The 50 Best Photos Of 2014

This was a tumultuous year. From revolution and war in Ukraine, Syria, and Israel to social unrest across the US and the Ebola outbreak in Africa, 2014 was anything but quiet. 

And, as the old adage goes, “A picture is worth a thousand words.”

We compiled the most unforgettable images from the past 12 months, captured by photographers from around the world.

Beginning in November 2013, Ukrainians protested the government's decision to distance itself economically from Europe in a movement that became known as EuroMaidan. The protests exploded into violence and burning tires in January after anti-protest laws went into effect. Here, protesters took cover from water sprayed by a fire engine on Jan. 23.

The anti-protest laws banned 'face concealments.' Protesters, like this one, deliberately disobeyed the law by wearing gas masks.

The Tower of David in Caracas, Venezuela, is the tallest slum in the world. In February, Reuters photographer Jorge Silva went there to capture what life was actually like for those living there. Here, men rested after salvaging metal on the 30th floor.

After worries by many that Russia was unprepared for February's Sochi Olympics, this image from the opening ceremony became iconic. The fifth Olympic ring failed to open from the flower-shaped ball to the full Olympic ring.

During February protests in Ankara, Turkey, against Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan (now the country's president) and the ruling Ak Party, riot police used tear gas and a water cannon to disperse protesters.

At the beginning of the year, protests swept through Venezuela in response to high rates of violence and a lack of basic goods. On Feb. 18, one of the protest's leaders, opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez, was controversially arrested on charges of arson, terrorism, and homicide.

Men carrying a casket containing the body of an anti-government protester killed in clashes with police from Independence Square in Kiev, Ukraine, on Feb. 21.

The ever-bloody civil war in Syria continued. This man was holding a baby saved from rubble in Aleppo in February. The baby survived what activists said was an airstrike by forces loyal to Syrian president Bashar Assad.

Despite a truce between then-Ukrainian President Victor Yanukovych and opposition leaders on Feb. 20, anti-government protesters continued to clash with police in Independence Square in Kiev.

In May, after months of political unrest, the Royal Thai Armed Forces overthrew the government of Thailand. Here, members of the 'Red Shirt' movement, which supports the overthrown government, attacked a Buddhist monk outside the National Anti-Corruption Commission office, on the outskirts of Bangkok in March.

In the run-up to June's World Cup, Brazil deployed troops to the slums of Rio de Janeiro to rid them of violent crime, drugs, and gangs. The photo shows residents reacting to policemen taking up position before an operation in the Mare slums complex on March 26.

In March, Brazil's national Indian agency, Funai, contacted Indians in the Amazon basin, who had never been contacted by the outside world. When this photographer flew over the Indians in a helicopter, the Indians raised their spears as if to attack the vehicle.

A student at the General Yermolov Cadet School holding two rifles during a field exercise near the southern Russian city of Stavropol in April.

On April 11, riot police in Rio de Janeiro used pepper spray to clear out this building owned by a telecommunications company in the Telerj slum that homeless people had taken over.

In early March, the federal government got into a standoff with rancher Cliven Bundy after threatening to impound his 'trespass cattle.' On April 12, armed protesters joined peaceful protesters against the roundup of the cattle. Here, the photographer caught a law enforcement officer aiming his weapon, as protesters gathered at the Bureau of Land Management's base camp.

On April 14, a bomb exploded during rush hour in Abuja, Nigeria, killing 71. These bystanders reacted as victims of the blast arrived at the Asokoro General Hospital.

Since February, fighting in eastern Ukraine has taken place between pro-Russian and nationalist Ukrainians. Here, an injured pro-Russian soldier was taken out of a car by medical staff at a hospital in Slaviansk in May.

Public opinion in Ukraine has been split. Pro-Russian protesters attacked a pro-Ukrainian protester at a rally in Donetsk on April 28. Donetsk, in eastern Ukraine, has been an epicentre of fighting between pro-Russian separatists and Ukraine.

In April, Afghanistan began its first elections in which power would be democratically transferred. The election led to a runoff election in June between Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani. This donkey transported ballot boxes to polling stations not accessible by the road.

During the World Cup, Uruguay's Luis Suarez was caught biting the shoulder of Italy's Giorgio Chiellini during the countries' final game in the Group stage. Suarez was banned from nine international games by FIFA.

On July 8, Israel initiated Operation Protective Edge in the Gaza Strip. Over the course of seven weeks, Israel and Hamas traded bombardment and rocket fire. Ground fighting killed 2,200 people, most of whom were Gazans. Here, one can see smoke and fire from an Israeli strike over Gaza City on July 29.

Israelis watched the outgoing rocket fire from Gaza and waited to see Israeli airstrikes from a hill overlooking Gaza.

The Israel-Gaza conflict resulted in the deaths of more than 2,000 Gazans. This boy, the son of Gaza police chief Tayseer Al-Batsh, mourned during the funeral for his parents, who were killed in an airstrike on their home on July 13.

On July 17, Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was shot down over Ukrainian airspace, near the Russian border. Many believe the plane to have been shot down by pro-Russian separatists with a surface-to-air missile. Debris is shown here shortly after the crash.

