Fireworks and confetti herald 2012
Revellers erupted in cheers amid a confetti-filled celebration in New York's Times Square to welcome in the new year, part of star-studded celebrations and glittering fireworks displays around the world to usher in 2012.
From New Zealand to New York, the world eagerly welcomed a new year and hoped for a better future, saying goodbye to a year of hurricanes, tsunamis and economic turmoil that many would rather forget.
In New York, hundreds of thousands gathered at the crossroads of the world to witness a crystal ball with more than 30,000 lights descended at midnight.
Lady Gaga and Mayor Michael Bloomberg led the crowd in the final-minute countdown of the famed crystal-panelled ball drop.
Revellers in Australia, Asia, Europe and the South Pacific island nation of Samoa, which jumped across the international dateline to be first to celebrate, welcomed 2012 with booming pyrotechnic displays.
Fireworks soared and sparked over Moscow's Red Square, crowds on Paris' Champs-Elysees boulevard popped Champagne corks at midnight.
But many approached the new year with more relief than joy, as people battered by weather disasters, joblessness and economic uncertainty hoped the stroke of midnight would change their fortunes.
"It was a pretty tough year, but God was looking after us and I know 2012 has got to be better," said Kyralee Scott, 16, of New Jersey, whose father spent most of the year out of work.
Some New York revellers, wearing party hats and "2012" glasses, began camping out yesterday morning, even as workers readied bags stuffed with hundreds of balloons and technicians put coloured filters on lights.
The crowds cheered as workers lit the crystal-panelled ball that dropped at midnight 400 feet above the street. The sphere, now decorated with 3,000 Waterford crystal triangles, has been dropping to mark the new year since 1907, long before television made it a US tradition.