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The year 2012 was the International Year of Cooperatives and the Alan Turing Year.
- January 1 – Start of Denmark's Presidency of the European Union
- January 5 – Portia Simpson-Miller becomes Prime Minister of Jamaica for a second time.
- January 6 – New Mexico celebrates the 100th anniversary of its statehood.
- January 9 – President of Guinea-Bissau Malam Bacai Sanha dies in office, raising fears over a power struggle.
- January 10 – The Doomsday Clock is set to five minutes before midnight, after the nuclear disaster at Fukushima in Japan in 2011, and the nuclear threat level.
- January 13–22 – The first Winter Youth Olympics are held in Innsbruck, Austria.
- January 14 – The cruise ship Costa Concordia runs aground off the Tuscan coast, at the island of Giglio, and partially sinks. Out of more than 4000 people on board, at least 30 people are killed.
- January 18 – The English language Wikipedia blacks out for 24 hours in protest against the internet laws SOPA and PIPA proposed by the United States Congress.
- January 20 – 185 people are killed in a series of coordinated bombings in Kano, Nigeria, carried out by the Islamist extremist group Boko Haram.
- January 23 – The EU adopts an embargo against Iran over its uranium enrichment.
- January 30 – Following this date, cold weather in Europe causes several deaths, due to the low temperatures.
- January 31 – 433 Eros, the second-largest Near Earth Object on record (size 13×13×33 km) passes Earth. NASA studied Eros with the NEAR Shoemaker probe launched on February 17, 1996.
- February 1 – Violence erupts at the end of a football match in Port Said, Egypt, killing 74 people.
- February 2 – The ferry MV Rabaul Queen sinks off the north coast of Papua New Guinea, with at least 230 people being rescued, and several missing.
- February 6 – Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II marking the 60th anniversary of her accession to the Thrones of the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia & New Zealand (as well as the 60th anniversary of her becoming Head of the Commonwealth).
- February 7 - President of the Maldives Mohamed Nasheed announces his resignation. Mohammed Waheed Hassan takes over from him.
- February 11 - American singer and actress Whitney Houston is found dead at her hotel in Los Angeles.
- February 12 - The Zambia national football team wins the African Cup of Nations, defeating the Ivory Coast.
- February 15 - A fire at a prison in Honduras kills at least 357 people.
- February 17 - President of Germany Christian Wulff announces his resignation following a home-loan scandal. He is the shortest-serving President in the history of the Federal Republic of Germany. Horst Seehofer becomes interim-President.
- February 19 - Iran suspends oil exports to France and the United Kingdom, after sanctions were imposed by the EU and the United States.
- February 21 - EU finance ministers reach an agreement on a 130 billion-Euro bailout for Greece.
- February 25 - Abd Rabbuh Mansur Al-Hadi succeeds Ali Abdullah Saleh as President of Yemen.
- March 2 - A tornado outbreak in Alabama, Kentucky, Ohio and Indiana kills 39 people.
- March 4 - Several munitions dump explosions in Brazzaville, Republic of the Congo, kill over 250 people.
- March 4 - Vladimir Putin declares victory in the Russian Presidential Election, returning him to the Presidency.
- March 13 - It is announced that, after 244 years, the Encyclopedia Britannica is to stop its print edition to focus on its online version.
- March 13 - A coach crash in Switzerland kills 28 people, including 22 children, who were returning to Belgium.
- March 17 - Coptic church leader Pope Shenouda III of Alexandria dies aged 88.
- March 18 - King of Tonga George Tupou V dies in Hong Kong, having been King since 2006.
- March 18 - Joachim Gauck is chosen to succeed Christian Wulff as President of Germany. He becomes President immediately.
- March 19 - Four people are killed in a shooting attack at a Jewish school in Toulouse, France. The gunman, Mohammed Merah, is killed three days later after a siege.
- March 22 - Ahmed Toumani Toure, President of Mali, is ousted in a coup after armed soldiers attack government offices.
- March 25 - Macky Sall is elected President of Senegal, succeeding Abdoulaye Wade.
- April 1 - Aung San Suu Kyi wins a seat in the Burmese parliament.
- April 2 - President of Hungary Pal Schmitt resigns following a plagiarism scandal.
