukraine
Ukraine is in the mid-latitudes, and generally has a continental climate, except for its southern coasts, which have cold semi-arid and humid subtropical climates.[185] Average annual temperatures range from 5.5–7 °C (41.9–44.6 °F) in the north, to 11–13 °C (51.8–55.4 °F) in the south.[186] Precipitation is highest in the west and north and lowest in the east and southeast.[186] Western Ukraine, particularly in the Carpathian Mountains, receives around 120 centimetres (47.2 in) of precipitation annually, while Crimea and the coastal areas of the Black Sea receive around 40 centimetres (15.7 in).[186] Water availability from the major river basins is expected to decrease due to climate change, especially in summer. This poses risks to the agricultural sector.[187] The negative impacts of climate change on agriculture are mostly felt in the south of the country, which has a steppe climate. In the north, some crops may be able to benefit from a longer growing season.[188] The World Bank has stated that Ukraine is highly vulnerable to climate change.[189]


View from the western slope of Mount Ai-Petri of the Ai-Petri plateau, in Crimea designated by the Ukrainian government as a natural heritage site.
Ukraine contains six terrestrial ecoregions: Central European mixed forests, Crimean Submediterranean forest complex, East European forest steppe, Pannonian mixed forests, Carpathian montane conifer forests, and Pontic steppe.[190] There is somewhat more coniferous than deciduous forest.[191] The most densely forested area is Polisia in the northwest, with pine, oak, and birch.[191] There are 45,000 species of animals (mostly invertebrates),[192] with approximately 385 endangered species listed in the Red Data Book of Ukraine.[193] Internationally important wetlands cover over 7,000 square kilometres (2,700 sq mi), with the Danube Delta being important for conservation.[194][195]

Urban areas

Ukraine has 457 cities, of which 176 are designated as oblast-class, 279 as smaller raion-class cities, and two as special legal status cities. There are also 886 urban-type settlements and 28,552 villages.[196]
Largest cities or towns in Ukraine
2022 [197]
Kyiv Kyiv Kharkiv Kharkiv1KyivKyiv (city)2,952,30111MariupolDonetsk425,681Odesa Odesa Dnipro Dnipro
8Kryvyi RihDnipropetrovsk603,90418KhersonKherson279,131
9SevastopolSevastopol (city)479,39419KhmelnytskyiKhmelnytskyi274,452


Ukraine is a republic under a semi-presidential system with separate legislative, executive, and judicial branches.[198]


Chart of the political system of Ukraine
The Constitution of Ukraine was adopted and ratified at the 5th session of the Verkhovna Rada, the parliament of Ukraine, on 28 June 1996.[199] The constitution was passed with 315 ayes out of 450 votes possible (300 ayes minimum).[199] All other laws and other normative[clarification needed] legal acts of Ukraine must conform to the constitution. The right to amend the constitution through a special legislative procedure is vested exclusively in the parliament. The only body that may interpret the constitution and determine whether legislation conforms to it is the Constitutional Court of Ukraine. Since 1996, the public holiday Constitution Day is celebrated on 28 June.[200][201] On 7 February 2019, the Verkhovna Rada voted to amend the constitution to state Ukraine’s strategic objectives as joining the European Union and NATO.[202]


President Volodymyr Zelenskyy
Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal
The president is elected by popular vote for a five-year term and is the formal head of state.[203] Ukraine’s legislative branch includes the 450-seat unicameral parliament, the Verkhovna Rada.[204] The parliament is primarily responsible for the formation of the executive branch and the Cabinet of Ministers, headed by the prime minister.[205] The president retains the authority to nominate the ministers of foreign affairs and of defence for parliamentary approval, as well as the power to appoint the prosecutor general and the head of the Security Service.[206] Laws, acts of the parliament and the cabinet, presidential decrees, and acts of the Crimean parliament may be abrogated by the Constitutional Court, should they be found to violate the constitution. Other normative acts are subject to judicial review. The Supreme Court is the main body in the system of courts of general jurisdiction. Local self-government is officially guaranteed. Local councils and city mayors are popularly elected and exercise control over local budgets. The heads of regional and district administrations are appointed by the president in accordance with the proposals of the prime minister.[207]

Courts and law enforcement

Klovsky Palace, seat of the Supreme Court of Ukraine
Martial law was declared when Russia invaded in February 2022,[208] and continues.[209][210] The courts enjoy legal, financial and constitutional freedom guaranteed by Ukrainian law since 2002. Judges are largely well protected from dismissal (except for gross misconduct). Court justices are appointed by presidential decree for an initial period of five years, after which Ukraine’s Supreme Council confirms their positions for life. Although there are still problems, the system is considered to have been much improved since Ukraine’s independence in 1991. The Supreme Court is regarded as an independent and impartial body, and has on several occasions ruled against the Ukrainian government. The World Justice Project ranks Ukraine 66 out of 99 countries surveyed in its annual Rule of Law Index.[211] Prosecutors in Ukraine have greater powers than in most European countries, and according to the European Commission for Democracy through Law “the role and functions of the Prosecutor’s Office is not in accordance with Council of Europe standards”.[212] The conviction rate is over 99%,[213] equal to the conviction rate of the Soviet Union, with suspects often being incarcerated for long periods before trial.[214]
The Cabinet of Ministers building
In 2010, President Yanukovych formed an expert group to make recommendations on how to “clean up the current mess and adopt a law on court organization”.[214] One day later, he stated “We can no longer disgrace our country with such a court system.”[214] The criminal judicial system and the prison system of Ukraine remain quite punitive.[215] Since 2010 court proceedings can be held in Russian by mutual consent of the parties. Citizens unable to speak Ukrainian or Russian may use their native language or the services of a translator.[216][217] Previously all court proceedings had to be held in Ukrainian.[215] Law enforcement agencies are controlled by the Ministry of Internal Affairs. They consist primarily of the national police force and various specialised units and agencies such as the State Border Guard and the Coast Guard services. Law enforcement agencies, particularly the police, faced criticism for their heavy handling of the 2004 Orange Revolution. Many thousands of police officers were stationed throughout the capital, primarily to dissuade protesters from challenging the state’s authority but also to provide a quick reaction force in case of need; most officers were armed.[218]

Foreign relations

President of Georgia Salome Zurabishvili, President of Moldova Maia Sandu, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and European Council President Charles Michel during the 2021 International Conference in Batumi. In 2014, the EU signed association agreements with all three countries.
From 1999 to 2001, Ukraine served as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council. Historically, Soviet Ukraine joined the United Nations in 1945 as one of the original members following a Western compromise with the Soviet Union.[219] Ukraine has consistently supported peaceful, negotiated settlements to disputes. It has participated in the quadripartite talks on the conflict in Moldova and promoted a peaceful resolution to the conflict in the post-Soviet state of Georgia. Ukraine also has made contributions to UN peacekeeping operations since 1992.[220] Ukraine considers Euro-Atlantic integration its primary foreign policy objective,[221] but in practice it has always balanced its relationship with the European Union and the United States with strong ties to Russia. The European Union’s Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA) with Ukraine went into force in 1998. The European Union (EU) has encouraged Ukraine to implement the PCA fully before discussions begin on an association agreement, issued at the EU Summit in December 1999 in Helsinki, recognizes Ukraine’s long-term aspirations but does not discuss association.[221] In 1992, Ukraine joined the then-Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (now the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE)), and also became a member of the North Atlantic Cooperation Council. Ukraine–NATO relations are close and the country has declared interest in eventual membership.[221] Ukraine is the most active member of the Partnership for Peace (PfP). All major political parties in Ukraine support full eventual integration into the European Union.[222] The Association Agreement between Ukraine and the European Union was signed in 2014.[223] Ukraine long had close ties with all its neighbours, but Russia–Ukraine relations rapidly deteriorated in 2014 due to the annexation of Crimea, energy dependence and payment disputes.
In January 2016, Ukraine joined   the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area with   the EU, established by the Ukraine–European Union Association Agreement, opening its path towards European integration.
The Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA), which entered into force in January 2016 following the ratification of the Ukraine–European Union Association Agreement, formally integrates Ukraine into the European Single Market and the European Economic Area.[224][225] Ukraine receives further support and assistance for its EU-accession aspirations from the International Visegrád Fund of the Visegrád Group that consists of Central European EU members the Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary and Slovakia.[226] In 2020, in Lublin, Lithuania, Poland and Ukraine created the Lublin Triangle initiative, which aims to create further cooperation between the three historical countries of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth and further Ukraine’s integration and accession to the EU and NATO.[227] In 2021, the Association Trio was formed by signing a joint memorandum between the Foreign Ministers of Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine. The Association Trio is a tripartite format for enhanced cooperation, coordination, and dialogue between the three countries (that have signed the Association Agreement with the EU) with the European Union on issues of common interest related to European integration, enhancing cooperation within the framework of the Eastern Partnership, and committing to the prospect of joining the European Union.[228] As of 2021, Ukraine was preparing to formally apply for EU membership in 2024, in order to join the European Union in the 2030s,[229] however, with the Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2022, Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy requested that the country be admitted to the EU immediately.[230] Candidate status was granted in June 2022.[167] In recent years, Ukraine has dramatically strengthened its ties with the United States.[13][12]


Ukrainian troops on the move during the 2022 Ukrainian eastern counteroffensive
After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Ukraine inherited a 780,000-man military force on its territory, equipped with the third-largest nuclear weapons arsenal in the world.[231][232] In 1992, Ukraine signed the Lisbon Protocol in which the country agreed to give up all nuclear weapons to Russia for disposal and to join the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty as a non-nuclear weapon state. By 1996 the country had become free of nuclear weapons.[231] Ukraine took consistent steps toward reduction of conventional weapons. It signed the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe, which called for reduction of tanks, artillery, and armoured vehicles (army forces were reduced to 300,000). The country planned to convert the current conscript-based military into a professional volunteer military.[233][better source needed] Ukraine’s current military consist of 196,600 active personnel and around 900,000 reservists.[234]
American M142 HIMARS rocket launchers in Ukrainian service, an example of foreign military equipment received during the Russo-Ukrainian War
Ukraine played an increasing role in peacekeeping operations. In 2014, the Ukrainian frigate Hetman Sagaidachniy joined the European Union’s counter piracy Operation Atalanta and was part of the EU Naval Force off the coast of Somalia for two months.[235] Ukrainian troops were deployed in Kosovo as part of the Ukrainian-Polish Battalion.[236] In 2003–2005, a Ukrainian unit was deployed as part of the multinational force in Iraq under Polish command.[237] Military units of other states participated in multinational military exercises with Ukrainian forces in Ukraine regularly, including U.S. military forces.[238] Following independence, Ukraine declared itself a neutral state.[11] The country had a limited military partnership with Russian Federation and other CIS countries and has had a partnership with NATO since 1994. In the 2000s, the government was leaning towards NATO, and deeper cooperation with the alliance was set by the NATO-Ukraine Action Plan signed in 2002. It was later agreed that the question of joining NATO should be answered by a national referendum at some point in the future.[233] Deposed President Viktor Yanukovych considered the then level of co-operation between Ukraine and NATO sufficient, and was against Ukraine joining NATO. During the 2008 Bucharest summit, NATO declared that Ukraine would eventually become a member of NATO when it meets the criteria for accession. As part of modernization after the beginning of the Russo-Ukrainian War in 2014, junior officers were allowed to take more initiative and a territorial defense force of volunteers was established.[239] Various defensive weapons including drones were supplied by many countries, but not fighter jets.[240] During the first few weeks of the 2022 Russian invasion the military found it difficult to defend against shelling, missiles and high level bombing; but light infantry used shoulder-mounted weapons effectively to destroy tanks, armoured vehicles and low-flying aircraft.[241]

Administrative divisions

Ukraine (2021) — major cities and adjacent countries
The system of Ukrainian subdivisions reflects the country’s status as a unitary state (as stated in the country’s constitution) with unified legal and administrative regimes for each unit. Including Sevastopol and the Autonomous Republic of Crimea that were annexed by the Russian Federation in 2014, Ukraine consists of 27 regions: twenty-four oblasts (provinces), one autonomous republic (Autonomous Republic of Crimea), and two cities of special status—Kyiv, the capital, and Sevastopol. The 24 oblasts and Crimea are subdivided into 136[242] raions (districts) and city municipalities of regional significance, or second-level administrative units. Populated places in Ukraine are split into two categories: urban and rural. Urban populated places are split further into cities and urban-type settlements (a Soviet administrative invention), while rural populated places consist of villages and settlements (a generally used term). All cities have a certain degree of self-rule depending on their significance such as national significance (as in the case of Kyiv and Sevastopol), regional significance (within each oblast or autonomous republic) or district significance (all the rest of cities). A city’s significance depends on several factors such as its population, socio-economic and historical importance and infrastructure.
  • Cherkasy
  • Chernihiv
  • Chernivtsi
  • Dnipropetrovsk
  • Donetsk
  • Ivano-Frankivsk
  • Kharkiv
  • Kherson
  • Khmelnytskyi
  • Kyiv
  • Kirovohrad
  • Luhansk
  • Lviv
  • Mykolaiv
  • Odesa
  • Poltava
  • Rivne
  • Sumy
  • Ternopil
  • Vinnytsia
  • Volyn
  • Zakarpattia
  • Zaporizhzhia
  • Zhytomyr
Autonomous republicCities with special status
  • Autonomous Republic of Crimea
  • City of Kyiv
  • City of Sevastopol


Kyiv, the financial centre of Ukraine
In 2021, agriculture was the biggest sector of the economy. Ukraine is one of the world’s largest wheat exporters. It remains among the poorest countries in Europe with the lowest nominal GDP per capita.[243] Despite improvements, as in Moldova corruption in Ukraine remains an obstacle to joining the EU; the country was rated 104th out of 180 in the Corruption Perceptions Index for 2023.[244] In 2021, Ukraine’s GDP per capita by purchasing power parity was just over $14,000.[245] Despite supplying emergency financial support, the IMF expected the economy to shrink considerably by 35% in 2022 due to Russia’s invasion.[246] One 2022 estimate was that post-war reconstruction costs might reach half a trillion dollars.[247] In 2021, the average salary in Ukraine reached its highest level at almost ₴14,300 (US$525) per month.[248] About 1% of Ukrainians lived below the national poverty line in 2019.[249] Unemployment in Ukraine was 4.5% in 2019.[250] In 2019 5–15% of the Ukrainian population were categorized as middle class.[251] In 2020 Ukraine’s government debt was roughly 50% of its nominal GDP.[252][253] In 2021 mineral commodities and light industry were important sectors.[253] Ukraine produces nearly all types of transportation vehicles and spacecraft.[254][255][256] Antonov airplanes and KrAZ trucks are exported to many countries. The European Union is the country’s main trade partner, and remittances from Ukrainians working abroad are important.[253]


Wheat crop in Spasov village, Rivne Oblast, Ukraine.
Ukraine is among the world’s top agricultural producers and exporters and is often described as the “bread basket of Europe”. During the 2020/21 international wheat marketing season (July–June), it ranked as the sixth largest wheat exporter, accounting for nine percent of world wheat trade.[257] The country is also a major global exporter of maize, barley and rapeseed. In 2020/21, it accounted for 12 percent of global trade in maize and barley and for 14 percent of world rapeseed exports. Its trade share is even greater in the sunflower oil sector, with the country accounting for about 50 percent of world exports in 2020/2021.[257] According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), further to causing the loss of lives and increasing humanitarian needs, the likely disruptions caused by the Russo-Ukrainian War to Ukraine’s grain and oilseed sectors, could jeopardize the food security of many countries, especially those that are highly dependent on Ukraine and Russia for their food and fertilizer imports.[258] Several of these countries fall into the Least Developed Country (LDC) group, while many others belong to the group of Low-Income Food-Deficit Countries (LIFDCs).[259][260] For example Eritrea sourced 47 percent of its wheat imports in 2021 from Ukraine. Overall, more than 30 nations depend on Ukraine and the Russian Federation for over 30 percent of their wheat import needs, many of them in North Africa and Western and Central Asia.[257]


Kamianets-Podilskyi Castle, one of the Seven Wonders of Ukraine
Before the Russo-Ukrainian war the number of tourists visiting Ukraine was eighth in Europe, according to the World Tourism Organization rankings.[261] Ukraine has numerous tourist attractions: mountain ranges suitable for skiing, hiking and fishing; the Black Sea coastline as a popular summer destination; nature reserves of different ecosystems; and churches, castle ruins and other architectural and park landmarks. Kyiv, Lviv, Odesa and Kamianets-Podilskyi were Ukraine’s principal tourist centres, each offering many historical landmarks and extensive hospitality infrastructure. The Seven Wonders of Ukraine and Seven Natural Wonders of Ukraine are selections of the most important landmarks of Ukraine, chosen by Ukrainian experts and an Internet-based public vote. Tourism was the mainstay of Crimea’s economy before a major fall in visitor numbers following the Russian annexation in 2014.[262]


HRCS2 unit
HRCS2 multiple unit. Rail transport is heavily utilised in Ukraine.
Many roads and bridges were destroyed, and international maritime travel was blocked by the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine.[246] Before that it was mainly through the Port of Odesa, from where ferries sailed regularly to Istanbul, Varna and Haifa. The largest ferry company operating these routes was Ukrferry.[263] There are over 1,600 km (1,000 mi) of navigable waterways on 7 rivers, mostly on the Danube, Dnieper and Pripyat. All Ukraine’s rivers freeze over in winter, limiting navigation.[264] Ukraine’s rail network connects all major urban areas, port facilities and industrial centres with neighbouring countries.[citation needed] The heaviest concentration of railway track is the Donbas region.[265] Although rail freight transport fell in the 1990s, Ukraine is still one of the world’s highest rail users.[266] Ukraine International Airlines, is the flag carrier and the largest airline, with its head office in Kyiv[267] and its main hub at Kyiv’s Boryspil International Airport. It operated domestic and international passenger flights and cargo services to Europe, the Middle East, the United States,[230] Canada,[268] and Asia.


