Claire Harbage

Updated at 6:47 a.m. ET

Pro-Trump extremists stormed Capitol Hill on Wednesday, halting the Electoral College certification and sending the U.S. Capitol into lockdown.

In a year dominated by the global COVID-19 pandemic, the virus' massive disruptions did not signal an end to other major events. Conflicts continued, resumed and broke out. Natural disasters upended lives. Attempts at peace bore some fruit. The Brexit transition continued. And around the world, protesters came into the streets to demand greater freedoms and an end to racial injustice.

Here is a look back at some of the key events that took place outside the United States and helped define this tumultuous year.

Photographer Madeline Gray moved to Kinston, N.C., in early 2018. As a teenager, Gray played on her high school's basketball team in rural Ohio. In Kinston, she found a chance to revisit that formative experience.

Gray spent over a year getting to know the girls basketball team at Kinston High School, following them to games, practices and through rites of passage that were interrupted this spring when Kinston High closed because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Thousands of mourners paid their respects to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg during the two days her casket rested at the top of the Supreme Court steps, including former President Bill Clinton, who nominated her to the high court in 1993, and President Trump.

On Friday, Ginsburg lay in state at the U.S. Capitol, the first woman and the first Jewish person to be given that honor in the nation's history.

Ginsburg, who died at the age of 87 from pancreatic cancer, was only the second woman to be nominated to the Supreme Court.

Cross the treeless, frozen tundra of southwest Alaska, over ice-covered lakes and ponds near the Bering Sea, and you'll find the first community in the U.S. counted for the 2020 census.

2019 has become known as a year of protest. But this year does not exist in isolation: Protests have been emblematic of the entire past decade.

The 2010s began with the Arab Spring and Occupy protests, and are ending with a swell of anti-government demonstrations in India, Iraq, Lebanon, Hong Kong, Latin America, parts of Europe and beyond. The middle years likewise were marked by major protests on multiple continents, from Iran to Ukraine, South Korea, Zimbabwe and Greece.

The quiet of the late-winter morning is interrupted by a staccato of gunshots.

"Military drills," shrugs Kim Seung-ho, 58, the director of the DMZ Ecology Research Institute, a nonprofit organization that does research on the wildlife in the Demilitarized Zone, or DMZ, which is the border area between North and South Korea. A thick blanket of fog seeps over the forested hills on this late-winter morning as Kim stands, searching the horizon for birds, on the bank of the Imjin River just north of Paju, South Korea.

Editor's note: This story was updated on Dec. 3.

On an average day at the National Butterfly Center, a 100-acre wildlife center and botanical garden in South Texas, visitors can see 100 different species and as many as 200,000 individual butterflies.

The center also sits directly in the path of the Trump administration's proposed border wall.