You don’t need to follow the news too closely to know that 2015 has been a roller coaster of a year. Last week we announced our longlist for Place of the Year 2015, but since then some of you have been asking, “why is x included?”, or “why is y worth our attention?” After careful consideration our Place of the Year committee selects from a rather large pool of nominations, but rest assured that we’ve got our ears to the ground and will do our best to represent the world (and beyond) in 2015. With that, we go behind the longlist and invite you to give your comments on additional reasons why each nomination belongs or not.
This past August, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry visited Cuba after Pope Francis and the Vatican urge the US and Cuba to repair diplomatic relations. This comes after a 54-year embargo first imposed by the U.S. when Fidel Castro seized power.
Secretary Kerry Looks Out From the Veranda of Finca Vigia in Cuba. Photo by U.S. Department of State. Public Domain via Flickr.
Greece faced an economic crisis mid-year after failing to make a loan payment to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and nearly rejected the bailout referendum put forth by their eurozone creditors. In the second half of the year, Greece is placed back on the map as hundreds of thousands of migrants fleeing from Syria bottleneck through its shores and smaller islands such as Lesbos (Lesvos), Kos, Samos, and Leros.
Photo by International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 via Flickr.
Just this past week, after months of diplomatic efforts, Iran’s supreme leader approved of the nuclear deal between Iran and six major world powers: the US, Britain, France, China, Russia, and Germany. This agreement intends to mitigate the risk that Iran could fuel a nuclear weapon with its large uranium stockpile and uranium enrichment equipment. In exchange, sanctions hindering Iran’s economy and finances will be lifted.
In late April of this year, Nepal experienced one of its worst natural disasters since 1934. Also known as the Gorkha earthquake, its magnitude recorded at 7.8 on the Richter scale. Over 9,000 people were killed, leaving another 23,000 injured and hundreds of thousands homeless. Yet another earthquake was recorded mid-May with a magnitude of 7.3, killing another 200 and leaving 2,500 injured.
Bhaktapur, Nepal Earthquake Destruction. Photo by Natalie Hawwa for USAID (U.S. Agency for International Development). CC BY-NC 2.0 via Flickr.
The Boko Haram insurgency escalated in Nigeria early January after the Baga massacre, in which the extremist group’s militants razed Baga and killed 2,000 people. Violent attacks by the group on the Nigerian people and government continue, ever increasing in intensity and frequency.
NIGERIA-UNREST. Photo by Diariocritico de Venezuela. CC BY 2.0 via Flickr.
North Korea revives the threat of utilizing nuclear weapons against the U.S. The country is now pushing for the U.S. to engage in peace treaty negotiations; if they refuse, North Korea says it will continue expanding its nuclear weapons program.
North Korean Nuclear Reactor Construction Site. Image taken by Wapster. CC BY 2.0 via Flickr.
Extremist group ISIS seizes control of Palmyra from the Syrian government in May. Their destruction of culturally significant architecture — including the Temple of Bel, the Temple of Baalshamin, and the Triumphal Arches — and artifacts could be seen as an attempt to erase Syria’s diverse history.
Palmyra, Temple of Bel. Photo by Arian Zwegers. CC BY 2.0 via Flickr.
Two men who self-identified as part of the terrorist group Al-Qaeda killed 12 people and injured 11 others when they forced their way into the offices of French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo. The resulting phrase from the attack, “Je suis Charlie”, was adopted by participants of subsequent rallies and advocates of freedom of speech and freedom of the press.
Je_suis_Charlie-7. Photo by Valentina Calà. CC BY-SA 2.0 via Flickr.
The first detailed satellite images of Pluto from the New Horizons space probe launched back in 2006 are sent back to Earth. The most endearing characteristic of the dwarf planet is the relatively featureless heart shape that measures approximately 1,000 miles across.
New Horizons Flyby of Pluto. Image by NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. CC BY 2.0 via Flickr.
Ownership of the Spratly Islands, located in the South China Sea, is in current dispute among Brunei, China, Malaysia, Philippines, Taiwan, and Vietnam. The area has an abundant amount of resources including oil, natural gas, and fish, and is one of the busiest areas in terms of the amount of ships passing through.
Photo by Image Science and Analysis Laboratory, NASA-Johnson Space Center. Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.
Don’t forget to cast your vote on the longlist by 31 October:
Keep checking back on the OUPblog, or follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr for regular updates and content on our Place of the Year 2015 contenders.
Headline image credit: Photo by markus53. Public domain via Pixabay.
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