Electricity production by source in Ukraine
Energy in Ukraine is mainly from gas and coal, followed by nuclear then oil.[171] The coal industry has been disrupted by conflict.[269] Most gas and oil is imported, but since 2015 energy policy has prioritised diversifying energy supply.[270] About half of electricity generation is nuclear and a quarter coal.[171] The largest nuclear power plant in Europe, the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, is in Ukraine. Fossil fuel subsidies were US$2.2 billion in 2019.[271] Until the 2010s all of Ukraine’s nuclear fuel came from Russia, but now most does not.[272] Some energy infrastructure was destroyed in the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine.[273][274] The contract to transit Russian gas expires at the end of 2024.[275] In early 2022 Ukraine and Moldova decoupled their electricity grids from the Integrated Power System of Russia and Belarus; and the European Network of Transmission System Operators for Electricity synchronized them with continental Europe.[276][277]

Information technology

Key officials may use Starlink as backup.[278] The IT industry contributed almost 5 per cent to Ukraine’s GDP in 2021[279] and in 2022 continued both inside and outside the country.[280]


Source: Ethnic composition of the population of Ukraine, 2001 Census
  Ukrainians (77.8%)
  Russians (17.3%)
  Romanians and Moldovans (0.8%)
  Belarusians (0.6%)
  Crimean Tatars (0.5%)
  Bulgarians (0.4%)
  Hungarians (0.3%)
  Poles (0.3%)
  other (2%)
Before the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine the country had an estimated population of over 41 million people, and was the eighth-most populous country in Europe. It is a heavily urbanized country, and its industrial regions in the east and southeast are the most densely populated—about 67% of its total population lives in urban areas.[281] At that time Ukraine had a population density of 69.5 inhabitants per square kilometre (180 inhabitants/sq mi), and the overall life expectancy in the country at birth was 73 years (68 years for males and 77.8 years for females).[282] Following the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Ukraine’s population hit a peak of roughly 52 million in 1993. However, due to its death rate exceeding its birth rate, mass emigration, poor living conditions, and low-quality health care,[283][284] the total population decreased by 6.6 million, or 12.8% from the same year to 2014. According to the 2001 census, ethnic Ukrainians made up roughly 78% of the population, while Russians were the largest minority, at some 17.3% of the population. Small minority populations included: Belarusians (0.6%), Moldovans (0.5%), Crimean Tatars (0.5%), Bulgarians (0.4%), Hungarians (0.3%), Romanians (0.3%), Poles (0.3%), Jews (0.3%), Armenians (0.2%), Greeks (0.2%) and Tatars (0.2%).[2] It was also estimated that there were about 10–40,000 Koreans in Ukraine, who lived mostly in the south of the country, belonging to the historical Koryo-saram group,[285][286] as well as about 47,600 Roma (though the Council of Europe estimates a higher number of about 260,000).[287] Outside the former Soviet Union, the largest source of incoming immigrants in Ukraine’s post-independence period was from four Asian countries, namely China, India, Pakistan and Afghanistan.[288] In the late 2010s 1.4 million Ukrainians were internally displaced due to the war in Donbas,[289] and in early 2022 over 4.1 million fled the country in the aftermath of the Russian invasion.[290]


According to Ukraine’s constitution, the state language is Ukrainian.[291] Russian is widely spoken in the country, especially in eastern and southern Ukraine.[291][292] Most native Ukrainian speakers know Russian as a second language.[291] Russian was the de facto dominant language of the Soviet Union but Ukrainian also held official status in the republic,[293] and in the schools of the Ukrainian SSR, learning Ukrainian was mandatory.[291]
Linguistic map of Ukraine showing most common native language by city, town, or village council, according to the 2001 census
Effective in August 2012, a new law on regional languages entitled any local language spoken by at least a 10 percent minority be declared official within that area.[294] Within weeks, Russian was declared a regional language of several southern and eastern oblasts (provinces) and cities.[295] Russian could then be used in the administrative office work and documents of those places.[296][297] In 2014, following the Revolution of Dignity, the Ukrainian Parliament voted to repeal the law on regional languages, making Ukrainian the sole state language at all levels; however, the repeal was not signed by acting President Turchynov or by President Poroshenko.[298][299][300] In 2019, the law allowing for official use of regional languages was found unconstitutional.[301] According to the Council of Europe, this act fails to achieve fair protection of the linguistic rights of minorities.[302] Ukrainian is the primary language used in the vast majority of Ukraine. 67% of Ukrainians speak Ukrainian as their primary language, while 30% speak Russian as their primary language.[303] In eastern and southern Ukraine, Russian is the primary language in some cities, while Ukrainian is used in rural areas. Hungarian is spoken in Zakarpattia Oblast.[304] There is no consensus among scholars whether Rusyn, also spoken in Zakarpattia, is a distinct language or a dialect of Ukrainian.[305] The Ukrainian government does not recognise Rusyn and Rusyns as a distinct language and people.[306] For a large part of the Soviet era, the number of Ukrainian speakers declined from generation to generation, and by the mid-1980s, the usage of the Ukrainian language in public life had decreased significantly.[307] Following independence, the government of Ukraine began restoring the use of the Ukrainian language in schools and government through a policy of Ukrainisation.[308][309] Today, most foreign films and TV programs, including Russian ones, are subtitled or dubbed in Ukrainian.[310] Ukraine’s 2017 education law bars primary education in public schools in grade five and up in any language but Ukrainian.[311][312]


The Ukrainian diaspora comprises Ukrainians and their descendants who live outside Ukraine around the world, especially those who maintain some kind of connection to the land of their ancestors and maintain their feeling of Ukrainian national identity within their own local community.[313] The Ukrainian diaspora is found throughout numerous regions worldwide including other post-Soviet states as well as in Canada,[314] and other countries such as Poland,[315] the United States,[316] the UK[317][318] and Brazil.[319] The 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine has led to millions of Ukrainian civilians moving to neighbouring countries. Most crossed into Poland, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic, and others proceeded to at least temporarily settle in Hungary, Moldova, Germany, Austria, Romania and other European countries.[320]


The Saint Sophia Cathedral in Kyiv, a UNESCO World Heritage Site,[321] is one of the main Christian cathedrals in Ukraine.
Ukraine has the world’s second-largest Eastern Orthodox population, after Russia.[322][323] A 2021 survey conducted by the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology (KIIS) found that 82% of Ukrainians declared themselves to be religious, while 7% were atheists, and a further 11% found it difficult to answer the question.[324] The level of religiosity in Ukraine was reported to be the highest in Western Ukraine (91%), and the lowest in the Donbas (57%) and Eastern Ukraine (56%).[325] In 2019, 82% of Ukrainians were Christians; out of which 72.7% declared themselves to be Eastern Orthodox, 8.8% Ukrainian Greek Catholics, 2.3% Protestants and 0.9% Latin Church Catholics. Other Christians comprised 2.3%. Judaism, Islam, and Hinduism were the religions of 0.2% of the population each. According to the KIIS study, roughly 58.3% of the Ukrainian Orthodox population were members of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, and 25.4% were members of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate).[326] Protestants are a growing community in Ukraine, who made up 1.9% of the population in 2016,[327] but rose to 2.2% of the population in 2018.


Ukraine’s healthcare system is state subsidised and freely available to all Ukrainian citizens and registered residents. However, it is not compulsory to be treated in a state-run hospital as a number of private medical complexes do exist nationwide.[328] The public sector employs most healthcare professionals, with those working for private medical centres typically also retaining their state employment as they are mandated to provide care at public health facilities on a regular basis.[329]
The municipal children’s hospital in Kremenchuk, Poltava Oblast
All of Ukraine’s medical service providers and hospitals are subordinate to the Ministry of Healthcare, which provides oversight and scrutiny of general medical practice as well as being responsible for the day-to-day administration of the healthcare system. Despite this, standards of hygiene and patient-care have fallen.[330] Ukraine faces a number of major public health issues[citation needed] and is considered to be in a demographic crisis because of its high death rate, low birth rate, and high emigration.[331] A factor contributing to the high death rate is a high mortality rate among working-age males from preventable causes such as alcohol poisoning and smoking.[332] Active reformation of Ukraine’s healthcare system was initiated right after the appointment of Ulana Suprun as a head of the Ministry of Healthcare.[333] Assisted by deputy Pavlo Kovtoniuk, Suprun first changed the distribution of finances in healthcare.[334] Funds must follow the patient. General practitioners will provide basic care for patients. The patient will have the right to choose one. Emergency medical service is considered to be fully funded by the state. Emergency Medicine Reform is also an important part of the healthcare reform. In addition, patients who suffer from chronic diseases, which cause a high toll of disability and mortality, are provided with free or low-price medicine.[335]


The University of Kyiv is one of Ukraine’s most important educational institutions.
The Residence of Bukovinian and Dalmatian Metropolitans by Josef Hlávka, 1882, now Chernivtsi University
According to the Ukrainian constitution, access to free education is granted to all citizens. Complete general secondary education is compulsory in the state schools which constitute the overwhelming majority. Free higher education in state and communal educational establishments is provided on a competitive basis.[336] Because of the Soviet Union’s emphasis on total access of education for all citizens, which continues today, the literacy rate is an estimated 99.4%.[49] Since 2005, an eleven-year school programme has been replaced with a twelve-year one: primary education takes four years to complete (starting at age six), middle education (secondary) takes five years to complete; upper secondary then takes three years.[337] Students in the 12th grade take Government tests, which are also referred to as school-leaving exams. These tests are later used for university admissions. Among the oldest is also the Lviv University, founded in 1661. More higher education institutions were set up in the 19th century, beginning with universities in Kharkiv (1805), Kyiv (1834), Odesa (1865) and Chernivtsi (1875) and a number of professional higher education institutions, e.g.: Nizhyn Historical and Philological Institute (originally established as the Gymnasium of Higher Sciences in 1805), a Veterinary Institute (1873) and a Technological Institute (1885) in Kharkiv, a Polytechnic Institute in Kyiv (1898) and a Higher Mining School (1899) in Katerynoslav. Rapid growth followed in the Soviet period. By 1988 the number of higher education institutions increased to 146 with over 850,000 students.[338] The Ukrainian higher education system comprises higher educational establishments, scientific and methodological facilities under national, municipal and self-governing bodies in charge of education.[339] The organisation of higher education in Ukraine is built up in accordance with the structure of education of the world’s higher developed countries, as is defined by UNESCO and the UN.[340] Ukraine produces the fourth largest number of post-secondary graduates in Europe, while being ranked seventh in population.[341] Higher education is either state funded or private. Most universities provide subsidised housing for out-of-city students. It is common for libraries to supply required books for all registered students. Ukrainian universities confer two degrees: the bachelor’s degree (4 years) and the master’s degree (5–6th year), in accordance with the Bologna process. Historically, Specialist degree (usually 5 years) is still also granted; it was the only degree awarded by universities in Soviet times.[342] Ukraine was ranked 55th in 2023 in the Global Innovation Index.[343]

Regional differences

The results of the 2014 parliamentary election with People’s Front in yellow, Opposition Bloc in blue and Petro Poroshenko Bloc in red
Ukrainian is the dominant language in Western Ukraine and in Central Ukraine, while Russian is the dominant language in the cities of Eastern Ukraine and Southern Ukraine. In the Ukrainian SSR schools, learning Russian was mandatory; in modern Ukraine, schools with Ukrainian as the language of instruction offer classes in Russian and in the other minority languages.[291][344][345][346] On the Russian language, on Soviet Union and Ukrainian nationalism, opinion in Eastern Ukraine and Southern Ukraine tends to be the exact opposite of those in Western Ukraine; while opinions in Central Ukraine on these topics tend be less extreme.[345][347][348][349] Similar historical divisions also remain evident at the level of individual social identification. Attitudes toward the most important political issue, relations with Russia, differed strongly between Lviv, identifying more with Ukrainian nationalism and the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, and Donetsk, predominantly Russian orientated and favourable to the Soviet era, while in central and southern Ukraine, as well as Kyiv, such divisions were less important and there was less antipathy toward people from other regions.[350] However, all were united by an overarching Ukrainian identity based on shared economic difficulties, showing that other attitudes are determined more by culture and politics than by demographic differences.[350][351] Surveys of regional identities in Ukraine have shown that the feeling of belonging to a “Soviet identity” is strongest in the Donbas (about 40%) and the Crimea (about 30%).[352] During elections voters of Western and Central Ukrainian oblasts (provinces) vote mostly for parties (Our Ukraine, Batkivshchyna)[353][354] and presidential candidates (Viktor Yuschenko, Yulia Tymoshenko) with a pro-Western and state reform platform, while voters in Southern and Eastern oblasts vote for parties (CPU, Party of Regions) and presidential candidates (Viktor Yanukovych) with a pro-Russian and status quo platform.[355][356][357][358] However, this geographical division is decreasing.[359][360][361]


A collection of traditional Ukrainian Easter eggs—pysanky. The design motifs on pysanky date back to early Slavic cultures.
Orthodox Christmas celebration in Lviv.
Ukrainian customs are heavily influenced by Orthodox Christianity, the dominant religion in the country.[362] Gender roles also tend to be more traditional, and grandparents play a greater role in bringing up children, than in the West.[363] The culture of Ukraine has also been influenced by its eastern and western neighbours, reflected in its architecture, music and art.[364] The Communist era had quite a strong effect on the art and writing of Ukraine.[365] In 1932, Stalin made socialist realism state policy in the Soviet Union when he promulgated the decree “On the Reconstruction of Literary and Art Organisations”. This greatly stifled creativity. During the 1980s glasnost (openness) was introduced and Soviet artists and writers again became free to express themselves as they wanted.[366] As of 2023, UNESCO inscribed 8 properties in Ukraine on the World Heritage List. Ukraine is also known for its decorative and folk traditions such as Petrykivka painting, Kosiv ceramics, and Cossack songs.[367][368][369][370] Between February 2022 and March 2023, UNESCO verified the damage to 247 sites, including 107 religious sites, 89 buildings of artistic or historical interest, 19 monuments and 12 libraries.[371] Since January 2023, the historic centre of Odesa has been inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger.[372] The tradition of the Easter eggs, known as pysanky, has long roots in Ukraine. These eggs were drawn on with wax to create a pattern; then, the dye was applied to give the eggs their pleasant colours, the dye did not affect the previously wax-coated parts of the egg. After the entire egg was dyed, the wax was removed leaving only the colourful pattern. This tradition is thousands of years old, and precedes the arrival of Christianity to Ukraine.[373] In the city of Kolomyia near the foothills of the Carpathian Mountains, the museum of Pysanka was built in 2000 and won a nomination as the monument of modern Ukraine in 2007, part of the Seven Wonders of Ukraine action. Since 2012, the Ministry of Culture of Ukraine has formed the National Inventory of Elements of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Ukraine,[374] which consists of 92 items as of February 2024.[28]