As the Islamic State (aka ISIS) group advanced across Iraq, people of the minority Yazidi sect, seen as infidels by ISIS, fled toward the Syrian border with hopes of eventually reaching Kurdish territory. Here, they were walking toward the border near the outskirts of Sinjar mountain on Aug. 10.

Palestinians rescued 10-year-old Mahmoud al-Ghol from under the rubble of a house in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on Aug. 3. Nine of the boy's relatives were killed in the airstrike of the house.

On Aug. 9, 18-year-old Michael Brown was shot by police officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri. Here, Michael Brown Sr. yelled as the casket was lowered at the funeral for his son on Aug. 25.

Protests in Ferguson began in the days following Brown's death. The police response to protesters was aggressive, further inflaming tensions in the community.

Gabrielle Walker, 5, protested Brown's killing on Aug. 17 in Ferguson.

The drought in California is, by some measures, among the worst on record in the state. Water levels in the state's lakes and reservoirs have reached historic lows. Lake Oroville in Oroville, California, is seen here, nearly dry, on Aug. 19.

Tear gas and eye irritant was used liberally on protesters in Ferguson. On Aug. 20, this man doused his face with milk to counteract the effect of pepper spray, which had been sprayed directly in his eye.

Protests erupted in Indonesia on Aug. 21 after losing presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto said the election was rife with fraud. Police used tear gas and water cannons to disperse protesters, who were not expecting a violent reaction.

Hamas used underground tunnels to conduct raids in Israel. A Reuters photographer got exclusive access in August to see the tunnels used by the Izz el-Deen al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, shown here.

The Ebola outbreak in West Africa began in December 2013 but received renewed attention in July and August when Liberia closed its borders and began placing areas under quarantine. The woman here stood over her husband, who fell and became unconscious in the Ebola ward in Monrovia, Liberia.

The quarantine did not go over well in West Point, Liberia. In August, clashes broke out between Liberian soldiers attempting to enforce the quarantine and the township's residences. The government blocked roads to the compound with barbed wire, tables, and chairs.

Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 disappeared on March 8. This man's fiancee was on board the plane. He was photographed here on Aug. 26 in the empty house in Tianjin, China, that he planned to decorate with her for their marriage.

An Egypt-brokered cease-fire was announced between Israel and Hamas on Aug. 26. Palestinian children held guns to celebrate what they said was a victory over Israel.

In June, ISIS took over the Iraqi city of Mosul. Kurdish peshmerga fighters have led the fight against ISIS in Iraq. Here, a fighter held a grenade launcher overlooking the edge of Mosul in September.

On Sept. 19, a man scaled the north fence of the White House and broke in past several rings of security. The US Secret Service agent shown here hurried people out of the White House complex after the security alert.

As Syrian Kurdish refugees fled from ISIS across the Turkish-Syrian border, many things, like this cradle, were left behind. This usually busy border crossing was deserted on Sept. 26.

In September, the Communist Party of China announced that while electoral reforms would go forward in Hong Kong, only candidates approved by a committee could run. The youth in Hong Kong responded with protests across the city. This man became a symbol, as protesters used umbrellas to shield themselves from tear gas.

Unrest has continued in Ferguson for more than five months. Activist Cornel West was knocked over by police during a protest at the Ferguson Police Department headquarters in October.

A Doctors Without Borders health worker in protective clothing carrying a child suspected of having Ebola in the group's treatment center on Oct. 5 in Liberia.

A golfer hitting a tee shot as African migrants try to cross a border fence from Morocco into Spain's northern African enclave of Melilla in October.

In recent years, right-wing religious nationalist Jews have asserted a Jewish right to worship at the Temple Mount in Jerusalem (known as the Noble Sanctuary to Muslims). The Palestinian women shown here on Oct. 14 shouted and harassed Jewish passersby as they attempted to make their way to the compound. Both women were giving each other a gesture that, in the Middle East, is equivalent to the middle finger.

A woman crawled toward the body of her sister as an Ebola burial team took her for cremation in October. The burial of loved ones is important in Liberian culture, making cremation traumatic for surviving family members.

An explosion rocked Kobani, Syria, during a reported suicide car bomb attack by ISIS in the center of the city on Oct. 20.

During the Hindu religious festival of Chatt Puja in New Delhi on Oct. 30, a Hindu devotee worshipped in polluted waters. Pollutants from sewage waters flow into the Yamuna river.

In August, the European Space Agency's Rosetta space probe rendezvoused with Comet 67P. In November, the Philae landed onto the comet. This is the first true colour image of a comet.

Following the announcement that the Grand Jury declined to indict Ferguson officer Darren Wilson, protests erupted across the town. Twenty-five buildings were set on fire the night after the announcement. This is what the wreckage looked like the day after, Nov. 25.

Protests against the grand jury decision in Ferguson spread across the country on Nov. 25. In this photo, Sergeant Bret Barnum hugged 12-year-old Devonte Hart at a Ferguson Rally in Portland, Oregon. Hart was holding a sign that said 'Free Hugs,' which Barnum asked for. The photo has gone viral.

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