Best photos of 2018

National Geographic's 100 best images of the year—curated from 107 photographers, 119 stories, and more than two million photographs.

Photograph by BRIAN SKERRY
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Off the north coast of Canada’s Baffin Island, a June sun transforms snow and ice into limpid pools of turquoise. The Arctic’s perennial sea ice cover—the ice that survives the summer melt season—has shrunk dramatically.

From "Here’s Where the Arctic’s Wildlife Will Make Its Last Stand," January 2018

Photograph by BRIAN SKERRY

Sarah Leen has a job most people in the world would envy. She looks at photographs for a living. And not just any photographs — National Geographic photographs. As our Director of Photography, Leen estimates she has looked at as many images “as there are stars in the sky,” so it’s hard to narrow down her favorites. But she does that every year — here are her favorite 100 of the over two million submitted to us this year, in no particular order.

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These Maasai drive cattle and sheep from their village into Masai Mara reserve, reducing forage for wildlife hunted by lions and hyenas. The predators kill livestock, and herders retaliate by poisoning carcasses.

From "Why Poison Is a Growing Threat to Africa’s Wildlife," August 2018

 

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At night gray reef sharks hunt as a pack in the south channel of Fakarava Atoll, in the Tuamotu Archipelago in French Polynesia. Photographer Laurent Ballesta’s team, diving without cages or weapons, counted 700 sharks.

From "Frenzy," May 2018

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Children in South Los Angeles celebrate Eid al-Fitr, the holiday that marks the end of Ramadan, the holy month of fasting, at a picnic co-sponsored by Islah LA, a Black Muslim community center. Led by Imam Jihad Saafir, the center works to promote community, education, and social and economic empowerment.

From "How Muslims, Often Misunderstood, Are Thriving in America", May 2018

 

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Moon jellies, found all over the world, are named for their otherworldly, translucent bells. The fringe of hairlike cilia sweeps food—mostly plankton—toward their mouths. The jellies change color depending on what they eat.

From "Scary, Squishy, Brainless, Beautiful: Inside the World of Jellyfish," October 2018

 

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Members of the Palmer Society, a campus women’s organization, celebrate their graduation from Whittier College in California. The school—Richard Nixon’s alma mater—now ranks among the most diverse colleges in the United States, and the town of Whittier is predominantly Latino and increasingly affluent.

From "How Latinos Are Shaping America’s Future," July 2018

 

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A butterfly catcher on Bacan island, Indonesia, sorts his specimens, which he’ll sell in Bali. From there the butterflies are exported throughout Asia and on to collectors worldwide.

From "Inside the Murky World of Butterfly Catchers," August 2018

 

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After sheets of clear plastic trash have been washed in the Buriganga River, in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Noorjahan spreads them out to dry, turning them regularly— while also tending to her son, Momo. The plastic will eventually be sold to a recycler. Less than a fifth of all plastic gets recycled globally. In the U.S. it’s less than 10 percent.

From "We Made Plastic. We Depend On It. Now We're Drowning In It," June 2018

 

 

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Side by side with suburban housing just north of Kunming in Yunnan Province, these greenhouses grow high-value crops such as fruits and vegetables. In the relatively mild climate, crops are raised year-round.

From "How China Plans to Feed 1.4 Billion Growing Appetites," February 2018

 

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Steeple Jason, one of the more remote islands in the Falkland Islands, hosts the world’s largest colony of black-browed albatrosses. Once used to graze hundreds of sheep and cattle, it’s now a nature reserve. About 70 percent of the black-browed albatross population nests in the Falklands.

From "The Falkland Islands Preserve Wildlife and Habitat After War," February 2018

 

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Crabeater seals slither onto floating ice to nap, give birth, or hide from killer whales or leopard seals. (Note the prominent scars.) With less sea ice available off the Antarctic Peninsula, icebergs like this one, calved from glaciers on land, provide critical resting places for animals. Despite their name, crabeaters feed mostly on shrimplike krill— another Antarctic staple whose future is in doubt.

From "The Big Meltdown," November 2018

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Pincushion shrubs and shards of rock don’t trouble the puma known as Sarmiento, at center, or her 11-month-old cubs, huddled up at the end of a winter’s day above Lake Sarmiento, near Chile’s Torres del Paine National Park. The matriarch, who has raised several generations of cubs, spends most of her time hunting— and napping—along this waterfront.

