Space Weapons

A United States Space Command impression of a conceptual satellite-based directed-energy weapon used to precisely strike targets on Earth
Space weapons are weapons used in space warfare. They include weapons that can attack space systems in orbit (for example, anti-satellite weapons), attack targets on the earth from space or disable missiles travelling through space. In the course of the militarization of space, such weapons were developed mainly by the contesting superpowers during the Cold War, and some remain under development today. Space weapons are also a central theme in military science fiction and sci-fi video games.

Space-to-space weapons

The Soviet Almaz secret military space station program was equipped with a fixed 23mm autocannon to prevent hostile interception or boarding by hostile forces. This was the first and so far the only space-to-space weapon to be fired in orbit. The Soviet uncrewed Polyus weapons platform was designed to be equipped with a megawatt carbon-dioxide laser and a self-defense cannon.

Earth-to-space weapons

The Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense System. A RIM-161 Standard Missile 3 anti-ballistic missile is launched from USS Shiloh, a US Navy Ticonderoga-class cruiser.
Anti-satellite weapons, which are primarily surface-to-space and air-to-space missiles, have been developed by the United States, the USSR/Russia, India and the People’s Republic of China. Multiple test firings have been done as part of recent Chinese and U.S test programs that involved destroying an orbiting satellite. In general, the use of explosive and kinetic kill systems is limited to relatively low altitudes due to space debris issues and so as to avoid leaving debris from launch in orbit.

Strategic Defense Initiative

On March 23, 1983, President Ronald Reagan proposed the Strategic Defense Initiative, a research program with a goal of developing a defensive system which would destroy enemy ICBMs. The defensive system was nicknamed Star Wars, after the movie, by its detractors. Some concepts of the system included Brilliant Pebbles, which were Kinetic Kill Vehicles, essentially small rockets launched from satellites toward their targets (a warhead, warhead bus, or even an upper stage of an ICBM). Other aspects included satellites in orbit carrying powerful laser weapons, plasma weapons, or particle beams. When a missile launch was detected, the satellite would fire at the missile (or warheads) and destroy it. Although no real hardware was ever manufactured for deployment, the military did test the use of lasers mounted on Boeing 747s to destroy missiles in the 2000s, however these were discontinued due to practical limitations of keeping a constant fleet airborne near potential launch sites due to the lasers range limitations keeping a small number from being sufficient. The tests took place at Edwards Air Force Base.[citation needed]

Space-to-Earth weapons

Orbital weaponry

Silbervogel: Nazi Germany space weapon project.
Orbital weaponry is any weapon that is in orbit around a large body such as a planet or moon. As of December 2022, there are no known operative orbital weapons systems, but several nations have deployed orbital surveillance networks to observe other nations or armed forces. Several orbital weaponry systems were designed by the United States and the Soviet Union during the Cold War. During World War II Nazi Germany was also developing plans for an orbital weapon called the Sun gun, an orbital mirror that would have been used to focus and weaponize beams of sunlight. Development of orbital weaponry was largely halted after the entry into force of the Outer Space Treaty and the SALT II treaty. These agreements prohibit weapons of mass destruction from being placed in space. As other weapons exist, notably those using kinetic bombardment, that would not violate these treaties, some private groups and government officials have proposed a Space Preservation Treaty which would ban the placement of any weaponry in outer space.

Orbital bombardment

Orbital bombardment is the act of attacking targets on a planet, moon or other astronomical object from orbit around the object, rather than from an aircraft, or a platform beyond orbit. It has been proposed as a means of attack for several weapons systems concepts, including kinetic bombardment and as a nuclear delivery system. During the Cold War, the Soviet Union deployed a Fractional Orbital Bombardment System from 1968 to 1983. Using this system, a nuclear warhead could be placed in low Earth orbit, and later de-orbited to hit any location on the Earth’s surface. While the Soviets deployed a working version of the system, they were forbidden by the Outer Space Treaty to place live warheads in space. The fractional orbital bombardment system was phased out in January 1983 in compliance with the SALT II treaty of 1979, which, among other things, prohibited the deployment of systems capable of placing weapons of mass destruction in such a partial orbit. Orbital bombardment systems with conventional warheads are permitted under the terms of SALT II. Some of the proposed systems rely on large tungsten carbide/uranium cermet rods dropped from orbit and depend on kinetic energy, rather than explosives, but their mass makes them prohibitively difficult to transport to orbit. As of 2020 the only true orbital bombardment in history has been executed for scientific purposes. On 5 April 2019 the Japanese Hayabusa2 robotic space probe released an explosive device called an “impactor” from space onto the surface of asteroid 162173 Ryugu, in order to collect debris released by the explosion. The mission was successful and Hayabusa2 retrieved valuable samples of the celestial body which it brought back to Earth.
LIFE Magazine October 21, 1957


