Yearender 2021

Home > News Photos > Yearender 2021

Yearender 2021 – The Year in Pictures

To illustrate the most important developments in 2021 epa offers you a selection of its professionally edited service.

We have selected different topics that represent and sum up the key events in 2021, enabling us to group together our best images illustrating each chosen topic. This is a new and different way to curate and present epa's global image service with the intention of not only highlighting epa's wonderful and colourful 2021 archive and the events that shaped the year, but also assisting and supporting our clients and partners in a new imaginative way.

Our standard format "Yearender", grouped month by month, is compiled throughout the year in our "Pictures of the Month" selection.

12 Months

2021 saw the world cautiously emerge from the first year of a global pandemic, with vaccines providing the strongest tool at our disposal to fight Covid-19. It was the year of the jabs. New variants of the virus emerged while countries struggled to access the vaccines, hampered by unequal distribution and resistance by anti vaccine movements. The effects of the climate crisis were more obvious and urgent than ever, especially in Europe and North America, which experienced some of their most extreme weather conditions in generations. 20 years after being ousted, the Taliban took back power in Afghanistan triggering a humanitarian crisis with thousands of people fleeing the country. Migration crises continued all over the world, from Honduras to Turkey, to Belarus and the Mediterranean. The year started with the shocking images of the assault on the US Capitol and continued with the military coup in Myanmar. As economic activity started to pick up post-Covid, the world struggled with supply shortages and the international markets took a hit after the Suez Canal was blocked due to a stranded container ship.

Coronavirus Pandemic

Year Two of the coronavirus pandemic brought both hope and frustration: the historically quick development and rollout of a vaccine to fight Covid-19 was a testament to what the world can achieve when global efforts are consolidated and harmonized to address an urgent threat.

There was an unequal access to the vaccines, divided sharply across global North-South lines, threatening to undo that good work. Anti vaccine movements sprung up in different countries and public policies were not exempt from controversy while new and potentially more aggressive variants of coronavirus continued to appear.

Climate Change

2021 made the climate crisis an urgent political priority. Severe weather disasters struck northwestern Europe, causing the worst damage in decades, while swathes of the western United States were ablaze in scorching forest fires. The Mediterranean, from Turkey and Greece to Spain and Portugal, also sweltered in historic heat waves that triggered wildfires across the region. The frequency of these disastrous events is increasing, as some of the effects of global warming which were not predicted to be felt for another 50 years are already having a major impact. The COP26 summit in Glasgow, billed as the last chance to save the future of the planet and limit global warming to under 2 degrees compared to pre-industrial levels, ended in a watered-down, compromise deal.


The onset of the coronavirus pandemic at the start of 2020 brought major changes to the international sports calendar with events being cancelled or postponed. And though not everything was back to normal, 2021 saw the return of many of those most notably the UEFA EURO 2020 and the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, which both took place with a 12-month delay. The decision to hold such big events in the middle of a global pandemic can be questioned, however athletes dedicate their lives to these moments and seeing them competing again on the world’s biggest stages was one of the joys of 2021.

Faces of the Year

While the pandemic continues its grip on the world, the year 2021 has seen the arts, culture, and entertainment sector making its way back to in-person events, albeit with a variety of safety measures in place.

This selection features personalities who left an impression on global audiences through their stories, art, and contribution.


Several influential figures passed this year, nine more so than Colin Powell, who worked under US president George W. Bush and was a key part of the invasion of Iraq. We also lost Prince Phillip away in April, two months shy of his 100th birthday. He was the longest-serving royal consort in the world. The arts world lost major players in French legendary actor Jean-Paul Belmondo, Rolling Stones drummer Charlie Watts, American singer Mary Wilson and ZZ Top bassist Dusty Hill, while Larry King left behind a storied legacy as a broadcaster after decades as a fixture of US television.




Image selection by region:

world map