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Britannica Year in Review. A retrospective of the year's biggest stories!

A benefit of Britannica’s being online is that we can regularly add and update articles whenever we need to, instead of having to wait until a new edition is published. This year, just like the ones before it, Britannica editors were hard at work creating new entries and expanding the breadth of topics covered in our encyclopedia. Take a look below at a collection of new entries on subjects ranging from notable individuals who won Nobel Prizes in 2019 to important topics such as the Columbian Exchange, the American colonies, and more.

Art and Media

Captain Marvel

American comic strip superhero created by writer Stan Lee and artist Gene Colan for Marvel Comics. The character debuted in Marvel Super-Heroes no. 12 in December 1967. The role of Captain Marvel would be filled by many heroes over subsequent years, most notably by the Kree warrior Mar-Vell and U.S. Air Force officer Carol Danvers.


Fictional entity created by fantasy-horror writer H.P. Lovecraft and introduced in his story “The Call of Cthulhu,” first published in the magazine Weird Tales in 1928

Studio Ghibli

Acclaimed Japanese animation film studio that was founded in 1985 by animators and directors Miyazaki Hayao and Takahata Isao and producer Suzuki Toshio


Juan Guaidó

Venezuelan politician and leader of the National Assembly who declared himself the interim president of Venezuela on January 23, 2019, claiming that the constitution justified his action because the allegedly fraudulent 2018 election of Nicolás Maduro had left the country without a president

Mumtaz Mahal

Wife of Shah Jahān, Mughal emperor of India (1628–58). Having died at a young age only a few years into her husband’s reign, her memory inspired the construction of the Taj Mahal, where she is entombed.

Kurt Russell

American actor who became a child star in the 1960s, appearing in a number of Disney films, and then transitioned to a successful career as a leading man, perhaps best known for his action dramas


Indian musician and poet who was an important figure in the North Indian tradition of Hindustani classical music

Mohammed bin Salman

Member of the Saudi royal family who served as minister of defense (2015– ) and crown prince of Saudi Arabia (2017– ). In October 2018 Mohammed orchestrated the extrajudicial killing abroad of Jamal Khashoggi, a prominent journalist and exiled government critic who once served as an adviser and aide to a Saudi ambassador.

Simon Armitage

British poet, playwright, and novelist whose poetry is attuned to modern life and vernacular language and has been regarded as both accessible and revelatory. In 2019 Armitage became poet laureate of Britain.

David Blackwell

American statistician and mathematician who made significant contributions to game theory, probability theory, information theory, and Bayesian statistics and who broke racial barriers when he was named (1965) the first African American member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences

Volodomyr Zelensky

Ukrainian actor and comedian who was elected president of Ukraine in 2019

William G. Kaelin, Jr.

American scientist known for his studies of tumour suppressor genes and proteins and for his role in identifying the molecular mechanisms that allow cells to sense and adapt to changes in oxygen levels. Kaelin was a cowinner of the 2019 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine.

Peter J. Ratcliffe

British physician and scientist known for his research into the regulation of erythropoietin, a hormone that stimulates red blood cell production in response to low blood oxygen levels, and for his research into the mechanisms cells use to sense oxygen. Ratcliffe was a cowinner of the 2019 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine.

Michel Mayor

Swiss astronomer who was awarded the 2019 Nobel Prize for Physics for his discovery with Swiss astronomer Didier Queloz of the first known extrasolar planet orbiting a Sun-like star

Didier Queloz

Swiss astronomer who was awarded the 2019 Nobel Prize for Physics for his discovery with Swiss astronomer Michel Mayor of the first known extrasolar planet orbiting a Sun-like star

Gregg L. Semenza

American physician and scientist known for his investigations of how cells use and regulate oxygen and for his discovery of hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF), a molecule that is activated by reduced oxygen availability in cells and that plays a critical role in enabling cells to survive in certain disease states. Semenza was a cowinner of the 2019 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine.

