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Photos: The Non-Pandemic Events That Helped Shape 2020 Around The World

In a year dominated by the global COVID-19 pandemic, the virus' massive disruptions did not signal an end to other major events. Conflicts continued, resumed and broke out. Natural disasters upended lives. Attempts at peace bore some fruit. The Brexit transition continued. And around the world, protesters came into the streets to demand greater freedoms and an end to racial injustice.

Here is a look back at some of the key events that took place outside the United States and helped define this tumultuous year.

Iraq

Protesters demonstrate on Jan. 4 in Tehran over the U.S. airstrike in Iraq that killed Iranian Revolutionary Guard Gen. Qassem Soleimani a day earlier.
Ebrahim Noroozi / AP
Protesters demonstrate on Jan. 4 in Tehran over the U.S. airstrike in Iraq that killed Iranian Revolutionary Guard Gen. Qassem Soleimani a day earlier.

Australia

A kangaroo jumps in a field amid smoke from a bush fire in Snowy Valley on the outskirts of Cooma, Australia, on Jan. 4. Up to 3,000 military reservists were called up to tackle Australia's bush fire crisis as tens of thousands of residents fled their homes.
Saeed Khan / AFP via Getty Images
A kangaroo jumps in a field amid smoke from a bush fire in Snowy Valley on the outskirts of Cooma, Australia, on Jan. 4. Up to 3,000 military reservists were called up to tackle Australia's bush fire crisis as tens of thousands of residents fled their homes.

Venezuela

Opposition leader Juan Guaidó at Maiquetía Airport in February in Caracas. Guaidó returned to Venezuela after traveling to Colombia, Europe, Canada and the United States to try to gain support for his effort to oust President Nicolás Maduro. By year's end, Maduro remained in power and Venezuela near collapse.
Carolina Cabral / Getty Images
Opposition leader Juan Guaidó at Maiquetía Airport in February in Caracas. Guaidó returned to Venezuela after traveling to Colombia, Europe, Canada and the United States to try to gain support for his effort to oust President Nicolás Maduro. By year's end, Maduro remained in power and Venezuela near collapse.

Black Lives Matter

The killing of George Floyd in Minnesota resonated and led to huge demonstrations for racial justice around the world. Top: Protesters hold Portuguese signs reading "Black Lives Matter" in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Left: Residents of Nairobi's Kibera slum work in front of a George Floyd mural in Kenya. Right: A South Korean activist holds a flower during a rally to mourn Floyd's death.
/ Buda Mendes/Getty Images; Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images; Donwilson Odhiambo/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images
The killing of George Floyd in Minnesota resonated and led to huge demonstrations for racial justice around the world. Top: Protesters hold Portuguese signs reading "Black Lives Matter" in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Left: Residents of Nairobi's Kibera slum work in front of a George Floyd mural in Kenya. Right: A South Korean activist holds a flower during a rally to mourn Floyd's death.

Afghanistan

Following a U.S.-Taliban agreement in February, a Taliban delegation attends the opening session of peace talks with Afghan government representatives in Doha, Qatar, on Sept. 12.
Karim Jaafar / AFP via Getty Images
Following a U.S.-Taliban agreement in February, a Taliban delegation attends the opening session of peace talks with Afghan government representatives in Doha, Qatar, on Sept. 12.

Kenya

In the worst swarms in decades, tens of billions of locusts descended on Kenya, Somalia and Ethiopia, destroying livelihoods and food supplies. A man chases away a swarm of desert locusts early in the morning on May 21 in Samburu County, Kenya.
Fredrik Lerneryd / Getty Images
In the worst swarms in decades, tens of billions of locusts descended on Kenya, Somalia and Ethiopia, destroying livelihoods and food supplies. A man chases away a swarm of desert locusts early in the morning on May 21 in Samburu County, Kenya.

Hong Kong

After Hong Kong's huge pro-democracy demonstrations in 2019, the Chinese government imposed a new security law this year. Still, protests continued. At a June 4 vigil for victims of the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre, demonstrators gesture with five fingers, signifying "five demands — not one less," and hold posters reading "Heaven will destroy the CCP," referring to the Chinese Communist Party.
Kin Cheung / AP
After Hong Kong's huge pro-democracy demonstrations in 2019, the Chinese government imposed a new security law this year. Still, protests continued. At a June 4 vigil for victims of the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre, demonstrators gesture with five fingers, signifying "five demands — not one less," and hold posters reading "Heaven will destroy the CCP," referring to the Chinese Communist Party.

