Year in Photos

© 2016 The New York Times
Distributed by The New York Times Syndicate


Rodrigo Duterte, president of the Philippines, was elected in 2016 largely on his promise to crack down on drug addicts and dealers; he went so far as to encourage citizens to kill addicts. Jennilyn Olayres weeps over her husband, Michael Siaron, a 29-year-old pedicab driver who was shot dead by unknown assailants on July 23, in metropolitan Manila. The word “pusher,” written on a piece of cardboard, was found next to him, though his relatives denied that Siaron ever sold drugs. According to figures released by the Philippine National Police in September, since Duterte assumed office on June 30, vigilantes are believed to have killed 1,067 people.


©  Noel Celis/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images


© Philippe Lopez/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images


On Jan. 16, Tsai Ing-wen of the Democratic Progressive Party won Taiwan’s election by a landslide, becoming the country’s first female president. Her party champions formal independence from China, a position that heightened cross-strait tensions despite Tsai’s pledge to maintain peaceful relations. In June, China cut off diplomatic contact with the island, putting pressure on Tsai to endorse the idea that China and Taiwan are parts of a single Chinese nation.



© Mohammed al-Shaikh/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images


A Bahraini woman holds up a portrait of the popular Shiite Muslim cleric Nimr al-Nimr, protesting his execution in Saudi Arabia. Al-Nimr, a critic of the Saudi monarchy, who are Sunnis, and an advocate for the country’s Shiite minority, was executed on Jan. 2 along with 46 other men, most of whom were linked to al-Qaida and had been convicted of terrorism charges. Relations between Saudi Arabia and Shiite-majority Iran, already tenuous since the two countries are backing opposing sides in the conflicts in Yemen and Syria, dissolved completely after the execution, further complicating efforts to bring peace to the region.


© Mauricio Lima for The New York Times


The World Health Organization declared the Zika virus an international public health emergency on Feb. 1. About four months before, Brazil started reporting an unusual number of cases of babies born with microcephaly, or small skull, usually signaling abnormal brain development. The cause was later determined to be infection with the virus in utero. By the end of May, 59 countries and territories across the Americas and around the world had reported cases, and in June the WHO advised women living in Zika-affected areas to refrain from getting pregnant. In Ipojuca, near Brazil’s west coast, Germana Soares cares for her son Guilherme, who has microcephaly.

© Stephen Crowley/The New York Times


On March 20, President Barack Obama became the first sitting U.S. president to travel to Cuba since Calvin Coolidge, in 1928. The historic visit was celebrated with greetings from senior Cuban officials, a motorcade and cheers in the city’s streets. For political dissidents, some of whom met with Obama, the visit signaled an opportunity for change on an island controlled by the Communist Party for over half a century. During his own meeting with Obama, Cuban President Raul Castro repeated his request that the U.S. lift its trade embargo — which, Obama suggested, may eventually happen, though not during his term of office.

© Russian Defence Ministry via European Pressphoto Agency


Russian servicemen hoist the pilot of a bomber upon his arrival from Syria at the air base in Russia’s Voronezh region on March 15. When a Feb. 27 cease-fire agreement brokered by the U.S. and Russia lessened violence for two weeks, after almost five years of civil war, Vladimir Putin abruptly announced that Russia had accomplished its objectives in Syria, and would therefore withdraw most of its troops from the country. Russia’s level of involvement in the conflict appeared unchanged, and in October, the country’s upper house, ratified a bill prolonging indefinitely the deployment of a special air force unit to Syria.

© Tyler Hicks/The New York Times


On April 4, over the objections of human rights groups, a deal between the European Union and Turkey went into effect that allows Greece to deport to Turkey new asylum seekers who arrive without approval from authorities. The agreement focused on setting up an orderly process for refugees from the Syrian civil war: For every Syrian sent back to Turkey from Greece, a Syrian refugee in Turkey will be settled in the EU. In the days before the agreement, up to 2,000 migrants per day had been arriving on the shores of the Greek islands by raft and boat. By September, the deal seemed shaky and the numbers of migrants arriving in Greece, which were low for a few months, had begun to swell again. Above, migrants in the Greek port of Khíos waited for a decision on whether they could stay in Europe.

© Ko Sasaki for The New York Times


On April 14 and 16, two earthquakes struck the southwest Japanese island of Kyushu, killing 69 people. The foreshock on April 14 reached a magnitude of 6.5, while the main shock registered at 7.3, leaving many residents in Kumamoto City and Mashiki without water and more than 183,000 people displaced from their homes. Above are several of Mashiki’s mostly wooden houses, many of which were destroyed or damaged. In June, the Red Cross announced that it was continuing to provide relief to almost 10,000 people who remained in evacuation centers.

© Tyler Hicks/The New York Times


One of the most destructive forest fires in Canadian history spread to Fort McMurray, Alberta, on May 1. Two days later, authorities ordered the entire community of 88,000 residents to evacuate. The wildfire destroyed 2,400 buildings and raged for six weeks afterward, leaving 1.5 million acres of scorched earth in its wake. Evacuees began returning to the ravaged city on June 1. Before oil prices plummeted, Fort McMurray was a boomtown, serving as a center for the Canadian oil sands industry.

