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2011 revisited:

One of the defining events of 2011 was set in motion the previous year, when a fruit merchant in Tunisia set himself on fire in protest of the authorities, an act that unwittingly set in motion what we now call "The Arab Spring."

Soon after, a massive earthquake turned into triple disaster for Japan, and just two months later, came the stunning discovery that al-Qaida chief Osama bin Laden was living in a wealthy suburb in Pakistan as the world learned of a dramatic covert U.S. military operation that ended with his death.

Africa gave birth to a new country: South Sudan, while Ivory Coast finally ejected a long-time strongman. To the east, Somalia was engulfed by a devastating drought and famine.

In Europe, leaders struggled with an historic debt crisis as the world watched a young and glamorous royal couple exchange vows in Britain.

Explore these events and more by clicking on the 2011 timeline below.

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Content and analysis by Catherine Maddux, programming by Dino Beslagic

VOA 2011 in review timeline