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1970 (MCMLXX) was a common year starting on Thursday of the Gregorian calendar, the 1970th year of the Common Era (CE) and Anno Domini (AD) designations, the 970th year of the 2nd millennium, the 70th year of the 20th century, and the 1st year of the 1970s decade.
- January 1
- January 5 – The 7.1 Mw Tonghai earthquake shakes Tonghai County, Yunnan province, China, with a maximum Mercalli intensity of X (Extreme). Between 10,000–14,621 were killed and 26,783 were injured.
- January 5 – The first episode of the United States soap opera All My Children is broadcast on the ABC television network.
- January 11 – the Kansas City Chiefs shock the football world by beating the heavily-favored Minnesota Vikings 23–7 in Super Bowl IV.
- January 14 – Biafra capitulates, ending the Nigerian Civil War.
- January 14 – Diana Ross and The Supremes perform their farewell live concert together at the Frontier Hotel in Las Vegas. Ross's replacement, Jean Terrell, is introduced onstage at the end of the last show.
- January 15 – After a 32-month fight for independence from Nigeria, Biafran forces under Philip Effiong formally surrender to General Yakubu Gowon.
- January 20 – The Greater London Council announces its plans for the Thames Barrier at Woolwich to prevent flooding (the barrier opens in 1981).
- January 21
- January 23 – Joseph Fielding Smith becomes the 10th President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
- January 26 –
- January 31 – I Want You Back becomes the Jackson 5's first Billboard No. 1 Hot 100 single.
- March 1 – Rhodesia severs its last tie with the United Kingdom, declaring itself a republic.
- March 4 — All 57 men aboard the French submarine Eurydice (S644) are killed when the vessel explodes while making a practice dive in the Mediterranean Sea.
- March 5 – The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty goes into effect, after ratification by 56 nations.
- March 6
- A bomb being constructed by members of the Weathermen and meant to be planted at a military dance in New Jersey, explodes, killing three members of the organization.
- Süleyman Demirel of AP forms the new government of Turkey (32nd government).
- March 7 — A solar eclipse passes along the Atlantic coast region. Totality is visible across southern Mexico and across the southeast coast of the United States, Nantucket, and Nova Scotia. It was the 27th solar eclipse of Solar Saros 139.
- March 12 –
- March 15 – The Expo '70 World's Fair opens in Suita, Osaka, Japan.
- March 16 – The complete New English Bible is published.
- March 17 –
- The United States Army charges 14 officers with suppressing information related to the My Lai Massacre.
- The critically wounded pilot of Eastern Air Lines Shuttle Flight 1320 saves the 68 passengers and five crew of the DC-9 jet, landing safely in Boston despite being shot by a hijacker who killed the co-pilot.
- March 18
- March 19
- Ostpolitik: The leaders of West Germany and East Germany meet at a summit for the first time since Germany's division into two republics. West German Chancellor Willy Brandt is greeted by cheering East German crowds as he arrives in Erfurt for a summit with his counterpart, East German Ministerpräsident Willi Stoph.
- March 20 – The Agency for Cultural and Technical Co-operation (ACCT) (Agence de Coopération Culturelle et Technique) is founded.
- March 21
- March 31
- May 1
- May 4 – Kent State shootings: Four students at Kent State University in Ohio, USA are killed and nine wounded by Ohio National Guardsmen, at a protest against the incursion into Cambodia.
- May 6
- May 8
- May 9 – In Washington, D.C., 100,000 people demonstrate against the Vietnam War.
- May 10 – The Boston Bruins win their first Stanley Cup since 1941 when Bobby Orr scores a goal 40 seconds into overtime for a 4–3 victory which completes a four-game sweep of the St. Louis Blues.
- May 11
- May 12 – The 1976 Winter Olympics are awarded to Denver, Colorado but it is later rejected in 1972.
- May 14
- May 17 – Thor Heyerdahl sets sail from Morocco on the papyrus boat Ra II, to sail the Atlantic Ocean.
- May 23 – A fire occurs in the Britannia Bridge over the Menai Strait near Bangor, Caernarfonshire, Wales, contributing to its partial destruction and amounting to approximately £1,000,000 worth of fire damage.
- May 24 – The scientific drilling of the Kola Superdeep Borehole begins in the USSR.
- May 26 – The Soviet Tupolev Tu-144 becomes the first commercial transport to exceed Mach 2.
- May 27 – A British expedition climbs the south face of Annapurna I.
- May 31
- August 7 – Harold Haley, Marin County Superior Court Judge, is taken hostage and murdered, in an effort to free George Jackson from police custody.
- August 17 - Venera program: Venera 7 is launched toward Venus. It later becomes the first spacecraft to successfully transmit data from the surface of another planet.
- August 18 - The United States sinks 418 containers of nerve gas into the Gulf Stream near the Bahamas.
- August 24 – Vietnam War protesters bomb Sterling Hall at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, leading to an international manhunt for the perpetrators.
