This Day in History - October 4
1957: The Soviet Union puts the first spacecraft, Sputnik, into orbit around Earth, heralding the start of the space age.
1830: The provisional government of Belgium proclaims the country's independence from The Netherlands.
1853: Turkey declares war on Russia, which occupied modern Romania three months earlier. Later Britain, France and Sardinia join the Crimean War on Turkey's side.
1930: Former presidential candidate Getulio Vargas leads a revolt in Brazil and later becomes president.
1945: The head of the wartime Vichy government in France, Pierre Laval, is put on trial in Paris as a traitor and a Nazi supporter. He is later executed.
1950: The UN consents to a US-backed invasion on North Korea.
1966: The British colony of Basutoland becomes independent as the Kingdom of Lesotho.
1971: The US calls on Egypt and Israel to work out an interim agreement on the reopening the Suez Canal as the first step toward resolving the Middle East crisis.
1980: Jordan becomes the first Arab state to openly support Iraq in its war with Iran, sending food and supplies.
1988: Brazil enacts new constitution, completing long-awaited "transition to democracy".
1990: German lawmakers meet in the Reichstag for the first meeting of reunified Germany's parliament.
1992: Government and Mozambique National Resistance rebels sign a peace treaty to end 15 years of civil war.
1993: Two US Blackhawk helicopters headed to capture a local warlord are shot down in the Somali capital of Mogadishu. Gun battles continue into the night while rescue attempts are made in hostile territory, leaving 18 US troops dead and 90 wounded.
1994: At least 60 people are reported dead in a month as parts of India is hit by a pneumonic plague.
1995: Israel announces that it will release 1,200 Palestinian prisoners over the next few days, signalling its intention to swiftly honour a key commitment under the new accord with the PLO.
1996: Armed Taliban fighters haul men off the streets and force them into mosques to hear fiery sermons during the first Muslim holiday in Kabul, Afghanistan, since the new Islamic rulers took over.
1997: The death toll reaches at least 100 in Algeria after a two day surge of massacres attributed to the Armed Islamic Group.
1999: A Croatian court convicts Dinko Sakic, a commander of a World War II death camp in Nazi-controlled Croatia, to 20 years in prison on war crime charges.
2001: A Ukrainian anti-aircraft missile brings down a Russian airliner over the Black Sea, killing all 78 people on board.
2004: Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia condemns what he calls international indifference to Palestinian suffering in the face of a broad Israeli offensive into the Gaza Strip.
2005: The UN Security Council urges Rwandan forces in Congo to disarm and return home without delay, four days after a deadline expires for them to leave or face eviction by force. The estimated 12,000 to 15,000 fighters are mostly extremist Rwandan militiamen blamed for the country's 1994 genocide.
2007: North Korea pledges to detail its nuclear programmes and disable all activities at its main reactor complex by year's end, after which they sign a wide-ranging reconciliation pact with South Korea.
2008: Poland turns over control of an area south of Baghdad to American troops, making it the latest in a string of countries to leave the dwindling US-led coalition.
2010: The Nobel Prize in medicine goes to 85-year-old Robert Edwards of Britain, a man whose work led to the first test tube baby, an achievement that helped bring four million infants into the world.
2011: After Italian prisoners gave her a boisterous send-off, Amanda Knox makes her way home to America, holing up with family on the upper deck of a jetliner to Seattle as she enjoys her first full day of freedom since her murder conviction was reversed.
Francois Guizot, French politician-historian (1787-1874); Buster Keaton, US comedian (1895-1966); Charlton Heston, US actor (1923-2008), Jackie Collins, US author (1937-), Susan Sarandon, US actress (1946-), Jon Secada, singer (1961-).