The Vernadsky National Library of Ukraine, is the main academic library and main scientific information centre in Ukraine. During the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine the Russians bombed the Maksymovych Scientific Library of the Taras Shevchenko Kyiv National University, Vernadsky National Library of Ukraine, the National Scientific Medical Library of Ukraine and the Kyiv city youth library.[375]


Ukrainian literature has origins in Old Church Slavonic writings, which was used as a liturgical and literary language following Christianization in the 10th and 11th centuries.[376][377][better source needed][g] Other writings from the time include chronicles, the most significant of which was the Primary Chronicle.[citation needed] Literary activity faced a sudden decline after the Mongol invasion of Kievan Rus’, before seeing a revival beginning in the 14th century, and was advanced in the 16th century with the invention of the printing press.[376]
Taras Shevchenko
Lesya Ukrainka, one of the foremost Ukrainian women writers
The Cossacks established an independent society and popularized a new kind of epic poem, which marked a high point of Ukrainian oral literature.[377][failed verification] These advances were then set back in the 17th and early 18th centuries, as many Ukrainian authors wrote in Russian or Polish. Nonetheless, by the late 18th century, the modern literary Ukrainian language finally emerged.[376] In 1798, the modern era of the Ukrainian literary tradition began with Ivan Kotliarevsky’s publication of Eneida in the Ukrainian vernacular.[378] By the 1830s, a Ukrainian romantic literature began to develop, and the nation’s most renowned cultural figure, romanticist poet-painter Taras Shevchenko emerged. Whereas Ivan Kotliarevsky is considered to be the father of literature in the Ukrainian vernacular; Shevchenko is the father of a national revival.[379] Then, in 1863, the use of the Ukrainian language in print was effectively prohibited by the Russian Empire.[71] This severely curtailed literary activity in the area, and Ukrainian writers were forced to either publish their works in Russian or release them in Austrian controlled Galicia. The ban was never officially lifted, but it became obsolete after the revolution and the Bolsheviks’ coming to power.[377] Ukrainian literature continued to flourish in the early Soviet years when nearly all literary trends were approved. These policies faced a steep decline in the 1930s, when prominent representatives as well as many others were killed by the NKVD during the Great Purge. In general around 223 writers were repressed by what was known as the Executed Renaissance.[380] These repressions were part of Stalin’s implemented policy of socialist realism. The doctrine did not necessarily repress the use of the Ukrainian language, but it required that writers follow a certain style in their works. Literary freedom grew in the late 1980s and early 1990s alongside the decline and collapse of the USSR and the reestablishment of Ukrainian independence in 1991.[376]


St Michael’s Golden-domed Cathedral in Kyiv, the foremost example of Cossack Baroque and one of Ukraine’s most recognizable landmarks
Ukrainian architecture includes the motifs and styles that are found in structures built in modern Ukraine, and by Ukrainians worldwide. These include initial roots which were established in the state of Kievan Rus’. Following the Christianization of Kievan Rus’, Ukrainian architecture has been influenced by Byzantine architecture. After the Mongol invasion of Kievan Rus’, it continued to develop in the Kingdom of Galicia-Volhynia.[381] After the union with the Tsardom of Russia, architecture in Ukraine began to develop in different directions, with many structures in the larger eastern, Russian-ruled area built in the styles of Russian architecture of that period, whilst the western region of Galicia developed under Polish and Austro-Hungarian architectural influences. Ukrainian national motifs would eventually be used during the period of the Soviet Union and in modern independent Ukraine.[381] However, much of the contemporary architectural skyline of Ukraine is dominated by Soviet-style Khrushchyovkas, or low-cost apartment buildings.[382]

Weaving and embroidery

Rushnyk, Ukrainian embroidery
Artisan textile arts play an important role in Ukrainian culture,[383] especially in Ukrainian wedding traditions. Ukrainian embroidery, weaving and lace-making are used in traditional folk dress and in traditional celebrations. Ukrainian embroidery varies depending on the region of origin[384] and the designs have a long history of motifs, compositions, choice of colours and types of stitches.[385] Use of colour is very important and has roots in Ukrainian folklore. Embroidery motifs found in different parts of Ukraine are preserved in the Rushnyk Museum in Pereiaslav. National dress is woven and highly decorated. Weaving with handmade looms is still practised in the village of Krupove, situated in Rivne Oblast. The village is the birthplace of two internationally recognized personalities in the scene of national crafts fabrication: Nina Myhailivna[386] and Uliana Petrivna.[387]


Cossack Mamay playing a kobza
Mykola Lysenko is widely considered to be the father of Ukrainian classical music.[388]
Music is a major part of Ukrainian culture, with a long history and many influences. From traditional folk music, to classical and modern rock, Ukraine has produced several internationally recognised musicians including Kirill Karabits, Okean Elzy and Ruslana. Elements from traditional Ukrainian folk music made their way into Western music and even into modern jazz. Ukrainian music sometimes presents a perplexing mix of exotic melismatic singing with chordal harmony. The most striking general characteristic of authentic ethnic Ukrainian folk music is the wide use of minor modes or keys which incorporate augmented second intervals.[389] During the Baroque period, music had a place of considerable importance in the curriculum of the Kyiv-Mohyla Academy. Much of the nobility was well versed in music with many Ukrainian Cossack leaders such as (Mazepa, Paliy, Holovatyj, Sirko) being accomplished players of the kobza, bandura or torban. The first dedicated musical academy was set up in Hlukhiv in 1738 and students were taught to sing and play violin and bandura from manuscripts. As a result, many of the earliest composers and performers within the Russian empire were ethnically Ukrainian, having been born or educated in Hlukhiv or having been closely associated with this music school.[390] Ukrainian classical music differs considerably depending on whether the composer was of Ukrainian ethnicity living in Ukraine, a composer of non-Ukrainian ethnicity who was a citizen of Ukraine, or part of the Ukrainian diaspora.[391] Since the mid-1960s, Western-influenced pop music has been growing in popularity in Ukraine. Folk singer and harmonium player Mariana Sadovska is prominent. Ukrainian pop and folk music arose with the international popularity of groups and performers like Vopli Vidoplyasova, Dakh Daughters, Dakha Brakha, Ivan Dorn and Okean Elzy.


The Ukrainian legal framework on media freedom is deemed “among the most progressive in eastern Europe”, although implementation has been uneven.[392][needs update] The constitution and laws provide for freedom of speech[393] and press. The main regulatory authority for the broadcast media is the National Television and Radio Broadcasting Council of Ukraine (NTRBCU), tasked with licensing media outlets and ensure their compliance with the law.[394] Kyiv dominates the media sector in Ukraine: National newspapers DenDzerkalo Tyzhnia, tabloids, such as The Ukrainian Week or Focus, and television and radio are largely based there,[citation needed] although Lviv is also a significant national media centre. The National News Agency of Ukraine, Ukrinform was founded here in 1918. BBC Ukrainian started its broadcasts in 1992.[395] As of 2022 75% of the population use the internet, and social media is widely used by government and people.[396] On 10 March 2024, creators of a documentary film 20 Days in Mariupol were awarded with the Oscar in the category “Best Documentary Feature Film”, the first Oscar in Ukraine’s history.[397]


Ukraine greatly benefited from the Soviet emphasis on physical education. These policies left Ukraine with hundreds of stadia, swimming pools, gymnasia and many other athletic facilities.[398] The most popular sport is football. The top professional league is the Vyscha Liha (“premier league”). Many Ukrainians also played for the Soviet national football team, most notably Ballon d’Or winners Ihor Belanov and Oleh Blokhin. This award was only presented to one Ukrainian after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Andriy Shevchenko. The national team made its debut in the 2006 FIFA World Cup, and reached the quarterfinals before losing to eventual champions, Italy. Ukrainian boxers are amongst the best in the world.[399] Since becoming the undisputed cruiserweight champion in 2018, Oleksandr Usyk has also gone on to win the unified WBA (Super), IBF, WBO and IBO heavyweight titles. This feat made him one of only three boxers to have unified the cruiserweight world titles and become a world heavyweight champion.[400] The brothers Vitali and Wladimir Klitschko are former heavyweight world champions who held multiple world titles throughout their careers. Also hailing from Ukraine is Vasyl Lomachenko, a 2008 and 2012 Olympic gold medalist. He is the unified lightweight world champion who ties the record for winning a world title in the fewest professional fights; three. As of September 2018, he is ranked as the world’s best active boxer, pound for pound, by ESPN.[401] Sergey Bubka held the record in the Pole vault from 1993 to 2014; with great strength, speed and gymnastic abilities, he was voted the world’s best athlete on several occasions.[402][403] Basketball has gained popularity in Ukraine. In 2011, Ukraine was granted a right to organize EuroBasket 2015. Two years later the Ukraine national basketball team finished sixth in EuroBasket 2013 and qualified to FIBA World Cup for the first time in its history. Euroleague participant Budivelnyk Kyiv is the strongest professional basketball club in Ukraine. Chess is a popular sport in Ukraine. Ruslan Ponomariov is the former world champion. There are about 85 Grandmasters and 198 International Masters in Ukraine. Rugby league is played throughout Ukraine.[404]


Ukrainian borscht with smetana sour cream
The traditional Ukrainian diet includes chicken, pork, beef, fish and mushrooms. Ukrainians also tend to eat a lot of potatoes; grains; and fresh, boiled or pickled vegetables. Popular traditional dishes varenyky (boiled dumplings with mushrooms, potatoes, sauerkraut, quark, cherries or berries), nalysnyky (pancakes with quark, poppy seeds, mushrooms, caviar or meat), kapusnyak (cabbage soup that usually consists of meat, potatoes, carrots, onions, millet, tomato paste, spices and fresh herbs), red borscht (soup made of beets, cabbage and mushrooms or meat) and holubtsi (stuffed cabbage rolls filled with rice, carrots, onion and minced meat).[405] Among traditional baked goods are decorated korovais and paska Easter bread.[406] Ukrainian specialties also include Chicken Kiev and Kyiv cake. Ukrainians drink stewed fruit compote, juices, milk, ryazhanka, mineral water, tea and coffee, beer, wine and horilka.[407]

Cassius Clay (Muhammad Ali) Boxing Champ

Muhammad Ali
Ali in 1967
Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr.
January 17, 1942
Louisville, Kentucky, U.S.
DiedJune 3, 2016 (aged 74)
Scottsdale, Arizona, U.S.
Resting placeCave Hill Cemetery, Louisville
  • Muhammad Ali Boulevard
  • Muhammad Ali Center
  • Muhammad Ali International Airport
CitizenshipUnited States
EducationCentral High School (1958)
Sonji Roi
(m. 1964; div. 1966)
Belinda Boyd
(m. 1967; div. 1977)
Veronica Porché
(m. 1977; div. 1986)
Yolanda “Lonnie” Williams
(m. 1986)
Children9, including Laila (see below)
  • Cassius Marcellus Clay Sr.
  • Odessa Grady Clay
  • Rahaman Ali (brother)
  • Archer Alexander (great-great-great grandfather)
  • Nico Ali Walsh (grandson)
AwardsFull list
Boxing career
Other names
  • The Greatest
  • The People’s Champion
  • The Louisville Lip
Height6 ft 3 in (191 cm)[1]
Reach78 in (198 cm)[1]
Boxing record
Total fights61
Wins by KO37
Medal record
Men’s amateur boxing
Representing  United States
Olympic Games
Gold medal – first place1960 RomeLight-heavyweight
Intercity Golden Gloves
Gold medal – first place1959 ChicagoLight-heavyweight
Gold medal – first place1960 New YorkHeavyweight
Chicago Golden Gloves
Gold medal – first place1959 ChicagoLight-heavyweight
Gold medal – first place1960 ChicagoLight-heavyweight
US National Championships
Gold medal – first place1959 ToledoLight-heavyweight
Gold medal – first place1960 ToledoLight-heavyweight
Muhammad Ali (/ɑːˈl/; born Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr.; January 17, 1942 – June 3, 2016) was an American professional boxer and activist. Nicknamed “the Greatest“, he is regarded as one of the most significant sports figures of the 20th century and is often regarded as the greatest heavyweight boxer of all time. He held the Ring magazine heavyweight title from 1964 to 1970. He was the undisputed champion from 1974 to 1978 and the WBA and Ring heavyweight champion from 1978 to 1979. In 1999, he was named Sportsman of the Century by Sports Illustrated and the Sports Personality of the Century by the BBC. Born and raised in Louisville, Kentucky, he began training as an amateur boxer at age 12. At 18, he won a gold medal in the light heavyweight division at the 1960 Summer Olympics and turned professional later that year. He converted to Islam after 1961. He won the world heavyweight championship, defeating Sonny Liston in a major upset on February 25, 1964, at age 22. During that year, he denounced his birth name as a “slave name” and formally changed his name to Muhammad Ali. In 1966, Ali refused to be drafted into the military, owing to his religious beliefs and ethical opposition to the Vietnam War, and was found guilty of draft evasion and stripped of his boxing titles. He stayed out of prison while appealing the decision to the Supreme Court, where his conviction was overturned in 1971. He did not fight for nearly four years and lost a period of peak performance as an athlete. Ali’s actions as a conscientious objector to the Vietnam War made him an icon for the larger counterculture of the 1960s generation, and he was a very high-profile figure of racial pride for African Americans during the civil rights movement and throughout his career. As a Muslim, Ali was initially affiliated with Elijah Muhammad’s Nation of Islam (NOI). He later disavowed the NOI, adhering to Sunni Islam. He fought in several historic boxing matches, including his highly publicized fights with Sonny Liston, Joe Frazier (including the Fight of the Century, the biggest boxing event up until then), the Thrilla in Manila, and his fight with George Foreman in The Rumble in the Jungle. Ali thrived in the spotlight at a time when many boxers let their managers do the talking, and he became renowned for his provocative and outlandish persona. He was famous for trash-talking, often free-styled with rhyme schemes and spoken word poetry, and has been recognized as a pioneer in hip hop. He often predicted in which round he would knock out his opponent. As a boxer, Ali was known for his unorthodox movement, fancy footwork, head movement, and rope-a-dope technique, among others. Outside boxing, Ali attained success as a spoken word artist, releasing two studio albums: I Am the Greatest! (1963) and The Adventures of Ali and His Gang vs. Mr. Tooth Decay (1976). Both albums received Grammy Award nominations. He also featured as an actor and writer, releasing two autobiographies. Ali retired from boxing in 1981 and focused on religion, philanthropy, and activism. In 1984, he made public his diagnosis of Parkinson’s syndrome, which some reports attributed to boxing-related injuries, though he and his specialist physicians disputed this. He remained an active public figure globally, but in his later years made fewer public appearances as his condition worsened, and he was cared for by his family.

