Days after shocking the world with its first nuclear test on 9 October, North Korea held a spectacular torchlight parade to mark a key anniversary for the ruling party.
Natural disasters again brought suffering. More than 6,200 people were killed and hundreds of thousands displaced when an earthquake struck Indonesia's island of Java in May.
And a man-made disaster brought misery to East Java, after a gas drilling accident caused thousands of tonnes of mud to spill out of the ground, submerging homes and villages.
Millions mourned the death of Australian naturalist Steve Irwin, who was killed by a stingray in September. His daughter Bindi spoke at his memorial service.
Prince Hisahito was born in September and became the first newborn male heir to the Japanese throne in 41 years - temporarily easing debate over the succession rules.
Fiji's military in December carried out a long-standing threat to overthrow the democratically-elected government, which it accused of corruption.
Thailand's military did the same a few months earlier. Despite some internal discontent over the coups in both Fiji and Thailand, neither was bloody.
People in Indonesia's Aceh province went to the polls in December for the first time since a 2005 peace deal. Observers hailed the vote a success.
The world's highest railway, from China to Tibet, opened in July. China called it a feat of engineering, but critics fear it will further undermine Tibetan culture.
And 48 Orang-utans who had allegedly been smuggled out of their native Borneo finally returned home in November. They had been found performing boxing matches at a Thai zoo.