- April 5 - President of Malawi Bingu wa Mutharika dies. Joyce Banda succeeds him.
- April 6 - The National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad declares an independent state, Azawad, in northern Mali, which is not recognised internationally.
- April 11 - Two strong earthquakes strike off the Indian Ocean coast of Sumatra, causing widespread panic and tsunami alerts all around the Indian Ocean.
- April 12 - A coup takes place in Guinea-Bissau as mutinous soldiers arrest interim President Raimundo Pereira and Presidential candidate Carlos Gomes Junior, as they take control of the capital, Bissau.
- April 13 - Kwangmyongsong-3, a North Korean earth observation satellite, explodes shortly after launch.
- April 16 - The trial of Anders Behring Breivik, perpetrator of the 2011 Norway attacks, begins in Oslo.
- April 22 - Francois Hollande defeats Nicolas Sarkozy in the first round of the French Presidential election. They both go through to the second round, as National Front leader Marine Le Pen comes third.
- April 26 - Former President of Liberia Charles Taylor is found guilty of war crimes, committed during the Sierra Leone Civil War.
- May 2 – Edvard Munch's The Scream sells for 120 million US dollars, a record price for a work of art at auction.
- May 6 – Second round of the French Presidential Election: Francois Hollande is elected President of France, defeating Nicolas Sarkozy.
- May 6 – The Parliamentary election in Greece ends in an inconclusive result. A re-run is scheduled for June 17.
- May 7 – Vladimir Putin becomes President of Russia for a second time, swapping places with Dmitry Medvedev, who becomes Prime Minister.
- May 12 – The 2012 World Expo begins in Yeosu, South Korea. It is due to last until August 12.
- May 15 – Francois Hollande becomes President of France.
- May 18-20 – The G8 Summit is held at Camp David, near Washington, DC after a last minute switch of location. Chicago was originally the host city of the G8 summit prior to the NATO Summit.
- May 20 – Taur Matan Ruak becomes President of East Timor.
- May 20-21 - The first NATO Summit in the United States outside of Washington, D.C. is held in Chicago, Illinois.
- May 20 – A magnitude 6 earthquake strikes northern Italy, killing at least 7 people and destroying many historic buildings.
- May 20 – Annular solar eclipse: Path of annularity runs through the Pacific Ocean from East Asia to the Western and Midwestern United States.
- May 22 - The Tokyo Skytree in Tokyo, Japan, opens to the public. It is the tallest self-supporting tower in the world, at a height of 634 metres.
- May 26 – Final of the Eurovision Song Contest 2012 in Baku, Azerbaijan, which is won for Sweden by Loreen.
- May 29 - Mitt Romney secures the Republican Party nomination for President of the United States.
- June 2 - Former President of Egypt Hosni Mubarak is sentenced to prison for ordering the killing of demonstrators during the 2011 Egyptian protests.
- June 2-5 - Celebrations take place across the UK and Commonwealth to mark Queen Elizabeth II's 60 years on the throne.
- June 3 - A Dana Air Flight crashes into a building in Lagos, Nigeria, killing all 153 people on board and 40 on the ground.
- June 4 - Partial lunar eclipse
- June 6 – The second and last solar transit of Venus of the century. The next pair is predicted to occur in 2117 and 2125.
- June 8-July 1 – The UEFA Euro 2012 is played in Poland and Ukraine. It is won by the Spain national football team.
- June 9 - Devastating wildfires begin in Colorado.
- June 17 - Parliamentary election in Greece: The second such election in Greece in the space of six weeks.
- June 17 - The deciding round of Egypt's Presidential election is held.
- June 18-June 23 – Turing Centenary Conference at the University of Cambridge, in honor of the mathematician, computer scientist, and cryptographer Alan Turing, the last day of the conference being the hundredth anniversary of his birth.
- June 20 - Antonis Samaras is sworn in as Prime Minister of Greece.
- June 22 - President of Paraguay Fernando Lugo is removed from office by impeachment and is succeeded by Federico Franco.
- June 22 - A Turkish Air Force McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II fighter airplane is shot down by the Syrian Armed Forces, killing both pilots on board, further damaging already difficult relations between the two countries.
