2002 is a common year starting on Tuesday (see link for calendar). 2002 was the first palindromic year since 1991 and the last until 2112. 2002 was also designated:
- January 1 - Introduction of Euro banknotes and coins in the European Union
- January 1 - The launching of Autism Awareness Year in the United Kingdom
- January 5 - Charles Bishop, a 15 year-old student pilot, crashes a light aircraft into a Tampa, Florida building, evoking fear of a copycat 9/11 terrorist attack.
- January 9 - The United States Department of Justice announces it is going to pursue a criminal investigation of Enron
- January 9 - Linda Perham initiates her debate on autism in the House of Commons in the Palace of Westminster
- January 9 - Tony Blair answers the first ever question on autism in the House of Commons in Prime Minister's Question Time
- January 10 - Enrique Bolaños began his five-year term as President of the Republic of Nicaragua.
- January 13 - President George W. Bush faints after choking on a pretzel
- January 16 - A student shoots 6 people at the Appalachian School of Law. Three of those shot die
- January 16 - John Ashcroft announces that American Taliban member John Walker Lindh would be tried in the United States.
- January 16 - The UN Security Council unanimously establishes an arms embargo and the freezing of assets of Osama bin Laden, Al-Qaida, and the remaining Taliban
- January 17 - Eruption of Mount Nyiragongo in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, displacing an estimated 400,000 people
- January 18 - A Canadian Pacific Railway train carrying anhydrous ammonia derails outside of Minot, North Dakota, killing one man and calling into question the maintenance of CP track and the policy of voice-tracking used by Clear Channel Communications.
- January 20 - Inauguration of Churches Uniting in Christ
- January 22 - AOL Time Warner brings a federal suit against Microsoft seeking damages. The suit alleges that the market for AOL's Netscape Navigator Internet browser was harmed when Microsoft started to give away a competing browser
- January 22 - Kmart Corp becomes the largest retailer in American history to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.
- January 24 - Enron hearings begin and terrorist suspect John Walker Lindh's hearing begins.
- January 24 - The Department of Justice indicts Robert Nicholas Angleton of Houston, Texas on conspiring to murder his wife, Doris Angleton, along with his brother Roger. Robert also gets weapons-related charges.
- January 27 - Several explosions at a military dump in Lagos, Nigeria kills more than 1,000.
- January 30 - Slobodan Milosevic accuses the United Nations war crimes tribunal of an "evil and hostile attack" against him.
- May 6 - In the Netherlands, politician Pim Fortuyn is killed by Volkert van der Graaf.
- May 7 - Gay Canadian teenager Marc Hall is granted a court injunction ordering that he be allowed to attend his high school prom with his boyfriend.
- May 9 - The 38-day stand-off in the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem comes to an end when the Palestinians inside agreed to have 13 suspected militants among them deported to several different countries. The standoff started on April 2
- May 9 - In Kaspiysk, Russia, a remote-controlled bomb explodes during a holiday parade killing 43 and injuring at least 130
- May 10 - FBI agent Robert Hanssen is sentenced to life without the possibility of parole for selling American secrets to Moscow for $1.4 million in cash and diamonds
- May 11 - Diane Pretty, who campaigned for the right to die after being diagnosed with motor neurone disease, dies at a hospice near Luton, England
- May 12 - Former President Jimmy Carter arrives in Cuba for a five-day visit with Fidel Castro becoming first President of the United States, in or out of office, to visit the island since Castro's 1959 revolution
- May 15 - The Netherlands: elections for the Lower House
- May 20 - Restoration of East Timor independence
- May 22 - In Washington, DC, Chandra Levy's remains are found in Rock Creek Park
- May 22 - American civil rights movement: 16th Street Baptist Church bombing - A jury in Birmingham, Alabama convicts former Ku Klux Klan member Bobby Frank Cherry of the 1963 murders of four girls.
