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The BBC's Nicholas Witchell reports
"A moment in time and history"
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The BBC's Jon Kay
"More than half the world's population is now living in the 21st Century"
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BBC's Robert Hall in London
"The largest crowds since the VE Day celebrations"
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Friday, 31 December, 1999, 18:54 GMT
The world turns to 2000

Thousands welcome the millennium in Jakarta

The world is welcoming the first day of the year 2000 as midnight works its way around the earth.

Into 2000
India has greeted the new millennium with pageantry and joyous scenes, coincinding with the safe return of a hijacked Indian airliner from Afghanistan.

Coming up
New Year at Bethleham's Manger Square here
Celebrations in Moscow's Red Square
A millennium part at Berlin's Brandenburg Gate
The opening of London's Millennium Dome
China and Hong Kong are already in the next millennium, along with the Pacific islands, New Zealand, Australia and Japan.

And in New Zealand, 2000's first baby - a boy - was born.

A simple ceremony on Millennium Island, part of the Kiribati chain, marked the first midnight moment for the world, 14 hours ahead of GMT.

A boy held a torch aloft while an old man paddled them out to sea, following the new day's journey westwards.

Welcoming a new dawn at Kiribati
The BBC's John Simpson, on the island, captured the moment saying: "Standing here, under the extraordinarily brilliant stars, on a bed of coral, the dancers were singing their hearts out, chanting, beating their great box drums. At the key moment they all shouted Tekeraoi, which means congratulations. There was a real feeling of excitement."

In Tonga, the 81-year-old king, Tafa'ahau Tupou IV, led his country in prayer before choirs sang Handel's Messiah.

New Zealand was next in line to celebrate. As fireworks and lasers lit up Auckland harbour, computer experts examined whether the Y2K bug has had an impact. New Zealand is the first industrialised nation to see 2000, so is thought of as a guide to how events may develop in other countries.

The country's central bank reported that all banking systems were working without problems. Basil Logan, chair of the NZ Y2K readiness commission said: "The lights are still on."

Fireworks over Sydney Harbour
Maori dances were also held for scientists at Scott base at the Antarctic under the midnight sun.

In Australia, more than 20 tonnes of fireworks were exploded in Sydney harbour as a million people crowded around the bridge and opera house.

Lights on the bridge spelt "Eternity" - the word written on the city's pavements by a reformed petty criminal for 40 years until he died in 1967.

Also reportedly joining in the celebrations, on a yacht belonging to Kerry Packer, was Microsoft chairman Bill Gates, apparently unworried by the Y2K bug.

A Tokyo temple bell being rung
At Buddhist temples in Japan, monks marked the new year by ringing their bells 108 times - one for each of the 108 evils. Visitors were then offering prayers, buying lucky charms and throwing money into charity boxes.

President Jiang Zemin of China rang in the new year as he lit a ceremonial torch in the capital Beijing.

Among the highlights were dragon dances on the Great Wall - the next year is also the Year of the Dragon in China and is considered to be the most auspicious in the Chinese zodiac.

Greenwich awaits

In just a few hours time, midnight will reach zero degrees longitude, the Greenwich Meridian, which since 1884 has been the base line of the world's time.

But billions of people are celebrating at their local time, taking the opportunity to party and - in Nelson Mandela's words - to be reminded of "change and the possibilities of the new millennium".

Click here to tell us how you celebrated the new millennium

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See also:
31 Dec 99 |  Sci/Tech
Little sign of the bug - so far
31 Dec 99 |  Asia-Pacific
Sydney's millennium spectacular
31 Dec 99 |  Asia-Pacific
In pictures: Party in the Pacific
31 Dec 99 |  Asia-Pacific
New millennium's first baby
31 Dec 99 |  UK
UK bids farewell to 20th century
31 Dec 99 |  UK
In pictures: The millennium countdown
31 Dec 99 |  Americas
World's oldest person misses millennium
31 Dec 99 |  Asia-Pacific
Kiribati kicks off the party
31 Dec 99 |  Asia-Pacific
Celebrating on Chatham Island

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