2011: The Year in Photos, Part 1 of 3

2011 was a year of global tumult, marked by widespread social and political uprisings, economic crises, and a great deal more. We saw the fall of multiple dictators, welcomed a new country (South Sudan), witnessed our planet's population grow to 7 billion, and watched in horror as Japan was struck by a devastating earthquake, a tsunami, and a nuclear disaster. From the Arab Spring to Los Indignados to Occupy Wall Street, citizens around the world took to the streets in massive numbers, protesting against governments and financial institutions, risking arrest, injury, and in some cases their lives. Collected here is Part 1 of a three-part photo summary of the last year, covering 2011's first several months. Be sure to come back tomorrow and the next day for Parts 2 and 3 of a series that will total 120 images in all. [41 photos total]

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A wave approaches Miyako City from the Heigawa estuary in Iwate Prefecture after the magnitude 9.0 earthquake struck the area March 11, 2011. The earthquake, the most powerful ever known to have hit Japan, combined with the massive tsunami, claimed more than 15,800 lives, devastated many eastern coastline communities, and triggered a nuclear catastrophe at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power station. (Reuters/Mainichi Shimbun) #
A protester stands in front of a burning barricade during a demonstration in Cairo, Egypt, on January 28, 2011. Police and demonstrators fought running battles on the streets of Cairo on Friday in a fourth day of unprecedented protests by tens of thousands of Egyptians demanding an end to President Hosni Mubarak's three-decade rule. (Reuters/Goran Tomasevic) #
KTM MRW Rally Factory's Juan Pedrero Garcia rides his motorcycle during the sixth stage of the 2011 Argentina-Chile Dakar Rally between Iquique and Arica in Chile, on January 7, 2011. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko) #
Tunisia's President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, left, visits Mohamed Bouazizi, a young man who set himself on fire acting out of desperation after police confiscated the fruits and vegetables he sold without a permit, at Ben Arous Burn and Trauma Center, in Tunis. The Tunisian unrest began after Bouazizi set himself on fire when police in the central town of Sidi Bouzid confiscated the fruits he was selling without a permit. Bouazizi died shortly after this photo was taken. This photo was released on December 28, 2010, and Bouazizi's story touched millions across the Arab world, tapping into decades-old anger, and triggered a series of uprisings leading to the fall of several dictators and widespread civil unrest that continues to this day. (AP Photo/Tunisian Presidency, File) #
At NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, the STS-133 crew takes a break from a simulated launch countdown to ham it up on the 195-foot level of Launch Pad 39A. From left are, Pilot Eric Boe, Mission Specialist Michael Barratt, Commander Steve Lindsey, and Mission Specialists Tim Kopra, Nicole Stott, and Alvin Drew. (NASA/Kim Shiflett) #
Orich Florestal (left), 24 and Rosemond Altidon, 22, stand on the edge of their partially destroyed apartment of Port-au-Prince January 9, 2011, close to the first anniversary of the earthquake that killed around 250,000 people and wrecked much of the capital Port-au-Prince in 2010. (Reuters/Allison Shelley) #
A gunman identified as Michael Gonzales aims his pistol at local village politician Reynaldo Dagsa shortly before Gonzales pulled the trigger, assassinating Dagsa in Manila, on January 5, 2011. Reynaldo Dagsa took this picture of his family on New Year's eve, moments before he was killed by Gonzales, who was captured on his camera together with an accomplice (man on the right). Police said they arrested both men charged in the assassination. (Reuters/Dagsa Family) #
Debris crushed a car outside the Christchurch Catholic Cathedral after an earthquake rocked Christchurch, New Zealand, on Tuesday, February 22, 2011. The 6.3-magnitude quake hit at the height of a busy workday, toppling tall buildings and churches, crushing buses and killing dozens of people in one of the country's worst natural disasters. (AP Photo/NZPA, David Wethey) #
A massive hole was punched through this house by a giant boulder which crashed through the home during the February 22 earthquake, near Lyttelton, on the outskirts of Christchurch, New Zealand, Thursday, February 24, 2011. (AP Photo/Mark Baker) #
The Mars Science Laboratory rover, Curiosity, on May 26, 2011, in Spacecraft Assembly Facility at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. The rover was shipped to NASA's Kennedy Space Center, Florida, on June 22, 2011. The mission launched successfully on November 26, 2011, and will land the Curiosity on Mars in August of 2012. (NASA/JPL-Caltech) #