- May 23 - First Eurovision Song Contest in a former Soviet country, Estonia
- May 25 - A China Airlines Boeing 747-200 breaks apart in mid-air and plunges into the Taiwan Strait killing 225.
- May 26 - The Mars Odyssey finds signs of huge water ice deposits on the planet Mars.
- May 28 - Washington DC's medical examiner declares that Chandra Levy's death was the result of homicide
- May 31 through June 30 - 17th Football World Cup in Japan and South Korea
- November 2 - Opening of sixth Gay Games in Sydney, Australia.
- November 5 - U.S. Elections: The Republican Party maintains control of the House of Representatives and regains control of the Senate.
- November 7 - Iran bans advertising of US products.
- November 8 - Iraq disarmament crisis: UN Security Council Resolution 1441 – The United Nations Security Council unanimously approves a resolution on Iraq, forcing Saddam Hussein to disarm or face "serious consequences".
- November 9 - In Los Angeles, California, television and film actor Merlin Santana is shot to death while sitting in the passenger seat of a friend's car parked on the 3800 block of Victoria Avenue.
- November 13 - Iraq disarmament crisis: Iraq agrees to the terms of the UN Security Council Resolution 1441
- November 13 - The oil tanker Prestige sinks off the Galician coast and causes a huge oil spill.
- November 14 - Argentina defaults on a US$805 million World Bank payment
- November 15 - Hu Jintao becomes general secretary of the Communist Party of China.
- November 16 - A Campaign Against Climate Change march takes place in London from Lincoln's Inn Fields, past Esso offices to the United States Embassy.
- November 18 - Iraq disarmament crisis: United Nations weapons inspectors led by Hans Blix arrive in Iraq.
- November 21 - NATO invites Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia to become members.
- November 21 - Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal is fined £500 at Slough magistrate court following her conviction of one of her dogs attacking two children in Windsor Great Park
- November 22 - In Nigeria, more than 100 people are killed at an attack aimed at the contestants of the Miss World contest.
- November 25 - US President George W. Bush signs the Homeland Security Act into law, establishing the Department of Homeland Security in the largest US government reorganization since the creation of the Department of Defense in 1947 (the Senate passed the bill 90-9 on November 19).
- November 29 - Brian Henderson retires from reading the news at Sydney, Australia television station TCN-9. At his retirement he held the record for the longest serving television newsreader ever, having hosted the weekend evening bulletins on the station from 1957 until 1964 and the weeknight evening news bulletins on the station from 1964 until he retired in 2002.
Years in topic
For more deaths see: Deaths in 2002
- January 3 - Freddy Heineken, former CEO of the beer brewery Heineken.
- January 5 - Igor Cassini, gossip columnist ("Cholly Knickerbocker")
- January 4 - Antonio Todde (112), oldest man in the world at the time (from Thiana, Sardinia - Italy)
- January 4 - Esquivel, musician
- January 8 - Dave Thomas, founder of Wendy's International
- January 8 - Alexander Prochorow (65), Russian physicist, winner of the Nobel Prize for Physics 1964
- January 12 - Cyrus Vance (84), former United States Secretary of State (1977-1980)
- January 13 - Ted Demme (37), film and television director (Blow, Beautiful Girls)
- January 17 - Camilo Jose Cela (85), Spanish author, winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature 1989
- January 21 - Peggy Lee, Jazz performer, most famous for song Fever ("You give me fever...")
- January 22 - Jack Shea, American speed skater (double Olympic Champion 1932)
- January 23 - Pierre Bourdieu, French sociologist
- January 23 - Robert Nozick, (philosopher)
- January 28 - Astrid Lindgren (94), Swedish author of many best selling children's novels (Pippi Longstocking, Ronia, the Robber's Daughter, The Brothers Lionheart)
- January 29 - Harold Russell, actor
- January 29 or January 30 - Daniel Pearl, journalist
- February 1 - Hildegard Knef (76), actress, singer, writer
- February 3 - Aglaja Veteranyi (39), Romanian author
- February 6 - Guy Stockwell, actor
- February 9 - Princess Margaret of the United Kingdom (71)
- February 10 - Harold Furth (72), American leader in plasma physics and nuclear fusion.
