2011: The Year in Photos

A wave approaches Miyako City from the Heigawa estuary in Iwate Prefecture after the magnitude 9.0 earthquake struck the area March 11, 2011. The earthquake, the most powerful ever known to have hit Japan, combined with the massive tsunami, claimed more than 15,800 lives, devastated many eastern coastline communities, and triggered a nuclear catastrophe at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power station.

A protester stands in front of a burning barricade during a demonstration in Cairo, Egypt, on January 28, 2011. Police and demonstrators fought running battles on the streets of Cairo during four days of unprecedented protests by tens of thousands of Egyptians demanding an end to President Hosni Mubarak's three-decade rule.

KTM MRW Rally Factory's Juan Pedrero Garcia rides his motorcycle during the sixth stage of the 2011 Argentina-Chile Dakar Rally between the Chilean cities of Iquique and Arica in Chile, on January 7, 2011

Tunisia's President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali (left) visits Mohamed Bouazizi at the Ben Arous Burn and Trauma Center in Tunis. Bouazizi had set himself on fire in an act out of desperation after police confiscated fruits and vegetables he sold without a permit in the central town of Sidi Bouzid. He died shortly after this photo was taken. This photo was released on December 28, 2010, and Bouazizi's story touched millions across the Arab world, tapping into decades-old anger, and triggered a series of uprisings leading to the fall of several dictators and widespread civil unrest that continues to this day.

At NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, the STS-133 crew takes a break from a simulated launch countdown to ham it up on the 195-foot level of Launch Pad 39A. From the left: Pilot Eric Boe, Mission Specialist Michael Barratt, Commander Steve Lindsey, and Mission Specialists Tim Kopra, Nicole Stott, and Alvin Drew.

Orich Florestal (left), 24, and Rosemond Altidon, 22, stand on the edge of their partially destroyed apartment of Port-au-Prince January 9, 2011, close to the first anniversary of the earthquake that killed around 250,000 people and wrecked much of the capital Port-au-Prince in 2010.

A gunman identified as Michael Gonzales aims his pistol at local village politician Reynaldo Dagsa shortly before Gonzales pulled the trigger, assassinating Dagsa in Manila, Philippines, on January 5, 2011. Reynaldo Dagsa took this picture of his family on New Year's eve, moments before he was killed by Gonzales, who was captured on his camera together with an accomplice (man on the right). Police said they arrested both men charged in the assassination.

Debris crushed a car outside the Christchurch Catholic Cathedral after an earthquake rocked Christchurch, New Zealand, on Tuesday, February 22, 2011. The 6.3-magnitude quake hit at the height of a busy workday, toppling tall buildings and churches, crushing buses and killing dozens of people in one of the country's worst natural disasters.

A giant boulder punched a massive hole through this house during the February 22 earthquake near Lyttelton, a suburb of Christchurch, New Zealand. This photo was taken two days later.

Curiosity, the Mars Science Laboratory Rover, stands in the Spacecraft Assembly Facility at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. The rover was shipped to NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida on June 22, 2011. The mission launched successfully on November 26, and Curiosity will land on Mars this coming August.

A motorcycle policeman is engulfed in flames as his colleague tries to help him after protesters threw a petrol bomb in Athens, Greece, on February 23, 2011. Scores of youths hurled rocks and petrol bombs at riot police after clashes broke out during a mass rally taking place as part of a general strike.

A supporter of President Hosni Mubarak, on camel, fights with anti-Mubarak protesters in Cairo, Egypt, on February 2, 2011. Several thousand supporters of President Hosni Mubarak, including some riding horses and camels and wielding whips, clashed with anti-government protesters Wednesday as Egypt's upheaval took a dangerous new turn.

Anti-government protesters gather by the thousands in Cairo's Tahrir Square in February of 2011, calling for an end to Hosni Mubarak's 30 years of dictatorship.

Anti-government protesters in Cairo's Tahrir Square watch a broadcast of President Hosni Mubarak speaking to the nation on February 10, 2011. Protesters chanted, "down, down with Hosni Mubarak," and "leave, leave," in rage at the speech in which the president took half measures, not stepping down but handing over powers to his vice president.

After an abrupt change of position, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak resigned from power on February 11, 2011. A furious wave of protest had finally swept Mubarak from power after 30 years of one-man rule, sparking jubilation on the streets and sending a warning to autocrats across the Arab world and beyond. Here, demonstrators celebrate in Tahrir Square upon hearing the news of the resignation in Cairo, Egypt.

Uprisings in Libya descended into civil war, with battles raging across desert roads and cities. NATO forces controlled the skies and offered cover to the rebels. Here, vehicles belonging to forces loyal to Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi explode after an air strike by coalition forces along a road between Benghazi and Ajdabiyah on March 20, 2011.

Getty Images photographer Chris Hondros stands in front of a burning building while on assignment on April 18, 2011, in Misrata, Libya. Hondros was killed two days later by a rocket-propelled grenade (RPG).

A massive tsunami sweeps in to engulf a residential area after a powerful earthquake in Natori, Miyagi Prefecture in northeastern Japan, on March 11, 2011.

Reporter Toya Chiba is swept up by a tsunami at Kamaishi port in Iwate prefecture, Japan, on March 11, 2011. Chiba managed to survive the tsunami by grabbing a dangling rope and climbing onto a coal heap, Kyodo news reported.