Members of the Reichstag salute Adolf Hitler, dictator of Nazi Germany from 1933 to 1945
dictatorship is an autocratic form of government which is characterized by a leader, or a group of leaders, who hold governmental powers with few to no limitations. Politics in a dictatorship are controlled by a dictator, and they are facilitated through an inner circle of elites that includes advisers, generals, and other high-ranking officials. The dictator maintains control by influencing and appeasing the inner circle and repressing any opposition, which may include rival political parties, armed resistance, or disloyal members of the dictator’s inner circle. Dictatorships can be formed by a military coup that overthrows the previous government through force or they can be formed by a self-coup in which elected leaders make their rule permanent. Dictatorships are authoritarian or totalitarian, and they can be classified as military dictatorships, one-party dictatorships, personalist dictatorships, or absolute monarchies. The Latin word dictator originated in the early Roman Republic to refer to a constitutional office with “a temporary grant of absolute power to a leader to handle some emergency.” The earliest military dictatorships developed in the post-classical era, particularly in Shogun-era Japan and in England under Oliver Cromwell. Modern dictatorships first developed in the 19th century, which included Bonapartism in Europe and caudillos in Latin America. The 20th century saw the rise of fascist and communist dictatorships in Europe; fascism was largely eradicated in the aftermath of World War II in 1945, while communism spread to other continents, maintaining prominence until the end of the Cold War in 1991. The 20th century also saw the rise of personalist dictatorships in Africa and military dictatorships in Latin America, both of which became prominent in the 1960s and 1970s. The period following the collapse of the Soviet Union witnessed a sporadic rise in democracies across the world, despite several dictatorships persisting into the 21st century, particularly in Africa and Asia. During the early 21st century, democratic governments came to outnumber authoritarian states by 98 to 80. The second decade was marked by a democratic recession, following the 2008 global financial crisis which drastically reduced the appeal of the Western model across the world. By 2019, the number of authoritarian governments had again surmounted that of democracies by 92 to 87. Dictatorships often attempt to portray a democratic façade, frequently holding elections in order to establish their legitimacy or provide incentives to members of the ruling party, but these elections are not competitive for the opposition. Stability in a dictatorship is maintained through coercion and political repression, which involves the restriction of access to information, the tracking of the political opposition, and acts of violence. Dictatorships that fail to repress the opposition are susceptible to collapse through a coup or a revolution.


The power structures of dictatorships vary, and different definitions of dictatorship consider different elements of this structure. Political scientists such as Juan José Linz and Samuel P. Huntington identify key attributes that define the power structure of a dictatorship, including a single leader or a small group of leaders, the exercise of power with few limitations, limited political pluralism, and limited mass mobilization. The dictator exercises most or total power over the government and society, but sometimes elites are necessary to carry out the dictator’s rule. They form an inner circle, making up a class of elites that hold a degree of power within the dictatorship and receive benefits in exchange for their support. They may be military officers, party members, or friends or family of the dictator. Elites are also the primary political threats of a dictator, as they can leverage their power to influence or overthrow the dictatorship. The inner circle’s support is necessary for a dictator’s orders to be carried out, causing elites to serve as a check on the dictator’s power. To enact policy, a dictator must either appease the regime’s elites or attempt to replace them. Elites must also compete to wield more power than one another, but the amount of power held by elites also depends on their unity. Factions or divisions among the elites will mitigate their ability to bargain with the dictator, resulting in the dictator having more unrestrained power. A unified inner circle has the capacity to overthrow a dictator, and the dictator must make greater concessions to the inner circle to stay in power. This is particularly true when the inner circle is made up of military officers that have the resources to carry out a military coup. The opposition to a dictatorship represents all of the factions that are not part of the dictatorship and anyone that does not support the regime. Organized opposition is a threat to the stability of a dictatorship, as it seeks to undermine public support for the dictator and calls for regime change. A dictator may address the opposition by repressing it through force, modifying laws to restrict its power, or appeasing it with limited benefits. The opposition can be an external group, or it can also include current and former members of the dictator’s inner circle. Totalitarianism is a variation of dictatorship characterized by the presence of a single political party and more specifically, by a powerful leader who imposes personal and political prominence. Power is enforced through a steadfast collaboration between the government and a highly developed ideology. A totalitarian government has “total control of mass communications and social and economic organizations”. Political philosopher Hannah Arendt describes totalitarianism as a new and extreme form of dictatorship composed of “atomized, isolated individuals” in which ideology plays a leading role in defining how the entire society should be organized. Political scientist Juan José Linz identifies a spectrum of political systems with democracies and totalitarian regimes separated by authoritarian regimes with varied classifications of hybrid systems.[14][15] He describes totalitarian regimes as exercising control over politics and political mobilization rather than merely suppressing it.


