Events that marked a tumultuous year 2021

From the Covid pandemic to the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan and extreme weather, we look back on the key events of 2021.

Covid not going away

More than five million people die from the virus despite eight and a half billion vaccine shots being given, with poor countries still struggling to get their hands on doses.

Borders slowly reopen and the Olympics take place in Tokyo a year late to empty stadiums.

The world sees a resurgence of the pandemic late in the year, as the highly infectious Omicron strain spreads at an unprecedented rate.

Maria Velez of Orlando, Florida, hugs the tombstone of her son Stephen at the Ohio Western Reserve National Cemetery on Memorial Day, during the global outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Seville, Ohio, US on 25 May 2020

With initial vaccine immunity wearing off, nations try to counter the virus with booster shots and a return to restrictions.

US: Chaos at the Capitol

Hundreds of supporters of Donald Trump storm the Capitol, the seat of American democracy, on January 6 attempting to block the confirmation of Joe Biden's presidential election victory over the tycoon two months earlier.

Biden is sworn in as the 46th US president two weeks later, with Trump refusing to attend the inauguration.

On 13 February, Trump is acquitted on charges of inciting the Capitol insurrection at a historic second impeachment trial, but only after Senate Republicans close ranks.

Pro-Trump protesters storm into the US Capitol, clashing with police during a rally to contest the certification of the 2020 US presidential election results by the US Congress, in Washington, US, 6 January 2021

Navalny jailed

On 17 January, the Kremlin's most prominent critic Alexei Navalny is arrested on returning to Moscow, five months after being treated in Germany following a poisoning attack he blames on Russian president Vladimir Putin.

Moscow denies involvement.

Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny takes part in a rally to mark the 5th anniversary of opposition politician Boris Nemtsov's murder and to protest against proposed amendments to the country's constitution, in Moscow, Russia, 29 February 2020.

In February, Navalny is sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison on old embezzlement charges he says are politically motivated.

A year of coups

On 1 February, Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi is arrested in a coup that ends the country's decade-long experiment with democracy.

More than 1,100 people have since been killed and thousands arrested during the violent suppression of mass protests against the military junta.

Suu Kyi is sentenced in December to two years in prison for inciting public unrest and violating health rules and faces decades in jail if convicted in other trials.

his file handout photo taken on May 24, 2021 and released by Myanmar's Ministry of Information on May 26 shows detained civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi (L) and detained president Win Myint (R) during their first court appearance in Naypyidaw, since the military detained them in a coup on February

On 24 May, Mali strongman Colonel Assimi Goita carries out the West African country's second coup in 10 months.

In Tunisia in July, president Kais Saied takes wide-ranging powers.

Guinea's president Alpha Conde is overthrown in a military coup on 5 September.

A man waves a Sudanese national flag as people gather for a demonstration in the centre of Sudan's capital Khartoum on 30 November 2021 while protesting against a deal that saw the civilian prime minister reinstated after the military coup in October.

And in Sudan, in November prime minister Abdalla Hamdok is reinstated, but the army tightens its grip after the previous month's coup.

Hamas-Israel war

On 3 May, violence explodes between Israel and the Palestinians after clashes in the east Jerusalem neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah, sparked by a years-long bid by Jewish settlers to take over Arab homes.

Violence spreads to the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound and the occupied West Bank.

Explosions light-up the night sky above buildings in Gaza City as Israeli forces shell the Palestinian enclave, early on 16 June 2021

A week after the first clashes, the Islamist movement Hamas, which rules in the Gaza Strip, fires rockets at Israel, which hits back, leading to an 11-day war in which 260 Palestinians die. Thirteen die on the Israeli side.

On 13 June, Israel gets a new government led by hardline prime minister Naftali Bennett, ending Benjamin Netanyahu's 12-year reign.

Taliban return to power

The Taliban enter Kabul on 15 August, following a lightning offensive after the withdrawal of US and NATO troops, retaking power 20 years after being driven out by a US-led coalition.

At least 123,000 diplomats, foreigners and Afghans are flown out in a chaotic evacuation.

Taliban forces patrol at a runway a day after U.S troops withdrawal from Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan on 31 August 2021

The last remaining troops pull out on August 30, marking the dramatic end of the United States' longest war.

