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Thirty Years Ago: 1992

Updated: Nov 7, 2022

Thirty Years ago, my life changed when my little sister was born. While this shaped my future there was so much more occurring all over the globe. Here is a quick spin around 1992.

On the 1 February 1992 US President George W. Bush Senior and Russian President Boris Yeltsin meet declaring the Cold War officially over.

An Olympic Year

Later in the month, on 8 February, the Winter Olympics held in Albertville, France was officially opened. This was the last time that a Summer and Winter Olympic games were held in the same year.

Of the 1,800 athletes, 488 were women with women’s biathlon making its debut as an event adding to the sports on offer for female competitors.

In the women’s alpine skiing slalom, Annelise Coberger of New Zealand became the first athlete from the southern hemisphere to win a medal at a winter games when she took home silver in the alpine slalom. She would remain the only Kiwi winter Olympic medallist until 2018. To read more about Annelise Coberger click here

Australia sent 23 athletes to these games who competed in nine sports. It would be another decade before any medals were brought home.

In attendance at the games were representatives of 64 nations, including a number making their debut following the fall of the Soviet Union. There was also a “Unified Team” taking part which comprised athletes from Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Russia, Ukraine and Uzbekistan. The team also competed at the summer games later in the year, rounding out the only two times the team made Olympic appearances. At the winter games they finished second on the table behind Germany, the first time east and west were unified at a games since the fall of the Berlin Wall.

These winter games were last to feature demonstration sports with four of the eight demo sports going on to become staples of the games including curling and aerial skiing.

Annelise Coberger of New Zealand became the first athlete from the southern hemisphere to win a medal at a Winter games (Photo: NZ Sports Hall of Fame)

A few months later on 25 July, the Summer Olympic Games opened in Barcelona, Spain. This was the first time the Games were held since 1972 that no teams boycotted the games or were banned. Following the end of the Cold War, the fall of the Berlin Wall and the break-up of the Soviet Union a Unified Team represented many of the former Soviet Republics. This team topped the medal table followed by the USA and a united German team. Australia once again punched above our weight coming in tenth on the medal table with 7 gold, 9 silver and 11 bronze.

The mascot of the games was Cobi, a Catalan sheepdog that was created by a Spanish artist, Javier Mariscal in a cubist style that is inspired by the work of Picasso. His name came from the abbreviation of the organising committees name: Barcelona Olympic Organising Committee (COOB). [Pictured here]

The Fall of Communism & the Break-Up of Eastern Europe

In early January a coup had occurred in Georgia which saw the President flee. This typified the instability of the region in the wake of the Soviet Union dissolution. A number of separatist nations were beginning to emerge, and as other neighbouring Communist Governments fell, they too experienced great instability. These are just a few of the key points of a very complicated time period.

On the 15 January Yugoslavia began to break-up with Slovenia and Croatia gaining independence. On the 28 April the last remaining states of the former state (Serbia and Montenegro) declare the Republic of Yugoslavia as they continue to attack Bosnia and Herzegovina following their departure from the original state. As a result of the new Yugoslav attacks on Bosnia & Herzegovina the United Nations impose sanctions on the Yugoslav Republic.

On 17 July Slovakia declared independence marking the beginning of the end of Czechoslovakia.

Barely a week later, on 21 July, The Transnistria War came to an end. When the Soviet Union began to collapse the Pridnestrovian Moldavian Soviet Socialist Republic (today Transnistria) was established in the hope of remaining part of the Soviet Union should the rest of Moldova choose to reunite with Romania or declare independence.

In August 1991 Moldova declared independence which led to military conflict between the two parties and though a ceasefire was reached the political status of the region remains unresolved thirty years later. Approximately 700 people were killed during the short war.

The only places to recognise the status of Transnistria are three other un-recognised nations; Abkhazia, South Ossetia and Artsakh.

Today Transnistria is home to less than 350,000 people of which the majority identify as Russian and Moldovan equally (29% each). Approximately 22% of people identify as Ukrainian.

Two days after the end of the war the Georgian state of Abkhazia declared independence on 23 July. This led to war and remains a contested area today. For more on this you can read about it in detail in the blog:

Around the World

Around the rest of the world on 22 January rebels occupy the national radio station of Zaire (known as the Democratic Republic of the Congo now) and demanded the Government’s resignation. At the time the nation was under a one-party rule and though international pressure was increasing to introduce democracy it was proving to be a very slow process. The action of these rebels would have no immediate impact as it wasn’t until later in the year that an opposition party of sorts was established however two years later democratic elections were yet to take place.

In South Africa on 18 March those able to vote (at the time mainly white South Africans) voted to end Apartheid. This opened the door for South Africa to return to the world stage.

On 16 April the President of Afghanistan was ousted by rebels which led to a civil war that would last until 1996.