Benito Mussolini in the March on Rome that installed him as dictator in Italy
A dictatorship is formed when a specific group seizes power, with the composition of this group affecting how power is seized and how the eventual dictatorship will rule. The group may be military or political, it may be organized or disorganized, and it may disproportionately represent a certain demographic.[16] After power is seized, the group must determine what positions its members will hold in the new government and how this government will operate, sometimes resulting in disagreements that split the group. Members of the group will typically make up the elites in a dictator’s inner circle at the beginning of a new dictatorship, though the dictator may remove them as a means to gain additional power.[17] Unless they have undertaken a self-coup, those seizing power typically have little governmental experience and do not have a detailed policy plan in advance.[18] If the dictator has not seized power through a political party, then a party may be formed as a mechanism to reward supporters and to concentrate power in the hands of political allies instead of militant allies. Parties formed after the seizure of power often have little influence and only exist to serve the dictator.[19] Most dictatorships are formed through military means or through a political party. Nearly half of dictatorships start as a military coup, though others have been started by foreign intervention, elected officials ending competitive elections, insurgent takeovers, popular uprisings by citizens, or legal maneuvering by autocratic elites to take power within their government.[20] Between 1946 and 2010, 42% of dictatorships began by overthrowing a different dictatorship, and 26% began after achieving independence from a foreign government. Many others developed following a period of warlordism.[21]

Types of dictatorships

A classification of dictatorships, which began with political scientist Barbara Geddes in 1999, focuses on where power lies. Under this system, there are three types of dictatorships. Military dictatorships are controlled by military officers, one-party dictatorships are controlled by the leadership of a political party, and personalist dictatorships are controlled by a single individual. In some circumstances, monarchies are also considered dictatorships if the monarchs hold a significant amount of political power. Hybrid dictatorships are regimes that have a combination of these classifications.[22]


Soldiers occupy Seoul, South Korea as part of the May 16 coup that placed General Park Chung Hee in power
Military dictatorships are regimes in which military officers hold power, determine who will lead the country, and exercise influence over policy.[23][24] They are most common in developing nations in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. They are often unstable, and the average duration of a military dictatorship is only five years, but they are often followed by additional military coups and military dictatorships. While common in the 20th century, the prominence of military dictatorships declined in the 1970s and 1980s.[25] Military dictatorships are typically formed by a military coup in which senior officers use the military to overthrow the government. In democracies, the threat of a military coup is associated with the period immediately after a democracy’s creation but prior to large-scale military reforms. In oligarchies, the threat of a military coup comes from the strength of the military weighed against the concessions made to the military. Other factors associated with military coups include extensive natural resources, limited use of the military internationally, and use of the military as an oppressive force domestically.[26] Military coups do not necessarily result in military dictatorships, as power may then be passed to an individual or the military may allow democratic elections to take place.[27] Military dictatorships often have traits in common due to the shared background of military dictators. These dictators may view themselves as impartial in their oversight of a country due to their nonpartisan status, and they may view themselves as “guardians of the state”. The predominance of violent force in military training manifests in an acceptance of violence as a political tool and the ability to organize violence on a large scale. Military dictators may also be less trusting or diplomatic and underestimate the use of bargaining and compromise in politics.[28]


An assembly at the Kremlin Palace of Congresses in Moscow, Soviet Union
One-party dictatorships are governments in which a single political party dominates politics. Single-party dictatorships are one-party states in which only the party in power is legalized, sometimes along with minor allied parties, and all opposition parties are banned. Dominant-party dictatorships or electoral authoritarian dictatorships are one-party dictatorships in which opposition parties are nominally legal but cannot meaningfully influence government. Single-party dictatorships were most common during the Cold War, with dominant-party dictatorships becoming more common after the fall of the Soviet Union.[29] Ruling parties in one-party dictatorships are distinct from political parties that were created to serve a dictator in that the ruling party in a one-party dictatorship permeates every level of society.[30] One-party dictatorships are more stable than other forms of authoritarian rule, as they are less susceptible to insurgency and see higher economic growth. Ruling parties allow a dictatorship to more broadly influence the populace and facilitate political agreement between party elites. Between 1950 and 2016, one-party dictatorships made up 57% of authoritarian regimes in the world,[29] and one-party dictatorships have continued to expand more quickly than other forms of dictatorship in the latter half of the 20th century.[31] Due to the structure of their leadership, one-party dictatorships are significantly less likely to face civil conflict, insurgency, or terrorism than other forms of dictatorship.[32][33] The use of ruling parties also provides more legitimacy to its leadership and elites than other forms of dictatorship[34] and facilitates a peaceful transfer of power at the end of a dictator’s rule.[35] One-party dictatorships became prominent in Asia and Eastern Europe during the Cold War as communist governments were installed in several countries.[30] One-party rule also developed in several countries in Africa during decolonization in the 1960s and 1970s, some of which produced authoritarian regimes.[36] A ruling party in a one-party dictatorship may rule under any ideology or it may have no guiding ideology. Marxist one-party states are sometimes distinguished from other one-party states, but they function similarly.[37] When a one-party dictatorship develops gradually through legal means, it can result in conflict between the party organization and the state apparatus and civil service, as the party rules in parallel and increasingly appoints its own members to positions of power. Parties that take power through violence are often able to implement larger changes in a shorter period of time.[34]