- February 13 - Waylon Jennings, country musician\
- February 15 - Howard K. Smith, journalist
- February 15 - Kevin Smith (38), actor
- February 16 - Walter Winterbottom, the first England football manager.
- February 21 - John Thaw, actor
- February 22 - Chuck Jones, animator
- February 22 - Jonas Savimbi, rebel leader
- February 23 - Sir Stanley Matthews, 87, first football player to be knighted
- February 24 - Leo Ornstein, composer and pianist
- February 26 - Lawrence Tierney, actor
- February 27 - Spike Milligan, comedian, writer, poet
- February 28 - Helmut Zacharias, violinist
- March 1 - Doreen Waddell, vocalist of bands Soul II Soul and KLF
- March 11 - James Tobin, economist
- March 13 - Hans-Georg Gadamer (102), German philosopher
- March 14 - Cherry Wilder, author
- March 15 - Sylvester Weaver, television executive
- March 18 - Gösta Winbergh, tenor
- March 27 - Milton Berle, comedian, actor
- March 27 - Dudley Moore, comedian, actor
- March 27 - Billy Wilder (96), film screenwriter and director
- March 30 - Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon (101), Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother
- March 30 - Anand Bakshi (72), lyricist of over 4,000 songs.
- April 9 - Thomas Dinger, Musician Neu!, La Dusseldorf!}, and solo career.
- April 12 - Elisa Breton (88), surrealist
- April 18 - Thor Heyerdahl (87), Norwegian explorer on the Kon-Tiki expedition.
- April 23 - Linda Boreman, aka Linda Lovelace, porn star
- April 25 - Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes, rapper and 1/3 of multi-platinum trio TLC.
- May 3 - Mohan Singh Oberoi (103), hotelier, founder of the Oberoi chain of hotels
- May 5 - Hugo Bánzer Suarez (76), Bolivian politician, president of Bolivia (1971-1978) (1997-2001)
- May 6 - Pim Fortuyn (54), Dutch politician
- May 7 - Seattle Slew, Triple Crown-winning race horse (b. 1974)
- May 17 - Dave Berg (81), cartoonist for Mad Magazine
- May 19 - John Gorton, nineteenth Prime Minister of Australia
- May 19 - Walter Lord, writer
- May 20 - Stephen Jay Gould (60), paleontologist/evolutionist
- May 21 - Niki de Saint Phalle, artist
- May 23 - Sam Snead, golfer
- May 26 - Mamo Wolde, marathon runner
- June 1 - Hansie Cronje, (32) South African cricketer
- June 3 - Lew Wassermann (89), US industrialist
- June 4 - Fernando Belaunde Terry (89), Peruvian politician, president of Peru (1963-1968) (1980-1985)
- June 5 - Dee Dee Ramone (49), founding member and bassist of seminal punk rock group, The Ramones
- June 7 - Mary Lilian Baels, Princess of Rethy, Belgium
- June 10 - John Gotti (61), Mafia boss
- June 17 - Fritz Walter (81), German football player
- June 20 - Erwin Chargaff (96), biochemist
- June 20 - Timothy Findley (71), Canadian author
- June 20 - Tinus Osendarp, Dutch sprinter
- June 22 - Esther Lederer (83), also known as Ann Landers, advice columnist
- June 24 - Pierre Werner (88), Luxembourgian politician
- June 27 - John Entwistle (57), bassist for The Who
- June 29 - Rosemary Clooney (74), singer, actress
- June 29 - Ole-Johan Dahl (70), computer scientist who invented concepts in object-oriented programming
- July 2 - Ray Brown (75), jazz bassist
- July 4 - Laurent Schwartz, mathematician
- July 5 - Ted Williams (83), member of the Baseball Hall of Fame and player for the Boston Red Sox
- July 6 - Dhirubhai Ambani (70), industrialist, founder of Reliance group of companies.
