A Look Back at the Major Events That Changed the World in 2022

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Updated on: Educator Review By: Michelle Connolly

For two crazy years, humanity was fighting an invisible enemy that wreaked havoc on the entire world. We have seen how the coronavirus shut down businesses, suspended domestic and international flights, and stranded thousands of overseas travellers, and above all, killed over five million people worldwide.

So everyone was hoping for some kind of compensation in 2022. And many reasons evoked that hope. For instance, covid was receding. Many people could survive the symptoms after taking the vaccine. Besides, everyone was excited about the World Cup.

Everyone hoped the world would go back to its normal cycle.

But how truly was 2022? Did it provide the compensation the world was waiting for? Did it bring along peace and happiness? Or was it as harsh as the previous two? 

Well, 2022 was like any other year, full of good, not-so-good, and bad events. Besides global politics witnessing major changes, many other significant events took place and changed the shape of the world.

So let’s have a look back at the year 2022.

1. January: Another covid variant? Did we not have enough already?

As complicated as they are, viruses change their faces pretty quickly and manipulatively. Well, their only job is to infect and change the formation of other living things. This idea, in itself, does not make viruses, microbes, and harmful bacteria evil. This is just what they do, but it just happens to be bad for us. 


With the widespread use of vaccines, the world started to recover from covid in 2021. But by the end of that year, another covid variant, omicron, popped up. Soon enough, it started sweeping the entire world at a much higher pace than covid, infecting millions and millions of people.

At first, scientists could not tell how severe omicron was compared to covid. But it reports the same symptoms. These include cough, shortened breaths, fever, fatigue, loss of smell and taste, headaches, diarrhoea, and vomiting.

Symptoms ranged between light, mild, and severe. Unfortunately, many patients did not survive and died.

To protect oneself from getting an omicron infection, scientists advise people to get vaccinated. The developed covid vaccines are proven to work well against omicron and any other covid variant.

In addition, people should keep a physical distance of 1.5-2 metres, wear masks, and avoid being in crowded places. They must also wash their hands with soap for at least 20 seconds.

2. February: Did Russia just declare war on Ukraine? 

For those who are into politics, such a war was kind of expected. For the rest of the world, it was a surprise, much like a slap of the face.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine, in fact, did not happen overnight. It was instead a spontaneous consequence of the conflicts between the two countries in the last decade. Yet, to understand that, we need to go as far back as the early 1990s.

The Soviet Union was formed in 1922. It was a super large country made of 15 republics,, all of which were under one government. In 1991, the Soviet Union collapsed. So all the 15 united nations became independent, with each having its own government.

It seems like Russia could not accept the separation of Ukraine especially. And ever since 1991, it has claimed Ukraine was a historical as well as a cultural part of it.

This, as well as other deeply complicated political reasons, made Russia invade Ukraine on 24 February 2022 in the hopes of officially annexing it.

As of January 2023, the Russia-Ukraine war is still going on. For almost a year, millions of Ukrainian citizens were forced to flee their country and seek refuge in other European countries. Thousands of Ukrainian as well as Russian troops were also killed and many cities were destroyed.

This war has also caused the global economy to deteriorate. Many basic food supplies which Ukraine used to export were shortened. So food prices skyrocketed. Besides, gas prices have gone very high. This war did not just affect the two fighting countries but literally the rest of the world.

When will this war come to an end? Will the world survive that recession any time soon? Nobody knows.

3. March: What is happening to you, Sri Lanka?

One of the harshest consequences of the Russia-Ukraine war could be seen in Sri Lanka. 

As the country’s economy worsened with the high food and gas prices, the Sri Lankans could not afford their basic needs and severely suffered. But the government did nothing to improve the situation.

Soon enough, the suffering turned into rage. So on 15 March 2022, major protests started taking the country by storm, demanding the president resign.

Unfortunately, the Sri Lankan government did not welcome the protests with open arms nor promised to make effective changes. Instead, it arrested the protesters and opened fire at them. It also imposed curfews and banned social media so as to stop the protesters from communicating with one another.

