On Jan. 14, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, Tunisia’s president of more than 23 years, fled to Saudi Arabia after massive protests erupted across the country. His fall was followed by unrest in countries including Libya, Egypt, Bahrain, Morocco, Kuwait, Oman, Jordan and Algeria. On Feb. 11, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak stepped down, ending his 30-year rule. On Oct. 20, Libya’s Muammar Gadhafi was killed as his hometown of Sirte fell to rebels (see photo).
Debt crisis in Europe
On March 7, the American credit rating agency Moody’s Investors Service downgraded the credit rating of Greek sovereign debt to B1, marking the start of the European sovereign debt crisis and worsening the economic situation in the eurozone. The crisis sparked changes of government in the worst-hit countries, including Ireland, Portugal, Greece, Italy and Spain.
‘Occupy Wall Street’ protest
The “Occupy Wall Street” protest began Sept. 17 in Zuccotti Park, located in New York City’s Wall Street financial district. The protests are against social and economic inequality, high unemployment, greed, as well as corruption, and have sparked similar protests around the world.
Iranian nuclear crisis
On Nov. 8, the U.N. nuclear watchdog IAEA published a report, claiming that Iran had made plans to develop nuclear explosive devices and had been carrying out related experiments as early as 2003. Although Teheran rejected the allegation, Western countries such as the United States, Britain and France took the lead in imposing tougher sanctions on Iran, sparking anger among Iranian people. Protesters broke into the British embassy compound in Tehran on Nov. 29 (see photo).’
Earthquake in Japan
On March 11, a 9.0-magnitude earthquake struck Japan’s northeastern coast and triggered a huge tsunami, killing 15,645 people and leaving 4,984 others missing. The crisis also caused radioactive leaks from several reactors at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant. The accident was rated by the Japanese authorities as level seven, the most serious on an international scale, the same as the 1986 Chernobyl accident in Ukraine.
Osama bin Laden killed
On May 1, U.S. Navy commandos killed al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden in a cross-border helicopter-borne raid in Abbotabad, Pakistan, in what was seen as a heavy blow to the terrorist group. In the photo, President Barack Obama and other U.S. officials watch the live video of the raid.
North Korean leader passes away
Kim Jong Il, the top leader of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), died on a train during an inspection tour Dec. 17. The country now has a new leader — Kim Jong Un (2nd L), Kim Jong Il’s youngest son.
Global population exceeds 7 billion
The world’s symbolic 7 billionth baby, named Danica Camacho, was born in the Fabella Maternity Hospital in Manila, the Philippines, on Oct. 31.