From "The Pumas of Patagonia," December 2018

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Two women revel at a Holi celebration in Richmond Hill, a Queens, New York, neighborhood popular with people of Indian descent from Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago. During this Hindu holiday, which marks the arrival of spring and the victory of good over evil, festivalgoers smear one another with colored powder and paint.

From "How South Asian Americans Are Building a New American Dream," September 2018

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Airaj Jilani, a retired oil-and-gas project manager from suburban Houston, performs as Elvis Presley. He has been a fan since he was a boy growing up in Pakistan. “I was the Elvis fan. My brother was the Beatles fan,” he says. In 1978 he visited Presley’s Graceland mansion in Memphis, Tennessee; the following year he moved to Texas.

From "How Muslims, Often Misunderstood, Are Thriving in America," May 2018

 

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Thenmozhi Soundararajan (standing), whose family was born into India’s Dalit population, its lowest caste, shows her artwork to Shahana Hanif, a Bangladeshi American. Both women are activists who fight against religious intolerance and caste-based discrimination.

From "How South Asian Americans Are Building a New American Dream," September 2018



 

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Kamilah Munirah Bolling and Adil Justin Cole stand outside their home in Farmington Hills, Michigan.

From "How Muslims, Often Misunderstood, Are Thriving in America," May 2018

 

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The Prom Queen, Cha'Leyah Fleming, a senior at Northwestern High School in Flint, Michigan, poses for a portrait at her 2018 Senior Prom Dance. 2018 is the last year Northwestern will hold prom. Next year the school will close and all the students in Flint will be consolidated into one high school. The decision to close the school was made because of decreased enrollment and an aging building.

From "Last Prom," July 2018

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Spring 2017 Spelman graduate Nanmanian Camara, an aspiring dentist, celebrates with her aunt, Mamata Soumah (left), and mother, Tenin Kaba. Camara’s Guinean family is proud of the first-generation American and college grad.

From "Why Historically Black Colleges Are Enjoying a Renaissance," April 2018

 

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The Institute for Roses and Aromatic Plants, a research and agriculture academy in Kazanlak, Bulgaria, encourages tourists to the region with cardboard cutouts inviting photo-ops.

From "Beautiful Pictures From Europe’s Valley of the Roses," August 2018

 

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Irene Sonia poses in front of a milaya, or bedsheet—one of the few things her mother managed to bring when they fled South Sudan for Uganda.

From "For War Refugees, Bedsheets Are a Reminder of Home" May 2018

 

 

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A vendor sells a drink made from sattu flour on a residential road in Kolkata, India. Formerly called Wood Street, the road was renamed Dr. Martin Luther King Sarani in 1986. India’s native son Mahatma Gandhi, who led a peaceful resistance against British colonialism, was “the guiding light of our technique of nonviolent social change,” Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., said. “Nonviolence is not sterile passivity,” King noted during the 1964 speech in which he accepted the Nobel Peace Prize, “but a powerful moral force which makes for social transformation.”

From "Where the Streets Have MLK's Name," April 2018

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Pedestrians watch a wedding party’s arrival at the Church of San Pedro Claver, in the historic district of Cartagena. The resort city’s Spanish colonial charms are a boon for tourism, which the government says has risen 250 percent in Colombia since 2006.

From "After Five Decades of Civil War, Colombia’s Healing Begins," January 2018

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A couple enjoy afternoon tea at a luxury hotel in Shanghai with a view of the new financial district. As the Chinese become wealthier, their tastes are becoming more Western. The country is consuming more meat, dairy, and processed foods.

From "How China Plans to Feed 1.4 Billion Growing Appetites," February 2018

 

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An airplane that drug lord Pablo Escobar used for smuggling cocaine adorns the entrance of Hacienda Nápoles. His once lavish estate is now a theme park with animal exhibits, waterslides, and dinosaur statues.

From "After Five Decades of Civil War, Colombia's Healing Begins," January 2018

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With the Sadlerochit Mountains rising in the distance, two muskoxen mosey through a scene devoid of the human touch. The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is one of the largest protected areas in the U.S. and one of the wildest places left on Earth—at least for now.

