Top photos of 2011

Reuters picks its best pictures in a year dominated by turmoil in the Arab world and global economic protests.

Egypt protester 311 R (photo credit: REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic)
Egypt protester 311 R
(photo credit: REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic)
As this year comes to a close, it remains unclear how future generations will look back on the frenetic year of 2011.

It was in this year that we witnessed unprecedented protest movements in the Middle East, Europe and the United States with the people calling for change, reform and credible democracy. In North Africa and the Arabian peninsula, four autocratic leaders took their final bows before unwelcoming crowds that successfully pushed them out.
This selection of photographs from Reuters includes a number on the so-called "Arab Spring" protests. A sensational photo captures an Arab protester in Cairo standing in front of a burning barricade in the run-up to ex-president Hosni Mubarak's ouster. Another depicts iconic leader Muammar Gaddafi driving in Tripoli, tepidly triumphant, not long before his capture by rebels.One photo shows Gilad Schalit upon his release after over  five years in Hamas captivity. The soldier walks, eyes towards the ground, as he is led by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Ehud Barak, and IDF Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz.Other photos depict the austerity protests in Greece, which broke out months before similar economically focused demonstrations erupted in Tel Aviv, and eventually in the Occupy movement in the United States.