Person of the Year 2011: The Protester
Photographs by Peter Hapak for TIME

The Protester

No one could have known that when a Tunisian fruit vendor set himself on fire in a public square, it would incite protests that would topple dictators and start a global wave of dissent. In 2011, protesters didn't just voice their complaints; they changed the world.

Read the Cover Story

To Our Readers

The 2011 Person of the Year issue is the product of a year's worth of reporting and thinking

Introduction

History often emerges only in retrospect. Events become significant only when looking back

Profiles of Protesters

Runners-Up

Person of the Year 1927 - 2011

The Protester: TIME's 2011 Person of the Year

2011

No one could have known that when a Tunisian fruit vendor set himself on fire in a public square, it would incite protests that would topple dictators and start a global wave of dissent. In 2011, protesters didn't just voice their complaints; they changed the world.

Barack Obama: TIME's 2008 Person of the Year
Mark Zuckerberg: TIME's 2010 Person of the Year
Martin Luther King Jr.: TIME's 1964 Person of the Year

TIME's Person of the Year is bestowed by the editors on the person or persons who most affected the news and our lives, for good or ill, and embodied what was important about the year. See who made the grade over TIME's first eight decades. See them all