The 10 Biggest International Stories of 2011

Atlantic writers survey the biggest stories on their beats See full coverage

Time Magazine may be taking flack for its person of the year selection, "The Protester," but there's some truth to the choice. In most years, the biggest news stories are things that happened to large groups of people: natural disasters, terrorist attacks, financial collapses. Our list of last year's biggest international stories was composed entirely of events driven by either the forces of nature or, at most, a small handful of people: heads of state, central bankers, or people like Julian Assange or Mullah Omar.

This year, people -- regular people, masses of them -- were not just the victims of events, they were the ones making things happen. The old way of things is still there: natural disasters rocked Japan and Thailand, European bankers struggled to control slipping continental finances, and political leaders made decisions that changed the world. But popular movements had such an impact that 2011's biggest story by far, the Arab Spring, could easily fill all ten slots on this list, but is instead compressed to only one slide so as to make room for other stories.

Presented by

Max Fisher is a former writer and editor at The Atlantic.

What Happened to the Milky Way?

Light pollution has taken away our ability to see the stars. Can we still save the night sky?

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register with Disqus.

Please note that The Atlantic's account system is separate from our commenting system. To log in or register with The Atlantic, use the Sign In button at the top of every page.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

What Happened to the Milky Way?

Light pollution has taken away our ability to see the stars. Can we still save the night sky?

Video

The Faces of #BlackLivesMatter

Scenes from a recent protest in New York City

Video

Desegregated, Yet Unequal

A short documentary about the legacy of Boston busing

Video

Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Life

The Supreme Court justice talks gender equality and marriage.

Video

Social Media: The Video Game

What if the validation of your peers could "level up" your life?

Video

The Pentagon's $1.5 Trillion Mistake

The F-35 fighter jet was supposed to do everything. Instead, it can barely do anything.

More in Global

Just In