Today is Thursday, Jan. 1, the 1st day of 2015. There are 364 days left in the year.

Highlights in history on this date:

1622 - Papacy adopts Jan. 1 as beginning of new year instead of March 25.

1801 - Act of Union of Britain and Ireland tales effect.

1803 - Denmark bans import of slaves to the Danish West Indies, becoming the first country to ban slavery.

1804 - Haiti declares itself independent from France, becoming the world's first black republic.

1808 - U.S. Congress officially prohibits African slave trade.

1833 - British proclaim sovereignty over Falkland Islands.

1851 - The leader of the Taiping rebellion in China, Hung Hsiu-ch'uan, proclaims himself emperor.

1863 - U.S. President Abraham Lincoln signs the Emancipation Proclamation declaring most slaves free.

1877 - Britain's Queen Victoria is proclaimed Empress of India.

1892 - Ellis Island Immigrant Station in New York formally opens.

1901 - Commonwealth of Australia is proclaimed.

1935 - The colonies of Cyrenaica, Tripoli and Eezaan unite to form the nation of Libya.

1942 - Leaders of the U.S., U.K., U.S.S.R. and China sign the U. N. Declaration.

1949 - A U.N.-brokered cease-fire goes into effect between Pakistani and Indian troops fighting over the Kashmir region.

1951 - North Korean and Communist Chinese troops break through U.N. lines at 38th parallel.

1956 - Sudan is proclaimed an independent democratic republic.

1958 - European Common Market and Euratom agreements go into effect.

1959 - Fidel Castro leads Cuban revolutionaries to victory as dictator Fulgencio Batista flees to Dominican Republic.

1962 - Western Samoa becomes first sovereign independent Polynesian state.

1965 - The Palestine Liberation Organization is formed.

1979 - The United States and China hold celebrations in Washington and Beijing to mark the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries.

1984 - Brunei becomes fully independent from Britain.

1986 - Portugal is formally admitted to the European Community.

1990 - Prices of staple goods double and quadruple in Poland as government enacts radical plan to move from centrally planned to market economy; David Dinkins is sworn in as New York City's first black mayor.

1991 - Four Nicaraguan Sandinista army officers and 11 Salvadorans are arrested for selling Soviet-made anti-aircraft missiles to Salvadoran rebels.

1993 - Czechoslovakia peacefully splits into the independent Czech Republic and Slovakia.

1994 - Rival Afghan rebel leaders stage a bloody coup attempt that fails but sparks a year of fighting that leaves more than 15,000 people dead; the North America Free Trade Agreement takes effect.

1995 - Austria, Finland and Sweden join European Union, expanding it to 15 members.

1997 - Turkish troops cross into northern Iraq and kill at least 72 Kurdish rebels after the guerrillas attack a military outpost in Turkey.

1998 - More than 400 people, many of them women and children, are killed in western Algeria in the worst massacre so far in six years of violence by Islamic groups.

1999 - Eleven nations in the European Union adopt the euro as their common currency.

2000 - An anxious world holds its breath as computers silently switch to 2000, but the dreaded Y2K bug's first bite is barely felt.

2002 - Rwanda unveils a new flag, national anthem and coat-of-arms in an effort to promote reconciliation seven years after a half million people were killed in a state-sponsored genocide.

2003 - Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva of the Workers Party is inaugurated as Brazil's first working-class president and the first elected president from a leftist party.

2006 - Russia halts natural gas deliveries to Ukraine in a price dispute and accuses the country of stealing gas that goes through Ukraine on its way to Western Europe.

2007 - Ban Ki-moon, a 62-year-old South Korean career diplomat, becomes the United Nations' eighth secretary-general; passenger jet crashes off coast of Indonesia after facing heavy winds, killing all 102 people on board.

2008 - France's smoking ban in bars, restaurants, nightclubs and cafes goes into effect.

2009 - Slovakia becomes 16th country to adopt the euro.

2010 - A suicide bomber detonates his explosives-packed vehicle in a crowd of people watching a volleyball tournament in northwest Pakistan, killing 75 people in the deadliest attack in the country in more than two months.

2011 - Christians clash with Egyptian police in the northern city of Alexandria, furious over an apparent suicide bombing against worshippers leaving a New Year's Mass at a church that killed at least 21 people.

2012 - Yemen's opposition accuses outgoing President Ali Abdullah Saleh of trying to torpedo a power transfer deal by sparking a new crisis, as troops loyal to him clash with opposition forces, killing three.

2013 - A crowd stampedes after leaving a New Year's fireworks show in Ivory Coast's main city of Abidjan, killing 61 people, many of them children and teenagers — and injuring more than 200.

2014 — The Palestinian ambassador to the Czech Republic dies in an explosion that occurred when he opened an old safe that had been left untouched for more than 20 years.

Today's Birthdays:

Paul Revere, U.S. patriot (1735-1818); James George Frazer, British anthropologist (1854-1941); Kim Philby, British intelligence officer, Soviet spy (1912-1988); J. D. Salinger, U.S. author (1919-2010); Grandmaster Flash, U.S. rapper (1958--).

Thought for Today:

Time has no divisions to mark its passage, there is never a thunderstorm or blare of trumpets to announce the beginning of a new month or year. Even when a new century begins it is only we mortals who ring bells and fire off pistols — Thomas Mann, German author (1875-1955).