28/12/2013 17:43 GMT | Updated 27/02/2014 05:59 GMT

The Year That Was: 2013

It was the year of twerking and selfies, of Royal babies and Wimbledon wins, but befitting its numerals, 2013 also had more than its fair share of tragedy and mourning.

As we look towards 2014, with a sense of optimism and hope, cast your mind back to the events and people that defined the passing year...

From the Homs massacre of more than 100 back in January, to the chemical-weapons attack in August, Syria's bloody civil war has cast its dark shadow over too many weeks of this year, with the number of refugees continuing to rise at an unprecedented rate. The haunting photographs of rows and rows of young children bundled into body bags are as harrowing as those showing the freezing conditions of the camps along Syria's borders.

No less tragic were the storms and typhoons which battered the globe this year. It will be years before the Philippines recovers from Typhoon Haiyan, which touched down in November, leaving more than 5,900 dead at the last count, and nearly 2,000 still missing and unaccounted for.

In Kenya, religious divides were played out in the Westgate shopping mall, with Islamist extremists holding shoppers captive for four days during September. The violence made heroes of some, as locals risked their lives to help young children and their parents escape, but still left 67 dead and 200 injured.

Months earlier, similar scenes had been played out in very different surroundings, as militants took more than 800 hostage at an Algerian gas complex. After soldiers stormed the complex, 70 lives were lost, including six Brits.

On the streets of London, the ugly face of religious extremism was embodied by Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale, who killed British army fusilier Lee Rigby on 22 May, and saw justice served in December when both were found guilty of murder.

In the US, President Obama started the year on a high note, celebrating his inauguration surrounded by high-profile supporters and celebrities, but it is pretty safe to say he'll be pleased to see the back of 2013. From the government shutdown of the autumn, to the horror that was the Boston marathon bombing, there has been little to celebrate in the White House this year.

Back at home, as the Coalition began its inevitable bumpy downward slide towards the next general election, energy prices, immigration and horse meat dominated the headlines. And then of course there were David Cameron's swimming shorts...

In a battle for fame between Miley Cyrus and Pope Francis, it's hard to say who won this year. Miley might have spawned a global debate about feminism, exploitation and twerking (not to mention a million raunchy Halloween costumes), but for sheer impact she came a poor runner-up to the man once known as Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio. Crowned Time magazine's Person of the Year, the Pope has won fans across the world, not to mention religions, with his seemingly modern take on Catholicism.

No less notorious than the princess of twerking, Edward Snowdon made 2013 his own - albeit for very different reasons. Having kick-started a worldwide conversation about privacy and freedom of speech, his actions also saw Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger dragged in front of a Parliamentary select committee and accused of treason, while Putin used the whole affair - and the safe harbor of Snowdon - to further rile President Obama.

We said goodbye this year to Nelson Mandela and Margaret Thatcher, as well as Lou Reed and Iain Banks, but hello to Prince George Alexander Louis of Cambridge and the future face of the British monarchy.

Happy 2014 all; let's hope it's a positive one.