Key events of 201127 december 2011, 14:05
Turmoil in the Arab world, deepening crisis on financial markets, disaster in Japan and the end of the line for Osama bin Laden: here is a panorama of world events in 2011.
- January 14: Confronted with a massive popular movement which unleashes unrest across the Arab world, Tunisia's authoritarian president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali flees the country, after 23 years in power.
The UN says some 300 have been killed in the unrest. In his absence he will be sentenced to 66 years in prison at three separate trials.
Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. ©REUTERS/Jacky Naegelen
- February 11: In Egypt, with massive crowds filling the central Tahrir Square in Cairo, leader Hosni Mubarak becomes the next Arab leader to step down, and hands over power to the military. Nearly 850 civilians are killed in the revolt. Mubarak, who had been in power since 1981, goes on trial in August.
A general view of Tahrir Square in Cairo February 12, 2011. ©REUTERS/Amr Dalsh
- February 14: In the latest country to join what is dubbed the Arab Spring, Bahrain sees protests calling for political reforms. Saudi Arabia sends troops, and the protests are crushed by mid-March. Around 30 people die during the repression.
- February 15-16: A rebellion erupts in Benghazi, Libya's second-biggest city against the 42-year-old regime of Moamer Kadhafi. On March 19, French, US and British forces launch UN-mandated air strikes, before handing over command to NATO on March 31. The opposition creates the National Transitional Council, which is recognised by the UN and over 60 countries.
- February 22: In New Zealand's city of Christchurch a devastating 6.3 temblor kills just over 200 people.
New Zealand's earthquake-shattered city of Christchurch. ©REUTERS/KYODO Kyodo
- February 26: Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen becomes the first political victim of the financial crisis rattling the eurozone after his ruling Fianna Fail party is crushed by voters angry over the economy and an EU-IMF bailout. He is followed out of office in March by Portuguese premier Jose Socrates.
Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen. ©REUTERS
- March 11: A massive earthquake and tsunami devastates northeastern Japan, leaving 20,000 people dead or missing and unleashing a nuclear crisis at the Fukushima plant, the worst since the 1986 Chernobyl disaster.
A pile of cars crushed by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami is seen at a damaged factory in Ishinomaki. ©REUTERS/Kim Kyung Hoon
- March 15: Syria becomes the next Arab country to face popular protests, which are heavily put down by the security forces. More than 4,000 people die in months of unrest, according to the UN. The regime of President Bashar al-Assad faces international pressure over the repression and Syria is later suspended from the Arab League.
- April 11: Troops loyal to Ivory Coast leader Alassane Ouattara capture his besieged rival Laurent Gbagbo in Abidjan after a disputed election. In November Gbagbo is transferred to the International Criminal Court.
- April 29: Britain's Prince William and his bride Kate Middleton marry with huge crowds and a global TV audience watching Britain's biggest royal celebration for three decades. They become the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.
British troops celebrate while watching the royal wedding between Britain's Prince William and Kate Middleton on television, in Lashkar Gah. ©REUTERS
- May 1: The Vatican confers "blessed" status -- one step from full sainthood -- on the late pope John Paul II at a solemn ceremony.
- May 2: Al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden, believed responsible for the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States, is shot dead by US commandos in Pakistan after a 10-year manhunt.
Members of the All India Anti-Terrorist Front (AIATF) hold portraits of U.S. President Barack Obama and al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden during a pro-U.S. rally. ©REUTERS/Parivartan Sharma
- May 14: IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn, a high-profile figure in French politics and global economics, resigns and faces trial after being accused of a sexual assault on a maid in his hotel suite in New York. The charges are later dismissed, but his presidential ambitions are ruined.
Former International Monetary Fund (IMF) chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn of France. ©REUTERS/Jason Lee
- May 17: The start of anti-capitalism demonstrations in Spain. They spread to Britain and the United States via Chile, with tens of thousands demonstrating around the world on October 15.
- May 26: Serbia arrests Europe's most wanted man Bosnian Serb wartime army commander Ratko Mladic. He is transferred to the UN's warcrimes court in the Hague.
- June 22: US President Barack Obama decides to bring 33,000 US surge troops home from Afghanistan by mid-2012. On July 17 Afghanistan begins handing responsibility for security from NATO soldiers to its own troops.
- July 9: South Sudan proclaims independence after a January referendum in which almost 99 percent voted in favour of secession. The new country becomes the UN's 193rd member state.
- July 21: The US space shuttle Atlantis cruises home for a final time closing a 30-year chapter in American space exploration, in which two shuttles -- Challenger and Columbia -- were lost in accidents with the death of 14 astronauts.
Space shuttle Atlantis (STS-135) is rolled over to the Obiter Processing Facility (OPF) shortly after landing at NASA's Kennedy Space Center Shuttle Landing Facility. ©REUTERS
- July 21: Eurozone leaders agree on a second bailout for Greece worth 159 billion euros ($215 billion) in a bid to prevent the country from going bankrupt and contagion setting in in the EU currency zone.
- July 22: 77 poeple are killed in massive twin bombing and shooting spree by a right-wing extremist Anders Behring Breivik in Norway. He is later judged insane.
People pay their respects at a sea of floral tributes to the victims of the attacks, outside the cathedral of Oslo July 25, 2011. ©REUTERS/Cathal McNaughton
- August 2: After a weeks-long battle, the US Congress agrees on a massive austerity plan and raising the US debt ceiling. On August 6 Standard and Poor's cuts the US credit rating from its top-flight triple-A for the first time in history, amid concerns over the country's deficit and debt.
