TIMELINE: The world’s top stories in 2016

TIMELINE: The world’s top stories in 2016


A look at the big events around the world in the past 12 months

MANILA, Philippines – Here is a quick look at the biggest stories around the world in the past 12 months.


3: SAUDI ARABIA/IRAN – Saudi Arabia breaks off diplomatic ties with Iran in a row over the execution of a Shiite cleric, sparking protests during which the kingdom’s embassy in Tehran is firebombed.

6: NORTH KOREA: North Korea claims to have successfully conducted a hydrogen bomb test.

8: MEXICO – Crime boss Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman is arrested 6 months after a spectacular prison escape.

10: MUSIC – Death of David Bowie.

15: BURKINA FASO – 30 people, mainly westerners, are killed during a raid claimed by the Al-Qaeda-linked Al-Murabitoun group on a hotel and restaurant in Ouagadougou.

16: IRAN – Iran’s historic nuclear deal with global powers comes into force. Under the deal, all nuclear-related sanctions against Iran are lifted. In return, Tehran accepted curbs on a program that Western powers feared would pave the way for atomic weapons.

16: TAIWAN – Tsai Ing-wen of Taiwan’s main opposition party is voted the island’s first female president, winning a landslide victory over the ruling Kuomintang, as voters turn their backs on closer China ties.

20: PAKISTAN – At least 21 people died in a Taliban assault on a university in Pakistan.


A child remains at the Maternity and Children's hospital in Tegucigalpa, Honduras on February 26, 2016. Orlando Sierra/AFP

1: HEALTH – The World Health Organization says a surge in serious birth defects in South America is “strongly suspected” of being caused by the Zika virus and declared the situation a “public health emergency of international concern.”

11: SCIENCE – Scientists say they have glimpsed gravitational waves predicted by Albert Einstein.

12: VATICAN – In Cuba, Pope Francis meets Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill — the first such meeting between the heads of their two branches of the Church in nearly 1,000 years.

20: FIJI – Severe tropical cyclone Winston lashed the Pacific nation of Fiji, with wind gusts of 325 kilometers (202 miles) per hour and leaving a trail of destruction.


13: IVORY COAST – An attack claimed by Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) leaves 19 dead in a seaside resort near Abidjan.

15: SCIENCE – A Google-developed program defeats Go grandmaster Lee Se-Dol.

18: TURKEY-EU – Turkish and EU leaders agree a deal to curb the huge flow of asylum-seekers to Europe, aimed at easing the biggest migration crisis since World War II.

20-22: US/CUBA – US President Barack Obama holds talks with Cuban counterpart Raul Castro in Havana, setting aside a bitter standoff between the United States and the communist island that had lasted more than 50 years.

22: BELGIUM – Suicide bombings at Brussels airport and a metro station blamed on a cell linked to the jihadist Islamic State (ISIS) group kill 32 people.

BRUSSELS AIRPORT. Passengers and airport staff are evacuated from the terminal building after explosions at Brussels Airport in Zaventem near Brussels, Belgium, March 22, 2016. Photo by Laurent Dubrule/EPA

27: PAKISTAN – A Taliban suicide bomber attacks a Pakistani park crowded with families on Easter Sunday, killing 75 including many children.    

30: MYANMAR – Aung San Suu Kyi’s democracy movement takes power after 50 years of military rule in Myanmar, with a close aide of the Nobel Peace Laureate sworn in as president.

30: LIBYA – A UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) takes up office in Tripoli headed by prime minister designate Fayez al-Sarraj, three months after a power-sharing agreement was signed.


3: PANAMA PAPERS – A massive leak of 11.5 million documents allegedly exposes the secret offshore dealings of aides to Russian President Vladimir Putin, world leaders and celebrities including Barcelona’s Lionel Messi.

16: ECUADOR – A devastating 7.8-magnitude quake in Ecuador kills more than 670 people and leaves almost 6,300 injured.

21: UNITED KINGDOM – Britain celebrates the 90th birthday of Queen Elizabeth II, with tributes to a popular monarch who has steered it through the decline of empire and a wave of scandals to the Internet age.

Britain's Queen Elizabeth II smiles as she arrives to open a bandstand at Alexandra Gardens in Windsor, west of London, on April 20, 2016, the day before her 90th birthday. Justin Tallis/AFP

22: CLIMATE – A record 175 countries, including the world’s top polluters China and the United States, sign the Paris climate deal, boosting hopes of quick action on combating global warming.


7: UNITED KINGDOM – Sadiq Khan wins a landslide victory in the London mayoral elections, becoming the first Muslim leader of a Western capital.