However, the demonstrations continued nationwide up until July 2022. That was when the protestors attacked the president’s house, forcing him to flee the country. By 20 July 2022, a new president had been elected and started making obvious efforts to improve the economic situation, which it did.

As a result, the demonstrations settled down.

4. April: Macron is president, again.

He is not only the youngest man to become President of France but also the only president in 20 years to be elected again for a second term.

Emmanuel Macron was only 39 when he won the French presidential elections back in 2017. He served a term of four years. Then decided to run again for president. To win the elections, he had to compete with Lawyer and Politician Marine Le Pen.

As 58.5% of the French voted for him, Macron was re-elected as the President of France.

5. May: A deep look into the heart of our Milky Way

The universe is in constant rotation. Small objects revolve around other bigger objects. These, in turn, revolve around other massive objects.

Our Solar System, along with other nearby star systems, revolve around a super colossal dead star called a black hole. All together form the Milky Way galaxy.

In February 1974, Astronomers Bruce Balick and Robert Brown discovered that black hole and called it Sagittarius A*. It is 25,640 light-years far—one light-year equals 9.46 trillion kilometres. You do the maths.

Interestingly, NASA’s advanced Event Horizon Telescope could capture a picture of Sagittarius A*, and it was revealed to the world in May 2022.

6. June: Earth’s shortest day ever?

One earthly day has 24 hours. This is the duration the Earth takes to rotate once around its axis. If the Earth speeds up or slows down, the day length will change accordingly.

Scientists realised that our planet has been speeding up thanks to the climatic changes it has been undergoing. As a result, the Earth is finishing the rotation in less time.

So the day of 29 June 2022 was the shortest recorded day ever. It was 1.6 milliseconds under 24 hours! Well, to us, the public, this change is almost nothing. But for scientists, it is huge.

7. July: A telescope-shaped time machine

July of 2022 witnessed a massive leap in technology as well as our knowledge about the universe. And that is all thanks to the James Webb Space Telescope.

The James Webb Space Telescope, or JWST, is a substantial joint project developed by NASA, the European Space Agency, and the Canadian Space Agency. It took these organisations up to 30 years to build that giant (and super expensive) telescope.

One reason why it took that long is related to the telescope’s location in space. As NASA intended to place it 1.5 million kilometres away from the Earth, they had to ensure that everything operated flawlessly. In case anything went wrong, there was no way to bring the telescope back or travel that far to fix it.

What also makes the JWST so unique is the fact that it can go back in time to see how the universe first formed!

To understand how the JWST does that, we need to look into a few facts about our miraculous universe.

Light is a form of energy. This energy has an infinite lifetime and travels forever. But the universe constantly expands, and so do the distances between stars and galaxies. Consequently, light expands as well.

The expansion of a light wave is known as redshifting. When the light wave is stretched, its wavelength increases and frequency decreases. As a result, it turns red.

So the light emitted from billion-years-old stars has been travelling incredibly long distances. As a result, it was redshifted, and its frequency became very low. Yes, you have guessed it. The JWST can detect such a low frequency.

Ever since it was launched on 25 December 2021 until mid-July 2022, the JWST has been capturing redshifted light waves. After assembling these waves, NASA revealed a stunning three-dimensional picture. This picture shows the birth of a star that happened billions of years ago.

8. August: The hero to the West and traitor to the East died

As mentioned a few paragraphs ago, the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991. Right before this happened, Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev played a significant part in ending the Cold War with the US. That is why he is remembered in the West pretty much as a peace preacher.

On the other hand, a large percentage of the Russians disliked him since he was the one who allowed the dissolution of the Soviet Union.

On 30 August 2022, at the age of 91, Gorbachev died from lung disease.

9. September: The world says goodbye to Queen Elizabeth II

On September 8, 2022, at the age of 96, Queen Elizabeth II, the Queen of the United Kingdom and the 56 countries under the commonwealth, passed away.