- August 26
- The Women's Strike for Equality takes place on Fifth Avenue in New York City.
- The Isle of Wight Festival 1970 begins on East Afton Farm off the coast of England. Some 600,000 people attend the largest rock festival of all time. Artists include Jimi Hendrix, The Who, The Doors, Chicago, Richie Havens, John Sebastian, Joan Baez, Ten Years After, Emerson, Lake & Palmer, The Moody Blues and Jethro Tull.
- August 29 – The Chicano Moratorium, against the Vietnam War, begins East Los Angeles, California, and leads to a riot that kills three people, including journalist Rubén Salazar.
- August 31 - An annular solar eclipse is visible in Oceania, and is the 14th solar eclipse of Solar Saros 144.
- September 1 – An assassination attempt against King Hussein of Jordan precipitates the Black September crisis.
- September 3 – 6 – Israeli forces fight Palestinian guerillas in southern Lebanon
- September 4 – Chilean Socialist Senator Salvador Allende wins 36.2% of the vote in his run for presidency defeating former right-wing President Jorge Alessandri with 34.9% of the suffrages and Christian Democrat Radomiro Tomic with 27.8% of the votes
- September 5
- September 6 – Dawson's Field hijackings, The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine hijacks four passenger aircraft from Pan Am, TWA and Swissair on flights to New York from Brussels, Frankfurt and Zürich.
- September 7
- September 8 – 10 – The Jordanian government and Palestinian guerillas make repeated unsuccessful truces.
- September 9
- September 10
- September 11 – The Ford Pinto is introduced.
- September 13
- September 15 – King Hussein of Jordan forms a military government with Muhammad Daoud as the prime minister.
- September 17 – "Black September": King Hussein of Jordan orders the Jordanian Armed Forces to oust Palestinian fedayeen from Jordan.
- September 18 – American musician Jimi Hendrix dies at age 27 from an overdose of sleeping pills.
- September 19 – The first Glastonbury Festival is held, at a farm belonging to Michael Eavis.
- September 19 – Kostas Georgakis, a Greek student of geology, sets himself ablaze in Matteotti Square in Genoa, Italy, as a protest against the dictatorial regime of Georgios Papadopoulos.
- September 20
- September 21
- September 22
- September 23 – The first women's only tennis tournament begins in Houston, known as the Houston Women's Invitation.
- September 24 – The Odd Couple premiered on ABC.
- September 26 – The Laguna Fire starts in San Diego County, burning 175,425 acres (709.92 km2).
- September 27
- September 28 – Gamal Abdel Nasser dies; Vice President Anwar Sadat is named temporary president of Egypt.
- September 29
- October 2
- October 3
- October 4
- October 5
- October 6
- October 7 – General Juan José Torres becomes the new President of Bolivia.
- October 8
- October 9 – The Khmer Republic is proclaimed in Cambodia, escalating the Cambodian Civil War between the government and the Khmer Rouge.
- October 10
- October 11 – Eleven French soldiers are killed in a shootout with rebels in Chad.
- October 12 – Vietnam War: U.S. President Richard Nixon announces that the United States will withdraw 40,000 more troops before Christmas.
- October 13
- Canada and the People's Republic of China establish diplomatic relations.
- Saeb Salam forms a government in Lebanon.
- October 14 – A Chinese nuclear test is conducted in Lop Nor.
- October 15
- October 16 – October Crisis: The Canadian government declares a state of emergency and outlaws the Quebec Liberation Front.
- October 17
- October 20
- The Soviet Union launches the Zond 8 lunar probe.
- Egyptian president Anwar Sadat names Mahmoud Fawzi as his prime minister.
- October 21 – A U.S. Air Force plane makes an emergency landing near Leninakan, Soviet Union. The Soviets release the American officers, including two generals, November 10.
- October 22 – Chilean army commander René Schneider is shot in Santiago; the government declares a state of emergency. Schneider dies October 25.
- October 23 – Gary Gabelich sets a land speed record in a rocket-powered automobile called the Blue Flame, fueled with natural gas.
- October 24 – Salvador Allende is elected President of Chile by a run-off vote in the National Congress
- October 25 – The wreck of the Confederate submarine Hunley is found off Charleston, South Carolina, by pioneer underwater archaeologist, Dr. E. Lee Spence, then just 22 years old. Hunley was the first submarine in history to sink a ship in warfare.
- October 26 – Garry Trudeau's comic strip Doonesbury debuts in approximately two dozen newspapers in the United States.
- October 28
- October 30 – In Vietnam, the worst monsoon to hit the area in six years causes large floods, kills 293, leaves 200,000 homeless and virtually halts the Vietnam War.
- November 1
- November 3
- November 4
- November 5 – Vietnam War: The United States Military Assistance Command in Vietnam reports the lowest weekly American soldier death toll in five years (24 soldiers die that week, which is the fifth consecutive week the death toll is below 50; 431 are reported wounded that week, however).
