Ten Years Ago: 2011
Ten years ago, to many would not yet be classed as “history” but as we know history happens every day!
From a personal perspective this was one of the first years that I began to catalogue my photographic memories which has meant that I can easily go on a walk down memory lane!
In 2011 I travelled the South Pacific for a month visiting some places that remain amongst my favourite places such as the Cook Islands and Tahiti. I celebrated my honours graduation whilst completing my master’s and undertaking my first Museum job as the Assistant Curator at the Bradman Museum. It was a busy year for me but was going on around the world at this time?
The year started with a referendum in Southern Sudan, and this resulted in the declaration of independence from Sudan. By July a new nation had been established and they join the UN as the 193rd member and the newest nation in the world and amongst the youngest nations with approximately half of the population aged under 18.
The start of the year also brought with it the fall of the Tunisian Government and the 2011 Egyptian revolution. This sets off the “Arab Spring” (although it really began in late December the previous year) which was a series of anti-government protests and uprisings that were met by violent force from authorities.
In Somalia the UN declare a famine in the south of the country while in Kenya approximately 100 people are killed when a petrol pipeline explodes in Nairobi. In Moscow, Russia an airport was bombed killing 37 and injuring 180 people.
Off the coast of Zanzibar, a ferry sinks killing almost 1,500 people. The ferry had an official capacity of 645 passengers but over 3,586 were travelling onboard at the time of the incident. Reports state that 240 bodies were recovered but given only approximately 620 were rescued from the vessel the estimated loss of life is much higher than the body count. The final cause of the sinking was deemed to be overloading.
In Christchurch, New Zealand a 6.3 magnitude earthquake strikes killing over 180 people while a few weeks later a 9.0 magnitude quake and subsequent tsunami hit Japan killing 15,840 people and left 3,926 missing. Further, in Turkey a 7.2 magnitude quake kills over 600 people.
In Thailand severe flooding kills approximately 815 people and Floods are also experienced in Pakistan with 434 dead and Cambodia with 207 dead. The Philippines also experienced severe flooding with 1,268 deaths.
The infamous terrorist Osama Bin Laden is killed by US forces in May and the year would end with the USA declaring an end to the war in Iraq while the North Korean leader Kim Jong-il died of a heart attack or stroke (it is unclear which one it was).
That does seem like a lot of doom and gloom but a bright spot (so long as you’re not an anti-monarchist) came with the news that Prince William married Catherine Middleton. The 29th April event was watched by an estimated TV audience of two billion people!
The highest grossing film of the year was Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 while the number one Billboard chart song of the year was “Rolling the Deep” by Adele. In Australia the number one song of the year was “Party Rock Anthem” by LMFAO and Harry Potter reigned supreme.
Sadly, the world was shocked by the sudden death of English singer Amy Winehouse on the 23rd July, aged just 27 from an overdose and Steve Jobs, the founder of Apple on 5 October aged 56 from Cancer.
In an interesting move the nation of Samoa and the New Zealand dependency Tokelau moved from being east of the international date line to the west of the line in order to be better aligned with their trade partners (they’re now on the Aussie side of the line). This means that the two places skipped the 30th December completely!
Every day history is made which is why I enjoy looking back like this and I hope you’ve enjoyed taking this really quick trip back in time as well!
Alan Taylor, "2011: The Year in Photos", The Atlantic (6 December 2011)
Annabelle Spranklen, "Prince William and Kate Middleton Almost didn't take their most iconic wedding photograph", Town & Country (21 April 2021)
"TIME Picks the top 10 Photos of 2011", TIME, <https://time.com/3423580/time-picks-the-top-10-photos-of-2011/>
"Samoa and Tokelau Skip A Day for a Date Change", BBC News Asia (30 December 2011), <https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-16351377>
"South Sudan", Encyclopaedia Britannica, <https://www.britannica.com/place/South-Sudan>
Peter Chrisp, Joe Fullman and Susan Kennedy, "History Year By Year" (DK and Smithsonian, 2013)