We look at the events that could define global affairs in 2014. Browse our interactive map, or read about each moment below.
Central African Republic: A bad neighbourhood
International troops try to keep the country from being violently pulled apart along ethnic and religious lines, as militants from Chad, Sudan and other nearby nations threaten one of the poorest countries in the world.
Kenya: Endangered creatures
With the continent’s western black rhino officially extinct as of 2013, due to poaching, conservationists try to save the northern white rhino—only four known breeding adults are left on the continent.
South Africa: Blade Runner
The gold medal-winning Paralympian Oscar Pistorius goes on trial in March, accused of murdering his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp.
Afghanistan: Time to go?
Unless a deal is struck with the U.S., its forces will withdraw. Hamid Karzai is due to step down after the April presidential elections, much to America’s relief.
Burma: In from the cold
For the first time, Burma’s nominally civilian government will chair the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, amid reports of persistent human rights abuses.
China: Baby boomers
An estimated two million more babies will be born in 2014 as a result of a relaxing of the one-child policy aimed at easing the effects of an aging population.
India: Extraordinary election
The largest democracy in the world goes to the polls, likely in May. While the ruling Congress or its rival, the BJP, will likely win, an upstart anti-corruption party could play the spoiler.
Turkey: Electoral challenge
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan will see whether 2013’s crackdown on popular protests hurts his party in March’s municipal elections. And he has to decide whether to run for the new directly elected presidency in August.
Japan: Power politics
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe aims to restart the country’s nuclear reactors, shuttered since the 2011 earthquake, in a bid to bring cheap power online and boost his economic reform efforts.
North Korea: Consolidating power
Kim Jong Un enters his third year as leader of the Hermit Kingdom, and the emboldened twentysomething is expected to conduct a fourth nuclear missile test by spring.
Argentina: Past sins
Twelve years after it defaulted on a $100-billion debt, the struggling nation will find out whether it owes creditors big time, when the U.S. Supreme Court decides whether to hear an appeal from Argentina on paying back bondholders. A loss could bankrupt Argentina.
Brazil: Balls away!
From June 12 to July 13, teams from 32 nations will compete in the World Cup, watched by more than half the world.
Cuba: Return to old digs
For the first time since Fidel Castro took control in 1959, the National Assembly will assemble in the Capitol building, modeled after the U.S. Capitol. It’s seen as a reform effort, easing the Communists’s grip on power.
Guantánamo Bay, Cuba: Closing the book
U.S. prosecutors expect the trial of alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and four co-defendants to finally begin.
United States: Gay rights
On June 1, marriage rights extend to same-sex couples in Illinois, the 16th state to recognize such unions.
United States: Presidential billets-doux
Some 250 love letters between president Warren G. Harding and his married mistress, Carrie Phillips, will be made available to the Ohio Historical Society on July 29, after being sealed by a legal agreement in 1971.
Britain: Open doors
Starting Jan. 1, Romanians and Bulgarians will have the right to work in Britain, and experts predict at least 385,000 citizens of Europe’s poorest nations will make the trek in the next five years.
Latvia: A new cultural hub
As part of Riga’s turn as the EU’s European Capital of Culture, it’s home to a series of artistic events, including the Second Coming of Gutenberg, celebrating 500 years of the printed book.
Russia: Olympic fever
For 16 days, President Vladimir Putin and the IOC worry about holding the Winter Games in Sochi’s sub-tropical climate.
Saudia Arabia: Worker crackdown
Two million migrant workers, many of them Ethiopians in menial jobs, will be deported, to create work for Saudis.
Australia and New Zealand: Royal tour
Prince William and his wife, Kate, take their baby son, George, on a visit down under, echoing the tour taken in 1983 by Charles, Diana and William, then barely crawling.