Global terrorism, deadly natural disasters, and bitterly fought elections were just some of the touchstones of 2016—a year also punctuated with the unexpected deaths of several widely beloved artists and public figures. As each successive loss, disaster, and upset appeared in the news, many have remarked that this was a particularly dark year.
Around the world, photographers were there to capture this year’s lowest moments, and the stunning images below offer some glimpses of the losses and painful events people suffered—as well as the moments of human connection and bravery amid the darkness. Here’s hoping that 2017 lets in a little more light.
Massive wildfires throughout North America
David Bowie’s sudden death
Massive coordinated bombings in Brussels
Migrants and refugees continued to endure dangerous—and sometimes deadly—journeys toward safety and peace
Four police officers from Dallas, Texas, were killed by an assailant with a sniper rifle
Jo Cox, a British member of Parliament, was murdered by a far-right extremist
Legendary recording artist Prince died suddenly from an opioid overdose
At the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, Florida, 49 people were killed in a shooting rampage
There were protests and a violence surrounding several elections across Africa.
Native Americans and activists protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline in North Dakota were sprayed by water cannons in freezing temperatures
Thousands have been killed in the war on drugs since the Philippines elected Rodrigo Duterte president
The Russian Ambassador to Turkey was gunned down at an art exhibition
An earthquake struck central Italy, killing nearly 300 people, many in the town of Amatrice
The US presidential election heightened tensions in a country divided by race, class, gender, and geography
New Delhi was trapped by clouds of choking air pollution…
…as was Beijing
There were more instances of young black men shot by police in the US
A terrorist driving a cargo truck killed at least 85 people at a Bastille Day celebration in Nice, France
Hurricane Matthew killed more than a thousand in Cuba, the Dominican Republic, and Haiti
King Bhumibol Adulyadej died, sending the Thai people into a deep mourning
The makeshift camp for refugees and migrants in Calais, France dubbed “The Jungle” was demolished
The incalculable human suffering in Syria continues. Hundreds of thousands have been killed in the years-long civil war