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top photos of 2011

Best of the best photos of the year from Time, National Geographic, BuzzFeed & more

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A protester stands in front of a burning barricade during a demonstration in Cairo January 28, 2011 Photo by Goran Tomasevic
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Zukhro, an employee of the city zoo, walks with Vadik, an 18-month-old male lion, on the territory of the zoo in the capital Dushanbe, January 20, 2011. Employees take the lion from its cage to have a promenade along the territory two times a week while holding a piece of meat to attract Vadik's attention so it walks nearby. Photo by Nozim Kalandarov
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Researchers dressed in panda costumes put a panda cub into a basket before transferring it to a new living environment at the Hetaoping Research and Conservation Center for the Giant Panda in Wolong National Nature Reserve, Sichuan province February 20, 2011 Photo by Heng Yi
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 A 22-year-old woman in a wedding gown is grabbed by Guo Zhongfan, a local community officer, as she attempts to kill herself by jumping out of a seven-storey residential building in Changchun, Jilin province May 17, 2011. According to local media, the woman tried to commit suicide after her boyfriend of four years broke up with her, just as they were making plans to get married. The woman did not sustain any injuries during the incident. Photo by Li Ping
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A miner climbs on excavated rocks after a giant drill machine broke through at the final section Sedrun-Faido, at the construction site of the NEAT Gotthard Base Tunnel March 23, 2011. Crossing the Alps, the world's longest train tunnel should become operational at the end of 2016. Photo by Arnd Wiegmann
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Nikki Hamblin of New Zealand lays on the track after falling during the women's 1,500 meters heats at the IAAF World Championships in Daegu August 28, 2011 Photo by David Gray
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Tsunami Swirls Photograph from Kyodo/AP
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Kesennuma, Japan. March 15, 2011 Photo by James Nachtwey
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Their Royal Highnesses Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge kiss on the balcony at Buckingham Palace on April 29, 2011 in London, England Photo by Peter Macdiarmid
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 Shuttle launch. May 16, 2011 Photo by Stefanie Gordon
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London Riots Photo by Amy Weston
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University of California, Davis, California. November 18, 2011 Photo by Wayne Tilcock
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Photos capture what words cannot —­­ they become illustrated moments of time ­­that define iconic events and encapsulate fleeting feelings.  From the protests in Egypt to the devastating tsunami in Japan, a royal wedding in England and a lucky shot of the shuttle launch breaking through the clouds, these photos capture humanity — for better or worse — throughout the world in 2011.

Many "Best Photos of the Year" lists are circulating the Web, and CultureMap has narrowed down the lists so you can take a look back at the most dynamic photos of 2011.

(Warning for those at work: Some images contain graphic content or nudity.)

Time Magazine

2011 was the year of protests and uprisings. Wars were battled, lives were lost and families are torn apart.

Top 10 Photos of the Year

Best Photojournalism of 2011

Best Viral Photos of 2011

National Geographic

No one captures the world quite like National Geographic photographers. They cross tundras, plains and oceans and venture into outer space to bring us images of wildlife and landscapes that we might otherwise never see.

Best Wild Animal Photos of 2011

Best Space Pictures of 2011

Reuters

Reuters photographers are out in the field capturing the most difficult scenarios in the most dangerous places on the globe.

Best Photos of the Year

BuzzFeed

This list has gone viral on several social media outlets, but just in case you missed it.

The 45 Most Powerful Images of 2011

Denver Post

A three-part collection of some of the most moving photos of 2011.

Best Photos of the Year: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3

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