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Yesterday marked World Refugee Day, as the United Nations high commissioner for refugees, António Guterres, visited Jordan to highlight the 1.6 million registered people who have fled the ongoing conflict in Syria. The UN refugee agency, which was set up in 1950 to aid those still displaced after World War II, reports that there are some 10.5 million refugees worldwide. -- Lloyd Young ( 29 photos total)
Afghan refugee children, swim in muddy water created from a broken water pipe, on the outskirts of Islamabad, Pakistan, on June 17. Pakistan hosts over 1.6 million registered Afghans, the largest and most protracted refugee population in the world, according to the UN refugee agency. (Muhammed Muheisen/Associated Press)     

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Another year has come and gone and with it hundreds of thousands of images have recorded the world's evolving history; moments in individual lives; the weather and it's affects on the planet; acts of humanity and tragedies brought by man and by nature. The following is a compilation - not meant to be comprehensive in any way - of images from the first 4 months of 2012. Parts II and III to follow this week. -- Paula Nelson ( 64 photos total)
Fireworks light up the skyline and Big Ben just after midnight, January 1, 2012 in London, England. Thousands of people lined the banks of the River Thames in central London to ring in the New Year with a spectacular fireworks display. (Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

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New leaders emerge in China but once a decade. The 18th Party Congress concluded with the ascension of Xi Jinping to the top leadership posts. The meeting in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing's Tiananmen Square drew delegates to formalize the power transfer and led citizens to wait for news. Pictured here are scenes from inside the gathering, and from outside the hall as China anticipated the next ruler of the largest country on earth. -- Lane Turner (34 photos total)
A passenger watches a television screen showing Xi Jinping on a subway train in Shanghai on November 15, 2012. Xi vowed to fight official corruption and build a "better life" for the nation's 1.3 billion people. (Peter Parks/AFP/Getty Images)

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China, the most populous country and the second-largest economy in the world, is a vast, dynamic nation that continues to grow and evolve in the 21st century. In this, the latest entry in a semi-regular series on China, we find images of tremendous variety, including astronauts, nomadic herders, replica European villages, pole dancers, RV enthusiasts, traditional farmers, and inventors. This collection is only a small view of the people and places in China over the past several weeks. [47 photos]

Liu Yang, China's first female astronaut, waves during a departure ceremony at Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center, Gansu province, on June 16, 2012. China sent its first woman taikonaut into outer space this week, prompting a surge of national pride as the rising power takes its latest step towards putting a space station in orbit within the decade. Liu, a 33-year-old fighter pilot, joined two other taikonauts aboard the Shenzhou 9 spacecraft when it lifted off from a remote Gobi Desert launch site. (Reuters/Jason Lee)

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North Korea will mark the 100th anniversary of its founding father's birth on April 15. Kim Il-Sung ruled the communist country from its inception in 1948 until his death in 1994. The country is also making international news with the planned launch of a satellite, which concerns many other countries because of the nuclear capabilities of the rocket being used. Officials escorted a group of international media from the capital to the see the rocket in Tongchang-Ri earlier this week. Compiled here are group of recent images from inside the country. -- Lloyd Young (30 photos total)
North Koreans pay their respects in front of two portraits, one of founding leader Kim Il-Sung (left) and the other of his son Kim Jong-Il in Pyongyang on April 9. North Korea is counting down to the 100th anniversary of its founder's birth on April 15 with top level meetings and a controversial rocket launch scheduled in coming days to bolster his grandson's credentials. (Pedro Ugarte/AFP/Getty Images)

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As China's population and economy continue to grow, the country is scrambling to solve challenges in housing, elder care, cultural and political institutions, the environment, and other areas of everyday life. Today's collection, a recent gathering of images from across the nation, covers a range of subjects from wheelchair dancers to bear bile farms, a monkey-controlled robot arm to a Tibetan exile protester who set himself on fire earlier today, and much more. [41 photos]

A woman and her son sit inside the capsule of an electric tricycle as they drive along a main road in central Beijing, on March 15, 2012. (Reuters/David Gray)

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Today is Valentine's Day, a day set aside for expressions of love and affection. The traditional western holiday has spread to many countries around the globe, despite some efforts by religious and cultural groups to fight its adoption. Valentine's Day spending in the U.S. this year is expected to reach nearly $15 billion -- $2 billion of it on flowers alone. Ninety percent of the flowers Americans will give to their sweethearts are imported, and nearly all of those imports originate in Colombia and Ecuador. Included in today's posting is an 18-photo series depicting the voyage of the roses from South American farm to florists worldwide. [37 photos]

A couple kisses during a flashmob organized by a local television station on the eve of Valentine's Day in the Russian city of Stavropol, on February 13, 2012. (Reuters/Eduard Korniyenko)

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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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The growing population of the world, now estimated to be over 7 billion, marks a global milestone and presents obvious challenges for the planet.  There are extremely densely populated cities and sparsely populated countries.  China is the most populous country with India following closely behind. This post brings together some disparate illustrations of our world as it grows, including scenes from Mong Kok district in Hong Kong, which has the highest population density in the world, with 130,000 per one square kilometer. In Mongolia, the world's least densely populated country,  2.7 million people are spread across an area three times the size of France.  Then there's Out Skerries, a tiny outcropping of rocks off the east coast of Scotland where the population is just 65.  And doing what he can to contribute to that 7 billion global milestone is Ziona, the head of a religious sect called "Chana."  He has 39 wives, 94 children, and 33 grandchildren. The world is an interesting place. -- Paula Nelson  (41 photos total)
Motorists pack a junction during rush hour in Taipei in 2009. Taiwan's capital is notorious for its traffic jams, even though many motorists choose motorcycles and scooters over cars. United Nations analysts warn that population growth increases pollution, deforestation, and climate change. (Nicky Loh/Reuters)

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The United Nations estimates that in one week, on October 31, 2011, the world's population will reach 7 billion. Just 200 years ago, there were only 1 billion people on the planet, and over the next 150 years, that number grew to 3 billion. But in the past 50 years, the world's population has more than doubled, and it is projected to grow to 15 billion by the year 2100. As the UN points out, this increasing rate of change brings with it enormous challenges. Meeting the basic needs of so many will meaning growing, shipping, and distributing more food while providing more clean water, health care, and shelter -- all without inflicting too much further damage on our environment. [42 photos]

A baby gestures minutes after he was born inside the pediatric unit at hospital Escuela in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, on October 21, 2011. According to Honduras' health authorities, about 220,000 babies are born in Honduras each year and the cost of having a baby delivered at the public hospital is $10. (Reuters/Edgard Garrido)

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