From "This Refuge May Be the Most Contested Land in the U.S.," June 2018

 

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King penguins stroll on the white sand of Volunteer Point on East Falkland island. Small numbers were seen in the islands in the 1860s, but in the 1970s the population began to increase steadily. A thousand breeding pairs now frequent the beach, which became a private reserve 50 years ago.

From "The Falkland Islands Preserve Wildlife and Habitat After War," February 2018

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Benjamin Anderson floats on the north arm of Utah's Great Salt Lake. In the hypersaline water, he found it hard to sit up and hit the bottom in water only a foot deep. The lake’s salinity has increased as its volume has dropped nearly 50 percent since the mid-1800s. The water in the north arm is eight times as salty as the ocean.

From "Some of the World's Biggest Lakes Are Drying Up. Here's Why," March 2018

 

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Paralympian sprinter Jarryd Wallace’s bio­ mechanics are analyzed at the Southern Methodist University Locomotor Performance Laboratory in Dallas, Texas. “There was a lot I was doing wrong,” says Wallace, 28. The four­-time world record holder, whose lower right leg had to be amputated because of a muscle disorder, uses the lab’s analysis of his stride to run even faster.

From "How Technology and Smarts Help Athletes Push the Limits," July 2018

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Laura Sermeño and her baby boy celebrate the end of her cuarentena, or quarantine. The tradition, common throughout Latin America, requires new mothers to rest under the care of their relatives for some 40 days after childbirth. The period ends with a mother-child herbal bath and a massage.

From "How Latinos Are Shaping America’s Future," July 2018

 

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At Posto Awá, an indigenous outpost in the Brazilian Amazon, villagers enjoy a morning bath. The red- and yellow-footed tortoises they’re holding will probably eventually be eaten.

From "Isolated Nomads Are Under Siege in the Amazon Jungle," October 2018

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One treasure still inside Utah's Bears Ears monument is Procession Panel, a nearly 23-foot-long rock carving, or petroglyph, on Comb Ridge. At least 1,000 years old, it depicts a ceremonial gathering of some 190 humanlike forms converging from four directions. A succession of prehistoric cultures occupied the mesas and canyons of southern Utah for more than 12,000 years.

From "Inside the New Battle for the American West," November 2018

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Excavations at the site of a Native American town on Hatteras Island have yielded a mix of Indian and European artifacts, suggesting that some of the stranded colonists were adopted by the friendly Croatoan tribe.

From "It Was America’s First English Colony. Then It Was Gone," June 2018

 

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Licensed by the Israeli government to sell antiquities, Khader Baidun visits a storage room below one of his family’s shops in Jerusalem’s Old City. To help stop the sale of looted objects, dealers must now register artifacts in a digital database. But secrecy persists, one seller says. “It’s an old custom not to mention names or sums.”

From "The Bible Hunters," December 2018

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A conservator at the Israel Antiquities Authority prepares a fragment of the Dead Sea Scrolls for display. Seen here upside down, the fragile document is being placed between layers of mesh that are first pinned, then sewn together around the edges of the fragment.

From "The Bible Hunters," December 2018

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Hand copied around 1400, a Wycliffe New Testament on exhibit at a Christian theme park in Florida gets white-glove treatment. English theologian John Wycliffe championed translating the Bible from Latin into the common language, an innovation church officials denounced.

From "The Bible Hunters," December 2018

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Spotted jellies, which drift in South Pacific bays and lagoons, swim up during the day so that tiny plantlike organisms that live inside them and nourish them can catch the sun. The jellies don’t live off those symbionts alone, however. Their feathery arms are lined with stinging cells and mini-mouths that gobble animal plankton.

From "Scary, Squishy, Brainless, Beautiful: Inside the World of Jellyfish," October 2018

 

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A spectral bat in a cage targets a laboratory mouse in leaf litter on a table. Scientists studying these carnivorous bats in Mexico haven’t yet seen them take prey in the wild, so they film them and record sounds related to the pursuit.

From "Ancient Temple Reveals Secrets of Mexico’s Meat-Eating Bats," July 2018

 

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During an all-day courtship, Charqueado (at left), a four-year-old puma, pursues a female, gnashing his teeth and grunting. He mated with her five times over an hour and in a relatively exposed spot, according to photographer Ingo Arndt. Then, rather than retreating to safety, the pair strolled onto this promontory on private ranchland near Torres del Paine National Park.