9: PHILIPPINES – Firebrand Philippine politician Rodrigo Duterte secures a landslide presidential victory built on foul-mouthed populist tirades.

Presidential candidate Rodrigo Duterte (center) during a campaign rally in Manila, May 2016. Alecs Ongcal/Rappler

19: EGYPT/FRANCE – EgyptAir flight MS804, flying from Paris to Cairo, crashed into the eastern Mediterranean Sea, just minutes away from arrival.

21: AFGHANISTAN – Taliban chief Mullah Akhtar Mansour is killed in a US air strike, in a blow to the resurgent militant movement.

27: US/JAPAN – Obama pays tribute to victims of the world’s first atomic bomb and calls for an end to nuclear weapons as he makes a historic visit to the Japanese city of Hiroshima.

30: CHAD – Former president Hissene Habre is sentenced to life in prison for war crimes by a special African court in Dakar.


4: BOXING – Death of triple world champion Muhammad Ali. 

12: UNITED STATES – Forty-nine people are killed when a gunman, who pledged allegiance to ISIS, opens fire and seizes hostages at a popular gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida. The gunman is killed in a shootout with police.

Dominique Hernandez displays her rainbow-colored fist, with heart painted on pulse in honor of those slain in the Orlando shootings during a vigil for the shootings in Orlando at Los Angeles City Hall on June 13, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. Frederic Brown/AFP

23: BRITAIN – Britain votes by almost 52% to leave the European Union in a shock referendum result. Prime Minister David Cameron steps down and is replaced in July by Theresa May.

A statue of Winston Churchill is silhouetted by Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament in central London on June 24, 2016, the day the UK voted to leave the European Union. Niklas Halle'n/AFP

28: TURKEY – Forty-seven people are killed and more than 200 are injured in a triple suicide bombing and gun attack at Istanbul’s main airport, one of a series of bloody attacks in the country blamed on ISIS or Kurdish guerrillas.


3: IRAQ – More than 300 people are killed when a suicide car bomber attacks a busy shopping area in Baghdad. The blast is claimed by ISIS.

8-11: SOUTH SUDAN – At least 300 people die in clashes between forces backing President Salva Kiir and rival Riek Machar.

14: FRANCE – A Tunisian national rams a truck into people celebrating Bastille Day in Nice, killing 86. ISIS claims the attack.

15: TURKEY – A rogue military faction tries unsuccessfully to oust President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The regime says exiled Muslim preacher Fethullah Gulen is behind the putsch and carries out a purge in which more than 100,000 people are detained, dismissed or suspended over alleged links to the coup-plotters.

Pro-Erdogan supporters wave Turkish national flags during a rally at Taksim square in Istanbul on July 18, 2016 following the military failed coup attempt of July 15. Aris Messinis/AFP

23: AFGHANISTAN – ISIS jihadists claim responsibility for twin explosions that rip through crowds of Shiite Hazaras in Kabul, killing 85 people in the deadliest attack in the Afghan capital since 2001.

26: AVIATION – Solar Impulse 2 becomes the first aircraft to circle the globe powered only by the sun.


5: OLYMPIC GAMES – The Rio summer Olympic Games open in Brazil, the first time they are held in Latin America.

A boy from Mangueira favela watch fireworks over Maracana Stadium during the 2016 Olympics closing ceremony in Rio de Janeiro on August 21, 2016. Carl de Souza/AFP

9: RUSSIA/TURKEY/SYRIA – Russia’s Putin and Turkish counterpart Erdogan hold their first meeting since a bitter feud erupted over Ankara’s downing of a Russian warplane over the Turkey-Syria border. At the meeting in Saint Petersburg they pledge to reinvigorate ties.

24: ITALY – A 6.0-6.2 magnitude quake hits mountain villages in a remote area straddling the Italian regions of Umbria, Marche and Lazio. The small mountain town of Amatrice bears the brunt of the earthquake that kills 297 people and injures hundreds more.

24: SYRIA-TURKEY – Turkey launches an offensive in Syria aimed at Kurdish rebels and ISIS fighters.

31: BRAZIL – President Dilma Rousseff is impeached for illegally manipulating the national budget. She is replaced by bitter rival Michel Temer.


1: VENEZUELA – Mass street protests take place in Venezuela, with the opposition seeking a recall referendum against President Nicolas Maduro.

4: VATICAN – Pope Francis declares Mother Teresa of Kolkata a saint.

A tapestry with a portrait of Mother Teresa hangs on the St Peters' facade prior to the arrival of Pope Francis on September 3, 2016 for a catechism with nuns of the Missionary of Charity, the Religious family founded by Mother Teresa. Vincenzo Pinto/AFP

9: NORTH KOREA – Pyongyang carries out its fifth and most powerful nuclear test to date.