Olga Tokarczuk

Polish writer who was known for her wry and complex novels that leap between centuries, places, perspectives, and mythologies. She received the 2018 Nobel Prize for Literature (awarded belatedly in 2019).

James Peebles

Canadian-born American physicist who was awarded the 2019 Nobel Prize for Physics for his work on physical cosmology

John B. Goodenough

American physicist who won the 2019 Nobel Prize for Chemistry for his work on developing lithium-ion batteries

M. Stanley Whittingham

British-born American chemist who won the 2019 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his work in developing lithium-ion batteries

Yoshino Akira

Japanese chemist who won the 2019 Nobel Prize for Chemistry for his work in developing lithium-ion batteries

Abiy Ahmed

Ethiopian politician who became prime minister of Ethiopia in 2018. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace in 2019 for his efforts toward attaining peace and international cooperation, particularly for his work to end his country’s long-running border dispute with neighbouring Eritrea.

William Barr

American lawyer and government official who served as attorney general of the United States during the administrations of Presidents George H.W. Bush (1991–93) and Donald Trump (2019– )

Current Events

Paris Agreement

International treaty, named for the city of Paris, France, in which it was adopted in December 2015, which aimed to reduce the emission of gases that contribute to global warming. The Paris Agreement set out to improve upon and replace the Kyoto Protocol, an earlier international treaty designed to curb the release of greenhouse gases.

Department of Commerce v. New York

Legal case in which the U.S. Supreme Court on June 27, 2019, reversed in part, affirmed in part, and remanded the judgment of a federal district court in New York that had vacated a decision by the U.S. secretary of commerce, Wilbur Ross, to add a U.S. citizenship question to the 2020 decennial census form



Capital of the province of Kabul and of Afghanistan


Constituent emirate of the United Arab Emirates


Also called Muslim Spain. Muslim kingdom that occupied much of the Iberian Peninsula from 711 CE until the collapse of the Spanish Umayyad dynasty in the early 11th century

Babri Masjid

Mosque in Ayodhya, Uttar Pradesh, India


American colonies

The 13 British colonies that were established during the 17th and early 18th centuries in what is now a part of the eastern United States

Charlie Hebdo shooting

Series of terrorist attacks that shook France in January 2015, claiming the lives of 17 people, including 11 journalists and security personnel at the Paris offices of Charlie Hebdo, a satiric magazine

Battle of Antietam

In the American Civil War (1861–65), a decisive engagement that halted the Confederate invasion of Maryland, an advance that was regarded as one of the greatest Confederate threats to Washington, D.C.

financial crisis of 2007–08

Severe contraction of liquidity in global financial markets that originated in the United States as a result of the collapse of the U.S. housing market


The armed forces of the Third Reich. The three primary branches of the Wehrmacht were the Heer (army), Luftwaffe (air force), and Kriegsmarine (navy).

Second Battle of Bull Run

In the American Civil War, the second of two engagements fought at a small stream named Bull Run, near Manassas in northern Virginia

Great Recession

The global recession in 2008 and 2009 following the subprime mortgage crisis that originated in the United States during the fall of 2007

Reiwa period

In Japan, the imperial reign period that began on May 1, 2019, following the abdication of Emperor Akihito and the elevation of his son Naruhito to the Chrysanthemum Throne

Empire of Japan

Historical Japanese empire founded on January 3, 1868, when supporters of the emperor Meiji overthrew Yoshinobu, the last Tokugawa shogun

Scientific Revolution

A drastic change in scientific thought that took place during the 16th and 17th centuries. A new view of nature emerged during the Scientific Revolution, replacing the Greek view that had dominated science for almost 2,000 years.

Japanese American internment in pictures

On February 19, 1942, U.S. Pres. Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, giving the U.S. military the authority to exclude any persons from designated areas. The federal War Relocation Authority detained approximately 120,000 Japanese Americans in 10 camps for varying periods between 1942 and 1945.