Queen Elizabeth was crowned on 2 June 1953. Throughout her long life, she had seen the world change shape many, many times, from the destruction of Europe during World War II and the long Cold War between the US and the Soviet Union to the independence of many countries of the British Empire.

Queen Elizabeth II was succeeded by her eldest 74-year-old son, King Charles.

10. October: How long was Liz Truss in office, did you say?

The year 2022 was especially chaotic for the Brits who had to change their prime ministers three times in just one year. After Boris Johnson resigned in July 2022, Liz Truss was elected but only to quit after just seven weeks.

So why did this happen?

Well, it all goes back to the instability in the country ever since the majority of the British people voted to leave the European Union in 2019.

At the time, Theresa May, the prime minister, was already supporting the remaining of the UK in the EU. This made her encounter many difficulties trying to reach a good withdrawal agreement with the EU. But, she failed. This made her step down in mid-2019.

Then Boris Johnson was asked by the Queen herself to form a new government and become the new prime minister. Unfortunately, Johnson was not any luckier than May. 

Once he was in office, Johnson faced the coronavirus outbreak, which led to many economic difficulties. The inflation rate also increased. And when Russia invaded Ukraine, the cost of living in the UK rose to incredible rates.

All those problems apparently made Johnson wearier than to face them. So he resigned in July 2022.

Jonson was succeeded by Liz Truss in September 2022. She promised to do her best to deal with the economic challenges. To keep her promise, Truss made a series of decisions to reform the British economy. Yet, these decisions apparently went too far and did not help much.

Consequently, Truss faced opposition, and many demanded she step down. 

On 20 October 2022, Truss resigned only after seven weeks to become the shortest-serving PM in the history of the country.

11. November: We hit 8 billion.

On 15 November 2022, the world population became 8 billion with the birth of Filipino baby Vinice Mabansag.

Less than a century ago, the global population was just 2.5 billion. Our numbers have been growing incredibly fast. The birth rate is increasing while the death rate is dramatically decreasing. This is thanks to the development of medicine and disease survival rates.

In addition, fewer kids are dying compared to before. That means they grow up to the age of marrying. People are also now more eager to look for better life circumstances. This is best represented by moving to new cities or countries.

12. December: Argentina wins the World Cup.

Aside from everything we mentioned so far, the year 2022 could not have ended with a more thrilling event than Argentina winning the World Cup. Although they lost their very first match against Saudi Arabia, Argentina went on to win every other game they played in the tournament, including that insane final against France.

Argentina won the World Cup for the first time in 1978 and then again in 1986. But since then, they have been struggling to secure that glamorous victory again. They did reach the World Cup final twice, in 1990 and 2014. But in both matches, they lost to Germany 0-1.

This year, Argentina seemed incredibly single-minded: We are going to win this World Cup no matter what.

And they did.

What was also exciting about such an achievement is that it was the last World Cup appearance for Lionel Messi, the world’s best and most talented football player to billions of fans.

Let’s recap

And here we get to the end of our journey in which we looked back at some of the important events that occurred in 2022.

The first quarter of the year was quite unexpected, from the spread of omicron and the outbreak of the Russia-Ukraine war to the crazy riot in Sri Lanka, which forced the president to flee the country.

The second quarter, however, was an earned break. While France re-elected Macron for a second term, NASA was preparing to show the world what the black hole in the centre of the Milky Way looks like. The first half of 2022 ended with marking Earth‘s shortest day ever.

The second half of 2022 came along with both exciting and sad events. We saw pictures of old stars captured by the James Webb Space Telescope. In August and September, Mikhail Gorbachev and Queen Elizabeth II passed away. Liz Truss, the UK’s prime minister, also resigned in October.

Before the end of 2022, the world population hit 8 billion, and Argentina won the World Cup after a thrilling match with France.

We hope you found this article interesting as much as we loved writing it for you. You can still learn a lot about the world by visiting the World Around Us page on our website.

And until another episode, keep learning and stay safe.

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