28: ISRAEL – Death of former president and Nobel laureate Shimon Peres.

30: SPACE – Europe’s Rosetta spacecraft concludes a 12-year odyssey with a controlled crash-landing onto the comet it orbited and probed for two years in a quest to demystify the Solar System’s origins.


4: HAITI – Hurricane Matthew leaves more than 540 dead in Haiti, devastating the south-west of the country.

View of the debris left by Hurricane Matthew in Jeremie, Haiti, on October 8, 2016. Photo by Hector Retamal/AFP

8: YEMEN – More than 140 people are killed when air strikes by the Saudi-led coalition supporting Yemeni President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi against Huthi rebels hits a funeral ceremony.

13: MUSIC – The Nobel Literature Prize is awarded to US singer/songwriter Bob Dylan.

17: IRAQ – Iraqi forces launch an offensive aimed at retaking Mosul, ISIS’s last stronghold in the country. Since the launch of the assault more than 80,000 people have fled the fighting.

24: FRANCE – France begins clearing the so-called “Jungle” migrant camp in the northern city of Calais ahead of its planned demolition.


8: UNITED STATES – Republican billionaire Donald Trump defeats Hillary Clinton to take the US presidency, stunning America and the world in an explosive upset fueled by a wave of grassroots anger.

Sri Vasamsetti, 22, of Seattle and a supporter of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, watches televised coverage of the US presidential election at the Comet Tavern in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Seattle, Washington on November 8, 2016. Jason Redmond/AFP

15: SYRIA – Regime forces and their ally Russia launch a new assault to recapture the entire northern city of Aleppo from rebels. Rebel areas come under the heaviest bombardment for two years and regime forces have so far seized more than 90 percent of the rebel territory. Since March 2011, the country’s civil war has killed more than 312,000 people.

24: COLOMBIA – President Juan Manuel Santos, the 2016 Nobel Peace Prize laureate, and FARC guerrilla leader Rodrigo “Timochenko” Londono sign a new peace deal to end their half-century conflict.

26: CUBA – Death of revolutionary leader Fidel Castro.

29: UKRAINE – A huge metal safety dome is set in place over the Chernobyl nuclear power plant’s doomed fourth reactor.


1: THAILAND – Maha Vajiralongkorn is crowned king following the death in October of his father, Bhumibol Adulyadej, who had reigned for 70 years.

1: GAMBIA – Adama Barrow wins the presidential election. Current President Yahya Jammeh initially accepts defeat before challenging the vote a week later.

1: FRANCE – President Francois Hollande announces he will not seek re-election next year, 4 days after Francois Fillon, a conservative reformist, clinches the rightwing nomination.

4: ITALY – Italian voters overwhelmingly reject constitutional reform proposals in a referendum. Prime Minister Matteo Renzi resigns.

4: AUSTRIA – At a rerun presidential election Greens-backed independent Alexander Van der Bellen beats Norbert Hofer, who had sought to become Europe’s first far-right president.

7: GHANA – Opposition leader Nana Akufo-Addo wins the presidential election.

9: SOUTH KOREA – lawmakers impeach President Park Geun-Hye over a corruption scandal.

11: EGYPT – A bomb attack claimed by ISIS kills 25 people at a Coptic church in Cairo.

12: UN – Portugal’s Antonio Guterres becomes the ninth UN secretary general.

Antonio Guterres, UN Secretary-General-designate of the United Nations, with Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon after taking the oath, December 12, 2016. Eskinder Debebe/UN Photo

19: GERMANY – A truck rams into a busy Christmas market in Berlin, killing at least 12 people and injuring dozens. The suspect, a Tunisian asylum applicant, was later shot dead by police in Milan, Italy.

25: RUSSIA – A Syria-bound military aircraft carrying 93 people, including members of the famed Red Army Choir, crashes off Sochi.

25: MUSIC – Music superstar George Michael dies.

27: MOVIES – Actress Carrie Fisher, of ‘Star Wars’ fame, dies.

With Agence France-Presse / Photos by AFP, UN, and Rappler / Rappler.com

PIVOTS: The world in 2016

Wrecked boats and thousands of life jackets used by refugees and migrants during their journey across the Aegean sea lie in a dump in Mithimna on February 19, 2016. Aris Messinis/AFP

TOP PHOTO: A youth holds a flare during a protest against the government’s planned labour law reforms in Nantes, western France, on May 3, 2016. Loic Venance/AFP

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