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Any "best of" list must surely be subjective. This one is no different. Choosing the best photographs of the year is an enormously difficult task, with many terrific photographs slipping through the cracks. But with major news events as a guide, and with single images I fell in love with throughout the year forcing their way into the edit, I look at my favorite pictures from the first four months of the year. Two main stories dominated headlines in the first part of the year: the Japan earthquake and tsunami, and the rising of the Arab Spring. The protests in the Middle East would spread to Greece, Spain, and eventually inspire the Occupy movement in Western nations. Other stories included a historic wave of tornados in the U.S., a Royal wedding in London, and the creation of the world's newest nation in South Sudan. Images from the rest of the year will follow in posts later this week. -- Lane Turner (36 photos total)
A wave caused by a tsunami flows into the city of Miyako from the Heigawa estuary in Iwate Prefecture after a magnitude 8.9 earthquake struck Japan March 11, 2011. (Mainichi Shimbun /Reuters)

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The best photos of 2011 from around the globe. Warning: All images in this entry are shown in full, not screened out for graphic content. Some images contain dead bodies, graphic content and tragic events. We consider these images an important part of human history.

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Your rating: None

The best photos of 2011 from around the globe. Warning: All images in this entry are shown in full, not screened out for graphic content. Some images contain dead bodies, graphic content and tragic events. We consider these images an important part of human history.

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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 also see Part 2, and Part 3 of the series - totaling 120 images in all. [40 photos + 1 more]

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)

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IN EFFIGY
IN EFFIGY: An antigovernment protester held up an effigy of Yemen President Ali Abdullah Saleh as demonstrators demanded his resignation in San’a, Yemen, Friday. (Muhammed Muheisen/Associated Press)

BENDING OVER BACKWARDS
BENDING OVER BACKWARDS: Bridgette O’Brien performed yoga at the capitol building Friday in Madison, Wis., as people camped out in protest of Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s bill to eliminate collective bargaining for the state’s public employees. Mr. Walker asked Democratic senators to vote on the bill. (Andy Manis/Associated Press)


IMPROVISING; A man washed his dishes on a street in Christchurch, New Zealand, Friday. The death toll rose to 113 and hundreds remain missing three days after the earthquake. (Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

VIEW FROM THE TOP
VIEW FROM THE TOP: A child slept in a hammock at a railway station in Hyderabad, India, Friday. (Krishnendu Halder/Reuters)

IN DISTRESS
IN DISTRESS: A woman used a cellphone after climbing out of a vehicle that had crashed into a guardrail on Interstate 295 during a snowstorm in Cumberland, Maine, Friday. Maine was expecting to get between 4 and 14 inches of snow. (Robert F. Bukaty/Associated Press)

LITTLE SOLDIERS
LITTLE SOLDIERS: Children dressed in army uniforms sat atop a military vehicle in Cairo’s Tahrir Square Friday. Tens of thousands of protesters pushed Egypt’s military rulers to carry out reforms and to call for the dismissal of holdovers from the regime of ousted President Hosni Mubarak. (Khaled Desouki/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images)

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PUSHING ON
PUSHING ON: A man pushed a woman in a wheelbarrow as they fled a suburb of Abidjan, Ivory Coast, Thursday. Heavy fighting over the country’s disputed election may augur a return to civil war, the United Nations warned Thursday. (Issouf Sanogo/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images)

ARMED AND READY
ARMED AND READY: A police officer patrolled in Baghdad Thursday. (Thaier al-Sudani/Reuters)

SHOUTING OUT
SHOUTING OUT: A protester shouted slogans during a demonstration demanding the resignation of President Ali Abdullah Saleh in San’a, Yemen, Thursday. (Muhammed Muheisen/Associated Press)

ON A MISSION
ON A MISSION: A rescue worker stood atop debris in Christchurch, New Zealand, Thursday. A massive search is under way to find victims of Tuesday’s earthquake, with hopes fading for hundreds still unaccounted for in the rubble. (Hannah Johnston/Getty Images)

A SLEEP-IN
A SLEEP-IN: Demonstrators slept in the rotunda of the state capitol in Madison, Wis., in protest of Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s attempt to pass a bill that would restrict collective bargaining. Democrats in the state Assembly agreed to a deal, but Democratic senators remain unavailable. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

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