From "The Pumas of Patagonia," December 2018

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In the Falkland Islands, a male southern sea lion, about nine feet long and 800 pounds, looms over a female and two pups on an island informally known as Stick-in-the-Mud. The population declined in the mid-20th century when the animals were hunted and also had trouble finding food in a period of warm ocean temperatures. Now they’re the most abundant marine mammal in southern South America, with about 7,500 in the Falklands.

From "The Falkland Islands Preserve Wildlife and Habitat After War," February 2018

 

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A female saker falcon guards her chicks—called eyases—in their nest overlooking the Mongolian plain. Genghis Khan is said to have kept hundreds of the birds for hunting. Today sakers are considered endangered because of habitat loss and the illegal wildlife trade.

From "Inside a Sheikh’s Plan to Protect the World’s Fastest Animal," October 2018

 

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In New Zealand's Chatham Islands, the most sheltered nesting site for albatrosses is a natural cave high up on Te Tara Koi Koia. Inside, nests protected from erosion from wind and rain form pedestals tall as top hats. The downy gray chicks will fledge in five months’ time.

From "Lost at Sea: Why the Birds You Don’t See Are Fading Away," July 2018

 

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Ellie, a northern goshawk owned by Lloyd and Rose Buck in England, tucks in her wings and streaks through narrow openings at high speed. Aeronautics scientists say the fierce predators assess the density of the trees and intuit how fast they can fly—ensuring that they’ll find openings and not crash.

From "Think 'Birdbrain' Is an Insult? Think Again," February 2018

 

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Sea-worn stones form a path to beached and broken sea ice. Ice is central to life along the 800-mile Antarctic Peninsula, which juts up toward South America, but warming air and water are melting it on land and sea.

From "The Big Meltdown," November 2018

 

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A sun star clings to tree kelp in the chilly South Atlantic off the coast of Bird Island in what looks like an underwater rain forest. The ridges that form the Falklands force nutrients up from the deep, creating a rich marine world that attracts all manner of fish, mammals, and birds.

From "The Falkland Islands Preserve Wildlife and Habitat After War," February 2018

 

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After hitting the water at 60 miles an hour, plunge-diving Cape gannets feast on high-calorie sardines, their preferred prey. This photograph captures the first evidence (top) of underwater kleptoparasitism among Cape gannets: one bird caught heisting a fish from another.

From "Lost at Sea: Why the Birds You Don't See Are Fading Away," July 2018

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Shreds of grouper flesh fall from the jaws of two sharks as they rip a fish apart. After hunting together to roust the grouper from its hiding place in the reef, the sharks encircle it—but then compete for the spoils.

From "Frenzy," May 2018

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A young blue-eyed shag attempts what may be its first dive near shore. Many flying seabirds nest or feed along the Antarctic Peninsula.

From "The Big Meltdown," November 2018

 

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A scalped gray-headed albatross chick on sub-Antarctic Marion Island gruesomely conveys the threat seabirds face from invasive species. For reasons not entirely understood, mice brought to the island by humans 200 years ago have begun feeding on birds at night. With no instinctual fear of this new danger, a bird will sit passively while mice nibble into its flesh, until it succumbs.

From "Lost at Sea: Why the Birds You Don’t See Are Fading Away," July 2018

 

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After lying in wait behind a wall of shrubs for an hour—then stalking her prey over a hundred yards of rough grassland for another half hour— Sarmiento leaps upon a guanaco. A strong and mature male, he moves sideways, escaping his sharpclawed foe.

From "The Pumas of Patagonia," December 2018

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A young male lion was one of three members of Kenya’s famous Marsh Pride to die in 2015 after eating a cow carcass that Maasai herders had laced with carbosulfan, an insecticide. The lions had killed several cows.

From "Why Poison Is a Growing Threat to Africa’s Wildlife," August 2018

 

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A Maasai girl bounces on the carcass of a 52-year-old female elephant near Amboseli National Park, which is hemmed by farms. Rangers suspect the elephant was poisoned for raiding grain stores and removed her tusks.

From "Why Poison Is a Growing Threat to Africa's Wildlife," August 2018

 

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This young elephant, lovingly cared for at a retreat in Nairobi, was orphaned in Masai Mara when her mother was shot with a poisoned arrow.

