Turmoil, transition, triumph: The world in 2012
MANILA, Philippines - Like any other year, 2012 had its share of expected developments, from economics and sports, to arts and science, to entertainment and politics.
At the same time, however, it was a year full of surprises. There were conflicts and peace talks; elections, appointments, and coups; disasters man-made and natural; deaths and births; winners and losers; even events occurring outside our home planet.
2012 will be remembered not just for the chaos and change it brought, but also for reminding the human race that it can emerge victorious against all odds.
Here's a look back at some of the events that shaped the world in 2012.
The so-called Arab Spring of 2011 spilled over into 2012, but the promise it had in the previous year gave way to more violence and uncertainty, particularly in Syria. For the entire year, pro and anti-government forces battled it out in the streets of cities across the country, laying ruin to historic districts and to people's lives.
Aside from Syria, armed conflicts also occurred in Gaza; the DR Congo; Mali; and, as the year closed, in the Central African Republic, leaving hundreds dead, thousands displaced, and more lives changed for the worse.
There was also unrest and uncertainty across the world, in different forms, many with far-reaching effects.
In Europe, politicians are still trying to hold the Eurozone together as the region's economy continues to go haywire over the debt crisis, with Greece as the worst hit. In Asia, the most pressing was (and still is) the territorial disputes involving China and its neighbors. In the Americas, it's the escalating "drug war," particularly in Mexico.
Needless violence also punctuated the year, with dozens of people killed in deadly shootings in Toulouse, Aurora, and Newtown. There was also the violence in South Africa's mines; the protests over the "Innocence of Muslims" film across the Muslim world; and the Benghazi debacle, which left a respected American diplomat and 3 others dead.
Mother Nature also unleashed chaos, such as the devastating Hurricane Sandy in the Atlantic, and the successive storms in the Pacific, which claimed thousands of lives.
Some of the turmoil involved a lot fewer people, but still had far-reaching consequences - and these were among the stories with the most drama and intrigue. The BBC-Jimmy Savile saga, the David Petraeus affair, and the downfall of Bo Xilai, among others, added to the confusion and disorder of 2012.
The US election, though it was one of the biggest stories of the year, wasn't the only transition that was taking place. Dozens of countries around the world were also at a crossroads of their respective histories, some for better, some for worse, and many still uncertain.
There were elections and government changes from Mexico to Kenya to South Korea, and in these political exercises, we saw some old faces and groups return to power (see Mexico, Russia, Japan); some staying with the status quo (see US, Venezuela); and in others, complete change, or what seemed like it (see Yemen, Egypt).
There are also some transitions that surprised us, like Myanmar opening up to the world and Aung San Suu Kyi's return to the spotlight.
Some transitions were somewhat expected, like Xi Jinping's rise to power, while some "transitions" were less apparent and will be felt in the coming years, like the announcement of the British royal family's next-in-line, courtesy of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.
There were also transitions that broke our hearts, with the deaths of prominent personalities from Etta James, Whitney Houston, Gore Vidal, and Neil Armstrong, to Norodom Sihanouk and Daniel Inouye.
Amid the tumult, there were still numerous events that were causes for celebration - many unquestionably groundbreaking, some less so.
There were doubts about the motives and the success of the North Korean rocket's surprise December launch, after the dud back in April; there were also raised eyebrows after the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to the European Union.
Some events stemmed from tragedy, like the violent attack on Malala Yousafzai: Despite the horrific Taliban assault, she survived, and the world rallied behind her as she and her family continue the campaign for girls' education.
Many events, though, were real causes for celebration. The Olympics and Paralympics led the way, where, for several weeks, athletes disregarded political and cultural differences to celebrate sports.
The biggest and most extreme victories, however, were reserved for the frontiers of human knowledge and skill, from the discovery of the Higgs-like particle, the death-defying jump by Felix Baumgartner, to, of course, Curiosity landing on Mars.
Now, we ask: What's in store for humanity in 2013? - Rappler.com