Citizens of North Korea bow to statues of former dictators Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il in 2012.
Personalist dictatorships are regimes in which all of the power lies in the hands of a single individual. They differ from other forms of dictatorships in that the dictator has greater access to key political positions and the government’s treasury, and they are more commonly subject to the discretion of the dictator. Personalist dictators may be members of the military or leaders of a political party, but neither the military nor the party exercises power independently from the dictator. In personalist dictatorships, the elite corps are usually made up of close friends or family members of the dictator, who typically handpicks these individuals to serve their posts.[38][39] These dictatorships often emerge either from loosely organized seizures of power, giving the leader opportunity to consolidate power, or from democratically elected leaders in countries with weak institutions, giving the leader opportunity to change the constitution. Personalist dictatorships are more common in Sub-Saharan Africa due to less established institutions in the region.[40] There has been an increase in personalist dictatorships since the end of the Cold War.[41] Personalist dictators typically favor loyalty over competence in their governments and have a general distrust of intelligentsia. Elites in personalist dictatorships often do not have a professional political career and are unqualified for positions they are given. A personalist dictator will manage these appointees by segmenting the government so that they cannot collaborate. The result is that such regimes have no internal checks and balances, and are thus unrestrained when exerting repression on their people, making radical shifts in foreign policy, or starting wars with other countries.[42] Due to the lack of accountability and the smaller group of elites, personalist dictatorships are more prone to corruption than other forms of dictatorship,[43] and they are more repressive than other forms of dictatorship.[44] Personalist dictatorships often collapse with the death of the dictator. They are more likely to end in violence and less likely to democratize than other forms of dictatorship.[45] Personalist dictatorships fit the exact classic stereotype of authoritarian rule.[46] Within a personalist regime an issue called “The dictator’s dilemma” arises.[47] This idea references the heavy reliance on repression of the public in order to stay in power, which creates incentives for all constituents to falsify their preferences, which does not allow for dictators to know the genuine popular beliefs or their realistic measure of societal support.[48] As a result of authoritarian politics, a series of major issues may ensue. Preference falsification, Internal politics, data scarcity, and restriction of media are just a few examples of the dangers of a personalistic authoritarian regime.[49] Although, when it comes to polling and elections a dictator could use their power to override private preferences. Many personalist regimes will install open ballots to protect their regimes and implement heavy security measures and censorship for those whose personal preferences do not align with the values of the leader.[50] The shift in the power relation between the dictator and their inner circle has severe consequences for the behavior of such regimes as a whole. Personalist regimes diverge from other regimes when it comes to their longevity, methods of breakdown, levels of corruption, and proneness to conflicts. On average, they last twice as long as military dictatorships, but not as long as one-party dictatorships.[51] Personalist dictatorships also experience growth differently, as they often lack the institutions or qualified leadership to sustain an economy.[52]

Absolute monarchy

King Ibn Saud of Saudi Arabia with two of his sons
An absolute monarchy is a monarchy in which the monarch rules without legal limitations. This makes it distinct from constitutional monarchy and ceremonial monarchy.[53] In an absolute monarchy, power is limited to the royal family, and legitimacy is established by historical factors. Monarchies may be dynastic, in which the royal family serves as a ruling institution similar to a political party in a one-party state, or they may be non-dynastic, in which the monarch rules independently of the royal family as a personalist dictator.[54] Monarchies allow for strict rules of succession that produce a peaceful transfer of power on the monarch’s death, but this can also result in succession disputes if multiple members of the royal family claim a right to succeed.[55] In the modern era, absolute monarchies are most common in the Middle East.[56]