Early life

Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr. (/ˈkæʃəs/) was born on January 17, 1942, in Louisville, Kentucky.[4] He had one brother. He was named after his father, Cassius Marcellus Clay Sr., who had a sister and four brothers[5][6] and who himself was named in honor of the 19th-century Republican politician and staunch abolitionist Cassius Marcellus Clay, also from the state of Kentucky. Clay’s father’s paternal grandparents were John Clay and Sallie Anne Clay; Clay’s sister Eva claimed that Sallie was a native of Madagascar.[7] He was a descendant of slaves of the antebellum South, and was predominantly of African descent, with Irish[8] and English family heritage.[9][10] His maternal great-grandfather, Abe Grady, emigrated from Ennis, County Clare, Ireland.[11][12] DNA testing performed in 2018 showed that, through his paternal grandmother, Clay was a descendant of the former slave Archer Alexander, who had been chosen from the building crew as the model of a freed man for the Emancipation Memorial, and was the subject of abolitionist William Greenleaf Eliot’s book, The Story of Archer Alexander: From Slavery to Freedom.[13] His father was a sign and billboard painter,[4] and his mother, Odessa O’Grady Clay (1917–1994), was a domestic helper. Although Cassius Sr. was a Methodist, he allowed Odessa to bring up both Cassius Jr. and his younger brother, Rudolph “Rudy” Clay (later renamed Rahaman Ali), as Baptists.[14] Cassius Jr. attended Central High School in Louisville. He was dyslexic, which led to difficulties in reading and writing, at school and for much of his life.[15] He grew up amid racial segregation. His mother recalled one occasion when he was denied a drink of water at a store: “They wouldn’t give him one because of his color. That really affected him.”[16] He was also strongly affected by the 1955 murder of Emmett Till, which led to young Clay and a friend taking out their frustration by vandalizing a local rail yard. He once told his daughter Hana, “Nothing would ever shake me up (more) than the story of Emmett Till.”[17][18]

Amateur career

Cassius Clay and his trainer Joe E. Martin, January 1960
Clay defeated veteran Pole Zbigniew Pietrzykowski to win gold in the 1960 Summer Olympics.
Clay was first directed toward boxing by Louisville police officer and boxing coach Joe E. Martin,[19] who encountered the 12-year-old fuming over a thief’s having taken his bicycle. He told the officer he was going to “whup” the thief. The officer told Clay he had better learn how to box first.[20] Initially, Clay did not take up Martin’s offer, but after seeing amateur boxers on a local television boxing program called Tomorrow’s Champions, Clay was interested in the prospect of fighting.[21] He then began to work with trainer Fred Stoner, whom he credits with giving him the “real training”, eventually molding “my style, my stamina and my system”. For the last four years of Clay’s amateur career he was trained by boxing cutman Chuck Bodak.[22] Clay made his amateur boxing debut in 1954 against local amateur boxer Ronnie O’Keefe. He won by split decision.[23] He went on to win six Kentucky Golden Gloves titles, two national Golden Gloves titles, an Amateur Athletic Union national title, and the light heavyweight gold medal in the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome.[24] Clay’s amateur record was 100 wins with five losses. In his 1975 autobiography he recalled that shortly after his return from the Rome Olympics, he threw his gold medal into the Ohio River after he and a friend were refused service at a “whites-only” restaurant and fought with a white gang. The story was later disputed, and several of his friends, including Bundini Brown and photographer Howard Bingham, denied it. Brown told Sports Illustrated writer Mark Kram, “Honkies sure bought into that one!” Thomas Hauser’s biography of Ali stated that Ali was refused service at the diner but that he lost his medal a year after he won it.[25] Ali received a replacement medal at the Georgia Dome during the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, where he lit the torch to start the Games.

Professional career

Early career

On-site poster for Cassius Clay’s fifth professional bout
Clay made his professional debut on October 29, 1960, winning a six-round decision over Tunney Hunsaker. From then until the end of 1963, Clay amassed a record of 19–0 with 15 wins by knockout. He defeated boxers including Tony Esperti, Jim Robinson, Donnie Fleeman, Alonzo Johnson, George Logan, Willi Besmanoff, LaMar Clark, Doug Jones, and Henry Cooper. Clay also beat his former trainer and veteran boxer Archie Moore in a 1962 match.[26][27] These early fights were not without trials. Clay was knocked down by both Sonny Banks and Cooper. In the Cooper fight, Clay was floored by a left hook at the end of round four and was saved by the bell, going on to win in the predicted fifth round due to Cooper’s severely cut eye. The fight with Doug Jones on March 13, 1963, was Clay’s toughest fight during this stretch. The number two and three heavyweight contenders respectively, Clay and Jones fought on Jones’ home turf at New York’s Madison Square Garden. Jones staggered Clay in the first round, and the unanimous decision for Clay was greeted by boos and a rain of debris thrown into the ring. Watching on closed-circuit TV, heavyweight champ Sonny Liston quipped that if he fought Clay he (Liston) might get locked up for murder. The fight was later named “Fight of the Year” by The Ring magazine.[28] In each of these fights, Clay vocally belittled his opponents and vaunted his abilities. He called Jones “an ugly little man” and Cooper a “bum”. He said he was embarrassed to get in the ring with Alex Miteff and claimed that Madison Square Garden was “too small for me”.[29] Ali’s trash talk was inspired by professional wrestler “Gorgeous George” Wagner’s, after he saw George’s talking ability attract huge crowds to events.[30] In a 1969 interview he stated that he met with George in Las Vegas in 1961, that George told him that talking a big game would earn paying fans who either wanted to see him win or wanted to see him lose, thus Clay transformed himself into a self-described “big-mouth and a bragger”.[31] In 1960, Clay left Moore’s camp, partially due to Clay’s refusal to do chores such as washing dishes and sweeping. To replace Moore, Clay hired Angelo Dundee to be his trainer. Clay had met Dundee in February 1957 during Clay’s amateur career.[32] Around this time, Clay sought longtime idol Sugar Ray Robinson to be his manager, but was rebuffed.[33]

World heavyweight champion

Fights against Liston

By late 1963, Clay had become the top contender for Sonny Liston’s title. The fight was set for February 25, 1964, in Miami Beach. Liston was an intimidating personality, a dominating fighter with a criminal past and ties to the mob. Based on Clay’s uninspired performance against Jones and Cooper in his previous two fights, and Liston’s destruction of former heavyweight champion Floyd Patterson in two first-round knockouts, Clay was an 8:1 underdog.[34] Despite this, Clay taunted Liston during the pre-fight buildup, dubbing him “the big ugly bear”, stating “Liston even smells like a bear” and claiming “After I beat him I’m going to donate him to the zoo.”[35] Clay turned the pre-fight weigh-in into a circus, shouting at Liston that “someone is going to die at ringside tonight.” Clay’s pulse rate was measured at 120, more than double his normal 54.[34] Many of those in attendance thought Clay’s behavior stemmed from fear, and some commentators wondered if he would show up for the bout. The outcome of the fight was a major upset. At the opening bell, Liston rushed at Clay, seemingly angry and looking for a quick knockout. However, Clay’s superior speed and mobility enabled him to elude Liston, making the champion miss and look awkward. At the end of the first round, Clay opened up his attack and hit Liston repeatedly with jabs. Liston fought better in round two, but at the beginning of the third round Clay hit Liston with a combination that buckled his knees and opened a cut under his left eye. This was the first time Liston had ever been cut. At the end of round four, Clay was returning to his corner when he began experiencing blinding pain in his eyes and asked his trainer, Angelo Dundee, to cut off his gloves. Dundee refused. It has been speculated that the problem was due to ointment used to seal Liston’s cuts, perhaps deliberately applied by his corner to his gloves.[34] Though unconfirmed, boxing historian Bert Sugar said that two of Liston’s opponents also complained about their eyes “burning”.[36] Despite Liston’s attempts to knock out a blinded Clay, Clay was able to survive the fifth round until sweat and tears rinsed the irritation from his eyes. In the sixth, Clay dominated, hitting Liston repeatedly. Liston did not answer the bell for the seventh round, and Clay was declared the winner by TKO. Liston stated that the reason he quit was an injured shoulder. Following the win, a triumphant Clay rushed to the edge of the ring and, pointing to the ringside press, shouted: “Eat your words!” He added, “I am the greatest! I shook up the world. I’m the prettiest thing that ever lived.”[37] At ringside post fight, Clay appeared unconvinced that the fight was stopped due to a Liston shoulder injury, saying that the only injury Liston had was “an open eye, a big cut eye!” When told by Joe Louis that the injury was a “left arm thrown out of its socket,” Clay quipped, “Yeah, swinging at nothing, who wouldn’t?”[38] In winning this fight at the age of 22, Clay became the youngest boxer to take the title from a reigning heavyweight champion. However, Floyd Patterson remained the youngest to win the heavyweight championship, doing so at the age 21 during an elimination bout following Rocky Marciano’s retirement. Mike Tyson broke both records in 1986 when he defeated Trevor Berbick to win the heavyweight title at age 20. The feat also made Clay the fastest boxer to the win championship (non-vacant) in the modern era, doing so in 20 bouts. Soon after the Liston fight, Clay changed his name to Cassius X, and then later to Muhammad Ali upon converting to the Nation of Islam. Ali then faced a rematch with Liston scheduled for May 1965 in Lewiston, Maine. It had been scheduled for Boston the previous November, but was postponed for six months due to Ali’s emergency surgery for a hernia three days before.[39] The fight was controversial. Midway through the first round, Liston was knocked down by a difficult-to-see blow the press dubbed a “phantom punch”. Referee Jersey Joe Walcott did not begin the count immediately after the knockdown, as Ali refused to retreat to a neutral corner. Liston rose after he had been down for about 20 seconds, and the fight momentarily continued. However a few seconds later Walcott, having been informed by the timekeepers that Liston had been down for a count of 10, stopped the match and declared Ali the winner by knockout.[40] The entire fight lasted less than two minutes.[41] It has since been speculated that Liston purposely dropped to the ground. Proposed motivations include threats on his life from the Nation of Islam, that he had bet against himself and that he “took a dive” to pay off debts. Slow-motion replays show that Liston was jarred by a chopping right from Ali, although it is unclear whether the blow was a genuine knockout punch.[42]

Fight against Patterson

Ali defended his title against former heavyweight champion Floyd Patterson on November 22, 1965. Before the match, Ali mocked Patterson, who was widely known to call him by his former name Cassius Clay, as an “Uncle Tom”, calling him “The Rabbit”. Although Ali had the better of Patterson, who appeared injured during the fight, the match lasted 12 rounds before being called on a technical knockout. Patterson later said he had strained his sacroiliac. Ali was criticized in the sports media for appearing to have toyed with Patterson during the fight.[43] Patterson biographer W. K. Stratton claims that the conflict between Ali and Patterson was not genuine but was staged to increase ticket sales and the closed-circuit viewing audience, with both men complicit in the theatrics. Stratton also cites an interview by Howard Cosell in which Ali explained that rather than toying with Patterson, he refrained from knocking him out after it became apparent Patterson was injured. Patterson later said that he had never been hit by punches as soft as Ali’s. Stratton states that Ali arranged the second fight, in 1972, with the financially struggling Patterson to help the former champion earn enough money to pay a debt to the IRS.[43]

Main Bout

Ali watches replay of his March 1966 title fight against Henry Cooper.[44]
After the Patterson fight, Ali founded his own promotion company, Main Bout. The company mainly handled Ali’s boxing promotions and pay-per-view closed-circuit television broadcasts. The company’s stockholders were mainly fellow Nation of Islam members, along with several others, including Bob Arum.[45] Ali and then-WBA heavyweight champion boxer Ernie Terrell had agreed to meet for a bout in Chicago on March 29, 1966 (the WBA, one of two boxing associations, had stripped Ali of his title following his joining the Nation of Islam). But in February Ali was reclassified by the Louisville draft board as 1-A from 1-Y, and he indicated that he would refuse to serve, commenting to the press, “I ain’t got nothing against no Viet Cong; no Viet Cong never called me nigger.”,[46] although the second part is probably apocryphal.[47] Amidst the media and public outcry over Ali’s stance, the Illinois Athletic Commission refused to sanction the fight, citing technicalities.[48] Instead, Ali traveled to Canada and Europe and won championship bouts against George Chuvalo, Henry Cooper, Brian London, and Karl Mildenberger. Ali returned to the United States to fight Cleveland Williams at the Astrodome in Houston on November 14, 1966. The bout drew a record-breaking indoor crowd of 35,460 people. Williams had once been considered among the hardest punchers in the heavyweight division, but in 1964 he had been shot at point-blank range by a Texas policeman, resulting in the loss of one kidney and 3.0 metres (10 ft) of his small intestine. Ali dominated Williams, winning a third-round technical knockout in what some consider the finest performance of his career. Ali fought Terrell in Houston on February 6, 1967. Terrell, who was unbeaten in five years and had defeated many of the boxers Ali had faced, was billed as Ali’s toughest opponent since Liston; he was big, strong and had a three-inch reach advantage over Ali. During the lead up to the bout, Terrell repeatedly called Ali “Clay”, much to Ali’s annoyance. The two almost came to blows over the name issue in a pre-fight interview with Howard Cosell. Ali seemed intent on humiliating Terrell. “I want to torture him”, he said. “A clean knockout is too good for him.”[49] The fight was close until the seventh round, when Ali bloodied Terrell and almost knocked him out. In the eighth round, Ali taunted Terrell, hitting him with jabs and shouting between punches, “What’s my name, Uncle Tom … what’s my name?” Ali won a unanimous 15-round decision. Terrell claimed that early in the fight Ali deliberately thumbed him in the eye, forcing him to fight half-blind, and then, in a clinch, rubbed the wounded eye against the ropes. Because of Ali’s apparent intent to prolong the fight to inflict maximum punishment, critics described the bout as “one of the ugliest boxing fights”. Tex Maule later wrote: “It was a wonderful demonstration of boxing skill and a barbarous display of cruelty.” Ali denied the accusations of cruelty but, for Ali’s critics, the fight provided more evidence of his arrogance. After Ali’s title defense against Zora Folley on March 22, he was stripped of his title due to his refusal to be drafted to army service.[4] His boxing license was also suspended by the state of New York. He was convicted of draft evasion on June 20 and sentenced to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine. He paid a bond and remained free while the verdict was being appealed.

