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.

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash (and Why)

Cooking for yourself is one of the surest ways to eat well. Bestselling author Mark Bittman teaches James Hamblin the recipe that everyone is Googling.

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

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash (and Why)

Cooking for yourself is one of the surest ways to eat well.

Video

Before Tinder, a Tree

Looking for your soulmate? Write a letter to the "Bridegroom's Oak" in Germany.

Video

The Health Benefits of Going Outside

People spend too much time indoors. One solution: ecotherapy.

Video

Where High Tech Meets the 1950s

Why did Green Bank, West Virginia, ban wireless signals? For science.

Video

Yes, Quidditch Is Real

How J.K. Rowling's magical sport spread from Hogwarts to college campuses

Video

Would You Live in a Treehouse?

A treehouse can be an ideal office space, vacation rental, and way of reconnecting with your youth.

More in Global

Just In