A motorcycle policeman is engulfed in flames as his colleague tries to help him, after protesters threw a petrol bomb in Athens, Greece, on February 23, 2011. Scores of youths hurled rocks and petrol bombs at riot police after clashes broke out Wednesday during a mass rally taking place as part of a general strike. (AP Photo/Dimitri Messinis) #
A supporter of President Hosni Mubarak, on camel, fights with anti-Mubarak protesters in Cairo, Egypt, on February 2, 2011. Several thousand supporters of President Hosni Mubarak, including some riding horses and camels and wielding whips, clashed with anti-government protesters Wednesday as Egypt's upheaval took a dangerous new turn. (AP Photo/Mohammed Abou Zaid) #
Anti-government protesters gather by the thousands in Cairo's Tahrir Square in February of 2011, calling for an end to Hosni Mubarak's 30 years of dictatorship. (Reuters/Amr Abdallah Dalsh) #
Anti-government protesters in Cairo's Tahrir Square watch a broadcast of President Hosni Mubarak speaking to the nation on February 10, 2011. Protesters chanted, "down, down with Hosni Mubarak," and "leave, leave," in rage at the speech in which the president took half measures, not stepping down but handing over powers to his vice president. (Reuters/Dylan Martinez) #
After an abrupt change of position, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak resigned from power on February 11, 2011. A furious wave of protest had finally swept Mubarak from power after 30 years of one-man rule, sparking jubilation on the streets and sending a warning to autocrats across the Arab world and beyond. Here, demonstrators celebrate in Tahrir Square upon hearing the news of the resignation in Cairo, Egypt. (John Moore/Getty Images) #
Uprisings in Libya descended into civil war, with battles raging across desert roads and cities across the nation, with NATO forces controlling the skies and offering cover to rebel forces. Here, vehicles belonging to forces loyal to Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi explode after an air strike by coalition forces, along a road between Benghazi and Ajdabiyah, on March 20, 2011. (Reuters/Goran Tomasevic) #
Getty Images photographer Chris Hondros stands in front of a burning building while on assignment on April 18, 2011, in Misrata, Libya. Hondros, who was on assignment in Misrata, Libya, was killed on April 20, 2011 by a rocket-propelled grenade (RPG). (Katie Orlinsky/Getty Images) #
A massive tsunami sweeps in to engulf a residential area after a powerful earthquake in Natori, Miyagi Prefecture in northeastern Japan, on March 11, 2011. (Reuters/KYODO) #
Reporter Toya Chiba is swept up by a tsunami at Kamaishi port, Iwate prefecture on March 11, 2011. Chiba managed to survive the tsunami by grabbing a dangling rope and climbing onto a coal heap, Kyodo news reported. (Reuters/Kamaishi Port Office via Kyodo) #
Houses are swept by water following a tsunami and earthquake in Natori City in northeastern Japan, on March 11, 2011. (Reuters/KYODO) #
Cargo containers strewn about by the recent tsunami in Sendai, northern Japan, on March 12, 2011. (AP Photo/Itsuo Inouye) #
A woman sits amid wreckage caused by the massive March 11 earthquake and the ensuing tsunami, in Natori, northern Japan, on Sunday, March 13, 2011. (AP Photo/Asahi Shimbun, Toshiyuki Tsunenari) #
A Japanese home drifts in the Pacific Ocean in this photograph taken on March 13, 2011. Ships and aircraft from the U.S. Navy's Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group were searching for survivors in the coastal waters near Sendai, Japan, in the wake of 9.0-magnitude earthquake and tsunami. (Reuters/U.S. Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Dylan McCord) #
A volunteer cleans a family photo that was washed by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami as baby photos are placed to dry at a volunteer center in Ofunato, Iwate prefecture, on April 12, 2011. (Reuters/Toru Hanai) #
Ryo Taira (right) and an unidentified man lift a young porpoise out of a flooded rice field after it was swept there by the earlier tsunami in Sendai, Japan, on March 22, 2011. Taira found the porpoise struggling in the shallow water on Tuesday and after failing to net it, waded in to the field, which had yet to be sown with rice, to cradle the animal in his arms. (Reuters/Asahi Shimbun) #
A boy that survived the tsunami plays in a toy car in front of a real car still balancing on its front end after being washed up by the March 11 tsunami in Ishinomaki, Miyagi prefecture, on April 6, 2011. (Yasuyoshi Chiba/AFP/Getty Images) #
In this Friday, April 1, 2011, photo released by the Japan Coast Guard, members of the Japan Coast Guard rescue a dog after it was found drifting on the roof of a tsunami-wrecked house floating off Kesennuma, northeastern Japan. The dog wore a collar, but there was no address on it. (AP Photo/Japan Coast Guard) #