- August 4: The police shooting of a 29-year-old black man in Tottenham, north London, provokes rioting in the capital and beyond. Across England, five people are killed and hundreds of shops looted, with some set alight.
Firemen continue to dowse down buildings set alight during riots in Tottenham in north London August 7, 2011. ©REUTERS/Luke MacGregor
- September 20: Burhanuddin Rabbani, Afghanistan's former president tasked with finding a peace deal with the Taliban, is assassinated in a turban suicide attack.
Former Afghan President Burhanuddin Rabbani. ©REUTERS/Omar Sobhani
- September 23: Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas unsuccessfully asks the United Nations to admit the state of Palestine. On October 31, however, Palestinians win entry to UNESCO, prompting the US to cut the organisation's funding.
- October 7: Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Liberian "peace warrior" Leymah Gbowee, and Yemen's Arab Spring activist Tawakkul Karman win the Nobel Peace Prize.
- October 20: Toppled Libyan leader Kadhafi is killed after forces from the country's new rulers seize his hometown of Sirte after a seven-month-long campaign. On October 23, the new rulers declare that Libya has been liberated.
A Libyan rebel fighter walks past graffiti depicting Col Muammar Gaddafi at a checkpoint near Yafran in western Libya. ©REUTERS/Bob Strong
- October 21: US President Barack Obama announces that US forces, numbering around 39,000, will be withdrawn from Iraq by the end of the year after a nearly nine-year campaign and 4,400 casualties.
President of the United States Barak Obama. ©REUTERS
- October 23: More than 600 die in a devastating 7.2 magnitude earthquake in eastern Turkey.
- October 23: The moderate Islamists of the Ennahda party win 89 of the 217 seats in Tunisia's new constituent assembly.
- October 27: European Union leaders reach a ground-breaking deal to save the bloc's single currency, including a new rescue of Greece, a trillion-euro bailout fund, and cut a deal squeezing banks to share the burden of the two-year debt crisis.
France's President Nicolas Sarkozy (L) embraces German Chancellor Angela Merkel before a working lunch at the Elysee Palace in Paris. ©REUTERS/John Schults
- October 31: The world's population passes the seven billion mark.
- November 6: Greek Socialist Prime Minister George Papandreou agrees to stand down amid a crippling debt crisis. He is succeeded by vice-president of the European Central Bank Lucas Papademos.
- November 7: Michael Jackson's doctor Conrad Murray is found guilty of involuntary manslaughter over the King of Pop's 2009 death. He is later sentenced to a maximum four years behind bars.
Dr. Conrad Murray sits with his lawyers during his arraignment on a charge of involuntary manslaughter in the pop star's death, in Los Angeles. ©REUTERS
- November 8: The UN atomic watchdog says in a report it has "serious concerns" about Iran's nuclear activities, and has "credible" information Tehran may have worked on developing atomic weapons, prompting the West to reinforce sanctions against the Islamic republic.
- November 12: Silvio Berlusconi becomes the latest leader to lose his job over the eurozone financial crisis, resigning amid Italy's 1,900-billion-euro debt burden. He is replaced by technocrat Mario Monti, who vows to balance the Italian budget by 2013.
Former Italian Prime Minister Berlusconi waves as he leaves his residence in downtown Rome. ©REUTERS
- November: The death toll from Thailand's worst floods in decades jumps to at least 666. The floods damage millions of homes and livelihoods.
- November 19: Start of a week of clashes in Egypt between police and demonstrators opposed to the military regime that will leave 42 dead. As during the revolution that ousted Mubarak, the unrest centres on Tahrir Square.
- November 23: In another development in the Arab Spring, after months of deadly clashes Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh signs a deal to hand over his powers after 33 years in office.
Yemen's outgoing President Ali Abdullah Saleh. ©REUTERS/Mohamed Al-Sayaghi
- November 26: The US space agency's Curiosity rover blasts off on a nearly nine-month journey to Mars where it will search for signs that life once existed on the Red Planet.
- November 29: Britain's embassy in Tehran is attacked by protesters angry at fresh sanctions against Tehran's nuclear programme. Britain expels Iranian diplomats and shuts its embassy in response.
Protesters burn a British flag taken down from the British embassy in Tehran. ©REUTERS
- November 30: Political parties in Belgium, which has been without a government for 535 days, agree on the blueprint of a ruling coalition to be headed by French-speaking Socialist Elio Di Rupo.
- December 4: Islamists trounce their liberal rivals in the opening phase of Egypt's first election since the fall of Mubarak, with one in four voters choosing hardline Salafists.
- December 4: In Russia, legislative elections see the ruling United Russia party of Prime Minister Vladmir Putin narrowly retain its majority despite allegations of widespread voter irregularities -- unleashing popular protests not seen since the 1990s.
- December 5: France and Germany call for a rewrite of the EU treaty to set uniform tough budget standards across the eurozone, as S&P threatens sweeping ratings downgrades if they fail to act to end the eurozone debt crisis.
- December 9: EU leaders back tighter budget policing in a desperate bid to save the eurozone, but Britain vetoes a new EU treaty.
- December 16: In the southern Philippines, mammoth floods unleashed by tropical storm Washi leave more than 1,000 dead or missing.
- December 17: North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il dies aged 69 of a heart attack, as Pyongyang urges people to rally behind Kim's youngest son Jong-Un.
- December 18: The last US forces leave Iraq nearly nine years after launching a divisive war to oust Saddam Hussein.
- December 19: Syria, suspended in November from the Arab League, agrees to allow an observer mission to monitor a deal to end nine months of bloodshed. The massacres go on, with 123 civilians killed on December 20. At least 40 people died in two suicide attacks in Damascus three days later that the government blamed on Al-Qaeda.