D-Day in pictures

After a prolonged naval and aerial bombardment of German defenses on the Channel coast of France and the Low Countries, the Allied invasion of Normandy began in the early morning hours of June 6, 1944.

World War II: The horror of war in pictures

The deadliest and most destructive war in human history claimed some 40–50 million lives, displaced tens of millions of people, and cost more than $1 trillion to prosecute.

Russian Provisional Government

An internationally recognized government of Russia for a portion of 1917 that was formed by the Duma after the collapse of the Romanov dynasty

the fall of Constantinople

The dwindling Byzantine Empire came to an end in 1453 when the Ottomans, led by Sultan Mehmed II, breached the ancient land wall of Constantinople (present-day Istanbul) after besieging the city for 55 days.

Battle of Nashville

Taking place on December 15–16, 1864, an American Civil War engagement in which Confederate Lieut. Gen. John B. Hood attempted, unsuccessfully, to retake the Tennessee capitol from an occupying Federal army, despite having a significant numerical disadvantage

Great Smog of London

For five days in December 1952, a lethal smog, caused by a combination of industrial pollution and high-pressure weather conditions, covered London. This combination of smoke and fog brought the city to a near standstill and resulted in thousands of deaths.

Wounded Knee Massacre

The slaughter of approximately 150–300 Lakota Indians by United States Army troops on December 29, 1890, in southwestern South Dakota. The massacre was the climax of the U.S. Army’s late 19th-century efforts to repress the Plains Indians.

Anglo-Zanzibar War

The shortest war in recorded history took place on August 27, 1896, and lasted no longer than 40 minutes. It was a brief conflict between the British Empire and the East African island sultanate of Zanzibar.

Battle of Tenochtitlán

A military engagement that took place May 22–August 13, 1521, between the Aztecs and a coalition of Spanish and indigenous combatants, resulting in a victory that destroyed the Aztec empire and began the conquistadors’ consolidation of control over what became the colony of New Spain

Lindisfarne raid

A Viking assault in 793 on the island of Lindisfarne, where a monastery that was the preeminent centre of Christianity in the kingdom of Northumbria was located, sent tremors throughout English Christendom and marked the beginning of the Viking Age in Europe.

British raj

The period of direct British rule over the Indian subcontinent from 1858 until the independence of India and Pakistan in 1947

Columbian Exchange

The largest part of a more general process of biological globalization that followed the transoceanic voyaging of the 15th and 16th centuries, particularly in the wake of Christopher Columbus’s voyages that began in 1492

Victorian era

The period in British history between approximately 1820 and 1914, corresponding roughly but not exactly to the period of Queen Victoria’s reign (1837–1901) and characterized by a class-based society, a growing number of people able to vote, a growing state and economy, and Britain’s status as the most powerful empire in the world


café cubano

Also called cafecito or Cuban espresso, this is a type of espresso originating in Cuba that has been sweetened with demerara sugar during brewing and is typically made with dark-roasted finely ground coffee beans.


Any of a variety of protective eyewear set in a flexible frame that sits snugly against the face



Refers to a group of mysterious beings or people of unusually large size and strength who lived both before and after the Flood, mentioned in the Hebrew Bible. In Hebrew, nefilim is sometimes directly translated as “giants” or taken to mean “the fallen ones,” but the identity of the Nephilim is debated by scholars.


A member of the smaller of the two major branches of Islam, the Shi?ah, distinguished from the majority Sunnis


Florida panther

A member of a small, isolated, and inbred population of large New World cats in southern Florida that are the only breeding group of pumas in the eastern United States. The Florida panther is recognized as the state animal of Florida and was one of the first animals listed under the Endangered Species Act when the law first passed in 1973.

Dunning-Kruger effect

In psychology, this is the cognitive bias whereby people with limited knowledge or competence in a given intellectual or social domain greatly overestimate their own knowledge or competence in that domain relative to others.

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