© Meridith Kohut for The New York Times


Kevin Munoz sat in his party supply store during a blackout in Caracas on May 19. The oil-rich country, contending with low oil prices, a drought, economic mismanagement and inflation that’s expected to reach 720% in 2016, suffered severe food shortages, cuts to water, medical and phone services, and violent protests. Desperate to conserve electricity, the government resorted to opening many offices for just two half-days per week. Conditions continued to deteriorate, and in September, thousands of marchers took to the streets to demand a referendum on whether to recall President Nicolás Maduro.


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After the Seine spilled over its banks on June 1, crowds gathered to take photos and Parisian authorities had to urge them to stay away from the river. Museums and other landmarks across the French capital closed temporarily as workers rushed to rescue thousands of artworks from the rising water. Water levels peaked a few days later, reaching 20 feet before beginning a slow descent. The city endured even more severe flooding in 1982, 1910 and 1658 — historians believe that during the latter flood, waters rose more than 28 feet.


© Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times


A cargo ship, the Baroque, takes a test run through the newly expanded Panama Canal on June 9. The revamped waterway, which connects the Atlantic and the Pacific, officially opened on June 26 with the passage of the Cosco Shipping Panama, a vessel carrying 9,472 containers. The Baroque and the Cosco belong to a new generation of larger “neo-Panamax” container ships that the expanded canal was specifically designed to handle. The $5.25 billion expansion was spearheaded by a Spanish-led consortium and is expected to cut global maritime costs and boost Panama’s economy.

© George Etheredge/The New York Times


The release of “Pokémon Go” around the world in early July transformed streets and parks into settings for a smartphone fantasy game. The game inserts animated Pokémon characters into the camera feed of players’ surroundings, so that players must move through the world physically in order to find Pokémon virtually — a novel use of augmented reality technology. “Pokémon Go” earned praise for getting users outside and moving, as well as criticism for putting the distracted, wandering fans at risk of traffic accidents and other dangers. Regardless, the mobile game set a record, pulling in revenues of $500 million in just over 60 days.

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Women, one of them in a burkini, a full-body swimsuit, wade in the surf near Ghar al Milh, Tunisia. Worn by some Muslim women, the burkini became the center of controversy following a terror attack in Nice, France, in July, where an attacker driving a truck killed 86 people. Over the summer, the mayors of dozens of seaside towns banned the garment on local beaches, on such grounds as maintaining public order and enforcing the country’s principle of secularism. France’s Council of State subsequently overturned one such ban, condemning it as an infringement of basic individual freedoms, but many towns defied the ruling.

© Federico Rios for The New York Times.


A young fighter for the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, stands in formation. On Aug. 24, after more than five decades of fighting and four years of negotiations, the left-wing guerrilla group FARC and the Colombian government reached an agreement that sought to conclude the longest-running war in the Americas. Colombians welcomed the prospect of an end to the conflict, which has killed an estimated 220,000 people and displaced more than 5 million. However, in a referendum on Oct. 2, voters shocked the nation by narrowly rejecting the plan, which would have disarmed FARC members and integrated them into civilian life. President Juan Manuel Santos said negotiations and a cease-fire signed in June would continue.

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Thousands of people gathered in Vatican City’s St. Peter’s Square on Sept. 4 for the canonization of Mother Teresa, an ethnic Albanian nun who dedicated her life to helping the poor. While many heads of government and state attended the ceremony, the Vatican also bussed in 1,500 homeless people, who were given seats of honor. Born Agnes Gonxhe Bojaxhiu in Skopje, in what is today Macedonia, Teresa joined the Sisters of Loreto in Ireland at 18 and subsequently moved to India, where she founded the order of the Missionaries of Charity in 1950. She was granted the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979. The nun, who died in 1997, will now be known as St. Teresa of Calcutta.

© Pool photo by Alexei Druzhinin


President Islam Karimov of Uzbekistan died of a stroke on Sept. 2, 2016, ending nearly three decades of rule that spanned the country’s declaration of independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. Karimov’s authoritarian regime has been accused of extreme human rights violations, including torture, murder, rape, forced labor, religious persecution, censorship and other abuses. Most Western governments have denounced Uzbekistan for these offenses but maintained amiable ties with the country due to its geopolitical importance in Central Asia. Russian president Vladimir Putin, who paid his respects at Karimov’s grave on Sept. 6, issued a statement calling the dictator’s death “a great loss for the people of Uzbekistan.”

© Adam Dean for The New York Times


Women comfort each other after the announcement of the death of King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand on Oct. 13 at the age of 88. During his 70 years on the throne, the Buddhist leader served as his country’s unifying force, providing stability as the military and elected governments tussled for power. However, he worked toward fostering the monarchy’s power, rather than establishing democratic institutions, and the country is currently governed by Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha’s military junta, which took power after a coup and then abolished much of the Thai constitution. The king’s son, Prince Vajiralongkorn, is his presumed successor, but the prince’s reputation as a jet-setting playboy worries many Thais.


© William C. Eckenberg/The New York Times


The American singer-songwriter Bob Dylan, who had long been lauded for his folk songs’ eloquent lyrics, was granted the Nobel Prize in literature on Oct. 13. Dylan, 75, was the first musician to win the award: The Swedish Academy recognized him “for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition.” The lyrics to Dylan’s songs, such as “Like a Rolling Stone,” “The Times They Are A-Changin’” and “Blowin’ in the Wind,” are studied as poetry at some American universities.