- June 24 - Lonesome George, thought to be the last-known Pinta Island tortoise, dies in the Galapagos Islands of Ecuador, aged around 100.
- June 24 - Shenzhou 9, a Chinese spacecraft carrying three Chinese astronauts, including the first female one, docks manually with orbiting module Tiangong 1, becoming the third country to successfully perform the mission.
- June 24 - Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood is announced as the winner of Egypt's Presidential election.
- June 28 - The United States Supreme Court declares that Barack Obama's healthcare reform plan is constitutional.
- June 30 - Mohamed Morsi is sworn in as President of Egypt.
- June 30 - Iceland's Presidential election is held, won by incumbent President Olafur Ragnar Grimsson.
- June 30 - An extra leap second is added at the end of the month.
- July 1 - Start of Cyprus' Presidency of the European Union
- July 1 - Presidential election in Mexico - won by Enrique Pena Nieto.
- July 4 - Scientists at CERN announce that they have discovered a particle whose properties are consistent with those of the Higgs boson, after experiments were carried out at the Large Hadron Collider.
- July 7 - Flooding affects parts of the Krasnodar Krai region in southern Russia, killing 72 people.
- July 13 - FIFA is embroiled in its second corruption scandal in just over a year, as Sepp Blatter claims that there may have been irregularities when Germany won the right to host the 2006 FIFA World Cup.
- July 18–21 – The 2012 World Rowing Championships are held at Plovdiv, Bulgaria.
- July 20 - A gunman opens fire at a cinema in Aurora, Colorado. The shooting kills 12 people and 59 are reported injured.
- July 24 - John Atta Mills, President of Ghana, dies while still in office. John Dramani Mahama takes over the running of the country until the election in December.
- July 25 - Pranab Mukherjee becomes President of India, succeeding Pratibha Patil, whose five-year term expired.
- July 27 – Opening ceremony of the 2012 Summer Olympics begins in London at 7:30 pm UTC, 8:30pm BST.
- July 29 - In Romania, a referendum is held on whether President Traian Basescu should be removed from office. He remains in his position after a low voter turnout.
- July 30/31 - Large parts of northern and eastern India are affected by wide-scale power failures, leaving over 600 million people without electricity.
- early August - Typhoon Haikui causes flooding in the Philippines.
- August 6 - Curiosity, the Mars Science Laboratory mission's rover, successfully lands on the planet Mars.
- August 11 - Two earthquakes over magnitude 6, followed by several aftershocks, strike the area around Tabriz in northwestern Iran, killing over 300 people.
- August 11 - US Presidential candidate Mitt Romney chooses Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan as his running mate.
- August 11 - The Jamaican men's 4 by 100 metre team wins the gold medal at the 2012 Summer Olympics, meaning that Usain Bolt successfully defends all three of the titles he won in Beijing in 2008.
- August 12 – The closing ceremony of the 2012 Summer Olympics in London takes place. Host nation Great Britain finishes with the third-highest gold medal count, 29, winning 65 medals overall.
- August 16 - Police open fire on striking miners at the Marikana mine in South Africa, killing 34.
- August 20 - Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi dies aged 57, after 17 years in this position.
- August 22 - It is ruled that the attempt to unseat Romania's President Traian Basescu in a referendum was not legal.
- August 24 - Cyclist Lance Armstrong announces that he will no longer fight against doping allegations, as the World Anti-Doping Agency strips him of his seven consecutive (in-a-row) Tour de France titles.
- August 24 - A court in Oslo declares Anders Behring Breivik sane and rules that he should serve a 21-year prison sentence for the 2011 Norway attacks.
- August 29 - Start of the 2012 Summer Paralympics in London.
- August 31 - Researchers announce the successful implantation of an early prototype bionic eye with 24 electrodes.
- August 31 - Armenia breaks off diplomatic ties with Hungary, after the extradition of Azerbaijani Ramil Safarov to his homeland, followed by his pardoning. He had been convicted of killing an Armenian soldier in Hungary in 2004.
- September 7 - Two earthquakes in southern China kill at least 80 people.
- September 7 - Canada breaks off diplomatic relations with Iran, over its stance on Syria, its nuclear programme and its human rights record.