Europe shaken

Britain, which left the European Union's single market on 1 January, faces empty shelves and a fuel crisis because of labour shortages, especially of lorry drivers.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson holds a news conference in Downing Street on the outcome of the Brexit negotiations, in London, Britain 24 December, 2020

Brexit creates tensions in Northern Ireland, as well as between the United Kingdom and its neighbours, especially France, over fisheries and migrants.

German chancellor Angela Merkel holds her annual summer news conference in Berlin, Germany on 22 July 2021.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel bows out after 16 years in power. Social Democrat leader Olaf Scholz, allied to the Greens and the Liberals, succeeds her on 8 December.

On 7 October, ruling by Poland's Constitutional Court saying European law could only apply in specific areas sets the country at odds with the rest of the EU.

Extreme climate events

Prolonged global warming beyond the 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.6 degrees Fahrenheit) agreed under the Paris accord could produce "centuries long and... irreversible consequences" UN experts tell AFP in June.

Extreme climate events multiply across the world, from catastrophic floods in Germany and Belgium to devastating and long-running wildfires in the US, Russia, Turkey, Greece, Spain and Algeria.

This handout photo taken and received on 16 December, 2021 from the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) shows a Coast Guard member (R) assisting a flood-affected resident in a flotation ring during an evacuation from their homes next to a swollen river in Cagayan de Oro city on southern Mindanao island, amid heavy rains brought about by Typhoon Rai

A so-called "heat dome" in June in western Canada and the US West kills hundreds.

In November, the COP26 summit in Glasgow pledges to accelerate the fight against rising temperatures. But commitments fall short of what scientists say is needed to contain dangerous rises.

In December, dozens of tornadoes tear through six US states, killing at least 88.

Poland-Belarus migrant crisis

In November, thousands of mainly Middle Eastern migrants camp out in freezing temperatures on Belarus' border with Poland seeking to cross into the EU.

The West accuses Minsk of engineering the influx in response to sanctions imposed after the brutal repression in 2020 of a protest movement against "Europe's last dictator", Belarus president Alexander Lukashenko.

Polish border guard officers stand guard next to a group of migrants stranded on the border between Belarus and Poland near the village of Usnarz Gorny, Poland September 1, 2021

Belarus and Russia deny stoking the crisis, and lash the EU for not taking the people in.

At least a dozen migrants die on both sides of the border, according to aid organisations.

The West extends its sanctions against Minsk.

Big step on tax

In October, G20 leaders adopt a historic global agreement for a minimum 15 per cent corporate tax.

Some 136 countries representing more than 90 per cent of global GDP sign the OECD-brokered deal to more fairly tax multinational companies.

G20 leaders toss a coin into Rome's iconic Trevi Fountain on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Rome, Italy, 31 October 2021.

US internet giants such as Google, Amazon, Facebook and Apple -- experts in basing themselves in low-tax countries -- are particular targets of the new global regulation.

Return of inflation

Snarled supply chains and a global crunch in essential materials like semiconductors drive consumer prices higher in 2021.

US inflation surged 6.8 per cent in November, the largest annual jump in 39 years. Eurozone inflation surged 4.9 per cent, the highest level for three decades, fuelled by soaring energy prices.

US-China standoff

Faced with mounting incursions by Chinese warplanes into Taiwan's air defence identification zone, Biden warns that Washington strongly opposes moves to "undermine peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait".

A screen shows Chinese President Xi Jinping attending a virtual meeting with U.S. President Joe Biden via video link, at a restaurant in Beijing, China on 16 November 2021

Chinese leader Xi Jinping cautions Biden in November that encouraging Taiwanese independence would be "playing with fire."

In early December, the US, Canada, Australia and Britain announce a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Winter Olympics in February, in response to alleged rights abuses by China, notably against the Uyghur minority in Xinjiang.

Ukraine stand-off

The US president warns Putin in December that Moscow will face unprecedented economic sanctions should the tens of thousands of Russian troops massed on the Ukrainian border launch an attack.

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during a plenary session at the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok, Russia on 3 September 2021

The EU and NATO also warn of "massive consequences" of an invasion.

Putin demands guarantees that the one-time Soviet republic never be allowed to join NATO. The tensions push gas prices to record highs.