From "Why Poison Is a Growing Threat to Africa's Wildlife," August 2018

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Picasso’s love of bullfighting stemmed from childhood visits to the Plaza de Toros de la Malagueta in Málaga, Spain, where young people train and fight today. Picadors and bulls are a recurring motif in his work, as is the half-man, half-bull Minotaur.

From "How Picasso’s Journey From Prodigy to Icon Revealed a Genius," May 2018

 

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Near the eastern end of the inhabited Wakhan corridor in Afghanistan, where roads dwindle to footpaths, a girl twists the tail of the family cow to hurry it toward their home in the village of Nishtkhowr.

From "A Historic Journey Proceeds Across the Roof of the World," September 2018

 

 

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Five Awá families from Posto Awá, an outpost created by the Brazilian government’s indigenous affairs agency, set out on an overnight excursion into the forest. Awá like them who live in settled communities and miss the forest—especially older members who grew up there—make these forays to reconnect with their traditional ways. It wasn’t until 1987 that Brazil began its current no-contact policy for isolated indigenous groups.

From "Isolated Nomads Are Under Siege in the Amazon Jungle," October 2018

 

 

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Anor Gul, six, at left, and Gul Shira, seven, head out to join other children gathering wood, one of their many chores. They’re surrounded by sea buckthorn, a fast-growing bush used for fuel and to build animal pens.

From "A Historic Journey Proceeds Across the Roof of the World," September 2018

 

 

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Marcia (left) and Millie Biggs, both 11, say people are shocked to learn that they’re fraternal twins. Marcia looks more like their mother, who’s English born, and Millie looks more like their father, who’s of Jamaican descent.

From "These Twins Will Make You Rethink Race," April 2018

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Baljeet Singh and his older son, Raza, at their home in San Francisco's Bernal Heights neighborhood. Baljeet works in Silicon Valley at Google Maps, as a head of product development. California has the largest South Asian population in the U.S., and within this population there are many Sikhs, from the region of Punjab.

From How South Asian Americans Are Building a New American Dream," September 2018

 

 

 

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Latinos came to Wilder, Idaho, as migrant farmworkers in the second half of the 20th century; today they’re 76 percent of the population. Miguel Arredondo arrived in 1972 and still has his first American car, this scarred Chevy. His grandkids also live in Wilder; the bouncy castle is for their baptism celebration. Guests include Santiago Rojero and his son, Santiago Jr.

From "How Latinos Are Shaping America’s Future," July 2018

 

 

 

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Jumana Mussa, Dana Mussa, Jana Hassan, and Marya Tailakh, Girl Scouts from Troop 3408 in Anaheim, California, perform an anti-bullying skit at a public library. Bullying of Muslim children in the United States is rising largely because of cultural and religious misunderstanding, according to an institute that studies issues affecting Muslims.

From "How Muslims, Often Misunderstood, Are Thriving in America," May 2018

 

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Spelman students Mecca McFadden, Kalin Tate, and Safiyyah Logan took hours to make outfits for the Morehouse chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity’s annual end-of-the-year toga party.

From "Why Historically Black Colleges Are Enjoying a Renaissance," April 2018

 

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In the village of Qalahye Panjah, in Afganistan's Wakhan corridor, Wakhi women prepare food to celebrate the Muslim holiday of Eid-al-Adha, the Feast of Sacrifice. The women are passing bowls of traditional "bat," a mixture of flour, water, butter, and salt.

From "A Historic Journey Proceeds Across the Roof of the World," September 2018

 

 

 

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Yasmin Morales Torres, 41, washes laundry by hand in her yard in Playa El Negro, a neighborhood in the town of Yabucoa in Puerto Rico. As of March the area had still been without power since the storm.

From "Months After Hurricane Maria, Puerto Rico Still Struggling," March 2018

 

 

 

 

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Reza Manafzadeh works on a fruit-tree farm at the edge of Iran's Lake Urmia, a salt lake where crops are irrigated by a new method—recycled factory water brought by tanker truck. “I’m so worried about my son’s future,” he says. “If there will be no water in Iran, our children will lose interest in their country.”

From "Some of the World's Biggest Lakes Are Drying Up. Here's Why," March 2018

 

 

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Leyla Sonkuş picks grape leaves on the Plain of Harran in southern Turkey, not far from the Syrian border. People in Syria and Iraq complain that Turkey’s dams threaten water flows from the Euphrates and Tigris Rivers, endangering farmlands and the supply of clean drinking water.

