The world in 2011: Trends and events to watch in every region

Monitor staff writers and correspondents in each of the world's regions share what they expect to be top headlines in 2011.

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The world at a glance

Rarely has a year dawned with so much more promise for the world's poor than for its rich than 2011.

The US, Europe, and Japan will continue to face months of economic hardship. Much of the rest of the world, however, can look forward to healthy growth amid signs that most developing countries are managing to sustain their recovery from the global financial crisis.

A 10 percent annual growth rate? That would be China. Eight percent? That will be India, with several Latin American nations not far behind. Even sub-Saharan Africa is looking at more than 5 percent growth on average.

Europe, meanwhile, is struggling to stave off a financial meltdown while its citizens try to get used to new austerity.

Democracy in the developing world is not necessarily as healthy as the economy – China is a case in point – but a wave of elections around the world in 2011 offers hope.

Latin America has left its dictatorial past behind, and voters there appear to have ended their recent flirtation with the radical left. Next year will open with four recently elected leaders in office; by year's end there will be four more new presidents on the continent.

Elections in some of Africa's largest countries will test democracy there, while Southeast Asian eyes will be fixed on Thailand, where military meddling in politics is still commonplace.

The United States plans to remove the last troops from Iraq, closing the door on a deadly and controversial conflict, and perhaps begin drawing down forces in Afghanistan in what could be a beginning of the end of America's longest-ever war.

Peter Ford, Beijing bureau chief

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