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Iraq war, Indian Ocean tsunami seen as biggest events of 2005: survey
LONDON (AFP) Dec 30, 2005
The ongoing bloodshed Iraq and the devastating Indian Ocean tsunami were seen as the main global events of 2005, according to a poll published on Friday.

The survey of nearly 32,500 people in 27 countries also ranked the deadly US hurricanes and the death of Pope John Paul II as the incidents most likely to be remembered by history.

"Global citizens see 2005 mainly as a year of natural and man-made disasters," said Doug Miller, of the Canadian pollsters GlobeScan, which conducted the research for the BBC World Service.

The poll asked people what historians of the future would consider to be the most important event of global significance over the past 12 months.

The ongoing violence in Iraq, triggered by the US-led war in March 2003, was named by 15 percent of those questioned.

Some 43 percent of Iraqis cited the war, in contrast to just nine percent of people in Britain -- one of the countries that has deployed troops to Iraq.

While the tsunami struck on December 26, last year, it was still considered the one of the most significant events of 2005, drawing 15 percent of answers.

More than 220,000 people were killed and the lives of millions more were altered forever by the giant waves, unleashed by one of the world's largest-ever earthquakes which struck off the Indonesian island of Sumatra.

Respondents in the Asia-Pacific in particular regarded the tsunami as the most important event. It was named by 57 percent of people polled in Sri Lanka and 31 percent of Indonesians.

Katrina and Rita, the US hurricanes that devastated the US Gulf Coast in August and September, came in third, cited by nine percent of respondents overall.

But the percentage of people in the United States to name the hurricanes -- 15 percent -- was less than some other countries. Eighteen percent of respondents in both Afghanistan and Argentina cited the storms.

In fourth place, came the death of Pope John Paul II on April 2 and the inauguration of Pope Benedict XVI, attracting six percent of all answers.

The London bombings on July 7 that left 56 people dead, including four presumed Islamist suicide bombers, was regarded by four percent of people as the most significant event of the year.

Interestingly, a mere seven percent of respondents in Britain named the explosions on three subway trains and a bus.

It scored higher in other countries including Ghana, 11 percent, Australia, eight percent, and Spain, eight percent.

More generally, global warming was seen as the most prominent feature of 2005 by three percent of those surveyed.

The poll found that the grouping of natural disasters in 2005 -- such as floods, hurricanes and earthquakes -- accounted for 19 percent of all answers.

Steven Krull, director of the Program on International Policy Attitudes, which was involved in conducting the survey with GlobeScan, noted how similar people's views were in different parts of the world.

"The extent to which people in different countries perceive the same events as significant is a sign of how much the world has become globalised," he was quoted as saying on the BBC's website.

The poll questioned 32,439 people in 27 countries between October, November and December.

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