Early dictatorships

Military dictator Antonio López de Santa Anna wearing a Mexican military uniform[57]
Dictatorship is historically associated with the Ancient Greek concept of tyranny, and several ancient Greek rulers have been described as “tyrants” that are comparable to modern dictators.[58][59] The concept of “dictator” was first developed during the Roman Republic. A Roman dictator was a special magistrate that was temporarily appointed by the consul during times of crisis and granted total executive authority. The role of dictator was created for instances when a single leader was needed to command and restore stability.[60] At least 85 such dictators were chosen over the course of the Roman Republic, the last of which was chosen to wage the Second Punic War. The dictatorship was revived 120 years later by Sulla after his crushing of a populist movement, and 33 years after that by Julius Caesar.[60] Caesar subverted the tradition of temporary dictatorships when he was made dictator perpetuo, or a dictator for life, which led to the creation of the Roman Empire.[61] The rule of a dictator was not necessarily considered tyrannical in Ancient Rome, though it has been described in some accounts as a “temporary tyranny” or an “elective tyranny”.[58] Asia saw several military dictatorships during the post-classical era. Korea experienced military dictatorships under the rule of Yeon Gaesomun in the 7th century[62] and under the rule of the Goryeo military regime in the 12th and 13th centuries.[63] Shoguns were de facto military dictators in Japan beginning in 1185 and continuing for over six hundred years.[64] During the Lê dynasty of Vietnam between the 16th and 18th centuries, the country was under de facto military rule by two rival military families: the Trịnh lords in the north and the Nguyễn lords in the south.[65] In Europe, the Commonwealth of England under Oliver Cromwell, formed in 1649 after the Second English Civil War, has been described as a military dictatorship by its contemporary opponents and by some modern academics.[66][67][68] Maximilien Robespierre has been similarly described as a dictator while he controlled the National Convention in France and carried out the Reign of Terror in 1793 and 1794.[68][69][70] Dictatorship developed as a major form of government in the 19th century, though the concept was not universally seen pejoratively at the time, with both a tyrannical concept and a quasi-constitutional concept of dictatorship understood to exist.[71] In Europe it was often thought of in terms of Bonapartism and Caesarism, with the former describing the military rule of Napoleon and the latter describing the imperial rule of Napoleon III in the vein of Julius Caesar.[72] The Spanish American wars of independence took place in the early-19th century, creating many new Latin American governments. Many of these governments fell under the control of caudillos, or personalist dictators. Most caudillos came from a military background, and their rule was typically associated with pageantry and glamor. Caudillos were often nominally constrained by a constitution, but the caudillo had the power to draft a new constitution as he wished. Many are noted for their cruelty, while others are honored as national heroes.[73]

Interwar dictatorships and World War II


The Nuremberg rallies celebrated fascism and the rule of Adolf Hitler in Nazi Germany.[74]
In the time between World War I and World War II, several dictatorships were established in Europe through coups which were carried out by far-left and far-right movements.[75] The aftermath of World War I resulted in a major shift in European politics, establishing new governments, facilitating internal change in older governments, and redrawing the boundaries between countries, allowing opportunities for these movements to seize power.[76] The societal upheaval caused by World War I and the unstable peace it produced further contributed to instability that benefited extremist movements and rallied support for their causes. Far-left and far-right dictatorships used similar methods to maintain power, including cult of personality, concentration camps, forced labour, mass murder, and genocide.[77] The first communist state was created by Vladimir Lenin and the Bolsheviks with the establishment of Soviet Russia during the Russian Revolution in 1917. The government was described as a dictatorship of the proletariat in which power was exercised by soviets.[78] The Bolsheviks consolidated power by 1922, forming the Soviet Union.[79] Lenin was followed by Joseph Stalin in 1924, who consolidated total power and implemented totalitarian rule by 1929.[80][81] The Russian Revolution inspired a wave of left-wing revolutionary movements in Europe between 1917 and 1923, but none saw the same level of success.[82] At the same time, nationalist movements grew throughout Europe. These movements were a response to what they perceived as decadence and societal decay due to the changing social norms and race relations brought about by liberalism.[83] Fascism developed in Europe as a rejection of liberalism, socialism, and modernism, and the first fascist political parties formed in the 1920s.[84] Italian dictator Benito Mussolini seized power in 1922, and began implementing reforms in 1925 to create the first fascist dictatorship.[85] These reforms incorporated totalitarianism, fealty to the state, expansionism, corporatism, and anti-communism.[86] Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party created a second fascist dictatorship in Germany in 1933,[87] obtaining absolute power through a combination of electoral victory, violence, and emergency powers.[88] Other nationalist movements in Europe established dictatorships based on the fascist model.[77] During World War II, Italy and Germany occupied several countries in Europe, imposing fascist puppet states upon many of the countries that they invaded.[89] After being defeated in World War II, the far-right dictatorships of Europe collapsed, with the exceptions of Spain and Portugal. The Soviet Union occupied nationalist dictatorships in the east and replaced them with communist dictatorships, while others established liberal democratic governments in the Western Bloc.[77]

