Taking a look back at the year, National Geographic magazine photo editor Sherry Brukbacher chose 20 powerful images representing the spectrum of events that helped to shape 2013.
Brukbacher says the images in this collection weren't necessarily the most popular or viral pictures—some may even have escaped wide attention entirely.
But, she says, "every image in the gallery takes the viewer beyond the immediate impact of the moment and directly into the broader meaning and repercussions of the event on individuals, communities, and the world."
In the photo above, a woman carries her child through a field of debris near the collapsed Plaza Towers Elementary School in Moore, Oklahoma, on May 20, 2013, after a massive tornado struck the Oklahoma City suburbs.
The twister carved a 20-mile (32-kilometer) path and generated winds of up to 200 miles per hour (320 kilometers per hour), reducing entire neighborhoods to rubble. The storm left 25 people dead, including seven children at Plaza Towers.
—Korena Di Roma
Photograph by Sue Ogrocki, AP
Paying in Kind
A day after his March 13 election to head the Roman Catholic Church, Pope Francis stops to pick up his luggage and pay his bill at Rome's Domus Internationalis Paulus VI hotel, where he stayed as a cardinal before entering the conclave.
Enlisted to help battle the massive Rim Fire blaze—one of the largest wildfires in California's history—prison inmates walk along Highway 120 near Yosemite National Park on August 25. More than 550 inmates cut lines alongside elite "hot shot" civilian crews as part of a rehabilitation program that stations minimum-security inmates at fire camps around the state.
The Rim Fire blazed for 69 days over more than 250,000 acres (100,000 hectares) and caused more than $50 million in damages.
Photograph by Jae C. Hong, AP
An ultra-Orthodox Jewish wedding takes place near Tel Aviv, Israel, in this photo published in the March 2013 issue of National Geographic magazine. Viznitz Hasidim gather around the chief rabbi (center, in white) and the groom (center, left). Men and women stay on separate sides of the wedding hall during the ten-hour ceremony.
Photograph by Oded Balilty, AP
A survivor awaits treatment a day after a 6.6-magnitude earthquake struck central China on July 22. At least 95 people were killed and more than a thousand injured in Gansu Province in the country's northwest.
The powerful temblor set off landslides and building collapses in the remote region, destroying telecommunication lines and major highways. (See more pictures.)
Photograph by Stringer, Reuters
Victims of a collapsed textile factory in Bangladesh are captured in a final embrace in this haunting portrait taken in the aftermath of the April 2013 disaster near the capital city of Dhaka (map).
The deadliest garment-industry disaster in the country's history claimed more than 1,100 lives and led to protests by workers over poor pay and unsafe conditions. Shoddy construction is blamed for the collapse.
Photograph by Taslima Akhter
Wrapped in a shawl, a woman carries her baby through a sandstorm in Timbuktu on July 29. A World Heritage site, the ancient city in the desert of northern Mali was once a center of trade and learning and today is home to rare Islamic manuscripts that in 2013 came under threat from Islamist fighters. (Read about the destruction of Timbuktu's rare documents.)
Photograph by Joe Penney, Reuters
Hundreds of Typhoon Haiyan victims lie waiting to be registered and buried en masse near Tacloban, Philippines, in November 2013.
Photojournalist David Guttenfelder shared his images from the island nation on Instagram, capturing the devastation in Tacloban—hardest hit by the storm—and remote villages outside the city.
Dutch conceptual artist Florentijn Hofman's beloved "Rubber Duck" met an untimely end while afloat in Hong Kong's Victoria Harbour, where the traveling exhibit was installed in May. The 54-foot (16-meter) joy of joys needed to "freshen up," according to exhibition organizers, and was back in bright-yellow form within the month.
Photograph by Tyrone Siu, Reuters
Living That Fantasy
Britain's Prince William and his wife, the Duchess of Cambridge, pose with the newborn Prince George of Cambridge outside St. Mary's Hospital on July 23, a day after the royal heir's birth at the London hospital. The young prince, whose full name is George Alexander Louis, is third in line to the British throne. (See what's in a royal name.)
An Egyptian woman confronts a military bulldozer as a wounded youth lies on the ground during clashes between Egyptian security forces and supporters of deposed President Mohamed Morsi at a protest camp near a Cairo mosque on August 14.
Severed brown bear paws are laid out in the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region near the China-Russia border on June 15. Two Russian nationals were detained for smuggling more than 200 paws, according to a statement by Chinese customs authorities.
Prized in parts of China as a delicacy and for their alleged medicinal properties, the paws are worth about 2.8 million yuan, or nearly half a million dollars. Brown bears are on a state protection list in China, and hunting the animals or trading their body parts is illegal, according to Reuters.
Photograph by Stringer, Reuters
The charred fuselage of a Boeing 777 remains where it crashed during an attempted landing at San Francisco International Airport on July 6, killing three and injuring more than 180 who were aboard the Asiana Airlines flight from Seoul. The National Transportation Safety Board determined in its investigation that the pilot made an error setting the aircraft's throttle.
Photograph by Jed Jacobsohn, Reuters
A runner falls to the ground and Boston police officers react as the second of two explosions goes off near the finish line of the Boston Marathon on April 15. The attack killed three people and injured more than 260.
Bombing suspects Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and Tamerlan Tsarnaev, brothers of Chechen origin, were pursued and apprehended by police on April 19. Tamerlan died in one encounter, and Dzhokhar was later detained and has since been accused of planting the bombs. He is awaiting trial on multiple charges.
Photograph by John Tlumacki, The Boston Globe/AP
A Crack Politician
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford addresses media inquiries on October 31 regarding a Toronto police investigation into his use of crack cocaine. Ford admitted to having smoked the drug after Toronto police announced they had obtained video of his actions, according to the Associated Press.
The mayor, who resisted pressure to resign and has since been named Canada's Newsmaker of the Year by the Canadian Press, said he had been in a "drunken stupor."
Photograph by Mark Blinch, Reuters
Meteor contrails flash across the sky in the Ural Mountain city of Chelyabinsk, Russia, on February 13. The meteor blast, which topped 500 kilotons and glowed 30 times brighter than the sun, was the strongest to hit Earth in a century. The event injured about 1,500 people and damaged buildings, raining fragments across central Russia. (Find out why the meteor was a surprise for scientists.)
Photograph by Yekaterina Pustynnikova, Chelyabinsk.ru/AP
Tragedy in Syria
A man holds an infant who was among hundreds of victims of a chemical weapons attack in the rebel-held Damascus suburb of Ghouta in August. According to the Associated Press, the assault in the embattled Arab nation was one of what the U.N. says could be at least five chemical attacks carried out by the regime of Syrian President Bashar al Assad, which has denied involvement. ("Why Are Chemical Weapons Attacks Different?")
Photography by Bassam Khabieh, Reuters/Corbis
A child runs to safety during an assault on Nairobi's Westgate Mall by Somali gunmen on September 21. The siege lasted four days and left at least 67 dead and hundreds injured.