January 12, 1966. President Lyndon Johnson says the US should stay in South Vietnam until communist aggression ends.
January 15-17, 1966. A bloody military coup is staged in Nigeria, deposing the civilian government. The Nigerian coup is overturned by another faction of the military, leaving a military government in power. This is the beginning of a long period of military rule.
January 19, 1966. Indira Ghandi, daughter of India’s first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru, is elected prime minister of India. She pledges to “strive to create what my father used to call a climate of peace.”
February, 1966. While President Nkrumah of Ghana is on a state visit to North Vietnam and China, his government is overthrown in a military coup. Nkrumah is best known politically for his strong commitment to and promotion of Pan-Africanism, a movement that seeks to unify African people or people living in Africa, into a “one African community”. He never returns to Ghana, living the remainder of his life in exile.
April 8, 1966. In a reshuffling of power at the Kremlin, Leonid Brezhnev becomes the apparent leader of the Soviet Union. As General Secretary of the Communist Party in Russia, Brezhnev appears to be the real power behind the government in the USSR.
June, 1966. The U.S. unmanned spacecraft Surveyor is the first craft to land on the moon.
August, 1966. Mao Zedong launches the Cultural Revolution in China. The movement is led by thousands of students organized into bands called “Red Guards.” Teachers, artists, and other intellectuals are humiliated in the streets. Mao’s dictum to his young army is: “Revolution is not writing an essay or painting a picture . . . Revolution is an act of violence when one class overthrows another.”
November, 1966. In China, the Red Guard demands the dismissal of heads of state Lui Shaopi and Deng Xiaoping.
During the year 1966:
Botswana, Lesotho, and Guyana become independent states within the British Commonwealth.
Tension between the United Kingdom and the rebel state of Rhodesia in southern Africa continues. The United Nations authorizes sanctions against Rhodesia, and the British Navy enforces a blockade on oil shipments to Rhodesia.