The images that defined 2016

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2016: The historic year is finally coming to a close.

Over the past twelve months, the United States and the world at large have experienced every emotion, from heartbreak and confusion to complete euphoria over the events that were.

The year's biggest story was, without question, the United States presidential election, which carried the power to alter the course of history. Republican candidate Donald Trump came out on top after months of campaigning and heated debates, surprising many by defeating his Democratic challenger, Hillary Clinton.

Outside of the election, the calendar year was packed with current events -- natural disasters like Hurricane Matthew, terrorist attacks in Nice and Brussels, the ongoing devastation in the city of Aleppo and a health crisis that stemmed from the Zika virus in Brazil.

33 PHOTOS
The photos that defined 2016
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The photos that defined 2016
Ieshia Evans is detained by law enforcement as she protests the shooting death of Alton Sterling near the headquarters of the Baton Rouge Police Department in Louisiana, U.S. July 9, 2016. Jonathan Bachman: 'A woman standing calmly, her long dress moving in the breeze, two police officers in full riot gear make their move. I was on assignment for Reuters in Baton Rouge to cover the protests over the fatal police shooting of Alton Sterling. Moments before I captured this image of Ieshia Evans I had my back turned photographing face-to-face confrontations between the police and the demonstrators. I heard someone behind me say something like "don't stand there, they are arresting people in the street." I turned and looked over my right shoulder and saw this woman standing in the road. I knew right away what was about to happen. The police were going to arrest her. I quickly moved and took the shot. When I came back to my car and looked through my take I knew I had a strong image. However I didnÃt anticipate that the image would go viral. I am grateful that it has stimulated a discussion about an important issue in this country.' REUTERS/Jonathan Bachman TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY SEARCH "2016 PIX" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Robin Roy (C) reacts as U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump greets her at a campaign rally in Lowell, Massachusetts January 4, 2016. Brian Snyder: 'To some, it was as if she had met a celebrity rock star. To others, this woman looked pretty terrified. In fact Robin Roy is one very eager supporter of U.S. President-elect Donald Trump. Wearing a t-shirt reading "Obama, You're Fired. Vote Trump 2016," she had waited for a chance to meet Trump in person at the rally. Then the New York real-estate mogul and reality TV star shook her hand and talked to her. Excited would be an understatement. All candidates with their eye on the White House greet supporters along the "rope-line" at the end of events like these. ItÃs a chance for voters to shake the hand of the candidates or pose for a selfie. The other people in the photo are also supporters, including Roy's daughter on her left. Photographers are fairly restricted by the campaign during Trump events. Most images are taken from the main podium, at the back of the hall across from the main stage, with long lenses (400mm). After the speech, a small group of photographers were escorted to the stage to document Trump making his way along the rope-line. I took this photo with a shorter lens (50mm) from the stage looking over TrumpÃs shoulder. The fact that every day is unique is one of the truly fun parts of this job. Roy remained an unwavering Trump supporter throughout the campaign. "We realised that Trump was one of us and he didn't hide that fact. Is he perfect? No, but he sincerely seems to care about the people. He doesn't talk down to us or make himself seen better." Nearly a year after her meeting with Trump, and awaiting the beginning of the Trump presidency, she says: "I hope he comes through with most of his promises and brings this country together to stop the political nonsense."' REUTERS/Brian Snyder SEARCH "2016 PIX" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES
ATTENTION EDITORS - VISUAL COVERAGE OF SCENES OF INJURY OR DEATH A body is seen on the ground in Nice, France July 15, 2016, after the Bastille Day truck attack on July 14. Eric Gaillard: 'I was at home, on holiday after a gruelling few weeks covering the Euro 2016 soccer championships, when a colleague called from Paris to say a truck had hit people in central Nice. I assumed it was a traffic accident - not something we would usually cover. But then I received an alert on my phone, the local authorities announcing there had been an attack. I didn't stop to wonder what it was, I grabbed my cameras and set out on my motorbike. I couldn't get through on my motorbike and, as I parked, I noticed there was a body lying on the curb. It was when I looked into my rearview mirror that I saw all the other bodies just behind me. Around a dozen bodies, some already covered with tablecloths taken from nearby restaurants, lay on the seaside promenade. Police and soldiers - many pointing their guns - were still in a state of confusion. The conditions were very difficult, it was dark, police trying to stop us work ... and some people there were aggressive. I understood. The situation was very chaotic. The doll photo went viral on the Internet, often mis-captioned by the site, saying it showed a dead child beneath the foil emergency blanket. But in fact nobody knows for sure the age of the victim. Given size of the victim, I don't think it was a child. I don't know why the doll is there. Was it a parent who was with a child - hence the doll? Did someone put the doll there at some point? Everyone has asked me. When you go to a war you know it's a hostile environment, you expect to see some unpleasant things but I was very shaken by what I saw that night because the horror had come home to my city, Nice. The attack happened just 500 meters from my home and during France's traditionally festive Bastille Day setting.' REUTERS/Eric Gaillard TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY SEARCH "2016 PIX" FO