Residents take a hot outdoor bath amongst tsunami devastation in Kesennuma city, Miyagi prefecture, on April 14, 2011. (Yasuyoshi Chiba/AFP/Getty Images) #
Anti-government protesters display their arms and hands during a demonstration demanding the resignation of Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh, in Sanaa, Yemen, on April 4, 2011. Yemeni troops opened fire on crowds of protesters, killing at least six and wounding more than 30 others on Monday, according to various witnesses and medical officials. Arabic reads from right, "Our blood for our country", "Victory, Leave, Or we die, Murderer". (AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen) #
Britain's Prince William and his new wife Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge kiss on the balcony at Buckingham Palace, watched by bridemaids Grace van Cutsem (left) and Margarita Armstrong-Jones and pageboy Tom Pettifer, after their wedding in Westminster Abbey, in central London, on April 29, 2011. (Reuters/Dylan Martinez) #
An aerial photo shows tornado damage at the Lowe's Home Improvement Center in Sanford, North Carolina, on April 17, 2011. A tornado ripped through the area Saturday as a line of severe storms moved across the state. (AP Photo/The News & Observer, Thomas Babb) #
Andy Page cries as he sits with his cat, Ellie, placed in a pet carrier, in his demolished apartment in Trenton, Georgia, on Thursday, April 28, 2011, after overnight storms hit the North Georgia and Chattanooga, Tennessee, area. Page has several cats and Ellie was the last one he was looking for. (AP Photo/Chattanooga Times Free Press, Angela Lewis) #
U.S. President Barack Obama (2nd left) and Vice President Joe Biden (left), along with members of the national security team, receive an update on the mission against Osama bin Laden in the Situation Room of the White House, May 1, 2011. A team of United States Navy SEALs was at that moment descending on a compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, raiding the suspected residence of bin Laden. Also pictured are Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (2nd right) and Defense Secretary Robert Gates (right). (Reuters/White House/Pete Souza/Handout) #
Crowds gather outside the White House in Washington early Monday, May 2, 2011, to celebrate after President Barack Obama officially announced the death of Osama bin Laden at the hands of U.S. forces in a compound in Pakistan. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta) #
A photo taken by a local resident, shows the wreckage of a helicopter next to the wall of the compound where according to officials, Osama bin Laden was shot and killed in a firefight with U.S. forces in Abbottabad, Pakistan on Monday, May 2, 2011. The aircraft was a secretly developed stealth helicopter, which crashed during the operation, the remaining pieces later delivered to U.S. authorities by Pakistan. (AP Photo/Mohammad Zubair) #
Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni (left) hits a six to win against Sri Lanka as teammate Yuvraj Singh reacts during the Cricket World Cup 2011 final at The Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai on April 2, 2011. India went on to win the World Cup, beating Sri Lanka by six wickets. (Indranil Mukherjee/AFP/Getty Images) #
A Libyan rebel fighter smokes a cigarette next to an improvised multiple rocket launcher in the back of a pickup truck, as the rebels prepare to make an advance, in the desert on the outskirts of Ajdabiya, Libya, on Thursday, April 14, 2011. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis) #
The Texas Forest Service undertook controlled burns on Sunday, April 17, 2011 to get rid of fuel on the mountains around McDonald Observatory in the Davis Mountains of West Texas, which were experiencing widespread forest fires. Here, Black Mountain is burning. The Hobby-Eberly Telescope dome is at right. (Frank Cianciolo/McDonald Observatory) #
Protesters, members of "Los Indignados", take part in a demonstration with a banner that reads "System Error", in Madrid, Spain, on May 17, 2011. (Dominique Faget/AFP/Getty Images) #
Hands are raised in protest at Puerta del Sol square in Madrid, Spain, on May 20, 2011 during a rally against Spain's economic crisis, jobless rate, austerity measures, political structure, and more. (Pedro Armestre/AFP/Getty Images) #
The photo of Osama bin Laden's dead body. Undoubtedly, this photo, if it had been released, would have been one of the iconic (if gory) photos of the year. According to reports, at least three sets of photographs of bin Laden's body exist, somewhere in the custody of the CIA. President Obama has decided against releasing them to the public, concerned about them being used to incite further violence, or being used as a propaganda tool. Several FOIA requests have reportedly been declined. (Photographer unknown) #

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