Which world event of 2013 meant the most to you?

BY Larisa Epatko  December 12, 2013 at 10:45 AM EDT

The year 2013 had many defining moments. The Roman Catholic Church ushered in a new pope, the number of Syrian refugees crossed the 2 million mark, and the Philippines endured the thrashing of a super typhoon.

Which world event — including those we didn’t highlight here — had the biggest impact on you? Tell us below in the comments section.


‘We have a pope’

Pope Francis held a peace vigil for Syria at St. Peter’s Square in Rome in September. Photo by Vincenzo Pinto/AFP/Getty Images

It took cardinals only two days of meeting in the Vatican to determine the successor of retiring Pope Benedict XVI. On March 13, as the telltale white smoke erupted from the Sistine Chapel, word came out that Argentine Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio was the Catholic Church’s next pope — the first Jesuit and the first from South America. He took the name Pope Francis.

Michael Sean Winters of the National Catholic Reporter described Pope Francis on that day’s PBS NewsHour as “doctrinally conservative” and a “simple and humble man” who decided to forgo the mansion residence for a small apartment when he became archbishop of Buenos Aires.

On Dec. 11, Time magazine named Pope Francis its person of the year.


Snowden admits to NSA leaks

Edward Snowden pictured here in YouTube video.

On June 9, former contractor for the National Security Agency Edward Snowden revealed in The Guardian that he was responsible for exposing the NSA’s top secret surveillance programs.

The drip-drip of new information, particularly about the United States monitoring the communications of foreign government leaders, posed a diplomatic challenge for the Obama administration throughout the year.

P.J. Crowley, a former assistant secretary of state for public affairs and now a professor at George Washington University, and Philip Mudd, a senior research fellow at the New America Foundation, discussed the fallout from the revelations on the Oct. 25 NewsHour.


Iran’s overtures

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani attends a bilateral meeting at the U.N. General Assembly in New York City in September. Photo by Thomas Koehler/Photothek via Getty Images

After being elected president of Iran on June 14, Hassan Rouhani immediately presented a more moderate tone and open attitude on nuclear negotiations in television appearances and in direct communication with President Barack Obama.

On Sept. 24, he told the U.N. General Assembly that nuclear weapons “have no place in Iran’s security and military doctrine.” Iran and other countries later negotiated an interim deal to curb Tehran’s nuclear program.


Morsi’s ouster

Egyptians celebrating the overthrow of President Mohammed Morsi hold a portrait of Army Gen. Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi in Cairo’s Tahrir Square. Photo by Khaled Desouki/AFP/Getty Images

Mohammed Morsi was Egypt’s democratically elected president for just over a year before the military removed him from office on July 3. His detractors said Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood party were engaged in a power grab and were unresponsive to the opposition.

Morsi’s removal ignited violent demonstrations and counter-demonstrations and raised questions about what it might mean for other Islamist movements.

Following the overthrow of the Muslim Brotherhood government, the party’s spokesman Gehad El-Haddad, who was on the run from police, told NewsHour chief foreign correspondent Margaret Warner about the unfair trials and killings of Muslim Brotherhood leaders.

By the end of 2013, Egypt was working on a new constitution and gearing up for presidential elections slated for 2014.

Yasmin Al Tellawy, a freelance journalist and photographer, provided the footage of Tahrir Square celebrations in our Instagram video.


The little prince of Cambridge

It’s a baby boy for the duke and duchess of Cambridge. Photo by Dave J. Hogan/Getty Images

In 1982, the world watched as Prince Charles and Princess Diana emerged from St. Mary’s Hospital in London cradling their firstborn son, William Arthur Philip Louis. This year on July 22, William and Catherine, the duke and duchess of Cambridge, had their own baby boy, George, at the same hospital and under the same international spotlight.

Watch: Relive the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton


Syrian refugees hit 2 million

Syrian refugees live in a makeshift tent camp in Ankara, Turkey. Photo by Adem Altan/AFP/Getty Images

The exodus of Syrians fleeing to Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Egypt and Iraq continued unabated this year. The U.N. refugee agency said Sept. 3 that the number of registered Syrian refugees surpassed the 2 million mark. About half of the refugees are children, according to the United Nations.

The NewsHour visited several surrounding Middle Eastern countries straining from the influx of refugees, including Lebanon and Jordan’s Zaatari camp.

The war between the government and rebels took a grisly turn when a chemical attack on Aug. 21 killed hundreds of Syrians. In response to the use of deadly sarin gas near Damascus, the Obama administration explored the possibility of a pinpoint strike on Syria’s chemical weapon delivery system.

President Obama told the NewsHour’s Gwen Ifill on Sept. 9 that a diplomatic solution to the chemical weapons strike in Syria is “overwhelmingly my preference.”

Russia brokered a deal that led to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad agreeing to give up the country’s chemical weapons. By Oct. 31, Syria had destroyed all of its declared chemical weapons facilities. Under the deal, Syria has until the middle of 2014 to destroy its chemical weapons stockpiles.


Typhoon pummels the Philippines

Kevin Frayer/Getty Images Residents of Tacloban in the Philippines survey the damage caused by Typhoon Haiyan. Photo by Kevin Frayer/Getty Images

The strongest typhoon in the Philippines’ recorded history hit the island nation on Nov. 8, washing away homes and roads and killing more than 5,000 people. The Philippines government and relief workers mobilized to help the millions made homeless and in desperate need of food and water.

Kevin Trenberth, a climate scientist at the government’s National Center for Atmospheric Research, and Jeff Masters, director of meteorology at Weather Underground, a commercial online weather service, discussed what made Typhoon Haiyan such an intense storm.


Farewell, Madiba

Former South African President Nelson Mandela, who died this year at age 95, is seen here in March 1999. Photo by Per-Anders Pettersson/Getty Images

On Dec. 5, anti-apartheid activist and South Africa’s first black president Nelson Mandela died after struggling with lung ailments that started after he was jailed for sabotage and treason earlier in life.

Former NewsHour correspondent Charlayne Hunter-Gault looked back at the life and times of the man affectionately known as “Madiba”.

Tell us your top world event in the comments section. View all of our World coverage.