Photos capture what words cannot — they become illustrated moments of time that are used to define iconic events that will go down in history.
From the protests in Egypt to the devastating tsunami in Japan, a royal wedding in England and a lucky shot of the shuttle launch breaking across the clouds, these photos capture humanity — for better or worse — throughout the world in 2011.
As the year comes to a close, "Best Photos of the Year" lists are circulating around the web, and CultureMap has narrowed down the lists so you can take a look back at the very best photos of 2011.
WARNING: Some images contain graphic content or nudity.
2011 was the year of protests and uprisings. Wars are battled, lives are lost and families are torn apart. Some of these photos are difficult to view, but ignoring them isn't an option anymore.
No one captures the world quite like National Geographic photographers. They cross tundras, plains, oceans and outer space to bring us shots of wildlife and landscapes that we would otherwise never get to see.
Reuturs photographers are out in the field, capturing the most difficult scenarios in the most dangerous places around the world, in order to bring to light the tragic events taking place on a daily basis.
This list has gone viral on several social media outlets, but just in case you missed it.
A three part collection of some of the most moving photos of 2011.