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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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The 20th-century French designer Jean Prouvé was an early supercreative, a metal worker who taught himself architecture and design. In the early 1920s, when he himself was in his early 20s, he formed the first of a string of workshops, the best-known of which was his eponymous atelier opened in 1931. In the 1940s he was studying aluminum, building sheds out of it and sending them to Africa. In the 1950s he developed the Maison Tropicale, the first flatpack house, designed to be shipped to tropical climates.

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In a fascinating article, Vitra Magazine interviews Prouvé's daughter Catherine, who reveals the designer's unusual test group for his designs: His family.

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The Mississippi River and tributaries continue to rise, reaching record crests, and the worst may still be to come. Portions of Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Arkansas are under water, with more to come. Pressure on levees led the Army Corps of Engineers to blow up a section below Cairo, Ill, inundating 130,000 acres of farmland while saving the town. As a bulge of river water makes its way downstream, levees are stressed and rivers that empty into the Mississippi have no outlet, backing up and flooding even more land. The bulge will reach the Delta later this month, and millions of acres are threatened. -- Lane Turner (33 photos total)
Floodwaters from the Mississippi River on May 3 swamp the area north of New Madrid, Mo. (Jeff Roberson/AP)

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