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21st February

1613 Michael Romanov was elected czar of Russia, starting the Romanov imperial line.

1885 The 555 feet high George Washington obelisk was inaugurated in Washington D.C.

1901 The Republic of Cuba was founded.

1910 * Sir Douglas Bader, British World War II fighter pilot.

1916 Battle of Verdun, the longest and one of the bloodiest engagements of World War I, began.

1924 * Robert Mugabe, ZANU leader and the first Prime Minister of Zimbabwe.

1931 The 'New Statesman' was published for the first time.

1937 * Harold V, King of Norway.

1937 * Jilly Cooper, English novelist and journalist.

1947 A Woman To Remember, the first television soap opera, began in the USA.

1953 Francis H. Crick and James Dewey Watson discovered the structure of a DNA molecule.

1960 Cuban leader Fidel Castro nationalised all businesses in Cuba.

1965 Controversial black leader Malcolm X, who once called for a "blacks-only" state in the US, was assassinated.

1972 President Nixon became the first US president to visit China.

1985 Isabel Peron resigned as head of Peronist party in Argentina.

1995 Steve Fossett became the first person to cross the Pacific Ocean solo in a balloon.

2001 The European Commission banned all British milk, meat and livestock exports following the outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease.

2002 It was confirmed that Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl was dead, allegedly murdered by Islamic militants.

xxxx * = Date of birth

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