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For a number of reasons, natural and human, people have recently evacuated or otherwise abandoned a number of places around the world -- large and small, old and new. Gathering images of deserted areas into a single photo essay, one can get a sense of what the world might look like if humans were to vanish from the planet altogether. Collected here are recent scenes from nuclear-exclusion zones, blighted urban neighborhoods, towns where residents left to escape violence, unsold developments built during the real estate boom, ghost towns, and more. [41 photos]

A tree grows from the top of a chimney in an abandoned factory yard in Luque, on the outskirts of Asuncion, Paraguay, on October 2 , 2011. (AP Photo/Jorge Saenz)

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In this post, featuring images from the last quarter of 2011, we remember a tumultuous year of change across the globe, the capture of Khadafi, the 10th anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center, the passing of Apple icon Steve Jobs, fire, famine, flood and protests. A memorable year, indeed. -- Paula Nelson -- Please see part 1 and part 2 from earlier. (EDITOR'S NOTE: We will not post a Big Picture on Monday, December 26, due to the Christmas Holiday ) (51 photos total)
A defaced portrait of fugitive Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi in Tripoli on Sept. 1, 2011 as the fallen strongman vowed again not to surrender in a message broadcast on the 42nd anniversary of the coup which brought him to power. (Patrick Baz/AFP/Getty Images)

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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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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 3 of a three-part photo summary of the last year, covering 2011's last months. Be sure to also see Part 1, and Part 2, totaling 120 images in all. [40 photos]

Occupy Wall Street protesters march and hold signs in New York City on September 17, 2011. Frustrated protesters had been speaking out against corporate greed and social inequality on and near Wall Street for the previous two weeks, further sparking a protest movement that spread across the world. Original here. (CC BY SA Carwil Bjork-James)

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It's been just over a month since the capture and death of Libyan dictator Moammar Khadafy, ending his 42-year reign. Since then, the rebels have declared that the nation is liberated, installed a transitional government, and started the process of writing a constitution. Still, substantial problems remain. Pockets of fighting have erupted among rival tribes and some rebels have refused to give up their cache of weapons. Doctors continue to struggle to treat the wounded and sick, with a few of the most severely injured being sent to rehabilitation centers in Boston and elsewhere. Last weekend, Khadafy’s son, Seif, was captured and could face war crimes for his part in the conflict. -- Lloyd Young (EDITOR'S NOTE: We will not post a Big Picture on Friday, November 25, due to the Thanksgiving Holiday.) (40 photos total)
Anti-Khadafy fighters acknowledge the crowd during a review of the brigades from the eastern region to commemorate the liberation of Quiche in Benghazi Oct. 27. (Esam Al-Fetori/Reuters)

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An Occupy Oakland protester spraypaints the side of a building during a march on Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2011, in Oakland, Calif. Except for a couple incidents of graffiti and minor confrontations with police officers, the protesters, who numbered about 1000, remained lawful. Relatives of an earthquake victim are led away from ruins by a Policeman, [...]

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Two Red Deer stags ‘rut’ in the early morning mist in Richmond Park on October 15, 2011 in London, England. Autumn sees the start of the ‘Rutting’ season where the large Red Deer stags can be heard roaring and barking in an attempt to attract females known as bucks. The larger males can also be [...]

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SIRTE, Libya (AP) — Moammar Gadhafi, Libya’s dictator for 42 years until he was ousted in an uprising-turned-civil war, was killed Thursday as revolutionary fighters overwhelmed his hometown of Sirte and captured the last major bastion of resistance two months after his regime fell. Interim government officials said one of Gadhafi’s sons, his former national [...]

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TURNING TO CHRIST
TURNING TO CHRIST: An activist held up a crucifix as a barricade burned at Dale Farm in Basildon, England, Wednesday. Police used sledgehammers, crowbars and a cherry picker during the eviction of Irish Travelers from the site where they have lived illegally for years. (Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)

STUNNED
STUNNED: A man who was wounded in fighting in Sirte, Libya, lay stunned on the ground Wednesday. Revolutionary forces fought building by building against the final pocket of resistance in Col. Moammar Gadhafi’s hometown. (Manu Brado/Associated Press)

RAINED OUT
RAINED OUT: An Occupy Wall Street protester stood with a broom at Zuccotti Park during heavy rain in New York Wednesday. (Mike Segar/Reuters)

SHOW OF SOLIDARITY
SHOW OF SOLIDARITY: Protesters held a giant Turkish flag in Istanbul, Turkey, after Kurdish rebels in northern Iraq killed at least 24 Turkish soldiers and wounded more than 12 in attacks along the border Wednesday. That prompted a retaliatory attack from Turkish soldiers. (Bulent Kilic/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images)

TORNADO DESTRUCTION
TORNADO DESTRUCTION: A garage door lay on a car after a tornado left a two-mile-long trail of damage in South Florida Tuesday. About 24 homes were damaged in Sunrise, pictured, and Plantation, Fla., though no serious injuries were reported. (J. Pat Carter/Associated Press)

IN THE RED
IN THE RED: Children played on the ground as chilies dried in Handan, Hebei Province, China, Tuesday. (Chang Hutao/Xinhua/Zuma Press)

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