Draft resistance

My enemy is the white people, not Viet Cong or Chinese or Japanese. You my opposer when I want freedom. You my opposer when I want justice. You my opposer when I want equality. You won’t even stand up for me in America for my religious beliefs—and you want me to go somewhere and fight, but you won’t even stand up for me here at home?
—Muhammad Ali to a crowd of college students during his exile from boxing[50]
Ali registered for conscription in the United States military on his 18th birthday and was listed as 1-A in 1962.[51] In 1964, he was reclassified as Class 1-Y (fit for service only in times of national emergency) after he failed the U.S. Armed Forces qualifying test because his writing and spelling skills were sub-standard,[52] due to his dyslexia.[15] (He was quoted as saying, “I said I was the greatest, not the smartest!”[51][53]) By early 1966, the army lowered its standards to permit soldiers above the 15th percentile and Ali was again classified as 1-A.[4][51][53] This classification meant he was now eligible for the draft and induction into the U.S. Army at a time when the U.S. was involved in the Vietnam War, a war which put him further at odds with the white establishment.[54] When notified of this status, Ali declared that he would refuse to serve in the army and publicly considered himself a conscientious objector.[4] Ali stated: “War is against the teachings of the Qur’an. I’m not trying to dodge the draft. We are not supposed to take part in no wars unless declared by Allah or The Messenger. We don’t take part in Christian wars or wars of any unbelievers”.[55] He also said, “We are not to be the aggressor but we will defend ourselves if attacked.” He stated: “Man, I ain’t got no quarrel with them Viet Cong.”[56] Ali elaborated: “Why should they ask me to put on a uniform and go ten thousand miles from home and drop bombs and bullets on brown people in Vietnam while so-called Negro people in Louisville are treated like dogs and denied simple human rights?”[57] Ali antagonized the white establishment in 1966 by refusing to be drafted into the U.S. military, citing his religious beliefs and opposition to American involvement in the Vietnam War.[16][54][58][59][60] On April 28, 1967, Ali appeared in Houston for his scheduled induction into the U.S. Armed Forces, but he refused three times to step forward when his name was called. An officer warned him that he was committing a felony punishable by five years in prison and a fine of $10,000. Once more, Ali refused to budge when his name was called, and he was arrested. Later that same day, the New York State Athletic Commission suspended his boxing license and the World Boxing Association stripped him of his title.[61] Other boxing commissions followed suit. Ali remained unable to obtain a license to box in any state for over three years.[62][page needed] On June 4, 1967, in a first for sports professionals, a group of high-profile African-American athletes including Jim Brown, Bill Russell, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, as well as one political leader, Carl Stokes, assembled with Ali at the Negro Industrial Economic Union in Cleveland for what became known as the “Cleveland Summit” or the “Muhammad Ali Summit”. The meeting was organized by Brown for his peers to question Ali about the seriousness of his convictions, and to decide whether to support him, which they ultimately did.[63]
External videos
video icon Conversation with Muhammad Ali, includes transcript, July 7, 1968, 28:55, American Archive of Public Broadcasting[64]
At the trial on June 20, 1967, the jury found Ali guilty after only 21 minutes of deliberation of the criminal offense of violating the Selective Service laws by refusing to be drafted.[4] After a Court of Appeals upheld the conviction, the case was reviewed by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1971.[65] Ali remained free in the years between the Appellate Court decision and the Supreme Court ruling. As public opinion began turning people against the war and the Civil Rights Movement continued to gather momentum, Ali became a popular speaker at colleges and universities across the country; this itinerary was rare if not unprecedented for a prizefighter. At Howard University, for example, he gave his popular “Black Is Best” speech to 4,000 cheering students and community intellectuals, after he was invited to speak by sociology professor Nathan Hare on behalf of the Black Power Committee, a student protest group.[66] On June 28, 1971, the Supreme Court of the United States in Clay v. United States overturned Ali’s conviction by a unanimous 8–0 decision (Justice Thurgood Marshall recused himself, as he had been the U.S. Solicitor General at the time of Ali’s conviction).[67] The decision was not based on, nor did it address, the merits of Ali’s claims per se. Rather, the Court held that since the appeal board gave no reason for the denial of a conscientious objector exemption to Ali, that it was therefore impossible to determine which of the three basic tests for conscientious objector status (offered in the Justice Department’s brief) the appeal board relied on, and Ali’s conviction must be reversed.[68] In a 1974 interview, Ali said, “If they say stand and salute the flag I do that out of respect, because I’m in the country”.[69] Ali would later say, “If America was in trouble and real war came, I’d be on the front line if we had been attacked. But I could see that [the Vietnam War] wasn’t right.”[70] He also said, “Black men would go over there and fight, but when they came home, they couldn’t even be served a hamburger.”[71]

Impact of Ali’s draft refusal

Ali’s example inspired many black Americans and others. However, initially when he refused induction, he became arguably the most hated man in the country and received many death threats. People who supported Ali during this time were also threatened, including sports journalist Jerry Izenberg, whose columns defended Ali’s decision not to serve. He wrote, “Bomb threats emptied our office, making the staff stand out in the snow. My car windshield was smashed with a sledgehammer.”[72][73] The New York Times columnist William Rhoden wrote, “Ali’s actions changed my standard of what constituted an athlete’s greatness. Possessing a killer jump shot or the ability to stop on a dime was no longer enough. What were you doing for the liberation of your people? What were you doing to help your country live up to the covenant of its founding principles?”[59] Recalling Ali’s anti-war position, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar said: “I remember the teachers at my high school didn’t like Ali because he was so anti-establishment and he kind of thumbed his nose at authority and got away with it. The fact that he was proud to be a black man and that he had so much talent … made some people think that he was dangerous. But for those very reasons I enjoyed him.”[74] Civil rights figures came to believe that Ali had an energizing effect on the freedom movement as a whole. Al Sharpton spoke of his bravery at a time when there was still widespread support for the Vietnam War:
For the heavyweight champion of the world, who had achieved the highest level of athletic celebrity, to put all of that on the line—the money, the ability to get endorsements—to sacrifice all of that for a cause, gave a whole sense of legitimacy to the movement and the causes with young people that nothing else could have done. Even those who were assassinated, certainly lost their lives, but they didn’t voluntarily do that. He knew he was going to jail and did it anyway. That’s another level of leadership and sacrifice.[75]
Ali was honored with the annual Martin Luther King Award in 1970 by civil rights leader Ralph Abernathy, who called him “a living example of soul power, the March on Washington in two fists”. Coretta Scott King added that Ali was “a champion of justice and peace and unity”.[76] In speaking of the cost on Ali’s career of his refusal to be drafted, his trainer Angelo Dundee said, “One thing must be taken into account when talking about Ali: He was robbed of his best years, his prime years.”[77] Ali’s promoter Bob Arum did not support Ali’s choice at the time, but in 2016 Arum stated: “when I look back at his life, and I was blessed to call him a friend and spent a lot of time with him, it’s hard for me to talk about his exploits in boxing because as great as they were they paled in comparison to the impact that he had on the world. … He did what he thought was right. And it turned out he was right, and I was wrong.”[78] Ali’s resistance to the draft was covered in the 2013 documentary The Trials of Muhammad Ali.[79]

NSA and FBI monitoring of Ali’s communications

In a secret operation code-named “Minaret”, the National Security Agency (NSA) intercepted the communications of leading Americans, including Ali, Senators Frank Church and Howard Baker, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., prominent U.S. journalists, and others who criticized the U.S. war in Vietnam.[80][81] A review by the NSA of the Minaret program concluded that it was “disreputable if not outright illegal”.[81] In 1971, Ali’s Fight of the Century with Frazier was used by an activist group, the Citizens’ Commission to Investigate the FBI, to pull off a burglary at an FBI office in Pennsylvania; the anticipation for the fight was unlike anything else, so they believed the security would also be focused on the fight. This raid exposed the COINTELPRO operations that included illegal spying on activists involved with the civil rights and anti-war movements. One of the COINTELPRO targets was Ali, and their activities included the FBI gaining access to his records as far back as elementary school; one such record mentioned him loving art as a child.[82]

Exile and comeback

In March 1966, Ali refused to be inducted into the armed forces. He was systematically denied a boxing license in every state and stripped of his passport. As a result, he did not fight from March 1967 to October 1970—from ages 25 to almost 29—as his case worked its way through the appeals process before his conviction was overturned in 1971.[83]

Protesting while exiled

During this time of inactivity, as opposition to the Vietnam War began to grow and Ali’s stance gained sympathy, he spoke at colleges across the nation, criticizing the Vietnam War and advocating African American pride and racial justice. Ali based himself in Chicago.[84] According to most close to him, his Chicago years were formative. At the time, Ali was widely condemned by the American media,[85] with fears that his actions could potentially lead to mass civil disobedience.[86] Despite this, Ebony magazine noted in the late 1960s that Ali’s popularity had increased during this time, especially among black people.[87]

The Super Fight

While banned from sanctioned bouts, Ali settled a $1 million lawsuit against radio producer Murray Woroner by accepting $10,000 to appear in a privately staged fantasy fight against retired champion Rocky Marciano.[88] In 1969 the boxers were filmed sparring for about 75 one-minute rounds; they produced several potential outcomes.[89] A computer program purportedly determined the winner, based on data about the fighters, along with the opinions of approximately 250 boxing experts. Edited versions of the bout were shown in movie theaters in 1970. In the U.S. version Ali lost in a simulated 13th-round knockout, but in the European version Marciano lost due to cuts, also simulated.[90] Ali suggested that prejudice determined his defeat in the U.S. version; he was reported to have jokingly said, “That computer was made in Alabama.”[88]


Muhammad Ali c. 1975, photo by Bernard Gotfryd
On August 11, 1970, with his case still in appeal, Ali was granted a license to box by the City of Atlanta Athletic Commission. Leroy Johnson, Jesse Hill Jr. and Harry Pett had used their local political influence and set up the company House of Sports to organize the fight, underlining the influential power of Georgia’s black politics in Ali’s comeback.[91] Ali’s first return bout was against Jerry Quarry on October 26, resulting in a win after three rounds after Quarry was cut. A month earlier, a victory in federal court forced the New York State Boxing Commission to reinstate Ali’s license.[92] He fought Oscar Bonavena at Madison Square Garden in December, an uninspired performance that ended in a dramatic technical knockout of Bonavena in the 15th round. The win left Ali as a top contender against heavyweight champion Joe Frazier.[93][94][95]

Fight against Joe Frazier

Ali and Frazier’s first fight, held at the Garden on March 8, 1971, was nicknamed the “Fight of the Century”, due to the tremendous excitement surrounding a bout between two undefeated fighters, each with a legitimate claim to be heavyweight champion. Veteran US boxing writer John Condon called it “the greatest event I’ve ever worked on in my life”. The bout was broadcast to 36 countries; promoters granted 760 press passes.[25] Adding to the atmosphere were the considerable pre-fight theatrics and name calling. Before the fight Frazier called Ali, “Cassius Clay”, this angered Ali and he portrayed Frazier as a “dumb tool of the white establishment”. “Frazier is too ugly to be champ”, Ali said. “Frazier is too dumb to be champ.” Ali also frequently called Frazier an “Uncle Tom”. Dave Wolf, who worked in Frazier’s camp, recalled that, “Ali was saying ‘the only people rooting for Joe Frazier are white people in suits, Alabama sheriffs, and members of the Ku Klux Klan. I’m fighting for the little man in the ghetto.’ Joe was sitting there, smashing his fist into the palm of his hand, saying, ‘What the fuck does he know about the ghetto?'”[25] Ali began training at a farm near Reading, Pennsylvania, in 1971 and, finding the country setting to his liking, sought to develop a real training camp in the countryside. He found a five-acre site on a Pennsylvania country road in the village of Deer Lake, Pennsylvania. On this site, Ali carved out what was to become his training camp, where he trained for all his fights from 1972 to the end of his career in 1981. The Monday night fight lived up to its billing. In a preview of their two other fights, a crouching, bobbing and weaving Frazier constantly pressured Ali, getting hit regularly by Ali jabs and combinations, but relentlessly attacking and scoring repeatedly, especially to Ali’s body. The fight was even in the early rounds, but Ali was taking more punishment than ever in his career up until that point. On several occasions in the early rounds, he played to the crowd and shook his head “no” after he was hit. In the later rounds—in what was the first appearance of the “rope-a-dope strategy”—Ali leaned against the ropes and absorbed punishment from Frazier, hoping to tire him. In the 11th round, Frazier connected with a left hook that wobbled Ali, but because it appeared that Ali might be clowning as he staggered backwards across the ring, Frazier hesitated to press his advantage, fearing an Ali counterattack. In the final round, Frazier knocked Ali down with a vicious left hook, which referee Arthur Mercante said was as hard as a man can be hit. Ali was back on his feet in three seconds.[25] Nevertheless, Ali lost by unanimous decision, his first professional defeat.

Chamberlain challenge and Ellis fight

In 1971, basketball star Wilt Chamberlain challenged Ali to a fight, and a bout was scheduled for July 26. Although the seven-foot-two-inch-tall Chamberlain had formidable physical advantages over Ali—weighing 60 pounds more and able to reach 14 inches further—Ali was able to influence Chamberlain into calling off the bout by taunting him with calls of “Timber!” and “The tree will fall” during a shared interview. These statements of confidence unsettled his taller opponent, whom Los Angeles Lakers owner Jack Kent Cooke had offered a record-setting contract, conditional on Chamberlain agreeing to abandon what Cooke termed “this boxing foolishness”,[96] and he did exactly that.[97] To replace Ali’s opponent, promoter Bob Arum quickly booked a former sparring partner of Ali’s, Jimmy Ellis, who was a childhood friend from Louisville, Kentucky, to fight him. Ali won the bout through a technical knockout when the referee stopped the fight in the twelfth round.[98]

After his loss

Fights against Quarry, Patterson, Foster, Bugner and Norton

After the loss to Frazier, Ali fought Jerry Quarry, had a second bout with Floyd Patterson and faced Bob Foster in 1972, winning a total of six fights that year. During two bouts he had in 1973 with Joe Bugner and Ken Norton, he wore a “People’s Choice” robe which was given to him by Elvis Presley.[99] In 1973 before his fight with Norton, Tom Cushman said Ali was “gloriously overconfident. He didn’t consider this guy a threat at all.”[100] But during the fight, either in the 2nd round according to most press reports, or the final round according to Norton,[100] Norton ultimately broke Ali’s jaw, while giving Ali the second loss of his career via decision. After initially considering retirement, Ali won a controversial decision against Norton in their second bout. This led to a rematch with Joe Frazier at Madison Square Garden on January 28, 1974; Frazier had recently lost his title to George Foreman.

Second fight against Joe Frazier

Ali vs. Frazier, promotional photo
Ali was strong in the early rounds of the fight, and staggered Frazier in the second round. Referee Tony Perez mistakenly thought he heard the bell ending the round and stepped between the two fighters as Ali was pressing his attack, giving Frazier time to recover. However, Frazier came on in the middle rounds, snapping Ali’s head in round seven and driving him to the ropes at the end of round eight. The last four rounds saw round-to-round shifts in momentum between the two fighters. Throughout most of the bout, however, Ali was able to circle away from Frazier’s dangerous left hook and to tie Frazier up when he was cornered, the latter a tactic that Frazier’s camp complained of bitterly. Judges awarded Ali a unanimous decision.

World heavyweight champion (second reign)

The Rumble in the Jungle

The defeat of Frazier set the stage for a title fight against heavyweight champion George Foreman in Kinshasa, Zaire, on October 30, 1974—a bout nicknamed The Rumble in the Jungle. Foreman was considered one of the hardest punchers in heavyweight history. In assessing the fight, analysts pointed out that Joe Frazier and Ken Norton, who had given Ali four tough battles and won two of them, had both been devastated by Foreman in second-round knockouts. Ali was 32 years old and had lost speed and reflexes since his twenties. Contrary to his later persona, Foreman was at the time a brooding and intimidating presence. Almost no one associated with the sport, not even Ali’s long-time supporter Howard Cosell, gave the former champion a chance of winning. As usual, Ali was confident and colorful before the fight. He told interviewer David Frost, “If you think the world was surprised when Nixon resigned, wait till I whup Foreman’s behind!”[101] He told the press, “I’ve done something new for this fight. I done wrestled with an alligator, I done tussled with a whale; handcuffed lightning, thrown thunder in jail; only last week, I murdered a rock, injured a stone, hospitalized a brick; I’m so mean I make medicine sick.”[102] Ali was wildly popular in Zaire, with crowds chanting “Ali, bomaye” (“Ali, kill him”) wherever he went. Ali opened the fight moving and scoring with right crosses to Foreman’s head. Then, beginning in the second round, and to the consternation of his corner, Ali retreated to the ropes and invited Foreman to hit him while covering up, clinching and counterpunching, all while verbally taunting Foreman. The move, which would later become known as the “Rope-a-dope”, so violated conventional boxing wisdom—letting one of the hardest hitters in boxing strike at will—that at ringside writer George Plimpton thought the fight had to be fixed.[25] Foreman, increasingly angered, threw punches that were deflected and did not land squarely. Midway through the fight, as Foreman began tiring, Ali countered more frequently and effectively with punches and flurries, which electrified the pro-Ali crowd. In the eighth round, Ali dropped an exhausted Foreman with a combination at center ring; Foreman failed to make the count. Against the odds, and amidst pandemonium in the ring, Ali had regained the title by knockout. Reflecting on the fight, George Foreman later said: “I thought Ali was just one more knockout victim until, about the seventh round, I hit him hard to the jaw and he held me and whispered in my ear: ‘That all you got, George?’ I realized that this ain’t what I thought it was.”[103]
President Jimmy Carter greets Ali, along with his wife Veronica Porché, at a White House dinner, 1977.
It was a major upset victory,[104] after Ali came in as a 4–1 underdog against the previously unbeaten, heavy-hitting Foreman.[105] The fight became famous for Ali’s introduction of the rope-a-dope tactic.[106] The fight was watched by a record estimated television audience of 1 billion viewers worldwide.[107][108] It was the world’s most-watched live television broadcast at the time.[109]

