The 10 Biggest International Stories of 2011

More
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.

Jump to comments
Presented by

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

Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

Adventures in Legal Weed

Colorado is now well into its first year as the first state to legalize recreational marijuana. How's it going? James Hamblin visits Aspen.


Elsewhere on the web

Join the Discussion

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

Video

Adventures in Legal Weed

Colorado is now well into its first year as the first state to legalize recreational marijuana. How's it going? James Hamblin visits Aspen.

Video

What Makes a Story Great?

The storytellers behind House of CardsandThis American Life reflect on the creative process.

Video

Tracing Sriracha's Origin to Thailand

Ever wonder how the wildly popular hot sauce got its name? It all started in Si Racha.

Video

Where Confiscated Wildlife Ends Up

A government facility outside of Denver houses more than a million products of the illegal wildlife trade, from tigers and bears to bald eagles.

Video

Is Wine Healthy?

James Hamblin prepares to impress his date with knowledge about the health benefits of wine.

Video

The World's Largest Balloon Festival

Nine days, more than 700 balloons, and a whole lot of hot air

Writers

Up
Down

More in Global

Just In