Mist rises off the water as a flooded building is pictured after Hurricane Matthew passes in Lumberton, North Carolina, U.S., October 11, 2016. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
CHARLOTTE, NC - SEPTEMBER 21: Police officers face off with protestors on the I-85 (Interstate 85) during protests following the death of a man shot by a police officer on September 21, 2016 in Charlotte, NC. The protests began the previous night following the fatal shooting of 43-year-old Keith Lamont Scott at an apartment complex near UNC Charlotte. (Photo by Sean Rayford/Getty Images)
NASHUA, NH - FEBRUARY 09: Democratic presidential candidate former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton greets voters outside of a polling station at Fairgrounds Junior High School on February 9, 2016 in Nashua, New Hampshire. New Hampshire voters are heading to the polls in the nation's first primaries. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
ALEPPO, SYRIA - AUGUST 17: (EDITORS NOTE: Image contains graphic content.) 5-year-old wounded Syrian kid Omran Daqneesh sits alone in the back of the ambulance after he got injured during Russian or Assad regime forces air strike targeting the Qaterji neighbourhood of Aleppo on August 17, 2016. (Photo by Mahmud Rslan/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
AYDIN, TURKEY - JANUARY 22: Turkish Coast Guard personnel help refugees as they swim with buoys, after they toppled over a fishermen dinghy en route to Greece on January 22, 2016 in Didim district of Aydin, Turkey. 4 refugees body including 3 children pulled out of the water as Turkish coast guard personnel rescued 43 others. (Photo by Emin Menguarslan/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Pope Francis takes a fall during a mass at the Jasna Gora Monastery in Czestochowa, Poland on July 28, 2016. Pope Francis visits Poland for an international Catholic youth festival with a mission to encourage openness to migrants. / AFP / FILIPPO MONTEFORTE (Photo credit should read FILIPPO MONTEFORTE/AFP/Getty Images)
BURNS, OR - JANUARY 07: Dwayne Ehmer carries an American flag as he rides his horse on the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge on January 7, 2016 near Burns, Oregon. An armed anti-government militia group continues to occupy the Malheur National Wildlife Headquarters as they protest the jailing of two ranchers for arson. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
MITHYMNA, GREECE - MARCH 27: A pile of thousands of discarded life vests are dumped in a valley in hills above the town on March 27, 2016 in Mithymna, Greece. New boat arrivals on the island have reduced to almost zero over the last few days, but it remains unclear whether that is due to the windy weather or the deal between the EU and Turkey. The aid agency Doctors Without Borders, or MSF (Medecines Sans Frontieres), has recently announced that it was to cease operations in the Greek refugee camp at Moira. MSF spoke out after a deal struck last week between EU states and Turkey to force migrants and asylum seekers to return from Greek islands to Turkey came into place. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
ALEPPO, SYRIA - OCTOBER 18: Destroyed buildings are seen after war crafts belonging to the Russian army carried out air strikes over opposition controlled town of Bustan Al-Qasr in Aleppo, Syria on October 18, 2016. (Photo by Jawad al Rifai/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
TOPSHOT - RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT 'AFP PHOTO / KETEVAN KARDAVA / Georgian Public Broadcaster An injured woman looks on as another speaks on her mobile phone following twin blasts at Brussels airport in Zaventem on March 22, 2016 as part of co-ordinated attacks claimed by Islamic State group (IS) millitants at the city's airport and in a Metro train. Airlines cancelled hundreds of flights and European railways froze links with Brussels after a series of bombs blasts killed around 35 people in the city's airport and a metro train, sparking a broad security response. Belgium locked down the capital, home to the headquarters of the European Union and NATO, and imposed its highest level of security alert after the explosions, which extinguished about 20 lives in the metro and another 14 in the airport, according to authorities in Brussels. / AFP / Georgian Public Broadcaster / Ketevan Kardava / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE (Photo credit should read KETEVAN KARDAVA/AFP/Getty Images)
GUANGZHOU, CHINA - OCTOBER 31: Polar bear 'Pizza' at an aquarium in Grandview shopping mall on October 27, 2016 in Guangzhou, China. 'Pizza' is the only live polar bear in south China's Guangzhou,once interference by foreign institutions but was rejected. He has become known as the world's saddest polar bear. (Photo by Zhong Zhenbin/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 11: A member of the Queens Guard collapses during the Trooping the Colour, this year marking the Queen's 90th birthday at The Mall on June 11, 2016 in London, England. The ceremony is Queen Elizabeth II's annual birthday parade and dates back to the time of Charles II in the 17th Century when the Colours of a regiment were used as a rallying point in battle. (Photo by Stuart C. Wilson/Getty Images)
MEXICO CITY, MEXICO - JANUARY 08: Joaquin 'El Chapo' Guzman is escorted after President of Mexico Enrique PeÂna Nieto announced his detention on January 08, 2016 in Mexico City, Mexico. Guzman leader of Mexico's Sinaloa drug Cartel, is considered the Mexican most-wanted drug dealer. He escaped from prison last July 11, 2015. (Photo by Miguel Tovar/LatinContent/Getty Images)