From "In Turkey, a Power Play Will Leave Ancient Towns Underwater," November 2018

 

 

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The four letters of the genetic code —A, C, G, and T—are projected onto Ryan Lingarmillar, a Ugandan. DNA reveals what skin color obscures: We all have African ancestors.

From "There's No Scientific Basis for Race—It's a Made-Up Label," April 2018

 

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The Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti holds the record for the second longest uninterrupted spaceflight by a woman, having spent 199 days on the International Space Station in 2015. (NASA’s Peggy Whitson topped that record by almost a hundred days in 2017.) The longer she was in orbit, Cristoforetti says, the more her perception of humanity’s time on Earth evolved. When the massive geologic forces that have sculpted the planet are visible at a glance, the eons in which we crafted pyramids and skyscrapers become nearly indistinguishable. It’s as if, from her vantage point, all our constructed monuments arose overnight.

From "They Saw Earth From Space. Here’s How It Changed Them," March 2018

 

 

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Before Katie Stubblefield had a face transplant, she posed for this portrait. It shows her severely injured face—but photographer Maggie Steber also wanted to capture “her inner beauty and her pride and determination.”

From "The Story of a Face," September 2018

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Taking advantage of a sunny spring day a year before Katie Stubblefield's face transplant, Katie and her parents, Robb and Alesia Stubblefield, indulge in a nap in a park near the Cleveland Clinic. With Katie in a wheelchair, the three explored the park, wandering amid blossoming trees and singing birds. The outing came after Katie had spent a month in the hospital. To reposition her eyes, she had surgery to implant what’s known as a distraction device. In the three years before her transplant, Katie was hospitalized more than a dozen times.

From "The Story of a Face," September 2018

 

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Sixteen hours into a transplant operation at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio, surgeons finish the intricate task of removing the face from an organ donor. Awed by the sight and by the gravity of their work, the team falls suddenly silent as staff members document the face in between its two lives. The surgeons would spend 15 more hours attaching the face to Katie Stubblefield.

From "The Story of a Face," September 2018

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Determined to help their daughter live a life as normal and valuable as possible, Robb and Alesia put their own lives on hold for more than four years after Katie's face transplant. Pushing through exhaustion, relying on their faith in God, they accompany their daughter to endless appointments and therapy sessions. They’re already looking into ways to improve Katie’s vision, including the possibility of eye transplants. They expect to remain in Cleveland near the clinic and Katie’s doctors for the near future.

From "The Story of a Face," September 2018

 

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In Sweden hundreds of immigrant children whose families face deportation have contracted resignation syndrome, a baffling disorder in which the child withdraws from the world, won’t react even to painful stimuli, and must be nourished with a feeding tube— sometimes for years. “She is not suffering now,” physician Elisabeth Hultcrantz says of Leyla Ahmed, 10, a Syrian refugee.

From "While We Sleep, Our Mind Goes on an Amazing Journey," August 2018

 

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Althea Tolidanes, eight, watches videos amid gifts of sheets, pillows, and curtains from her father, Arjay, who works at a burger joint in Saudi Arabia. Such gifts are sent to make up for long absences. But Althea says she doesn’t want to go to school, so that her father can come home and not have to earn money for school fees.

From "Heroes of the Philippines," December 2018

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Cadets at a merchant marine academy near Manila train for one of the most prestigious jobs for workers in the diaspora. Those who succeed are ensured a path to a middle-class life for their families. A quarter of the world’s seafarers come from the Philippines.

From "Heroes of the Philippines," December 2018

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About 20,000 Muslims attended a morning prayer last year at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, California, to celebrate Eid al-Fitr. Muslims often dress up in their finest clothes on the holiday. The prayer marks the start of three days of celebrating and eating. In the U.S. the holiday is not typically recognized by employers or schools, so most Muslims must take time off to celebrate.

From "How Muslims, Often Misunderstood, Are Thriving in America," May 2018

 

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Freshmen enter the Morehouse College chapel named for Martin Luther King, Jr., whose words are etched on the wall. The all-male college aims to develop disciplined men who will lead lives of scholarship and service.