India

An Indian army convoy moves on the Srinagar-Ladakh highway at Gagangeer, northeast of Srinagar, India, on June 17. China said it was seeking a peaceful resolution with India following the death of 20 Indian soldiers in the most violent confrontation between the two countries in decades.
Mukhtar Khan / AP
An Indian army convoy moves on the Srinagar-Ladakh highway at Gagangeer, northeast of Srinagar, India, on June 17. China said it was seeking a peaceful resolution with India following the death of 20 Indian soldiers in the most violent confrontation between the two countries in decades.

Lebanon

Smoke rises after a massive blast at the Beirut port on Aug. 4. The explosion killed nearly 200 people, wounded thousands and caused destruction across half the city. The blast was caused by a fire that ignited nearly 3,000 tons of ammonium nitrate stored in the port.
Houssam Shbaro / Andalou Agency via Getty Images
Smoke rises after a massive blast at the Beirut port on Aug. 4. The explosion killed nearly 200 people, wounded thousands and caused destruction across half the city. The blast was caused by a fire that ignited nearly 3,000 tons of ammonium nitrate stored in the port.

Belarus

In Minsk, opposition supporters protest the Belarus presidential election results on Oct. 18. Protests began after longtime President Alexander Lukashenko claimed victory in a disputed Aug. 9 election, and continued through the rest of the year. Lukashenko's regime has jailed opposition leaders and forced others into exile.
/ AFP via Getty Images
In Minsk, opposition supporters protest the Belarus presidential election results on Oct. 18. Protests began after longtime President Alexander Lukashenko claimed victory in a disputed Aug. 9 election, and continued through the rest of the year. Lukashenko's regime has jailed opposition leaders and forced others into exile.

Israel

The flags of the U.S., Israel, United Arab Emirates and Bahrain are projected on the ramparts of Jerusalem's Old City on Sept. 15, in a show of support for Israel's normalization deals with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.
Menahem Kahana / AFP via Getty Images
The flags of the U.S., Israel, United Arab Emirates and Bahrain are projected on the ramparts of Jerusalem's Old City on Sept. 15, in a show of support for Israel's normalization deals with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.

Nagorno-Karabakh conflict

Mourners in Yerevan, Armenia, visit the graves of relatives killed during the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia, Dec. 12. Fierce fighting erupted in the fall, a continuation of a war that started 30 years ago. A Russian-backed cease-fire went into effect in November.
Karen Minasyan / AFP via Getty Images
Mourners in Yerevan, Armenia, visit the graves of relatives killed during the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia, Dec. 12. Fierce fighting erupted in the fall, a continuation of a war that started 30 years ago. A Russian-backed cease-fire went into effect in November.

Ethiopia's conflict

In November, Ethiopian government forces began fighting a powerful regional government in the country's northern Tigray region, displacing thousands. Members of the Afar Special Forces prepare their weapons on the outskirts of the village of Bisober in the Tigray region on Dec. 9. Several houses in the village were damaged during fighting between Tigrayan forces and the Ethiopian military.
Eduardo Soteras / AFP via Getty Images
In November, Ethiopian government forces began fighting a powerful regional government in the country's northern Tigray region, displacing thousands. Members of the Afar Special Forces prepare their weapons on the outskirts of the village of Bisober in the Tigray region on Dec. 9. Several houses in the village were damaged during fighting between Tigrayan forces and the Ethiopian military.

Saudi Arabia

Saudi women's rights activist Loujain al-Hathloul, 31, seen in an undated picture, was sentenced in December to nearly six years in prison. She has already been in prison for more than two years, since her arrest in 2018, just weeks before Saudi Arabia lifted its ban on women driving. Her family says she has been tortured and is not allowed phone calls or visits from relatives.
Marieke Wijntjes / Reuters
Saudi women's rights activist Loujain al-Hathloul, 31, seen in an undated picture, was sentenced in December to nearly six years in prison. She has already been in prison for more than two years, since her arrest in 2018, just weeks before Saudi Arabia lifted its ban on women driving. Her family says she has been tortured and is not allowed phone calls or visits from relatives.

Brexit

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Trucks backed up for miles as they waited to enter the Eurotunnel complex on Dec. 16, in Calais, France. Great Britain and the European Union reached a last-minute post-Brexit trade agreement on Dec. 24.
/ Pete Kiehart for NPR
Trucks backed up for miles as they waited to enter the Eurotunnel complex on Dec. 16, in Calais, France. Great Britain and the European Union reached a last-minute post-Brexit trade agreement on Dec. 24.