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Saturday, 1 January, 2000, 00:00 GMT
Millennium reaches the home of time
The London Eye millennium wheel lit up during New Year's Eve
The world's global street party to herald the beginning of the third millennium has reached the home of time with midnight rushing across the Meridian Line, sparking celebrations across the UK and beyond.

Into 2000
As the historic moment passed zero degrees longitude at Greenwich, London, a wall of fire was due to shoot down the River Thames, as fast as the earth rotated into a new age.

Queen Elizabeth II, who had earlier attended a religious ceremony to emphasise the Christian focus of the day, officially opened the Millennium Dome before an audience of thousands, one of the focal points of the largest party the world has ever seen.

The passing of midnight in the UK came 14 hours after the first peoples of the earth witnessed the beginning of the year 2000 on Millennium Island in the Pacific island chain nation of Kiribati.
Coming up
Beach party in Brazil
Midnight reaches New York
Last moments of 1999 in US Samoa

A little over an hour later, as the party took off in New Zealand, the first baby born into the new millennium was delivered in its principle city, Auckland.

By the time the celebrations had reached the UK, many of the world's cities had already experienced the unique moment.

One of the most spectacular scenes came when hundreds of millions of people across continental Europe swelled the streets of some of the world's most famous cities as they joined together as midnight rushed westwards.
A Moscow Father Christmas
Muscovites break open the bubbly in Red Square

In Rome, the Pope briefly addressed Christians throughout the world, saying that he wished for a year of peace for all the peoples of the world.

Hundreds of thousands of people in Berlin and Paris cheered as their cities became the latest in a long list of locations to witness incredible light and firework shows, illuminating the earth.

Despite the party atmosphere, pilgrims in the Holy Land found space to lead a religious contemplation of the day with prayers and candle-lit processions in Bethlehem and Jerusalem.

At the same time, South Africa entered the year 2000 with its former and current presidents, Nelson Mandela and Thabo Mbeki, heading an event at the infamous Robben Island, the place of Mr Mandela's imprisonment during Apartheid.

Egypt marked the new year with a laser show on the Great Pyramids and an hour earlier Moscow saw a fireworks display to rival those already seen in Sydney and Beijing.

Elsewhere in Russia, officials said that there had been no of any millennium bug problems, including at its nuclear installations, despite warnings that the country would be one of the worst hit.

Celebrating, anticipating

Celebrations began on the International Dateline in the Pacific at 1000GMT when, in a simple ceremony, a boy held a torch aloft while an old man paddled them westwards out to sea from Millennium Island.

Welcoming a new dawn at Kiribati
The BBC's John Simpson, on the island, described the moment: "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.

"There was a real feeling of excitement."

In Tonga, the 81-year-old king, Tafa'ahau Tupou IV, led his country in prayer before a choir sang Handel's Messiah while hours later more than 20 tonnes of fireworks

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

At Buddhist temples in Japan, monks marked the new year by ringing their bells 108 times - one for each of the 108 evils.

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

Midnight is now rushing towards its final destinations - the Americas. Celebrations are getting under way along the USA's eastern seaboard while Brazil's Copacabana beach is the dramatic setting to a massive party.

Click here to tell us how you celebrated the new millennium

BBC's Robert Hall in London
"The largest crowds since the VE Day celebrations"
The BBC's Jon Kay
"More than half the world's population is now living in the 21st Century"
The BBC's Nicholas Witchell
"Twenty tonnes of fireworks watched by more than a million people"
London's Big Ben chimes midnight
See also:

31 Dec 99 | In Depth
01 Jan 00 | UK
31 Dec 99 | Science/Nature
31 Dec 99 | Asia-Pacific
31 Dec 99 | Asia-Pacific
31 Dec 99 | Asia-Pacific

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