- September 9 – End of the 2012 Summer Paralympics.
- September 11 - Both embassies in Cairo, Egypt and in Benghazi, Libya were attacked by Muslims who were believed to be protesting over a movie Innocence of Muslims, this attack killed U.S. Ambassador of Libya Christopher Stevens, Sean Smith, and 2 more people were killed and about two injured. It was later revealed that this may have been a coordinated terrorist attack.
- September 27 - Flooding affects parts of southern Spain.
- September 28 - A plane crashes shortly after take-off from Kathmandu, Nepal, and bursts into flames, killing all 19 people on board, who were heading to Mount Everest Base Camp.
- September 30 - Europe wins the Ryder Cup golf tournament over the United States, coming back from far behind to win.
- October 1 - A ferry accident in Hong Kong kills 38 people.
- October 3 - A bomb attack believed to be linked to the Syrian conflict is carried out on the other side of the border with Turkey.
- October 9 - Pakistani schoolgirl and education activist Malala Yousafzai is shot and wounded during an assassination attempt by the Taliban while returning home on a school bus.
- October 12 - The European Union wins the Nobel Peace Prize.
- October 14 - Austrian skydiver Felix Baumgartner becomes the first person to break the sound barrier (travel faster than the speed of sound) without mechanical help, during a record space dive out of the Red Bull helium-filled balloon from 24 miles (39 kilometres) over Roswell, New Mexico, United States.
- October 15 - British Prime Minister David Cameron and Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond sign an agreement in Edinburgh, Scotland, on the terms and conditions of a referendum on Scottish independence, due to be held in 2014.
- October 19 - A bomb attack in Beirut, Lebanon, kills 11 people, including the Lebanese army chief, in an attack believed to be linked to the conflict in neighbouring Syria.
- October 24 - Ireland ceases analog television broadcasts.
- October 24-30 - Hurricane Sandy kills over 200 people in Jamaica, Haiti, Cuba, the Bahamas, Eastern United States and parts of Canada and, in terms of diameter, it is the biggest North Atlantic Hurricane ever measured. Considerable storm surge damage causes major disruption on the eastern seaboard of the United States.
- October 26 - Silvio Berlusconi is found guilty of tax fraud.
- October 30 - Hurricane Sandy dissolves.
- November 3 - The New York City Marathon is cancelled for the first time in 42 years, due to Hurricane Sandy.
- November 4 - Bishop Tawadros is elected the next Pope of the Coptic Church in Egypt, succeeding Pope Shenouda III of Alexandria, who died in March.
- November 6 – United States presidential election, 2012: After winning the electoral and popular vote, President Barack Obama wins re-election against Mitt Romney.
- November 6 - A referendum is held in Puerto Rico on its future status. A majority support a change, with a majority of them voting for Puerto Rico becoming the 51st US State.
- November 6 - In referendums, a majority of voters in the US States of Maine, Maryland and Washington support introducing same-sex marriage.
- November 6 - In other referendums, the states of Washington and Colorado have majorities voting for the legalisation of marijuana for recreational use, while Oregon rejects the proposal.
- November 10 - Four days after the United States presidential election, 2012, Barack Obama secures the state of Florida, completing the 332-206 electoral college win.
- November 13 – Total solar eclipse (It was visible in northern Australia and the South Pacific).
- November 14 - Israel launches Operation Pillar of Defense on Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, killing Hamas military chief Ahmed Jabari. Hostilities over the following week kill 133 Palestinians and 5 Israelis.
- November 15 - The Communist Party of China unveils Xi Jinping as its next General Secretary, who is expected to lead the People's Republic of China until 2022.
- November 21 - After a week of violence in Israel and the Gaza Strip, the United States and Egypt announce a ceasefire, ending the week-long war.
- November 25 - A fire in a clothing factory in Dhaka, Bangladesh, kills over 100 people.
- November 25 - Regional elections are held in Catalonia, dominated by the issue of possible future independence from Spain.
- November 25 - Sebastian Vettel wins the Formula One World Championship for the third year in a row, becoming the youngest driver to win three Formula One championships.