Fights against Wepner, Lyle and Bugner

Ali’s next opponents included Chuck Wepner, Ron Lyle, and Joe Bugner. Wepner, a journeyman known as “The Bayonne Bleeder”, stunned Ali with a knockdown in the ninth round; Ali would later say he tripped on Wepner’s foot. It was a bout that would inspire Sylvester Stallone to create the acclaimed film, Rocky.[110]

Third fight against Joe Frazier

Ali then agreed to a third match with Joe Frazier in Manila. The bout, known as the “Thrilla in Manila”, was held on October 1, 1975,[4] in temperatures approaching 100 °F (38 °C). In the first rounds, Ali was aggressive, moving and exchanging blows with Frazier. However, Ali soon appeared to tire and adopted the “rope-a-dope” strategy, frequently resorting to clinches. During this part of the bout Ali did some effective counterpunching, but for the most part absorbed punishment from a relentlessly attacking Frazier. In the 12th round, Frazier began to tire, and Ali scored several sharp blows that closed Frazier’s left eye and opened a cut over his right eye. With Frazier’s vision now diminished, Ali dominated the 13th and 14th rounds, at times conducting what boxing historian Mike Silver called “target practice” on Frazier’s head. The fight was stopped when Frazier’s trainer, Eddie Futch, refused to allow Frazier to answer the bell for the 15th and final round, despite Frazier’s protests. Frazier’s eyes were both swollen shut. Ali, in his corner, winner by TKO, slumped on his stool, spent. An ailing Ali said afterwards that the fight “was the closest thing to dying that I know”, and, when later asked if he had viewed the fight on videotape, reportedly said, “Why would I want to go back and see Hell?” After the fight he cited Frazier as “the greatest fighter of all times next to me”. After the third fight with Frazier, Ali considered retirement. He said, “I’m sore all over. My arms, my face, my sides all ache. I’m so, so tired. There is a great possibility that I will retire. You might have seen the last of me. I want to sit back and count my money, live in my house and my farm, work for my people and concentrate on my family.”[111]

Later career

Ali being interviewed by WBAL-TV’s Curt Anderson in Baltimore, 1978
On February 2, 1976, Ali defeated Jean-Pierre Coopman by 5th round knockout. The WBC Heavyweight title was not on the line for this fight. On April 30, 1976, Ali would fight Jimmy Young and win a controversial unanimous decision. Howard Cosell would remark that he had “never seen Ali so off in his timing” and when asked on his performance against Young in the post-fight interview, Ali stated that he was “getting old” and that he was “preserving his energy” for Ken Norton.[112] On May 24, 1976, Ali defeated Richard Dunn, winning by 5th round technical knockout. The punch used to knock Dunn out was taught to Ali by Taekwondo Grandmaster Jhoon Rhee. Rhee called that punch the “Accupunch”; he learned it from Bruce Lee.[113] The Dunn fight was the last time Ali would knock an opponent out in his boxing career. Ali fought Ken Norton for the third time in September 1976. The bout, which was held at Yankee Stadium, resulted in Ali winning a controversial decision that ringside commentators had scored in favor of Norton. Afterwards, he announced he was retiring from boxing to practice his faith, having converted to Sunni Islam after falling out with the Nation of Islam the previous year.[114] After returning to beat Alfredo Evangelista in May 1977, Ali struggled in his next fight against Earnie Shavers that September, getting pummeled a few times by punches to the head. Ali won the fight by another unanimous decision, but the bout caused his longtime doctor Ferdie Pacheco to quit after he was rebuffed for telling Ali he should retire. Pacheco was quoted as saying, “the New York State Athletic Commission gave me a report that showed Ali’s kidneys were falling apart. I wrote to Angelo Dundee, Ali’s trainer, his wife and Ali himself. I got nothing back in response. That’s when I decided enough is enough.”[25] In February 1978, Ali faced Leon Spinks at the Hilton Hotel in Las Vegas. At the time, Spinks had only seven professional fights to his credit, and had recently fought a draw with journeyman Scott LeDoux. Ali sparred less than two dozen rounds in preparation for the fight and was seriously out of shape by the opening bell. He lost the title by split decision. A rematch occurred in September at the Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana. 70,000 people attended the bout and paid a total of $6 million admission, making it the largest live gate in boxing history at that time.[115] Ali won a unanimous decision in an uninspiring fight, with referee Lucien Joubert scoring rounds 10–4, judge Ernie Cojoe 10–4, and judge Herman Preis 11–4. This made Ali the first heavyweight champion to win the belt three times.[116][117] Following this win, on July 27, 1979, Ali announced his retirement from boxing. His retirement was short-lived, however; Ali announced his comeback to face Larry Holmes for the WBC belt in an attempt to win the heavyweight championship an unprecedented fourth time. The fight was largely motivated by Ali’s need for money. Boxing writer Richie Giachetti said, “Larry didn’t want to fight Ali. He knew Ali had nothing left; he knew it would be a horror.” It was around this time that Ali started struggling with vocal stutters and trembling hands.[118] The Nevada Athletic Commission (NAC) ordered that he undergo a complete physical in Las Vegas before being allowed to fight again. Ali chose instead to check into the Mayo Clinic, who declared him fit to fight. Their opinion was accepted by the NAC on July 31, 1980, paving the way for Ali’s return to the ring.[119]

Fight stoppage vs. Larry Holmes

On October 2, 1980, Ali returned to the ring to fight Holmes at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. Holmes, who fought under the nickname “The Easton Assassin”, easily dominated Ali. After the tenth round, Angelo Dundee stepped into the ring and instructed the referee to stop the fight. It was the only time Ali ever lost by stoppage. Immediately after the fight, Ali was given painkillers and antidepressants, in violation of World Boxing Council rules prohibiting the administration of any drug before the postfight urinalysis.[120][121] Giachetti called the fight “awful…the worst sports event I ever had to cover”. Actor Sylvester Stallone was ringside for the fight and said that it was like watching an autopsy on a man who is still alive.[25] The Holmes fight is said to have contributed to Ali’s Parkinson’s syndrome.[122][123][124] Despite pleas to definitively retire, Ali fought one last time on December 11, 1981, in Nassau, Bahamas, against Trevor Berbick, losing a ten-round decision.[125][126][127]

Exhibition bouts

Ali boxed both well-known boxers and celebrities from other walks of life, including Antonio Inoki,[128] Michael Dokes,[129] Sammy Davis Jr.,[130] Richard Pryor,[130] Marvin Gaye,[130] Burt Young,[130] Lyle Alzado,[131] Dave Semenko,[132] and Puerto Rican comedian Jose Miguel Agrelot (with Iris Chacon acting as Agrelot’s corner-woman).[133]

Ali vs Inoki

Muhammad Ali’s boxing robe at Antonio Inoki Exhibition
On June 26, 1976, Ali participated in an exhibition bout in Tokyo against Japanese professional wrestler and martial artist Antonio Inoki.[134] Ali was only able to land two jabs while Inoki’s kicks caused two blood clots and an infection that almost resulted in Ali’s leg being amputated, as a result of Ali’s team insisting on rules restricting Inoki’s ability to wrestle.[134] Because of this, the fight has been criticized for causing Ali trouble healthwise, mostly in terms of movement, later down the line; Ferdie Pacheco stated “Ali was still feeling the effects of his leg injury, and his mobility was not what it had been”.[134] The match was not scripted and ultimately declared a draw.[134] After Ali’s death, The New York Times declared it his least memorable fight.[135] Most boxing commentators at the time viewed the fight negatively and hoped it would be forgotten as some considered it a “15-round farce”.[136] Today it is considered by some to be one of Ali’s most influential fights and CBS Sports said the attention the mixed-style bout received “foretold the arrival of standardized MMA years later”.[136][137] Ali and Inoki began a friendship after the fight.[138]

Ali vs Alzado

In 1979, Ali fought an exhibition match against NFL player Lyle Alzado. The fight went 8 rounds and was declared a draw.[139]

Ali vs Semenko

Ali fought NHL player, Dave Semenko in an exhibition on June 12, 1983.[140] The match was officially a draw after going three rounds, but the Associated Press reported Ali was not seriously trying and was just toying with Semenko.[citation needed]

Personal life

Marriages and children

Children of Muhammad Ali
Ali was married four times and had seven daughters and two sons. Ali was introduced to cocktail waitress Sonji Roi by Herbert Muhammad, who was to become Ali’s long-time manager, and asked her to marry him after their first date. They married approximately one month later on August 14, 1964.[141] They quarreled over Sonji’s refusal to join the Nation Of Islam.[142] According to Ali, “She wouldn’t do what she was supposed to do. She wore lipstick; she went into bars; she dressed in clothes that were revealing and didn’t look right.”[143] The marriage was childless and they divorced on January 10, 1966. Just before the divorce was finalized, Ali sent Sonji a note: “You traded heaven for hell, baby.”[144] Ali’s brother Rahaman said that she was Ali’s only true love and the Nation of Islam made Ali divorce her and Ali never got over it.[142] On August 17, 1967, Ali married Belinda Boyd. In an interview with NBC 6, Boyd recounted meeting Ali when she was 10 years old at her hometown mosque. “He said, ‘Listen here little girl. This is my name. Imma be famous. You need to keep that ’cause it’s gone be worth a lot of money,'” Boyd said, mimicking Ali. “You’ll never be famous with that name. And, I walked away,” Boyd said.[145] Born into a Chicago family that had converted to the Nation Of Islam, she later changed her name to Khalilah Ali, though she was still called Belinda by old friends and family. They had four children: author and rapper Maryum[146] “May May” (born 1968); twins Jamillah and Rasheda (born 1970); and Muhammad Ali Jr. (born 1972).[147] Rasheda married Robert Walsh and has two sons: Biaggio Ali (born 1998), who is an amateur MMA fighter, and Nico Ali (born 2000), who is a professional boxer.[148] Ali was a resident of Cherry Hill, New Jersey in suburban Philadelphia in the early 1970s.[149] At age 32 in 1974, Ali began an extramarital relationship with 16-year-old Wanda Bolton (who subsequently changed her name to Aaisha Ali) with whom he fathered another daughter, Khaliah (born June 1974). While still married to Belinda, Ali married Aaisha a year later in an Islamic ceremony that was not legally recognized. According to Khaliah, Aaisha and her mother lived at Ali’s Deer Lake training camp alongside Belinda and her children.[150] In January 1985, Aaisha sued Ali for unpaid palimony. The case was settled when Ali agreed to set up a $200,000 trust fund for Khaliah.[151] In 2001 Khaliah was quoted as saying she believed her father viewed her as “a mistake”.[150] He had another daughter, Miya (born 1972), from an extramarital relationship with Patricia Harvell.[152]
Muhammad Ali with wife Veronica Porché at a fundraiser in Baltimore, 1977
By the summer of 1977, his second marriage ended due to Ali’s repeated infidelity, and he had married actress and model Veronica Porché.[153] At the time of their marriage, they had a daughter, Hana, and Veronica was pregnant with their second child. Their second daughter, Laila Ali, was born in December 1977, and went on to become a professional boxer.[154] By 1986, Ali and Porché were divorced due to Ali’s continuous infidelity. Porché said of Ali’s infidelity, “It was too much temptation for him, with women who threw themselves at him. It didn’t mean anything. He didn’t have affairs – he had one-night stands. I knew beyond a doubt there were no feelings involved. It was so obvious, It was easy to forgive him.”[155] On November 19, 1986, Ali married Yolanda “Lonnie” Williams. Lonnie first met Ali at the age of 6 when her family moved to Louisville in 1963.[156] In 1982, she became Ali’s primary caregiver and in return, he paid for her to attend graduate school at UCLA.[156] Together they adopted a son, Asaad Amin (born 1986), when Asaad was five months old.[157] In 1992, Lonnie incorporated Greatest of All Time, Inc. (G.O.A.T. Inc) to consolidate and license his intellectual properties for commercial purposes. She served as the vice president and treasurer until the sale of the company in 2006.[156]
Ali with wife Lonnie in Washington, D.C., 2001
Ali then lived in Scottsdale, Arizona with Lonnie.[158] In January 2007, it was reported that they had put their home in Berrien Springs, Michigan, which they had bought in 1975,[159] up for sale and had purchased a home in eastern Jefferson County, Kentucky for $1,875,000.[160] Both homes were subsequently sold after Ali’s death with Lonnie living in their remaining home in Paradise Valley, Arizona. Lonnie converted to Islam from Catholicism in her late twenties.[161] Ali’s daughter Laila was a professional boxer from 1999 until 2007,[162] despite her father’s previous opposition to women’s boxing. In 1978, he said “Women are not made to be hit in the breast, and face like that.”[163] Ali still attended a number of his daughter’s fights and later admitted to Laila he was wrong.[164] Ali’s daughter Hana is married to Bellator middleweight fighter Kevin Casey. Hana wrote about her father, “His love for people was extraordinary. I would get home from school to find homeless families sleeping in our guest room. He’d see them on the street, pile them into his Rolls-Royce and bring them home. He’d buy them clothes, take them to hotels and pay the bills for months in advance.” She also said celebrities like Michael Jackson and Clint Eastwood would often visit Ali.[165][166]

Paternity claims

Kiiursti Mensah-Ali claims she is Ali’s biological daughter with Barbara Mensah, with whom he allegedly had a 20-year relationship,[167][168][169][170] citing photographs and a paternity test conducted in 1988. She said he accepted responsibility and took care of her, but all contacts with him were cut off after he married his fourth wife Lonnie. Kiiursti says she has a relationship with his other children. After his death she again made passionate appeals to be allowed to mourn at his funeral.[171][172][173] In 2010, Osmon Williams came forward claiming to be Ali’s biological son.[174] His mother Temica Williams (also known as Rebecca Holloway) launched a $3 million lawsuit against Ali in 1981 for sexual assault, claiming that she had started a sexual relationship with him when she was 12, and that her son Osmon (born 1977) was fathered by Ali when she was 17.[175] She further alleged that Ali had originally supported her and her son financially, but stopped doing so after four years. The case went on until 1986 and was eventually thrown out as her allegations were deemed to be barred by the statute of limitations.[176] According to Veronica, Ali admitted to the affair with Williams, but did not believe Osmon was his son which Veronica supported by saying “Everybody in the camp was going with that girl.”[177][178] Ali’s biographer and friend Thomas Hauser has said this claim was of “questionable veracity”.[179]

