2018 Year in Review: World News
Updated January 8, 2019 | Infoplease Staff
Top events for the world in 2018
Vladimir Putin Re-elected
- In March, Russian President Vladimir Putin secured another six-year term to continue nearly two decades of leadership over the Russian Federation. This will be Putin’s fourth presidential term, in addition to a term as the country’s prime minister; he has occupied a top-level position in government for over twenty years. President Putin is a controversial figure abroad, often butting heads with world leaders in Europe and North America. His firm victory in the 2018 elections guarantees that he'll continue to be a key figure in international politics for the near future.
- Photo source: AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin
Kim Jong-Un Enters South Korea
- On April 27, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un visited South Korea for the first time, where he exchanged a cordial greeting with his South Korean counterpart Moon Jae-in. The international community was thrilled with this potential thawing of tensions on the Korean peninsula, which remains one of the greatest areas of global tension. This visit began an ongoing détente between the Koreas, with a later visit planned by Kim to the South Korean capital Seoul. The visit also presaged a highly publicized meeting between Kim and U.S. President Donald Trump, another momentous visit in the history of North Korean international relations. Although the diplomatic process remains rocky, many are hopeful for a peaceful resolution to the (still technically ongoing) Korean War.
- Photo source: Korean Government
Peace Between Eritrea and Ethiopia
- On July 8, Ethiopia and Eritrea began peace talks to end the over two-decades-long border conflict between them. The conflict began in the late 1990s after Eritrea became independent of Ethiopia. The act that separated the nations left unclear borders, which culminated in the killing of several officials in the town of Badme. The fighting ended diplomatic relations between the countries, and resulted in the death of nearly 100,000 people (and the displacement of more than half a million). The peace agreement marks a momentous change in Africa, ending one of the deadliest conflicts of the post-colonial era and offering a positive outlook for economic cooperation and growth on the continent.
- Photo source: AP Photo/Mulugeta Ayene
Thai Cave Rescue
- The world was gripped by the ongoing story of a junior soccer team that became trapped in a flooded cave in Thailand. Twelve young men and their assistant coach entered the cave on 23 June, when they were trapped by heavy rains. The operation escalated as it attracted worldwide attention, and continued for several weeks. At its peak, more than 10,000 people were involved in the rescue and global media kept up to the minute with the rescue progress. Over three days, from July 8 through 10, the entire team was rescued by an international crew of rescuers. One person died in the operation, 37-year-old Saman Kunan, a former Thai Navy SEAL who was working on the rescue operation.
- Photo source: U.S. Department of Defense
World's Largest Trade Agreement Signed
- Negotiations reached a turning point in mid-2018 between Japan and the EU, resulting in the creation of the world’s largest trade agreement by GDP and volume of trade. The agreement would impact a roughly equivalent market as the NAFTA agreement between the U.S., Canada, and Mexico, and the resulting trade bloc would produce 30% of the world’s GDP. This comes at a time where the global trade landscape is rocked by the protectionist shift of the United States, historically one of the world’s two largest economies and largest trade participants. These talks precede later talks in 2019 between Japan and the United States.
- Photo source: Martin Bureau/Pool Photo via AP
India Decriminalizes Homosexuality
- On September 6, the Supreme Court of India issued a ruling that decriminalized homosexual acts. Per the prior law, gay activity could result in legal punishment, effectively mandating that all Indians in the LGBT community live in deep secrecy or repress their identities. This ruling marked a major milestone in the pursuit of LGBT rights in the world’s largest democracy. People across India and the world celebrated the ruling. Many are hopeful that this change, which affects nearly a quarter of the world’s population, will mark a turning point in reversing such discriminatory laws worldwide; one-third of the world’s countries still have laws that treat gay activities as criminal.
- Photo source: Flickr/Nick Johnson
Journalist Jamal Khashoggi Killed
- Violence against journalists and the restriction of the free press was a hot-button topic in the U.S. and around the globe during 2018. The issue crystallized with assassination of Saudi Arabian journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Khashoggi was a harsh critic of the Saudi administration, and a regular contributor to local and global news sources. Khashoggi was living in the Saudi consulate in Turkey when rumors first broke that he had been killed. An investigation opened on 15 October that ultimately concluded he was murdered, and many around the globe suspected Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia of ordering the hit.
- Photo source: April Brady / POMED
Angela Merkel Announces Resignation
- German Chancellor Angela Merkel announced in October that she would not be seeking reelection in either of her roles as leader of her party or chancellor of the country. Merkel, Germany’s first female chancellor, has been a dominant force in world politics for more than a decade, and her passing from office may mean a significant change for Europe. Merkel was especially influential during the amendment of the EU’s core treaties, during the financial crisis of the early 2010s, and the refugee crisis of the past several years.
- Photo source: AP Photo
Yellow Vest Protests Begin in France
- On 17 November, a protest began against French President Emmanuel Macron’s proposed increase on fuel taxes. The movement quickly expanded to encompass a wide range of issues perceived as part of Macron’s misunderstanding and alienation of the poor and rural populations of France. The movement adopted yellow reflective vests as their symbol; the yellow reflective vest is mandatory for truckers to wear, and the clothing is seen as emblematic of the fuel issues at play and of the industrial classes who are protesting. The protests continue into 2019, with several fatalities and thousands of injuries.
- Photo source: Wikimedia/Thomon
- More from 2018 Year in Review