From "Why Historically Black Colleges Are Enjoying a Renaissance," April 2018

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In the Wakhan corridor, Sidol (left), Jumagul (center), and Assan Khan (right) return on their yaks after monitoring the growth of grasses at lower elevations. Herds will be kept off that pasture so the grasses can be harvested, dried, and used by the Wakhi people for animal fodder in the winter months.

From "A Historic Journey Proceeds Across the Roof of the World," September 2018

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The sun rises in Wyoming on male sage grouse strutting their stuff, chests puffed, tails splayed. Their courting arenas, or leks, are clearings in the sagebrush.

From "An Awkward Bird Symbolizes the Fight Over America's West," November 2018

 

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Coats fresh from molting, a column of macaroni penguins trudges up the ridge of an old volcano crater on sub-Antarctic Marion Island. Behind them is “the Amphitheatre,” a series of terraces in the crater worn down over eons by nesting and molting macaronis. “The sound of all the penguins reverberating from this multitiered half crater is really impressive,” says ecologist Otto Whitehead.

From "Lost at Sea: Why the Birds You Don’t See Are Fading Away," July 2018

 

 

 

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During breeding season, 150,000 gannets throng Scotland's Bass Rock island in the Firth of Forth. In winter the birds decamp south as far as West Africa. To make this image, photographer Stephen Wilkes and an assistant lugged his gear 122 steps uphill and set up near the ruins of a church about six feet from the nesting birds. Standing on the rocky ground for 28 sleepless hours, he took 1,176 photos. “It’s like a meditative state,” he says. “I’m alert to everything. I’m seeing everything.” He selected about 150 photos to make this image.

From "The Epic Journeys of Migratory Birds," March 2018

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In a forest in southern Thailand, a male helmeted hornbill approaches a tree where his mate and chick have been sequestered for months, relying on him to bring food.

From "Poached for Its Horn, This Rare Bird Struggles to Survive," September 2018

 

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A goliath birdwing hatches in the kitchen of a tourist house in West Papua, Indonesia. Hatchlings are killed young, to preserve their wings. The trade in rare butterflies— both legal and illegal— spans the planet, from catchers to middlemen to collectors.

From "Inside the Murky World of Butterfly Catchers," August 2018

 

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A polar bear and her cubs explore a spit of land projecting into the Beaufort Sea, waiting for the water to freeze enough so they can hunt seals—their main food source. The loss of sea ice caused by a rapidly warming climate has forced polar bears to scrounge for scraps onshore and has reduced the southern Beaufort population by 40 percent.

From "This Refuge May Be the Most Contested Land in the U.S.," June 2018

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Snowball, a sulphur-crested cockatoo, wowed YouTube fans—and neuroscientists—when he rocked in time to the Backstreet Boys’ tune “Everybody” in 2007. He lives at Bird Lovers Only Rescue Service, a sanctuary in South Carolina, where director Irena Schulz cares for him and records his dances.

From "Think 'Birdbrain' is an Insult? Think Again," February 2018

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Utah’s Bonneville Salt Flats comprise some 46 square miles of hard, white crust west of Great Salt Lake. The flats and the lake are remnants of Pleistocene-epoch Lake Bonneville.

From "Some of the World's Biggest Lakes Are Drying Up. Here's Why," March 2018

 

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The bed of Bolivia's dry, salt-crusted Lake Poopó unfurls into the distance. Boats are stranded; the fish and waterfowl are gone. Fishermen who depended on the lake are moving elsewhere. It’s a diaspora born of drought.

From "Some of the World's Biggest Lakes Are Drying Up. Here's Why," March 2018



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Pants made of polar bear fur identify Naimanngitsoq Kristiansen, an Inuit man from Qaanaaq in northwestern Greenland, as a seasoned hunter. With sea ice thinning every year, his dogsled journeys have grown increasingly hazardous.

From "Here’s Where the Arctic’s Wildlife Will Make Its Last Stand," January 2018

 

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Resting in his bunk on the U.S.S. Paul Hamilton, a sailor wears light-emitting goggles for a short time after waking. Nita Shattuck of the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California, is testing the devices to see if they can reset sailors’ internal clocks, synchronizing them with work shifts rather than the sun cycle.

From "While We Sleep, Our Mind Goes on an Amazing Journey," August 2018

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Wile, the seven year-old son of photographer Magnus Wennman, watches cartoons on his iPad— a modern bedtime ritual for some. The stimulation may drive off sleep, but so does the backlit screen: Light at night inhibits the production of melatonin, the hormone that helps regulate our daily biological rhythms.