Religion and beliefs

Affiliation with the Nation of Islam

Ali said that he first heard of the Nation of Islam when he was fighting in the Golden Gloves tournament in Chicago in 1959 and attended his first Nation of Islam meeting in 1961. He continued to attend meetings, although keeping his involvement hidden from the public. In 1962, Clay met Malcolm X, who soon became his spiritual and political mentor.[180] By the time of the first Liston fight, Nation of Islam members, including Malcolm X, were visible in his entourage. This led to a story in The Miami Herald just before the fight disclosing that Clay had joined the Nation of Islam, which nearly caused the bout to be canceled. The article quoted Cassius Clay Sr. as saying that his son had joined the Black Muslims when he was 18.[181]
Ali (seen in background) at an address by Elijah Muhammad in 1964
In fact, Clay was initially refused entry to the Nation of Islam (often called the Black Muslims at the time) due to his boxing career. However, after he won the championship from Liston in 1964, the Nation of Islam was more receptive and agreed to publicize his membership.[180] Shortly afterwards on March 6, Elijah Muhammad gave a radio address that Clay would be renamed Muhammad (one who is worthy of praise) Ali (most high).[182] Around that time Ali moved to the south side of Chicago and lived in a series of houses, always near the Nation of Islam’s Mosque Maryam or Elijah Muhammad’s residence. He stayed in Chicago for about 12 years.[183] Only a few journalists, most notably Howard Cosell, accepted the new name at that time. Ali stated that his earlier name was a “slave name” and a “white man’s name” and added that “I didn’t choose it and I don’t want it. I am Muhammad Ali, a free name”.[184] The person he was formerly named after was a white slave owner turned abolitionist.[185] Ali explained in his autobiography after studying his works, “he may have gotten rid of his slaves, but (he) held on to white supremacy.”[186] Ali concluded: “Why should I keep my white slavemaster’s name visible and my black ancestors invisible, unknown, unhonored?”[184] Not afraid to antagonize the white establishment, Ali stated, “I am America. I am the part you won’t recognize. But get used to me. Black, confident, cocky; my name, not yours; my religion, not yours; my goals, my own; get used to me.”[187] Ali’s friendship with Malcolm X ended as Malcolm split with the Nation of Islam a couple of weeks after Ali joined, and Ali remained with the Nation of Islam.[188][189] Ali later said that turning his back on Malcolm was one of the mistakes he regretted most in his life.[190] Aligning himself with the Nation of Islam, its leader Elijah Muhammad, and a narrative that labeled the white race as the perpetrator of genocide against African Americans made Ali a target of public condemnation. The Nation of Islam was widely viewed by whites and some African Americans as a black separatist “hate religion” with a propensity toward violence; Ali had few qualms about using his influential voice to speak Nation of Islam doctrine.[191] In a press conference articulating his opposition to the Vietnam War, Ali stated, “My enemy is the white people, not Vietcong or Chinese or Japanese.”[50] In relation to integration, he said: “We who follow the teachings of Elijah Muhammad don’t want to be forced to integrate. Integration is wrong. We don’t want to live with the white man; that’s all.”[192][193][better source needed] Writer Jerry Izenberg once noted that, “the Nation became Ali’s family and Elijah Muhammad became his father. But there is an irony to the fact that while the Nation branded white people as devils, Ali had more white colleagues than most African American people did at that time in America, and continued to have them throughout his career.”[25]

Conversion to Sunni/Sufi Islam

In Hauser’s biography Muhammad Ali: His Life and Times, Ali stated that he was not a Christian as he thought the idea of God having a son sounded wrong and did not make sense to him, stating, “God don’t beget; man begets”. However, he still believed that even good Christians or good Jews could receive God’s blessing and enter heaven as he stated, “God created all people, no matter what their religion”. He also stated, “If you’re against someone because he’s a Muslim that’s wrong. If you’re against someone because he’s a Christian or a Jew, that’s wrong”.[194]
Ali attending a Saviours’ Day celebration in 1974
In a 2004 autobiography, Ali attributed his conversion to mainstream Sunni Islam to Warith Deen Muhammad, who assumed leadership of the Nation of Islam upon the death of his father Elijah Muhammad and persuaded the Nation’s followers to become adherents of Sunni Islam. He said some people did not like the change and stuck to Elijah’s teachings, but he admired it, and so left Elijah’s teachings and became a follower of Sunni Islam.[195] Ali had gone on the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca in 1972, which inspired him in a similar manner to Malcolm X, meeting people of different colors from all over the world giving him a different outlook and greater spiritual awareness.[196] In 1977, he said that, after he retired, he would dedicate the rest of his life to getting “ready to meet God” by helping people, charitable causes, uniting people and helping to make peace.[197] He went on another Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca in 1988.[198] After the September 11 attacks in 2001, he stated that “Islam is a religion of peace” and “does not promote terrorism or killing people”, and that he was “angry that the world sees a certain group of Islam followers who caused this destruction, but they are not real Muslims. They are racist fanatics who call themselves Muslims.” In December 2015, he stated that “True Muslims know that the ruthless violence of so-called Islamic jihadists goes against the very tenets of our religion”, that “We as Muslims have to stand up to those who use Islam to advance their own personal agenda”, and that “political leaders should use their position to bring understanding about the religion of Islam, and clarify that these misguided murderers have perverted people’s views on what Islam really is.”[199] He also developed an interest in Sufism, which he referenced in his autobiography, The Soul of a Butterfly.[190][200][201] According to Ali’s daughter, Hana Yasmeen Ali, who co-authored The Soul of a Butterfly with him, Ali was attracted to Sufism after reading the books of Inayat Khan, which contain Sufi teachings.[202][203] Muhammad Ali received guidance from Islamic scholars such as Grand Mufti of Syria Al Marhum Al Sheikh Ahmed Kuftaro, Hisham Kabbani, Imam Zaid Shakir, Hamza Yusuf, and Timothy J. Gianotti, who was at Ali’s bedside during his last days and ensured that although his funeral was interfaith, it was still in accordance with Islamic rites and rituals.[204][205]

Entertainment career


Ali had a cameo role in the 1962 film version of Requiem for a Heavyweight, and during his exile from boxing, he starred in the short-lived 1969 Broadway musical, Buck White.[206][207] He also appeared in the documentary film Black Rodeo (1972) riding both a horse and a bull.[citation needed] His autobiography The Greatest: My Own Story, written with Richard Durham, was published in 1975.[208] In 1977 the book was adapted into a film called The Greatest, in which Ali played himself and Ernest Borgnine played Angelo Dundee. The film Freedom Road, made in 1978, features Ali in a rare acting role as Gideon Jackson, a former slave and Union (American Civil War) soldier in 1870s Virginia, who gets elected to the U.S. Senate and battles alongside former slaves and white sharecroppers to keep the land they have tended all their lives.[209]

Spoken word poetry and rap music

I’ve wrestled with alligators, I’ve tussled with a whale. I done handcuffed lightning and throw thunder in jail. You know I’m bad. Just last week, I murdered a rock, injured a stone, hospitalized a brick. I’m so mean, I make medicine sick.
— Muhammad Ali[210]
Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee. His hands can’t hit what his eyes can’t see. Now you see me, now you don’t. George thinks he will, but I know he won’t.
— Muhammad Ali[211]
Ali often used rhyme schemes and spoken word poetry, both for when he was trash talking in boxing and as political poetry for his activism outside of boxing.[212][213][214] He played a role in the shaping of the black poetic tradition, paving the way for The Last Poets in 1968, Gil Scott-Heron in 1970, and the emergence of rap music in the 1970s.[215] According to The Guardian, “Some have argued that” Ali was “the first rapper”.[216] In 1963, Ali released an album of spoken word music on Columbia Records titled, I Am the Greatest, and in 1964, he recorded a cover version of the rhythm and blues song “Stand by Me”.[217][218] I Am the Greatest sold 500,000 copies, and has been identified as an early example of rap music and a precursor to hip hop.[219][220][215][221][222] It reached number 61 on the album chart and was nominated for the Grammy Award for Best Comedy Album at the 6th Annual Grammy Awards in 1964.[223][222] He later received a second Grammy nomination, for “Best Recording for Children”, with his 1976 spoken word novelty record, The Adventures of Ali and His Gang vs. Mr. Tooth Decay.[222] Ali was an influential figure in the world of hip hop music. As a “rhyming trickster”, he was noted for his “funky delivery”, “boasts”, “comical trash talk”, and “endless quotables”.[221] According to Rolling Stone, his “freestyle skills” and his “rhymes, flow, and braggadocio” would “one day become typical of old school MCs” like Run–D.M.C. and LL Cool J, and his “outsized ego foreshadowed the vainglorious excesses of Kanye West, while his Afrocentric consciousness and cutting honesty pointed forward to modern bards like Rakim, Nas, Jay-Z, and Kendrick Lamar.”[222] In 2006, the documentary Ali Rap was produced by ESPN. Chuck D, a rapper for the band Public Enemy is the host.[224] Other rappers narrated the documentary as well, including Doug E Fresh, Ludacris and Rakim who all spoke on Ali’s behalf in the film. He has been cited as an inspiration by rappers such as LL Cool J,[221] Public Enemy’s Chuck D,[225] Jay-Z, Eminem, Sean Combs, Slick Rick, Nas and MC Lyte.[226] Ali has been referenced in a number of hip hop songs, including Migos “Fight Night”, The Game’s “Jesus Piece”, Nas’ “The Message”, The Sugarhill Gang’s “Rapper’s Delight”, the Fugees’ “Ready or Not”, EPMD’s “You’re a Customer” and Will Smith’s “Gettin’ Jiggy wit It”.[226]

Professional wrestling

Ali was involved with professional wrestling at different times in his career. On June 1, 1976, as Ali was preparing for his bout with Inoki, he attended a match featuring Gorilla Monsoon. After the match was over, Ali removed his shirt and jacket and confronted professional wrestler Gorilla Monsoon in the ring after his match at a World Wide Wrestling Federation show in Philadelphia Arena. After dodging a few punches, Monsoon put Ali in an airplane spin and dumped him to the mat. Ali stumbled to the corner, where his associate Butch Lewis convinced him to walk away.[227] On March 31, 1985, Ali was the special guest referee for the main event of the inaugural WrestleMania event.[228] In 1995, Ali led a group of Japanese and American professional wrestlers, including his 1976 opponent Antonio Inoki and Ric Flair, on a sports diplomacy mission to North Korea. Ali was guest of honor at the record-breaking Collision in Korea, a wrestling event with the largest attendance of all time.[138] On March 11, 2024, it was announced that Ali would be inducted to the 2024 WWE Hall of Fame.[229]

Television appearances

Muhammad Ali’s fights were some of the world’s most-watched television broadcasts, setting television viewership records. His most-watched fights drew an estimated 1–2 billion viewers worldwide between 1974 and 1980, and were the world’s most-watched live television broadcasts at the time.[109] Outside of fights, he made many other television appearances. The following table lists known viewership figures of his non-fight television appearances. For television viewership figures of his fights, see Boxing career of Muhammad Ali: Television viewership.
October 17, 1971Parkinson (series 1, episode 14)United Kingdom12,000,000[citation needed]
January 25, 1974Parkinson (series 3, episode 18)United Kingdom12,000,000[citation needed]
December 7, 1974ParkinsonUnited Kingdom12,000,000[citation needed]
March 28, 197749th Academy AwardsUnited States39,719,000[230]
December 25, 1978This Is Your Life (“Muhammad Ali”)United States60,000,000[231]
October 24, 1979Diff’rent Strokes (“Arnold’s Hero”)United States41,000,000[232]
January 17, 1981Parkinson (series 10, episode 32)United Kingdom12,000,000[citation needed]
July 19, 1996Atlanta 1996 Summer Olympics opening ceremonyWorldwide3,500,000,000[233]
United States209,000,000[234]
September 21, 2001America: A Tribute to HeroesUnited States60,000,000[235]
January 4, 2007Michael Parkinson’s Greatest EntertainersUnited Kingdom3,630,000[236]
June 9, 2016Muhammad Ali memorial serviceWorldwide1,000,000,000[237]
Total viewershipWorldwide4,692,349,000


Ali was also an amateur artist and made dozens of drawings and paintings in the 1970s. In 1977, Rodney Hilton Brown, who owned an art gallery in NYC, asked Ali if he was interested in painting. Ali took him up on the offer and produced several paintings for him to sell. Brown is the author of “Muhammad Ali: The Untold Story: Painter, Poet and Prophet”.[238] In October 2021, 26 of his drawings and arts were placed on auction and sold for close to US$1 Million.[239][240]

Later life

By the end of his boxing career Ali had absorbed an estimated 200,000 hits.[241] In 1984, Ali was diagnosed with Parkinson’s syndrome, which sometimes results from head trauma from violent physical activities such as boxing.[124][242][243] Ali still remained active during this time, later participating as a guest referee at WrestleMania I.[244][245]

Philanthropy, humanitarianism and politics

Ali in an art gallery during his visit to Argentina in 1971
Ali was known for being a humanitarian[246] and philanthropist.[247][248] He focused on practicing his Islamic duty of charity and good deeds, donating millions to charity organizations and disadvantaged people of all religious backgrounds. It is estimated that Ali helped to feed more than 22 million people afflicted by hunger across the world.[249] Early in his career, one of his main focuses was youth education. He spoke at several historically black colleges and universities about the importance of education and became the largest single black donor to the United Negro College Fund in 1967 by way of a $10,000 donation ($78,000 in 2020 USD). In late 1966, he also pledged to donate a total of $100,000 to the UNCF (specifically promising to donate much of the proceeds of his title defense against Cleveland Williams) and paid $4,500 per closed circuit installation at six HBCUs so they could watch his fights.[76] Ali began visiting Africa, starting in 1964 when he visited Nigeria and Ghana.[250] In 1974, he visited a Palestinian refugee camp in Southern Lebanon, where Ali declared “support for the Palestinian struggle to liberate their homeland”.[251] During that visit Ali also declared that the “United States is the stronghold of Zionism and imperialism.”[252] In 1978, following his loss to Spinks and before winning the rematch, Ali visited Bangladesh and received honorary citizenship there.[253][254][255] The same year, he participated in The Longest Walk, a protest march in the United States in support of Native American rights, along with singer Stevie Wonder and actor Marlon Brando.[256] In early 1980, Ali was recruited by President Jimmy Carter for a diplomatic mission to Africa, in an effort to persuade a number of African governments to join the US-led boycott of the Moscow Olympics in protest of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Having arrived in Tanzania, Ali told cameras, “Russia is invading a Muslim country, Asiatic country,” and that its probable intention to head to oil-rich Persia to take wells and ports “could lead to nuclear war. My purpose in coming here was to try to stop that.”[257] However, according to Ali biographer Thomas Hauser, “at best, it was ill-conceived; at worst, a diplomatic disaster.” The Tanzanian government was insulted that Carter had sent an athlete to discuss a serious political issue. One official asked whether the United States would “send Chris Evert to negotiate with London”. Consequently, Ali was only received by the youth and culture minister, rather than President Julius Nyerere. Ali was unable to explain why the African countries should join the US boycott when it had failed to support the African boycott of the 1976 Olympics (in protest of Apartheid in South Africa), although neither did the Soviet Union, and was unaware of the sentiment that the Soviet Union had backed some popular revolutions on the continent, although none of the countries on the itinerary were Soviet allies.[258][259] The Nigerian government also rebuffed him and confirmed that they would be participating in the Moscow Games. Ali did, however, convince the government of Kenya to boycott the Soviet Olympics.[260] On January 19, 1981, in Los Angeles, Ali talked a suicidal man down from jumping off a ninth-floor ledge, an event that made national news.[261][262]
President Ronald Reagan with Ali in the Oval Office in 1983
In 1984, Ali announced his support for the re-election of United States President Ronald Reagan. When asked to elaborate on his endorsement of Reagan, Ali told reporters, “He’s keeping God in schools and that’s enough.”[263] In 1985, he visited Israel to request the release of Muslim prisoners at Atlit detainee camp, which Israel declined.[264] Around 1987, the California Bicentennial Foundation for the U.S. Constitution selected Ali to personify the vitality of the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights. Ali rode on a float at the following year’s Tournament of Roses Parade, launching the U.S. Constitution’s 200th birthday commemoration.[265] In 1988, during the First Intifada, Ali participated in a Chicago rally in support of Palestine.[251] The same year, he visited Sudan to raise awareness about the plight of famine victims.[266] According to Politico, Ali supported Orrin Hatch politically.[267] In 1989, he participated in an Indian charity event with the Muslim Educational Society in Kozhikode, Kerala, along with Bollywood actor Dilip Kumar.[198]
Ali in 1997
In 1990, Ali traveled to Iraq prior to the Gulf War and met with president Saddam Hussein in an attempt to negotiate the release of American hostages. Ali secured the release of the hostages, in exchange for promising Hussein that he would bring America “an honest account” of Iraq. Despite arranging the hostages’ release, he received criticism from president George H. W. Bush, and Joseph C. Wilson, the highest-ranking American diplomat in Baghdad.[268][269] In 1994, Ali campaigned to the United States government to come to the aid of refugees afflicted by the Rwandan genocide, and to donate to organizations helping Rwandan refugees.[249] In 1996, he lit the flame at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia. It was watched by an estimated 3.5 billion viewers worldwide.[233] After Ali met a lesbian couple who were fans of his in 1997, he smiled and said to friend and biographer Thomas Hauser, “They look like they’re happy together.” Hauser wrote about the story, “The thought that Liz and Roz (the lesbian couple he met) were happy pleased Muhammad. Ali wanted people to be happy.”[270] On November 17, 2002, Ali went to Afghanistan as the “U.N. Messenger of Peace”.[271] He was in Kabul for a three-day goodwill mission as a special guest of the UN.[272] On September 1, 2009, Ali visited Ennis, County Clare, Ireland, the home of his great-grandfather, Abe Grady, who emigrated to the U.S. in the 1860s, eventually settling in Kentucky.[273] On July 27, 2012, Ali was a titular bearer of the Olympic flag during the opening ceremonies of the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. He was helped to his feet by his wife Lonnie to stand before the flag due to his Parkinson’s syndrome rendering him unable to carry it into the stadium.[274] The same year, he was awarded the Philadelphia Liberty Medal in recognition of his lifelong efforts in activism, philanthropy and humanitarianism.[265][246]


