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- March 1 - Castle Bravo: the United States tests its first lithium deuteride fueled thermonuclear weapon at Bikini Atoll in the Marshall Islands.
- March 4 - Todor Zhivkov is named General Secretary of the Bulgarian Communist Party.
- March 13 - The KGB is founded to serve as the secret police of the Soviet Union. Ivan Serov is appointed chairman.
- March 13 to May 7 - The Battle of Điện Biên Phủ is fought.
- May 4 to 7 - Alfredo Stroessner seizes control of Paraguay following a successful coup.
- May 25 - Hồ Chí Minh launches a campaign of land reform in North Vietnam.
- June 18 to 27 - The CIA installs Carlos Castillo Armas as the military dictator of Guatemala, deposing democratically-elected leader Jacobo Árbenz.
- August 1 - End of the First Indochina War.
- September 3 - The Communist Party of China takes control of the the Yijiangshan Islands from Taiwan.
- November 1 - Beginning of the Algerian War of Independence.
- November 30 - Daniel François Malan steps down as Prime Minister of South Africa. Johannes Gerhardus Strijdom is appointed as his successor.
- December 2 - Joseph McCarthy is censured by the United States Senate.
- Unknown - William Unek commits his first killing spree near Mahagi in the Belgian Congo, killing 21 people with an axe.
- February 6 - Paul Hill
- February 26 - Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
- March 21 - Prayuth Chan-o-cha
- May 11 - Daniel Conahan
- May 26 - Danny Rolling
- June 17 - Pedro Rodrigues Filho
- July 28 - Hugo Chávez
- August 30 - Alexander Lukashenko
- September 8 - Mark Foley
- September 28 - Simon Bikindi
- November 2 - August Kreis
- November 10 - Henry Francis Hayes
- November 19 - Abdel Fattah el-Sisi
- November 26 - Velupillai Prabhakaran
- December 31 - Eric Schneiderman
- Unknown - Augustin Bizimana
- November 16 - Jon Garth Murray
- July 10 - Calogero Vizzini