In this year's annual collaboration between Foreign Policy and the Fund For Peace, 177 countries were assessed and their troubles analyzed. In photos and words, here's a brutal glimpse of what life is like in each of the world's 60 most failed states -- and just how it came to be that way. With 10.5 million page views and counting, Postcards is now the most-viewed article in FP history.
Above, a bloodied supporter of the Union for Democracy and Social Progress is helped by a friend after clashes with police and army forces in Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo, on Nov. 26, 2011. The supporters were waiting for the main opposition leader, Etienne Tshisekedi, who was not allowed to hold a rally in town.
A record-breaking heat wave sent U.S. temperatures soaring this summer, blanketing the country in triple digits. The brutal weather, along with a spate of wildfires and storms, rekindled the debate on climate change and prompted all manner of warnings about heat exhaustion and stroke. Here, we tour the 10 places where the world's hottest temperatures have been recorded.
More than half the global population now lives in urban areas, and today's megacities are surging in population and economic heft and powering the world economy -- while posing some very difficult problems for governments. But the cities that are gaining prominence in the era of the megalopolis may surprise you. Drawn from the McKinsey Global Institute's index of the world's 75 Most Dynamic Cities, here's a list of the up-and-coming commercial hubs -- including Belo Horizonte, Fuzhou, and even Philadelphia.
Above, a view from the waterfront Bund looks out over the Huangpu River and the Lujiazui financial district in Pudong New Area on Dec. 22, 2010, in Shanghai, China.
China Photos/Getty Images
As fewer Americans serve in the armed forces, the difficulty of translating the experience of military service to a wider public has only grown. But sometimes a picture tells a thousand words, as in this selection of winners from the 2011 Military Photographer of the Year competition.
Above, U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Reagan Lodge, Headquarters and Service Battalion, Marine Corps Base Quantico, conducts water running exercises during a physical training session in Ramer Hall, on Marine Corps Base in Quantico, Virginia on Sept. 14.
Lance Cpl. Sharon D. Kyle/U.S. Marine Corps
When Westerners think of Iran today, images of women wearing chadors, protesters burning American flags, and militant crowds shouting nationalistic slogans often come to mind. But those who have memories of Tehran in the 1960s and 1970s paint a very different portrait of Iranian life. Before the 1979 Islamic Revolution, the country's capital was a cultural vanguard. Here are photos of a swinging Iran when the skirts were short, the dance was the twist, and America wasn't Enemy No. 1.
Courtesy of Kaveh Farrokh
As London prepared for its lavish XXX Olympiad this year, the host city was offered a rare chance to reinvent itself. And when the 2012 games kicked off, East London boasted a new cable car, the Royal Docks had been redeveloped, and the city had added several gleaming skyscrapers to its skyline. But this is not the first time that London has grown overnight. The tail end of the 19th century was also a period of rapid urban development -- one in which many of the landmarks that now define the city were constructed. Here's a look back at the last time London went through a radical transformation.
Since first being elected Russian president in 2000, Vladimir Putin has made a name for himself -- as an international man of adventure. He flies planes and races cars, feeds baby moose, and serenades audiences with jazz standards. And he does it all with that trademark blank stare. Here, we take a look at some of the images that turned Putin from a mere ex-KGB officer cum leader-for-life into an icon.
DMITRY KOSTYUKOV/AFP/Getty Images
Today, Dubai is known as a gleaming, glittering cosmopolitan oasis, crowned by the world's tallest building, the Burj Khalifa. But not long ago the city was as familiar with camels and dhows as it is now with Ferraris and indoor ski slopes. These pictures, taken in the late 1960s and early 1970s, show a society just on the cusp of the ambitious development that would soon be its hallmark. Above, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the prime minister of the United Arab Emirates and the consitutional monarch of Dubai, leads a camel riding party in his youth.
Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding
What does it mean to be hungry and poor? With such divergence across countries as to what the "poverty line" means, Stefen Chow and Yin Hui-Li set out to visualize what poverty looks like by highlighting something that everyone can understand -- food. The result was a dramatic tour of what people might be able to buy, from country to country, existing at sustinence level.
Above, in Australia: 7.52 Australian dollars, or 8.02 U.S. dollars (as of Feb. 23), of avocados.
In the early 1950s, a group of Americans built a town for themselves in Afghanistan that felt like a bit of America dropped into the Afghan desert. Flush with money from the export of furs, the royal government in Kabul had hired American engineers to construct two dams and a vast network of canals in Helmand and Kandahar provinces, with the hope of transforming barren desert into verdant farmland. The Americans called the town by its proper name -- Lashkar Gah. But the Afghans soon came up with their own name: Little America. Here's an inside look at the town American engineers built in southern Afghanistan, as described by Rajiv Chandrasekaran in his book Little America: The War Within the War for Afghanistan.
Courtesy of Rajiv Chandrasekaran
China is said to be urbanizing faster than any other country, and this process has been on unusually open display in Shanghai, where developers have destroyed the communally organized neighborhoods of the central city at an extraordinary clip, replacing them with high-rises and shopping malls. Typically, the residents of areas to be cleared receive little advance notice before eviction and no say in the compensation they are doled out for having to abandon their homes -- and often their livelihoods. These images document a dozen of the city's doomed communities.
Howard W. French
As President Barack Obama begins the drawdown of troops from Afghanistan, he has also dramatically expanded U.S. special operations and covert actions around the world, including missions like the one that killed Osama bin Laden in Pakistan and drone strikes across the Middle East and Africa. Here's a tour of the hotspots where the United States is waging war from the shadows.
C.E. Lewis/U.S. Air Force via Getty Images
Harbin, China's northernmost major city, comes to light every winter during the Harbin Ice Festival. The festival, where artists construct thousands of ice sculptures and structures that can tower over 150 feet in the air, is a major tourist attraction and has earned this northern outpost the nickname "Ice City." Here's a tour of the frozen Technicolor dreamland.
A former communications specialist for NATO argues that we need a code of conduct for images of kids in conflict zones. Here's why.
Royal Netherlands Ministry of Defense photo by Sjoerd Hilckmann
Although Haiti's dire poverty has been well-reported, some Haitians have quietly prospered in the absence of a functioning government. One percent of Haitians now control 50 percent of the country's economy, and its top 500 taxpayers generate 80 percent of its tax revenues. Here's an intimate look at Haiti's lives of plenty in the land of the poor.