From "While We Sleep, Our Mind Goes on an Amazing Journey," August 2018

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About 500 members of the Warao tribe live at a concrete shelter outfitted with hammocks and tents in Pacaraima, Brazil. Crowding and unsanitary conditions have contributed to widespread disease.

From "For Many Fleeing Venezuela’s Chaos, New Trouble in Brazil," November 2018

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At Checkpoint 300 near Bethlehem, Palestinians from the West Bank, some climbing the walls to cut the line, wait to be cleared for entry into Israel. Thousands of workers endure the daily ordeal in exchange for better paying work in Israel. Disparities in economic opportunity often reinforce divisions based on religion, ethnicity, or rival territorial claims.

From "Why Do We See So Many Things as ‘Us vs. Them’?" April 2018

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Farzan Sheikh, then 16, was shot in the left eye by an Indian policeman with a pellet gun on March 28, 2017. It happened in his neighborhood in Srinagar, in Indian-administered Kashmir. Sheikh was an unwitting victim again last August, when pellets blinded his right eye. “He moves with the memory of the house,” says his mother, Muzamil.

From "Conflict in Kashmir Takes a Grim Toll on Unwitting Victims," June 2018

 

 

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In Khuzestan Province, Masoumeh Ahmadi, 14, holds her mother’s shotgun. After a woman marries, she receives a firearm—with the approval of her husband and her father. Many women get one as a gift from their husbands after giving birth to their first son.

From "Why Iran’s Nomads Are Fading Away," October 2018

 

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On October 1, 2017, firing from the 32nd floor of a hotel, a man armed with semiautomatic rifles, modified to fire faster, rained more than a thousand rounds on a music festival in Las Vegas, Nevada. Fifty-eight people were killed and 546 were injured. Public mass shootings have become much more frequent since 2011.

From "The Science Behind Psychopaths and Extreme Altruists," January 2018

 

 

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On a Portland commuter train Micah Fletcher and two other men defended two women—one wearing a hijab—from a man spewing anti-Muslim abuse. The assailant stabbed all three men. Two died, and Fletcher suffered a deep neck wound. He said he instinctively stepped in to help the women. Diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum as a child, he was bullied and beaten. “If you are truly a community, then everybody should be expected to stand up for one another,” he says.

From "The Science Behind Psychopaths and Extreme Altruists," January 2018

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Woodrow Vereen, Jr.'s two young sons were riding with him when he was stopped and searched by police for running a yellow light in Connecticut. He won a cash settlement after suing police over the illegal search and now struggles with what to tell his children about how to regard the police.

From "For Black Motorists, a Never-Ending Fear of Being Stopped," April 2018

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Morehouse College student government leaders John Cooper and Kamren Rollins paint a sign on campus to stimulate discussion about the N-word. Another student passes by wearing a T-shirt with an image of the late rap artist Tupac Shakur, who used the term liberally in his lyrics.

From "Why Historically Black Colleges Are Enjoying a Renaissance," April 2018

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The Sanctuary in Hazleton, Pennsylvania, is an all-purpose community center that hosts free public events in a former church that was once home to a hundred-year-old Slovak parish. Two stars at the popular stunt-fighting smackdowns have created an act that makes sport of tensions between the old and the new Hazleton. With 16 years in the ring, Jason Dougherty wears a U.S. flag bandanna, while the reigning local champion, Marcelino Cabrera, sports trunks displaying the flag of the Dominican Republic. Dougherty helped train Cabrera, who moved to Hazleton when he was 15.

From "As America Changes, Some Anxious Whites Feel Left Behind," April 2018

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Felyssa Ricco stands outside the house in Hazleton, Pennsylvania, where she lives with her mother and stepfather, Kelly and Jesse Portanova. In addition to flying Old Glory and other flags, such as “Don’t Tread on Me,” the Portanovas sometimes fly the Confederate flag, saying it’s a way of standing up to those who believe it shouldn’t be displayed or who want to disregard America’s history.

From "As America Changes, Some Anxious Whites Feel Left Behind," April 2018

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Iman Saleh, whose parents are from Yemen, is a journalism student at Wayne State University in Detroit.

From "How Muslims, Often Misunderstood, Are Thriving in America," May 2018