23 pictures that sum up 2014

 
Catherine Neilan
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The year is drawing to an end so it's time to take a look back at 2014 in pictures.
In January, workers at the French Goodyear factory went on strike and then took two executives hostage after it was announced that the company was going to close the plant, with the loss of more than 1,000 jobs.


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That same month it emerged that French President Francois Hollande had been having an affair with actress Julie Gayet. The story turned into a debate about privacy issues – but not before it made headline news around the world.


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In February Janet Yellen became the first female chair of the US Federal Reserve. Viewed by many as naturally dovish, analyst consensus was that she was unlikely to raise interest rates until wider economic circumstances dictated it. Later in 2014 she was ranked by Forbes as the second most powerful woman in the world after German Chancellor Angela Merkel.


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Also in February, General Motors recalls 800,000 cars over faulty ignition switches, but by the summer this had risen to recalls for 28 million cars. The fault had been known to GM for a decade previously, and costs are expected to reach £1.2bn. Chief executive Mary Barra offered “sincere apologies” to the families affected.


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In March, comedian and presenter Ellen Degeneres posted on Twitter what has since become the most retweeted picture ever. Simply known as the Oscar Selfie, it featured 12 of the biggest Hollywood celebrities.
The same month also saw the first disaster to strike Malaysian Airlines when flight MH370 disappeared during its journey from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. Despite a widespread search, involving several nations, exactly what happened remains a mystery.


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The Ukrainian crisis that began in November 2013 took a turn for the worse after the annexation of Crimea in March, which led to out-and-out war between the two factions.


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May saw the world's largest democratic election take place, with populist Hindu nationalist Narendra Modi taking the reins, despite being criticised for failing to prevent the 2002 Gujarat riots, as well as his track record on certain areas such as healthcare and education. But Modi's pro-business stance has subsequently won him many fans.


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In June, HRH Queen Elizabeth II came face to face with a very different type of throne to her usual seat when she visited the Game of Thrones set in Belfast. Sadly for the internet, she declined to sit on the Irone Throne, but it still yielded a good photo opportunity.


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Football madness descended across the globe when the World Cup began in Brazil. There were more than a few upsets though – England failed to make it through the group stages, the home nation lost 7-1 to Germany in the semis and Luis Suarez bit another person. So not all unexpected...


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In July, a second disaster struck Malaysia as its Flight MH17 crashed over Ukraine, killing 298 people. The final investigation is yet to report but it is widely believed that pro-Russian separatists shot the plane down using a surface-to-air missile. Both the recovery operation and investigation were hindered by the ongoing crisis.


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Much of the world was captivated by not one, not two but three Supermoons. The first appeared in July, followed by one in August, and then again in September. Northern Scotland was the best place to see it, but there were some pretty awesome views in London too.


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The current Ebola epidemic is now thought to have started in December 2013, but it was in August that the world really started paying attention, after the World Health Organisation declared a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC) after the death toll rose above 1,000. There have been many moving pictures to come out of the areas affected by the epidemic but this one, showing a worker decontaminating a corpse in a Liberian classroom, is particularly shocking.


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Meanwhile in Ferguson, Missouri, protests and demonstrations turned into riots and civil disobediance after a policeman shot and killed unarmed citizen Michael Brown. The unrest continued for several weeks, and resurfaced again after a grand jury decided not to indict the police officer involved. Later in 2014, there was more condemnation of the US police force after Eric Garner died in choke hold, with his dying words "I can't breathe" forming a major protest movement.


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Islamic State grabbed headlines throughout the year, but the possiblity that the extremist group could enter Nato member Turkey was the point at which airstrikes were introduced. The key town of Kobani – a Kurdish town on the Syria/Turkey border – was the setting for this battle. Allied airstrikes in Iraq began in August, followed by Syria in September. The UK government approved airstrikes in Iraq late September.


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The so-called Umbrella Revolution began in September, shutting down much of the business district in Hong Kong as protesters called for electoral reform. The use of tear gas, and an image of a protester protecting themselves using an umbrella, is what gave the movement its name.


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No one thought it would happen. Then suddenly business leaders and (most) politicians worried it might. Scottish independence got much closer than ever expected, but ultimately the electorate voted “No – thanks” to breaking up the union.


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Jack Ma became the richest man in Asia after his company registered the biggest IPO in corporate history. This picture captures the moment Alibaba debuted on the New York Stock Exchange.


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Richard Branson's ambitions to create a commercial space organisation suffered yet another set back after one of Virgin Galactic's rockets crashed in October. Co-pilot Michael Alsbury was killed, but pilot Peter Siebold survived.


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One month later, there was better news from the world of space exploration. A decade after leaving Earth, the Philae rocket landed on a comet – the first time this had ever happened. Sadly contact was lost just a couple of days after landing, but that didn't stop the scientific world hailing it as an incredible success.


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In November, the country's thoughts turned to the centenary of the First World War, as the Tower of London's moving installation reached its peak. Holding more than 800,000 poppies, one to commemorate each Brit who died during the war, the temporary artwork was so popular, the organisers had to extend it by two weeks.
Sentimental we may be, but that doesn't mean we don't like a good bargain when we see one. Or that we're not willing to break a few bones to get our paws on the last dirt-cheap telly. As this Vine shows, chaos ensued on Black Friday this year.
The UK could hardly go through the year without at least one reference to the weather. The Met Office warned us of a new phenomenon in December – the weather bomb. It ravaged much of the country, but by the time it got to London was something of a damp squib.


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