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Place of the Year 2013: Behind the longlist

The 2013 Oxford Place of the Year (POTY) process is now in full swing. The longlist poll closes this Thursday, so be sure to get your votes in! (Scroll to the bottom of this page to vote.) The POTY shortlist will be announced on Monday, 4 November 2013.

The 2013 longlist is packed with strong contenders. Syria, long embroiled in a civil war, is at the center of an international diplomatic crisis this year, while the Egyptian Islamist movement has gravitated to Cairo’s Tahrir Square to voice their grievances against the new government. Meanwhile, Dennis Rodman acted as an unofficial ambassador to North Korea, attending basketball games with Kim Jong-un.

Russia has spent much of the year in the headlines for sheltering the leaker Edward Snowden, playing a major role in the Syria negotiations, and arresting activists. North American environmental activists continue to rail against the exploitation of Canada’s tar sands via hydrofracking and opposed the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline to transport fracked oil. Lake Baikal, the world’s oldest and deepest freshwater lake, presents a serene riposte to these candidates.

Looking east from Madison Avenue at recently filled station on the north side of 53rd Street on a cloudy midday. Photo by Jim.henderson, 25 May 2013. Creative Commons License via WIkimedia COmmons.
Looking east from Madison Avenue at recently filled station on the north side of 53rd Street on a cloudy midday. Photo by Jim Henderson, 25 May 2013. Creative Commons License via Wikimedia Commons.

In May 2013, New York City found itself peppered with Citibike stands as bike-sharing programs continued their global spread. Brooklyn, meanwhile, continued its takeover of the world, as themed restaurants appeared in the world’s metropolitan centers (and the New York Times published a series of much-derided pieces about the borough).

Colorado was hit with serious wildfires and flooding this year, shortly after amending its constitution to legalize marijuana usage. Nearby in Utah, the National Security Agency was constructing a data center — revealed in the Snowden leaks — to gather massive quantities of information on people across the world. Boston, Massachusetts was hit by a terrorist bombing during the annual Boston Marathon.

The growing metropolis of Rio De Janeiro was periodically wracked with strikes and protests, while conflict and a refugee crisis spread in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Scientists discovered a massive trench buried beneath ice, which has come to be known as Greenland’s Grand Canyon; at nearly 500 miles, it is the world’s longest canyon. Delhi saw the beginning of the “Pink Sari Revolution,” a movement in protest of violence against women. The G8 summit was held in Northern Ireland, while longtime President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela passed away, leaving the country at a political crossroads.

Grand Central Terminal celebrated its centennial this year, while the US Supreme Court played host to critical decisions on the charged topics of voting rights and same-sex marriage. And finally, Benghazi, Libya was the site of ongoing political unrest, including the abduction of the Prime Minister.

As always, your input will help us narrow the list down to a shortlist, to be announced on Monday, 4 November 2013. Following another round of voting from the public, and input from our committee of geographers and experts, the Place of the Year will be announced on 2 December 2013. In the meantime, we’ll be posting here regularly with insights and explorations on geography, cartography, and the POTY contenders.

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