- July 9 - Rod Steiger (77), actor
- July 14 - Joaquin Balaguer, Dominican politician, president of Dominican Republic (1960-1962, 1966-1978, 1986-1996)
- July 23 - Chaim Potok, novelist
- August 4 - Murder of Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman
- August 5 - Chick Hearn, pro-basketball announcer
- August 6 - Edsger Dijkstra, computer scientist
- August 14 - Dave Williams, the singer of Drowning Pool, found dead on the band's tour bus.
- August 31 - Lionel Hampton (94), vibraphone virtuoso
- September 7 - Erma Franklin, singer
- September 11 - Johnny Unitas (69), NFL quarterback
- September 18 - Bob Hayes, American athlete
- September 21 - Robert Lull Forward (70), science fiction author and physicist
- September 23 - Vernon Corea (75), broadcaster, pioneer of Radio Ceylon/BBC
- October 6 - Claus von Amsberg (76), husband of Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands
- October 10 - Teresa Graves, (54), actress
- October 13 - Stephen Ambrose, historian and Dwight Eisenhower biographer.
- October 18 - Nikolai Rukavishnikov, cosmonaut
- October 25 - Richard Harris (72), Irish actor
- October 25 - Paul Wellstone, U.S. Senator: A Democrat from Minnesota
- October 28 - Margaret Booth, film editor
- October 30 - Jam Master Jay, member of Run DMC
- November 2 - Charles Sheffield (67), science fiction author and physicist
- November 3 - Lonnie Donegan, musician
- November 3 - Jonathon Harris, actor
- November 15 - Myra Hindley, Moors murderess
- November 18 - James Coburn, actor
- November 26 - Verne Winchell, founder of Winchell's Donuts.
- December 3 - Glenn Quinn, actor from Angel season 1
- December 5 - Einar Skinnarland, SOE agent
- December 5 - Roone Arledge, sports broadcasting pioneer
- December 11 - Nani Palkhivala (82), jurist
- December 18 - Ray Hnatyshyn, former Canadian Governor-General
- December 22 - Joe Strummer, musician
- December 24 - Kjell Aukrust, Norwegian author
- December 26 - Herb Ritts, celebrity photographer
- Peace: Jimmy Carter, 39th US president "for his decades of untiring effort to find peaceful solutions to international conflicts, to advance democracy and human rights, and to promote economic and social development."
- Literature: Imre Kertész, Hungarian writer "for writing that upholds the fragile experience of the individual against the barbaric arbitrariness of history".
- Economic Sciences:
- Daniel Kahneman (Princeton University, USA) "for having integrated insights from psychological research into economic science, especially concerning human judgment and decision-making under uncertainty".
- Vernon L. Smith (George Mason University, USA) "for having established laboratory experiments as a tool in empirical economic analysis, especially in the study of alternative market mechanisms"
- Raymond Davis Jr. (Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, USA) and Masatoshi Koshiba (International Center for Elementary Particle Physics, University of Tokyo, Japan) "for pioneering contributions to astrophysics, in particular for the detection of cosmic neutrinos"
- Riccardo Giacconi (Associated Universities Inc., Washington DC, USA) "for pioneering contributions to astrophysics, which have led to the discovery of cosmic X-ray sources"
- Physiology or Medicine:
- 2002 Year-End Google Zeitgeist (http://www.google.com/press/zeitgeist2002.html) - Google's Yearly List of Major Events and Top Searches for 2002
- 2002 was Autism Awareness Year in the United Kingdom (http://www.ukautism.com) - initiated by Ivan and Charika Corea of the Autism Awareness Campaign and 800 UK organisations led by the BIBIC and the Disabilities Trust.