TAMPA, FL - OCTOBER 24: Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump hugs the American flag as he arrives for a campaign rally at the MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre on October 24, 2016 in Tampa, Florida. There are 14 days until the the presidential election. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 10: U.S. President Barack Obama (R) shakes hands with President-elect Donald Trump (L) following a meeting in the Oval Office November 10, 2016 in Washington, DC. Trump is scheduled to meet with members of the Republican leadership in Congress later today on Capitol Hill. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
AMATRICE , ITALY AUGUST 30: Firefighters continue removing rubble near the bell tower in Amatrice, central Italy on August 30, 2016 Italy. Italy was struck by a powerful, 6.2-magnitude earthquake in the night of August 24, 2016, which has killed at least 293 people and devastated dozens of houses in the Lazio village of Pescara del Tronto, Accumoli and Amatrice. (Photo by Stefano Montesi/Corbis via Getty Images)
RECIFE, BRAZIL - FEBRUARY 04: A city worker fumigates in an effort to eradicate the mosquito which transmits the Zika virus on February 4, 2016 in Recife, Pernambuco state, Brazil. Officials say as many as 100,000 people may have already been exposed to the Zika virus in Recife, which is being called the epicenter of the crisis, although most never develop symptoms. Tourists are arriving in the city for its famed Carnival celebrations which begin tomorrow. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
TOPSHOT - A Syrian gamer uses the Pokemon Go application on his mobile to catch a Pokemon amidst the rubble in the besieged rebel-controlled town of Douma, a flashpoint east of the capital Damascus on July 23, 2016. / AFP / Sameer Al-Doumy (Photo credit should read SAMEER AL-DOUMY/AFP/Getty Images)
Jackeline, 26, holds her son who is 4-months old and born with microcephaly, in front of their house in Olinda, near Recife, Brazil, February 11, 2016. Recent laboratory analyses identified Zika virus infections in three people who died in Brazil last year, the health ministry said on Thursday, although authorities could not confirm that Zika alone was responsible for their deaths. REUTERS/Nacho Doce TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Air Force One carrying U.S. President Barack Obama and his family flies over a neighborhood of Havana as it approaches the runway to land at Havana's international airport, March 20, 2016. REUTERS/Alberto Reyes
(L-R)Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and US President Barack Obama pose for a group photo with Canada's Parliament Hill in the background during the North American Leaders Summit on June 29, 2016 in Ottawa, Ontario. / AFP / Chris Roussakis (Photo credit should read CHRIS ROUSSAKIS/AFP/Getty Images)
A softball team hugs after paying their respects at a makeshift memorial at Dallas Police Headquarters following the multiple police shootings in Dallas, Texas, U.S., July 9, 2016. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
An inmate with the Louisiana Department of Corrections is consoled by friends and family they attend the funeral of Alton Sterling, who was shot dead by police, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, U.S. July 15, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Bachman TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton hugs U.S. President Barack Obama as she arrives onstage at the end of his speech on the third night of the 2016 Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S., July 27, 2016. REUTERS/Jim Young TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Friends and family members embrace outside the Orlando Police Headquarters during the investigation of a shooting at the Pulse night club, where as many as 20 people have been injured after a gunman opened fire, in Orlando, Florida, U.S June 12, 2016. REUTERS/Steve Nesius TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
People celebrate the death of Cuban leader Fidel Castro, in Little Havana, Miami, Florida, U.S. November 26, 2016. REUTERS/Gaston De Cardenas TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Republican U.S. presidential nominee Donald Trump listens as Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton answers a question from the audience during their presidential town hall debate at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, U.S., October 9, 2016. REUTERS/Rick Wilking TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
A man wears a shirt reading "Rope. Tree. Journalist." as supporters gather to rally with Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump in a cargo hangar at Minneapolis Saint Paul International Airport in Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S. November 6, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
A woman with a Ziggy Stardust tattoo visits a mural of David Bowie in Brixton, south London, January 11, 2016. David Bowie, a music legend who used daringly androgynous displays of sexuality and glittering costumes to frame legendary rock hits "Ziggy Stardust" and "Space Oddity", has died of cancer. REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth
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We also mourned the many lives that were taken too soon in tragedies. Protests erupted after the police shootings of Alton Sterling, Keith Lamont Scott and Philando Castile. A gunman opened fire inside the busy Pulse nightclub in Orlando, a well-known haven in the LGBT community, killing dozens. Another shooter killed five police officers in Dallas.

2016 was also a year of groundbreaking moments including President Obama's trip to Cuba and the capture of notable drug lord Joaquin 'El Chapo' Guzman.

It certainly was a year for the record books, in more ways than one. Take a look back at the most memorable photos from 2016's biggest stories above.

More on AOL.com:
The biggest story of 2016: Trump's victory
Notable deaths in 2016: Muhammad Ali, Antonin Scalia and more
Stories you missed in 2016

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