Latin America

Dictatorships in Latin America were developed late into the 19th century and persisted into the 20th century like the Porfiriato of Mexico,[90] and further military coups established new regimes, often in the name of nationalism.[91] After a brief period of democratization, Latin America underwent a rapid transition toward dictatorship in the 1930s.[92] Populist movements were strengthened following the economic turmoil of the Great Depression, producing populist dictatorships in several Latin American countries.[93] European fascism was imported to Latin America as well, and the Vargas Era of Brazil was heavily influenced by the corporatism practiced in fascist Italy.[92]

Cold War dictatorships


A communist rally in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, during the country’s period of Marxist dictatorship, the People’s Democratic Republic of Ethiopia
The decolonisation of Africa prompted the creation of new governments, many of which became dictatorships in the 1960s and 1970s. Early African dictatorships were primarily personalist socialist dictatorships, in which a single socialist would take power instead of a ruling party. As the Cold War went on, the Soviet Union increased its influence in Africa, and Marxist–Leninist dictatorships developed in several African countries.[94] Military coups were also a common occurrence after decolonisation, with 14 African countries experiencing at least three successful military coups between 1959 and 2001.[95] These new African governments were marked by severe instability, which provided opportunities for regime change and made fair elections a rare occurrence on the continent. This instability in turn required rulers to become increasingly authoritarian to stay in power, further propagating dictatorship in Africa.[96]


The Chinese Civil War ended in 1949, splitting the Republic of China under Chiang Kai-shek and the People’s Republic of China under Mao Zedong. Mao established the People’s Republic of China as a one-party communist state under his governing ideology of Maoism. While the People’s Republic of China was initially aligned with the Soviet Union, relations between the two countries deteriorated as the Soviet Union underwent de-Stalinization in the late-1950s. Mao consolidated his control of the People’s Republic of China with the Cultural Revolution in the 1960s, which involved the destruction of all elements of capitalism and traditionalism in China.[97] Deng Xiaoping took power as the de facto leader of China after Mao’s death and implemented reforms to restore stability following the Cultural Revolution and reestablish free market economics.[98] Chiang Kai-shek continued to rule as dictator of the National government’s rump state in Taiwan until his death in 1975.[99]
Nicolae Ceaușescu (left) attending a stage event with Hafiz al-Assad (right), during his state visit to Ba’athist dictatorship of Syria
Marxist and nationalist movements became popular in Southeast Asia as a response to colonial control and the subsequent Japanese occupation of Southeast Asia, with both ideologies facilitating the creation of dictatorships after World War II. Communist dictatorships in the region aligned with China following the latter’s establishment as a communist state.[100] A similar phenomenon took place in Korea, where Kim Il Sung created a Soviet-backed communist dictatorship in North Korea[101] and Syngman Rhee created a US-backed nationalist dictatorship in South Korea.[102] The Middle East was decolonized during the Cold War, and many nationalist movements gained strength post-independence. These nationalist movements supported non-alignment, keeping most Middle Eastern dictatorships out of the American and Soviet spheres of influence. These movements supported pan-Arab Nasserism during most of the Cold War, but they were largely replaced by Islamic nationalism by the 1980s.[103] Several Middle Eastern countries were the subject of military coups in the 1950s and 1960s, including Iraq, Syria, North Yemen, and South Yemen.[104] A 1953 coup overseen by the American and British governments restored Mohammad Reza Pahlavi as the absolute monarch of Iran, who in turn was overthrown during the Iranian Revolution of 1979 that established Ruhollah Khomeini as the Supreme Leader of Iran under a Shia Islamist government, with Ali Khamenei taking over after Khomeini’s death.[103]


During World War II, many countries of Central and Eastern Europe had been occupied by the Soviet Union. When the war ended, these countries were incorporated into the Soviet sphere of influence, and the Soviet Union exercised control over their governments.[105] Josip Broz Tito declared a communist government in Yugoslavia during World War II, which was initially aligned with the Soviet Union. The relations between the countries were strained by Soviet attempts to influence Yugoslavia, leading to the Tito–Stalin split in 1948.[106] Albania was established as a communist dictatorship under Enver Hoxha in 1944. It was initially aligned with Yugoslavia, but its alignment shifted throughout the Cold War between Yugoslavia, the Soviet Union, and China.[107] The stability of the Soviet Union weakened in the 1980s. The Soviet economy became unsustainable, and communist governments lost the support of intellectuals and their population in general. In 1989, the Soviet Union was dissolved, and communism was abandoned by the countries of Central and Eastern Europe through a series of revolutions.[108]

Latin America

Military dictatorships remained prominent in Latin America during the Cold War, though the number of coups declined starting in the 1980s. Between 1967 and 1991, 12 Latin American countries underwent at least one military coup, with Haiti and Honduras experiencing three and Bolivia experiencing eight.[109] A one-party communist dictatorship was formed in Cuba when the dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista, weakened by an American arms embargo against his regime, was overthrown in the Cuban Revolution, creating the only Soviet-backed dictatorship in the western hemisphere.[110] To maintain power, Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet organized Operation Condor with other South American dictators to facilitate cooperation between their respective intelligence agencies and secret police organizations.[111]