- November 8
- November 9
- The Soviet Union launches Luna 17.
- Vietnam War: The Supreme Court of the United States votes 6–3 not to hear a case by the state of Massachusetts, about the constitutionality of a state law granting Massachusetts residents the right to refuse military service in an undeclared war.
- November 10 – Vietnam War – Vietnamization: For the first time in five years, an entire week ends with no reports of United States combat fatalities in Southeast Asia.
- November 12 – Soviet author Andrei Amalrik is sentenced to three years for 'anti-Soviet' writings.
- November 13
- November 14
- November 16 – The Lockheed L-1011 TriStar flies for the first time.
- November 17
- November 18
- November 19 – prime ministers meet in Munich.
- November 20 – The Miss World 1970 beauty pageant, hosted by Bob Hope at the Royal Albert Hall, London is disrupted by Women's Liberation protesters. Earlier on the same evening a bomb is placed under a BBC outside broadcast vehicle by The Angry Brigade, in protest at the entry of separate black and white contestants by South Africa.
- November 21
- November 22 – Guinean president Ahmed Sékou Touré accuses Portugal of an attack when hundreds of mercenaries land near the capital Conakry.
- November 23 – 24 – The Guinean army repels the landing attempts.
- November 23
- November 25 – 29 – A U.N. delegation arrives to investigate the Guinea situation.
- November 25 – In Tokyo, author and Tatenokai militia leader Yukio Mishima and his followers take over the headquarters of the Japan Self-Defense Forces in an attempted coup d'état. After Mishima's speech fails to sway public opinion towards his right-wing political beliefs, including restoration of the powers of the Emperor, he commits seppuku (public ritual suicide).
- November 26
- November 27 – Bolivian artist Benjamin Mendoza tries to assassinate Pope Paul VI during his visit in Manila.
- November 28 – The Montréal Alouettes defeated the Calgary Stampeders, 23-10, to win the 58th Grey Cup.
- November 30 – British Caledonian Airways Ltd. (BCal) is formed.
- December 1
- December 2 – The United States Environmental Protection Agency is established.
- December 3
- October Crisis: In Montreal, kidnapped British Trade Commissioner James Cross is released by the Front de libération du Québec terrorist group after being held hostage for 60 days. Police negotiate his release and in return the Government of Canada grants 5 terrorists from the FLQ's Chenier Cell their request for safe passage to Cuba.
- Burgos Trial: In Burgos, Spain, the trial of 16 Basque terrorism suspects begins.
- December 4
- The Spanish government declares a 3-month martial law in the Basque county of Guipuzco, over strikes and demonstrations.
- The U.N. announces that Portuguese navy and army units were responsible for the attempted invasion of Guinea.
- December 5
- December 7
- Giovanni Enrico Bucher, the Swiss ambassador to Brazil, is kidnapped in Rio de Janeiro; kidnappers demand the release of 70 political prisoners.
- The U.N. General Assembly supports the isolation of South Africa for its apartheid policies.
- During his visit to the Polish capital, German Chancellor Willy Brandt goes down on his knees in front of a monument to the victims of the Warsaw Ghetto, which will become known as the Warschauer Kniefall ("Warsaw Genuflection").
- December 12 – A landslide in western Colombia leaves 200 dead.
- December 13 – The government of Poland announces food price increases. Riots and looting lead to a bloody confrontation between the rioters and the government on December 15.
- December 15
- The USSR's Venera 7 becomes the first spacecraft to land successfully on Venus and transmit data back to Earth.
- The South Korean ferry Namyong Ho capsizes off Korea Strait; 308 people are killed.
- December 16 – The Ethiopian government declares a state of emergency in the county of Eritrea over the activities of the Eritrean Liberation Front.
- December 17 – Polish 1970 protests: Soldiers fire on civilians returning to work in Gdynia. Martial law is imposed in the country until December 22.
- December 20
- December 21 – The Grumman F-14 Tomcat makes its first flight.
- December 22
- The Libyan Revolutionary Council declares that it will nationalize all foreign banks in the country.
- Franz Stangl, the ex-commander of Treblinka, is sentenced to life imprisonment.
- December 23
- December 25 – The ETA releases Eugen Beihl.
- December 27 – President of India V. V. Giri declares new elections.
- December 28
- Burgos Trial: Three Basques are sentenced to death, twelve others sentenced to imprisonment (terms from 12 to 62 years), and one is released.
- The suspected killers of Pierre Laporte, Jacques and Paul Rose and Francis Sunard, are arrested near Montreal.
- December 29 – U.S. President Richard Nixon signs into law the Occupational Safety and Health Act.
- December 30 – In Viscaya in the of Spain, 15,000 go on strike in protest at the Burgos trial death sentences. Francisco Franco commutes the sentences to 30 years in prison.
- December 31 – Paul McCartney sues in Britain to dissolve The Beatles's legal partnership.