Houses are swept away by water following a tsunami and earthquake in Natori City in northeastern Japan, on March 11, 2011.

Cargo containers strewn about by the recent tsunami in Sendai, northern Japan, on March 12, 2011.

A woman sits amid wreckage caused by the massive March 11 earthquake and the ensuing tsunami, in Natori, northern Japan, on Sunday, March 13, 2011.

A Japanese home drifts in the Pacific Ocean in this photograph taken on March 13, 2011. Ships and aircraft from the U.S. Navy's Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group were searching for survivors in the coastal waters near Sendai, Japan, in the wake of 9.0-magnitude earthquake and tsunami.

A volunteer cleans a family photo that was washed away by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami as baby photos are placed to dry at a volunteer center in Ofunato, Iwate prefecture, on April 12, 2011.

Ryo Taira (right) and an unidentified man lift a young porpoise out of a flooded rice field after it was swept there by the earlier tsunami in Sendai, Japan, on March 22, 2011. Taira found the porpoise struggling in the shallow water on Tuesday and after failing to net it, waded in to the field, which had yet to be sown with rice, to cradle the animal in his arms.

A boy who survived the tsunami plays in a toy car in front of a real car still balancing on its front end after being washed up by the March 11 tsunami in Ishinomaki, Miyagi prefecture, on April 6, 2011.

In this Friday, April 1, 2011, photo released by the Japan Coast Guard, members of the Japan Coast Guard rescue a dog after it was found drifting on the roof of a tsunami-wrecked house floating off Kesennuma, northeastern Japan. The dog wore a collar, but there was no address on it.

Residents take a hot outdoor bath amongst tsunami devastation in Kesennuma city, Miyagi prefecture, on April 14, 2011.

Anti-government protesters display their arms and hands during a demonstration demanding the resignation of Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh, in Sanaa, Yemen, on April 4, 2011. Yemeni troops opened fire on crowds of protesters, killing at least six and wounding more than 30 others, according to various witnesses and medical officials. Arabic reads from right, "Our blood for our country", "Victory, Leave, Or we die, Murderer".

Britain's Prince William and his new wife Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge kiss on the balcony at Buckingham Palace, watched by bridemaids Grace van Cutsem (left) and Margarita Armstrong-Jones and pageboy Tom Pettifer, after their wedding in Westminster Abbey, in central London, on April 29, 2011.

An aerial photo shows tornado damage at the Lowe's Home Improvement Center in Sanford, North Carolina, on April 17, 2011. A tornado ripped through the area Saturday as a line of severe storms moved across the state.

Andy Page cries as he sits with his cat, Ellie, placed in a pet carrier, in his demolished apartment in Trenton, Georgia, on Thursday, April 28, 2011, after overnight storms hit the North Georgia and Chattanooga, Tennessee, area. Page has several cats and Ellie was the last one he was looking for.

U.S. President Barack Obama (2nd left) and Vice President Joe Biden (left), along with members of the national security team, receive an update on the mission against Osama bin Laden in the Situation Room of the White House, May 1, 2011. A team of United States Navy SEALs was at that moment descending on a compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, raiding the suspected residence of bin Laden. Also pictured are Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (2nd right) and Defense Secretary Robert Gates (right).

Crowds gather outside the White House in Washington early Monday, May 2, 2011, to celebrate after President Barack Obama officially announced the death of Osama bin Laden at the hands of U.S. forces in a compound in Pakistan.

A photo taken by a local resident shows the wreckage of a helicopter next to the wall of the compound where according to officials, Osama bin Laden was shot and killed in a firefight with U.S. forces in Abbottabad, Pakistan on Monday, May 2, 2011. The aircraft was a secretly developed stealth helicopter, which crashed during the operation. Pakistan later delivered the remaining pieces to U.S. authorities.

Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni (left) hits a six to win against Sri Lanka as teammate Yuvraj Singh reacts during the Cricket World Cup 2011 final at The Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai on April 2, 2011. India went on to win the World Cup, beating Sri Lanka by six wickets.

A Libyan rebel fighter smokes a cigarette next to an improvised multiple rocket launcher in the back of a pickup truck, as the rebels prepare to make an advance, in the desert on the outskirts of Ajdabiya, Libya, on Thursday, April 14, 2011.

The Texas Forest Service undertook controlled burns on Sunday, April 17, 2011 to get rid of fuel on the mountains around McDonald Observatory in the Davis Mountains of West Texas, which were experiencing widespread forest fires. Here, Black Mountain is burning. The Hobby-Eberly Telescope dome is at right.

Protesters, members of "Los Indignados", take part in a demonstration with a banner that reads "System Error", in Madrid, Spain, on May 17, 2011.

Hands are raised in protest at Puerta del Sol square in Madrid, Spain, on May 20, 2011 during a rally against Spain's economic crisis, jobless rate, austerity measures, political structure, and more.

Plus One More:
The photo of Osama bin Laden's dead body. Undoubtedly, this photo, if it had been released, would have been one of the iconic (if gory) photos of the year. According to reports, at least three sets of photographs of bin Laden's body exist, somewhere in the custody of the CIA. President Obama has decided against releasing them to the public, concerned about them being used to incite further violence, or being used as a propaganda tool. Several FOIA requests have reportedly been declined.