21st century dictatorships

The nature of dictatorship changed in much of the world at the onset of the 21st century. Between the 1990s and the 2000s, most dictators moved away from being “larger-than-life figures” that controlled the populace through terror and isolated themselves from the global community. This was replaced by a trend of developing a positive public image to maintain support among the populace and moderating rhetoric to integrate with the global community.[112] In contrast to the overtly repressive nature of 20th century dictatorships, authoritarian strongmen of the 21st century are sometimes labelled “spin dictators”, rulers who attempt to monopolise power by authoritarian upgrading, appealing to democratic sentiments and covertly pursue repressive measures; such as embracing modern technology, manipulation of information content, regulation of cyberspace, slandering dissidents, etc. On the other hand, a handful of dictators like Bashar al-Assad and Kim Jong Un rule with deadly repression, violence and state-terrorism to establish extensive securitization through fear, in line with many 20th century dictatorships.[113][3]
Meeting between Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad and Belarusian autocrat Alexander Lukashenko in 2003
The development of the internet and digital communication in the 21st century have prompted dictatorships to shift from traditional means of control to digital ones, including the use of artificial intelligence to analyze mass communications, internet censorship to restrict the flow of information, and troll farms to manipulate public opinion.[114] 21st century dictatorships regularly hold sham elections with massive approval ratings, for seeking public legitimacy and maintaining the autocrat’s image as a popular figure loved by the masses. The manipulated election results are often weaponized as propaganda tools in information warfare, to galvanize supporters of the dictatorships against dissidents as well as to manufacture compliance of the masses by publicising falsified data figures. Another objective is to portray the dictator as the guardian figure who unifies the country, without whom its security disintegrates and chaos ensues. North Korea is the only country in East Asia to be ruled by the Kim family after the death of Kim Il-sung and hands over to his son Kim Jong-il in 1994 and grandson Kim Jong-un in 2011, as of today in the 21st century.[115] Dictatorship in Europe largely ended after the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, and the liberalization of most communist states.[108] Belarus under the rule of Alexander Lukashenko has been described as “the last European dictatorship”,[116][117] though the rule of Vladimir Putin in Russia has also been described as a dictatorship.[118][119][120] Latin America saw a period of liberalization similar to that of Europe at the end of the Cold War, with Cuba being the only Latin American country that did not experience any degree of liberalization between 1992 and 2010.[121] The countries of Central Asia did not liberalize after the fall of the Soviet Union, instead forming as dictatorships led by former elites of the Communist Party and then later by successive dictators. These countries maintain parliaments and human rights organizations, but these remain under the control of the countries’ respective dictators.[122] The Middle East and North Africa did not undergo liberalization during the third wave of democratisation, and most countries in this region remain dictatorships in the 21st century. Dictatorships in the Middle East and Northern Africa are either illiberal republics in which a president holds power through unfair elections, or they are absolute monarchies in which power is inherited. Iraq, Israel, Lebanon, and Palestine are the only democratic nations in the region, with Israel being the only nation in this region that affords broad political liberties to its citizens.[123] Although Tunisia was seen as a pillar of the Arab Spring for democracy, by 2023, it was no longer classified as a democracy.[124] Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has been described by several sources as a dictator.[125]


Most dictatorships exist in countries with high levels of poverty. Poverty has a destabilizing effect on government, causing democracy to fail and regimes to fall more often.[126] The form of government does not correlate with the amount of economic growth, and dictatorships on average grow at the same rate as democracies, though dictatorships have been found to have larger fluctuations. Dictators are more likely to implement long-term investments into the country’s economy if they feel secure in their power. Exceptions to the pattern of poverty in dictatorships include oil-rich Middle Eastern dictatorships and the East Asian Tigers during their periods of dictatorship.[127] The type of economy in a dictatorship can affect how it functions. Economies based on natural resources allow dictators more power, as they can easily extract rents without strengthening or cooperating with other institutions. More complex economies require additional cooperation between the dictator and other groups. The economic focus of a dictatorship often depends on the strength of the opposition, as a weaker opposition allows a dictator to extract additional wealth from the economy through corruption.[128]