The next month, on 5 May, Russian leaders in Crimea declared their succession from Ukraine however this was withdrawn on 10 May. Like so many other international issues noted in this blog the topic is yet to be resolved thirty years later. To read more about the current War in Ukraine click here.

In positive world news, the first parliamentary elections were held in Burkina Faso since 1978 on 24 May. Despite this positive step the nations rule remained heavily one-sided, and the country remains one of the least developed in the world still 30 years later.

The rounded out with royal news and the announcement on the 9 December that Prince Charles and Princess Diana would divorce.

The Year in Pop Culture

In Australia Billy Ray Cyrus “Achy Breaky Heart” topped the charts while in the USA the big hit of the year was “End of the Road” by Boys II Men (finishing third on the Aussie chart).

On 20 August the Australian classic “Strictly Ballroom” by director Baz Luhrmann debuted and remains a popular Aussie film that has been adapted for the stage as well.

Around the world the highest grossing film was Batman Returns followed by Lethal Weapon 3 and Sister Act. Also hitting the top of the charts is the historical drama A League of Their Own which tells the story of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League that was established during World War Two and then ceased in 1954 when the men’s league was able to be re-established after the men returned from the war and the women returned to the kitchen.

The highest grossing film released in 1992 itself was Disney’s Aladdin (see below for more on the Disney universe in 1992).

The Aussie TV Show that was a staple of many childhoods, Bananas in Pyjamas debuted on the ABC on 20 July.

It was on Play School that the song “Bananas in Pyjamas” written by Carey Blyton in 1967 became popular and this led to the creation of the standalone TV Show.

The show was a lot of fun with B1 and B2 getting up to all kinds of fun with their friends the three teddies, Amy, Lulu and Morgan and the local store owner Rat in the Hat who always had a scheme on the run. All of the characters lived on Cuddles Avenue and the show ran until 2001. In 2011 it underwent a revamp (which in my opinion ruined it but then again I was no longer watching it or indeed the target audience), when it was converted to CGI.

International Year of Space

The year 1992 was designated by the United Nations as the International Year of Space in commemoration of Christopher Columbus’ voyage to the Americas in 1492. The theme of the celebrations was “Mission to Planet Earth” which saw a greater focus on the place of the earth in space rather than the wider concept of space itself. For example, in Australia satellites were used to study plant life on earth as a way to understand climate changes and the impact civilization has on the planet. Pictured below are some of the stamps & coins produced by the Australian Mint & Australia Post to celebrate the year.

The Disney Year

If you know me at all you’ll know that Disney was my childhood and as an adult I continued to develop a very deep love for all things Disney. For this reason, it seems only prudent to take a quick dive into what was happening in the Disney universe thirty years ago, in 1992, as a footnote to my recent blog on all things 1992!

To get the year off to a winning start Beauty and the Beast won Best Motion Picture (Musical or Comedy), Best Original Score (Motion Picture, Musical or Comedy) AND Best Original Song for “Beauty and the Beast” at the Golden Globes on 18 January.

Following on from these three gongs, two months later, on 30 March, the film became the first animated movie to be nominated in the Best Picture category at the Oscars. While it didn’t win this award the film did take home Best Original Score and Best Original Song, once again for “Beauty and the Beast”.

On 12 April Euro Disney opened to mixed reviews. At the time it was one of the largest parks and was recognised as one of the most beautiful, but it was very light when it came to attractions. Today it is known as Paris Disneyland, and it continues to have its own unique identify while trying to mesh the needs of the European public with the Disney brand. (In my opinion it is the most beautiful park in the world)!

The three big Disney films of the year were Newsies (10 April), Aladdin (25 November) and Muppet Christmas Carol (11 December).

Newsies bombed at the time, but it has gone on to become a popular Broadway musical. I don’t think the film is as bad as everyone says, it even involves a young Christian Bale singing but I can see that for 1992 it was not a film of the times. The historical story is an important one and clearly has had better success on the stage than on the screen.

The top Disney film of the year is without a doubt, Aladdin. Not only did it top the Disney charts but it was the highest grossing film of 1992 (that is of the film released throughout the calendar year).

One of my all-time favourite Christmas films is the Muppet Christmas Carol. Every Christmas Eve my family would watch it and the songs made it feel like Christmas. This is a tradition I have continued however we tend to watch it earlier in the season. As far as a Christmas Carol adaptation goes I think this is one of the better ones.


Further Reading:

*Where more information is provided see individual blogs or posts for further reading


  • Australia Through Time, 2004 Edition (Sydney: Random House, 2004)

  • The Visual History of the Modern World (Sydney: Funtastic, 2005)

  • Dateline: People, Places and Events (Sydney: Murdoch Books, 2006)

General Online:

  • Encyclopaedia Britannica; <>

  • National Geographic Education; <>

  • History Channel (A & E); <>

  • BBC World News; <>

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