- November 25 to December 2 - Typhoon Bopha, known in the Philippines as "Pablo", kills at least 1,020 people, with 844 missing, causing considerable damage on the island of Mindanao.
- November 28 – Penumbral lunar eclipse.
- November 29 - At the UN General Assembly, a majority of member states votes to give Palestine non-member observer state status.
- December 1 - Enrique Pena Nieto becomes President of Mexico.
- December 3 – Jupiter in opposition.
- December 8 - In Qatar, at the UN Climate Conference, it is agreed that the Kyoto Protocol is extended until 2020.
- December 12 - North Korea announces that it has carried out a successful rocket launch.
- December 14 - Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting: A shooting occurs at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, as 26 people, including 20 children, are shot dead by 20-year-old Adam Lanza, who then turns the gun on himself.
- December 15 - Egypt holds a referendum on its constitution.
- December 16 - Parliamentary election in Japan: The Liberal Democratic Party of Japan, under Shinzo Abe, wins the election.
- December 17 – Members of the Electoral College meet in each U.S. state.
- December 19 - Park Geunhye is elected President of South Korea over Moon Jae-in. She becomes the country's first female leader in February 2013.
- December 21 – 11:11 UTC. Winter Solstice in the Northern Hemisphere, Summer Solstice in the Southern Hemisphere.
- December 21 – The Mesoamerican Long Count calendar, notably used by the pre-Columbian Maya civilization among others, completes a "great cycle" of thirteen baktuns. Some people believed that the end of this cycle would be the end of the world.
- December 21 - Barack Obama nominates John Kerry to become United States Secretary of State, a position in which he would succeed Hillary Clinton.
- December 26 - Shinzo Abe becomes Prime Minister of Japan for the second time.
- December 28 - At the age of 115 years, 253 days, Jiroemon Kimura of Japan becomes the oldest man ever, overtaking Christian Mortensen who had died in 1998. The oldest-ever person is Jeanne Calment, who lived for 122 years, 164 days.
- December 31 - Politicians in the United States do last-minute talks in an attempt at avoiding the so-called "Fiscal Cliff", a series of tax rises that would come into force in the new year.
- Physiology or Medicine: John Gurdon and Shinya Yamanaka
- Physics: Serge Haroche and David J. Wineland
- Chemistry: Robert Lefkowitz and Brian Kobilka
- Literature: Mo Yan
- Peace: European Union
- Economics: Alvin E. Roth and Lloyd Shapley
- What Makes You Beautiful - The Piano Guys
- Glad You Came – The Wanted, a UK hit in 2010
- Big Hoops (Bigger the Better) – Nelly Furtado
- Die Young - Kesha
- Give Me All Your Luvin' – Madonna and M.I.A. and Nicki Minaj
- Talk That Talk – Rihanna and Jay-Z
- Gangnam Style - Psy
- I Cry - Flo Rida
- Skyfall - Adele
- Somebody That I Used to Know – Gotye and Kimbra
- We Are Young – Fun
- Call Me Maybe – Carly Rae Jepsen
- Payphone – Maroon 5 and Wiz Khalifa
- Blow Me (One Last Kiss) - Pink
- Burn It Down – Linkin Park
- It's Time - Imagine Dragons
- Why Ya Wanna - Jana Kramer
- Fastest Girl In Town - Miranda Lambert
- Ours – Taylor Swift
- Good Girl – Carrie Underwood
- Banjo – Rascal Flatts
- 5-1-5-0 – Dierks Bentley
- Take a Little Ride – Jason Aldean
- Back – Colt Ford and Jake Owen
- Shinin' on Me – Jerrod Niemann
- Near Earth Object Fact Sheet
- Turing Centenary Conference
- Homepage – London 2012
- United States Naval Observatory (2007-01-28). "Earth's Seasons: Equinoxes, Solstices, Perihelion, and Aphelion, 2000-2020". http://aa.usno.navy.mil/data/docs/EarthSeasons.php.
- MacDonald, G. Jeffrey (27 March 2007). "Does Maya calendar predict 2012 apocalypse? - USATODAY.com". USA Today (McLean, VA: Gannett Company). . http://www.usatoday.com/tech/science/2007-03-27-maya-2012_n.htm. Retrieved 24 May 2012.