Legitimacy and stability

Several factors determine the stability of a dictatorship, and they must maintain some degree of popular support to prevent resistance groups from growing. This may be ensured through incentives, such as distribution of financial resources or promises of security, or it may be through repression, in which failing to support the regime is punished. Stability can be weakened when opposition groups grow and unify or when elites are not loyal to the regime.[129] One-party dictatorships are generally more stable and last longer than military or personalist dictatorships.[29] A dictatorship may fall because of a military coup, foreign intervention, negotiation, or popular revolution.[130] A military coup is often carried out when a regime is threatening the country’s stability or during periods of societal unrest.[131] Foreign intervention takes place when another country seeks to topple a regime by invading the country or supporting the opposition.[132] A dictator may negotiate the end of a regime if it has lost legitimacy or if a violent removal seems likely.[133] Revolution takes place when the opposition group grows large enough that elites in the regime cannot suppress it or choose not to.[134] Negotiated removals are more likely to end in democracy, while removals by force are more likely to result in a new dictatorial regime. A dictator that has concentrated significant power is more likely to be exiled, imprisoned, or killed after ouster, and accordingly they are more likely to refuse negotiation and cling to power.[135] Dictatorships are typically more aggressive than democracy when in conflict with other nations, as dictators do not have to fear electoral costs of war. Military dictatorships are more prone to conflict due to the inherent military strength associated with such a regime, and personalist dictatorships are more prone to conflict due to the weaker institutions to check the dictator’s power.[136] In the 21st century, dictatorships have moved toward greater integration with the global community and increasingly attempt to present themselves as democratic.[112] Dictatorships are often recipients of foreign aid on the condition that they make advances toward democratization.[137] A study found that dictatorships that engage in oil drilling are more likely to remain in power, with 70.63% of the dictators who engage in oil drilling still being in power after five years of dictatorship, while only 59.92% of the non-oil producing dictators survive the first five years.[138]


An electoral slip in the 1936 German parliamentary election. Adolf Hitler and his inner circle are the only option.
Most dictatorships hold elections to maintain legitimacy and stability, but these elections are typically uncompetitive and the opposition is not permitted to win. Elections allow a dictatorship to exercise some control over the opposition by setting the terms under which the opposition challenges the regime.[139] Elections are also used to control elites within the dictatorship by requiring them to compete with one another and incentivizing them to build support with the populace, allowing the most popular and most competent elites to be promoted in the regime. Elections also support the legitimacy of a dictatorship by presenting the image of a democracy, establishing plausible deniability of its status as a dictatorship for both the populace and foreign governments.[140] Should a dictatorship fail, elections also permit dictators and elites to accept defeat without fearing violent recourse.[141] Dictatorships may influence the results of an election through electoral fraud, intimidation or bribing of candidates and voters, use of state resources such as media control, manipulation of electoral laws, restricting who may run as a candidate, or disenfranchising demographics that may oppose the dictatorship.[142] In the 20th century, most dictatorships held elections in which voters could only choose to support the dictatorship, with only one-quarter of partisan dictatorships permitting opposition candidates to participate.[143] Since the end of the Cold War, more dictatorships have established “semi-competitive” elections in which opposition is allowed to participate in elections but is not allowed to win, with approximately two-thirds of dictatorships permitting opposition candidates in 2018.[144] Opposition parties in dictatorships may be restricted by preventing them from campaigning, banning more popular opposition parties, preventing opposition members from forming a party, or requiring that candidates be a member of the ruling party.[144] Dictatorships may hold semi-competitive elections to qualify for foreign aid, to demonstrate a dictator’s control over the government, or to incentivize the party to expand its information-gathering capacity, particularly at the local level. Semi-competitive elections also have the effect of incentivizing members of the ruling party to provide better treatment of citizens so they will be chosen as party nominees due to their popularity.[145]


In a dictatorship, violence is used to coerce or repress all opposition to the dictator’s rule, and the strength of a dictatorship depends on its use of violence. This violence is frequently exercised through institutions such as military or police forces.[146] The use of violence by a dictator is frequently most severe during the first few years of a dictatorship, because the regime has not yet solidified its rule and more detailed information for targeted coercion is not yet available. As the dictatorship becomes more established, it moves away from violence by resorting to the use of other coercive measures, such as restricting people’s access to information and tracking the political opposition. Dictators are incentivized to avoid the use of violence once a reputation of violence is established, as it damages the dictatorship’s other institutions and poses a threat to the dictator’s rule should government forces become disloyal.[147] Institutions that coerce the opposition through the use of violence may serve different roles or they may be used to counterbalance one another in order to prevent one institution from becoming too powerful. Secret police are used to gather information about specific political opponents and carry out targeted acts of violence against them, paramilitary forces defend the regime from coups, and formal militaries defend the dictatorship during foreign invasions and major civil conflicts.[147] Terrorism is less common in dictatorships. Allowing the opposition to have representation in the regime, such as through a legislature, further reduces the likelihood of terrorist attacks in a dictatorship. Military and one-party dictatorships are more likely to experience terrorism than personalist dictatorships, as these regimes are under more pressure to undergo institutional change in response to terrorism.
LIFE Magazine September 11, 1939

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 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
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