By 1978, Ali’s total fight purse earnings were estimated to be nearly $60 million[275] (inflation-adjusted $379 million), including an estimated $47.45 million grossed between 1970 and 1978.[276] By 1980, his total fight purse earnings were estimated to be up to $70 million[277] (inflation-adjusted $338 million). In 1978, Ali revealed that he was “broke” and several news outlets reported his net worth to be an estimated $3.5 million[276] (inflation-adjusted $16 million). The press attributed his decline in wealth to several factors, including taxes consuming at least half of his income, management taking a third of his income,[276] his lifestyle, and spending on family, charity and religious causes.[277] In 2006, Ali sold his name and image for $50 million,[278] after which Forbes estimated his net worth to be $55 million in 2006.[279] Following his death in 2016, his fortune was estimated to be between $50 million and $80 million.[280]

Declining health

I’m blessed and thankful to God that I understand he’s trying me. This is a trial from God. He gave me this illness to remind me that I am not number one; He is.
—Muhammad Ali reflecting on having Parkinson’s disease[281][282]
Ali’s Parkinson’s syndrome led to a gradual decline in his health, though he was still active into the early 2000s, promoting his own biopic, Ali, in 2001. That year he also contributed an on-camera segment to the America: A Tribute to Heroes benefit concert.[283]
Ali and Michael J. Fox testify before a Senate committee on providing government funding to combat Parkinson’s.
In 1998, Ali began working with actor Michael J. Fox, who has Parkinson’s disease, to raise awareness and fund research for a cure. They made a joint appearance before Congress to push the case in 2002. In 2000, Ali worked with the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research to raise awareness and encourage donations for research.[284] In February 2013, Ali’s brother Rahaman Ali said Muhammad could no longer speak and could be dead within days.[285] Ali’s daughter May May Ali responded to the rumors, stating that she had talked to him on the phone the morning of February 3 and he was fine.[286] On December 20, 2014, Ali was hospitalized for a mild case of pneumonia.[287] Ali was once again hospitalized on January 15, 2015, for a urinary tract infection after being found unresponsive at a guest house in Scottsdale, Arizona.[288] He was released the next day.[289]


Ali was hospitalized in Scottsdale, Arizona, on June 2, 2016, with a respiratory illness. Though his condition was initially described as fair, it worsened, and he died the following day at the age of 74 from septic shock.[290][291][292][293]

News coverage and tributes

Following Ali’s death, he was the number-one trending topic on Twitter for over 12 hours and on Facebook for several days. BET played their documentary Muhammad Ali: Made In Miami. ESPN played four hours of non-stop commercial-free coverage of Ali. News networks, such as ABC News, BBC, CNN, and Fox News, also covered him extensively.[citation needed] He was mourned globally, and a family spokesman said the family “certainly believes that Muhammad was a citizen of the world … and they know that the world grieves with him”.[294] Politicians such as Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Bill Clinton, Donald Trump, David Cameron and more paid tribute to Ali. Ali also received numerous tributes from the world of sports including Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, Floyd Mayweather, Mike Tyson, the Miami Marlins, LeBron James, Steph Curry and more. Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer stated, “Muhammad Ali belongs to the world. But he only has one hometown.”[294] The day after Ali’s death, the UFC paid tribute to Ali at their UFC 199 event in a lengthy video tribute package, crediting Ali for his accomplishments and inspiring multiple UFC champions.[295]


External videos
video icon “Muhammad Ali Memorial Service”, C-SPAN[296]
Ali’s headstone, with an inscription of his quote: “Service to others is the rent you pay for your room in heaven”
Ali’s funeral had been pre-planned by himself and others for several years prior to his actual death.[297] The services began in Louisville on June 9, 2016, with an Islamic Janazah prayer service at Freedom Hall on the grounds of the Kentucky Exposition Center. The Janazah prayer was attended by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.[298] On June 10, 2016, the funeral procession passed through the streets of Louisville ending at Cave Hill Cemetery, where his body was interred during a private ceremony. A public memorial service for Ali at downtown Louisville’s KFC Yum! Center was held during the afternoon of June 10.[299][300][301] Billy Crystal, his wife Lonnie Ali, sports journalist Bryant Gumbel and former President Bill Clinton all gave the eulogies.[302] The pallbearers included Will Smith, Lennox Lewis and Mike Tyson, with honorary pallbearers including George Chuvalo, Larry Holmes and George Foreman.[303] Ali’s memorial was watched by an estimated 1 billion viewers worldwide.[237]
If the measure of greatness is to gladden the heart of every human being on the face of the earth, then he truly was the greatest. In every way he was the bravest, the kindest and the most excellent of men.
— Tribute from Bob Dylan.[304]


In boxing

Ali remains the only three-time lineal heavyweight champion. He is the only boxer to be named The Ring magazine Fighter of the Year six times and was involved in more Ring “Fight of the Year” bouts than any other fighter. He was one of only three boxers to be named “Sportsman of the Year” by Sports Illustrated. He was also named BBC Overseas Sports Personality of the Year three times.[305] Ali was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in its first year[306] and held wins over seven other Hall of Fame inductees during an era that has been called the golden age of heavyweight boxing.[citation needed] His joint records of beating 21 boxers for the world heavyweight title and winning 14 unified title bouts stood for 35 years.[note 1][note 2][307][308][better source needed]

In Ali’s hometown

In 1978, shortly after becoming heavyweight champion of the world for the third time, and three years before his permanent retirement, Ali received a round of accolades in his hometown of Louisville. In September, at a tribute ceremony held at Fairgrounds Stadium, then-Governor of Kentucky Julian Carroll proclaimed 1978 the “Year of Ali” and presented to Ali the Governor’s Distinguished Service Award. Carroll said he signed the proclamation because “no single day or week – or even month – ever could contain the deeds of this man.”[309] In November, the Louisville Board of Aldermen voted 6–5 to rename downtown thoroughfare Walnut Street to Muhammad Ali Boulevard, via an ordinance shortly signed into law by then-Mayor William B. Stansbury.[310] This was controversial at the time, as within a week 12 of the 70 street signs were stolen.[311]
The Muhammad Ali Center, alongside Interstate 64 on Louisville, Kentucky’s riverfront
As the street renaming was under consideration, a committee of the Jefferson County Public Schools (Kentucky) considered renaming Ali’s alma mater, Central High School, in his honor. Despite an initial endorsement by then-Jefferson County Judge/Executive and current Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, and an affirmative vote by the Jefferson County Fiscal Court, the committee decided not to proceed, citing long-time school tradition and alumni disagreement, even though they urged other ways to honor Ali in the community.[312] In time, Muhammad Ali Boulevard—and Ali himself—came to be well accepted in his hometown.[311] In November 2005, Ali and his wife Lonnie Ali opened the $54 million, 93,000 ft2, non-profit Muhammad Ali Center in downtown Louisville.[156][313] In addition to displaying his boxing memorabilia, the center focuses on core themes of peace, social responsibility, respect, and personal growth.[313][314][315]

Around the US and world

Martial artist and actor Bruce Lee was influenced by Ali, whose footwork he studied and incorporated into his own style while developing Jeet Kune Do in the 1960s.[316] Opened in 1976, Ali Mall, located in Araneta Center, Quezon City, Philippines, is named after Ali. Construction of the mall, the first of its kind in the Philippines, began shortly after his victory in a match with Joe Frazier in nearby Araneta Coliseum in 1975. Ali attended its opening.[317] The Muhammad Ali vs. Antonio Inoki fight the same year played an important role in the history of mixed martial arts.[318] In Japan, the match inspired Inoki’s students Masakatsu Funaki and Minoru Suzuki to found Pancrase in 1993, which in turn inspired the foundation of Pride Fighting Championships in 1997. Pride was acquired by its rival, Ultimate Fighting Championship, in 2007.[319][320]
President George W. Bush embraces Ali after presenting him with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2005, during ceremonies at the White House.
Ali was the recipient of the 1997 Arthur Ashe Courage Award.[321] He was presented with the Presidential Citizens Medal by President Bill Clinton in January 2001[322] and with the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President George W. Bush in November 2005.[323][324] For his work with the civil rights movement and the United Nations, he received the Otto Hahn Peace Medal in Gold from the UN Association of Germany (DGVN) in Berlin in December 2005.[325] The Muhammad Ali Boxing Reform Act was introduced in 1999 and passed in 2000, to protect the rights and welfare of boxers in the United States. In May 2016, a bill was introduced to United States Congress by Markwayne Mullin, a politician and former MMA fighter, to extend the Ali Act to mixed martial arts.[326] In June 2016, US senator Rand Paul proposed an amendment to the US draft laws named after Ali, a proposal to eliminate the Selective Service System.[327] In June 2007, Ali received an honorary doctorate of humanities at Princeton University’s 260th graduation ceremony.[328] In 2015, Sports Illustrated renamed its Sportsman Legacy Award to the Sports Illustrated‘s Muhammad Ali Legacy Award. The annual award was originally created in 2008 and honors former “sports figures who embody the ideals of sportsmanship, leadership and philanthropy as vehicles for changing the world”. Ali first appeared on the magazine’s cover in 1963 and went on to be featured on numerous covers during his storied career.[329] The Society of Voice Arts and Sciences created the Muhammad Ali Voice of Humanity Honor in 2016, which is presented at its annual Voice Arts Awards. The award was created in collaboration with the Muhammad Ali Center and is presented to “an individual whose voice, through humanitarianism, activism or personal sacrifice, has made a decidedly positive impact on our national or global condition as a society”. Sculptor Marc Mellon created the bronze sculpture for the award, which depicts Ali mid-speech.[330] Recipients of the honor include Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Ken Burns, Vance Jones, Lonnie Ali, Stacey Abrams, Wes Studi, and Manuela Testolini.[331] In January 2017, the Muhammad Ali Commemorative Coin Act was introduced into the 115th Congress but was not enacted.[332][333]

20th-century superlatives

By the end of the 20th century, Ali had made it onto several superlatives lists or otherwise was mentioned in superlative terms covering the century or a large portion thereof. Ali was ranked at or near the top of most lists of the 20th century’s greatest boxers.[334][335][336] He was crowned Sportsman of the Century by Sports Illustrated.[337] Named BBC’s Sports Personality of the Century, he received more votes than the other five candidates combined.[338][335] The Associated Press ranked him as the second best boxer and best heavyweight of the 20th century.[336] He was named Athlete of the Century by USA Today, and ranked as the third greatest North American athlete of the 20th century by ESPN SportsCentury. Ali was named “Kentucky Athlete of the Century” by the Kentucky Athletic Hall of Fame in ceremonies at the Galt House East.[339] Ali was named one of the 100 most influential Americans of the 20th century by Life magazine in 1990. In 1993, the Associated Press reported that Ali was tied with Babe Ruth as the most recognized athlete, out of over 800 dead or living athletes, in America. The study found that over 97% of Americans over 12 years of age identified both Ali and Ruth.[340] In 1999, he was one of three athletes, alongside Pelé and Jackie Robinson, named in Time magazine’s list of the 100 Most Important People of the 20th Century.[341][342]

In media and popular culture

As a world champion boxer, social activist, sex symbol and pop culture icon, Ali was the subject of numerous creative works including books, films, music, video games, TV shows, and other. Muhammad Ali was often dubbed the world’s “most famous” person in the media.[343][344] Several of his fights were watched by an estimated 1–2 billion viewers between 1974 and 1980, and his lighting of the torch at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics was watched by an estimated 3.5 billion viewers.[233]
Muhammad Ali pop art painting by John Stango
Ali appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated on 38 different occasions,[345] second only to Michael Jordan’s 50.[346] He also appeared on the cover of Time magazine 5 times.[347] In 2015, Harris Poll found that Ali was one of the three most recognizable athletes in the United States, along with Michael Jordan and Babe Ruth.[348] On the set of Freedom Road Ali met Canadian singer-songwriter Michel,[349] and subsequently helped create Michel’s album The First Flight of the Gizzelda Dragon and an unaired television special featuring them both.[350]
Wax statue of Ali at Madame Tussauds, London
Ali was the subject of the British television program This Is Your Life in 1978 when he was surprised by Eamonn Andrews.[351] Ali was featured in Superman vs. Muhammad Ali, a 1978 DC Comics comic book pitting the champ against the superhero. In 1979, Ali guest starred as himself in an episode of the NBC sitcom Diff’rent Strokes. The show’s title itself was inspired by the quote “Different strokes for different folks” popularized in 1966 by Ali, who also inspired the title of the 1967 Syl Johnson song “Different Strokes”, one of the most sampled songs in pop music history.[352] He also wrote several bestselling books about his career, including The Greatest: My Own Story and The Soul of a Butterfly. The Muhammad Ali effect, named after Ali, is a term that came into use in psychology in the 1980s, as he stated in The Greatest: My Own Story: “I only said I was the greatest, not the smartest.”[208] According to this effect, when people are asked to rate their intelligence and moral behavior in comparison to others, people will rate themselves as more moral, but not more intelligent than others.[353][354] Ali cooperated with Thomas Hauser on a biography, Muhammad Ali: His Life and Times. The oral history was released in 1991. When We Were Kings, a 1996 documentary about the Rumble in the Jungle, won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature.[355] The 2001 biopic Ali garnered a Best Actor Oscar nomination for Will Smith for his portrayal of Ali.[356] Prior to making the film, Smith rejected the role until Ali requested that he accept it. Smith said the first thing Ali told him was: “Man, you’re almost pretty enough to play me.”[357] In 2002, Ali was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for his contributions to the entertainment industry.[358] His star is the only one to be mounted on a vertical surface, out of deference to his request that the name Muhammad—a name he shares with the Islamic prophet—not be walked upon.[359][360] His 1966 fight against George Chuvalo was the subject of the 2003 documentary film The Last Round: Chuvalo vs. Ali.[361] A decade later, The Trials of Muhammad Ali, a documentary directed by Bill Siegel that focuses on Ali’s refusal of the draft during the Vietnam War, opened in Manhattan in August 2013.[79][362] A 2013 made-for-TV movie titled Muhammad Ali’s Greatest Fight dramatized the same aspect of Ali’s life. Antoine Fuqua’s documentary What’s My Name: Muhammad Ali was released in 2019. Then in September 2021, documentary filmmaker Ken Burns released the four-part docuseries Muhammad Ali, spanning over eight hours on Ali’s life. The series, which Burns began developing in early 2016, was broadcast on PBS.[363][364] Dave Zirin, who watched an 8-hour rough cut of this documentary, called it “utterly outstanding” and said “the footage they found will blow minds”.[365] In fall 2024, the musical Ali, based on Ali’s life, is expected to debut at The Kentucky Center in Louisville before moving on to Broadway in 2025. The musical is being directed and written by Clint Dyer, deputy artistic director of London’s National Theatre and scored by Louisville Orchestra’s music director and conductor Teddy Abrams. Rapper and producer Q-Tip is joining as music director and co-lyricist.
LIFE Magazine March 6, 1964
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