From floods to earthquakes to revolutions, 2011 has come and gone at a high price.The last year has seen a lot of changes both politically and economically, and as we move into 2012 there is a lot of rebuilding to be done. In many ways 2011 was the end of an era. No more space shuttle launches, no more Oprah, no more bin Laden, and no more Steve Jobs. In spite of all that, however, it was also a year of new beginnings as entire nations found their independence, a royal wedding captivated the world, and revolutions brought freedom to millions. These were the most defining moments of 2011, and they will not be easily forgotten.

25. Rioting In England Following the fatal shooting of Mark Duggan by London police officers riots ensued resulting in thousands of arrests and hundreds of millions of pounds worth of property damage.

24. Royal Wedding

As one of the few non-depressing entries on this list, the Royal Wedding managed to capture the world’s attention for at least a little while, especially with the fairytale-like fact that Kate Middleton was a “commoner” marrying into the aristocracy.

23. End of NASA Space Shuttle Program NASA’s Space Shuttle program saw its final launch on July 8th when Atlantis took off from Cape Canaveral, Florida. The shuttle flew on 33 flights spanning a career of 26 years.

22. Casey Anthony Trial

In one of the most scrutinized trials since OJ Simpson, the world watched intently as the lawyers put forth their cases over whether or not Casey had murdered her daughter. The verdict of “not guilty” led to several protests.

21. End of Oprah Winfrey Show

Oprah took the stage for the last time as The Oprah Winfrey Show drew to a close after 25 years.

20. Obama Releases Birth Certificate Putting to rest (sort of) the speculation that he was not a natural born American citizen, President Obama produced a copy of his birth certificate to skeptics who claimed he should not be allowed in the Presidency.

19. News of the World Scandal

After 168 years in print one of the largest English language news papers in the world closed its doors due to allegations that its editors had been involved in phone hacking.

18. U.S. Credit Rating Drops For First Time For the first time in history the United States credit rating was downgraded from AAA to AA+ by Standard and Poor.

17. Jaycee Dugard Kidnapping Case Ends

Phillip Garrido and his wife Nancy Garrido pleaded guilty to kidnapping Jayce Lee Dugard and holding her in a concealed area behind their home for over 18 years.

16. Weinergate

On June 16th Anthony Weiner announced that he was going to resign from congress following allegations that he had sent sexually suggestive links to several women using his Twitter account.

15. Gaddafi Killed By His Own People

On October 20th, Gaddafi’s convoy was hit by a French air strike. Although he survived the strike he was then found hiding in a storm drain by rebels and killed.

14. Attempted Assassination of Congresswoman Giffords

Jared Lee Loughner opened fire on a crowd surrounding congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords killing six people and critically injuring Giffords.

13. Death of Amy Winehouse

The popular singer was found unresponsive in her London home on July 23rd with a blood alcohol level 5 times the legal limit. Her death led to numerous memorial concerts around the world.

12. European Debt Crisis The United States isn’t the only nation experiencing issues with credit. Over the course of the last year the European financial situation has steadily worsened, particularly in countries such as Greece.

11. Christchurch Earthquake In February a magnitude 6.3 earthquake struck New Zealand’s South Island killing 181 people.

10. Norway Terrorist Attacks Two terrorist attacks were carried out by in Norway on July 22nd. The first was a car bomb in Oslo, the capital, and the second was an attack on a summer camp organized by the ruling labour party. 8 people were killed in the car bomb explosion and 69 people, many being children, were killed when Anders Behring Breivik opened fire on the summer camp.

9. South Sudan Gains Independence After years of turmoil and civil war, South Sudan became an independent state on July 9th. There are still many issues to be solved in the new nation, however, as it deals with in-fighting, extremely poor healthcare, and widespread poverty.

8. Occupy Movement Born of a simple suggestions on the Canadian based Adbusters website, Occupy Wallstreet quickly became an international phenomenon. Although it has drawn both praise and criticism the movement has undeniably managed to draw worldwide attention.

7. Death of Kim Jong-il Having established himself as the supreme commander of North Korea (DPRK), Kim Jong was ranked as the 31st most powerful person in the world by Forbes before his death on December 19th, 2011.

6. Horn of Africa Famine On July 20th the United Nations officially declared a famine for the first time in 30 years. Affecting Somalia, Ethiopia, and Kenya and endangering over 13 million people it has led to numerous deaths and millions of displaced refugees.

5. Iraq Withdrawal The last American soldier left Iraqi soil on December 18th thus bringing an end to a war that lasted 9 years and cost 4,500 American lives.

4. Death of Steve Jobs On October 5th the world mourned the loss of one of the most respected technological visionaries of our age.

3. Arab Spring

Starting in December of 2010 the Arab Spring, otherwise known as the Arab Awakening, has led to 2011 being a year of revolutions and deposed dictators in countries such as Libya, Tunisia, and Egypt.

2. Earthquake and Tsunami in Japan Although its epicenter was located offshore, as one of the five most powerful earthquakes ever recorded in world history it triggered a massive tsunami which led to widespread destruction throughout Japan, including the ongoing nuclear reactor crisis.

1. Death of Osama bin Laden On May 2nd a group of U.S. Navy SEALS with CIA support launched a raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. Afterwards, his body was taken back to Afghanistan for identification and then buried at sea within 24 hours.

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