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Page last updated at 10:47 GMT, Wednesday, 9 December 2009

What were the key events of the decade?

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As we enter the last few weeks of the 2000s, the Magazine is asking readers to tell the story of the last 10 years, based on five themes. Tim Footman, author of a book about the Noughties, recalls some of the decade's significant news stories.

The decade was defined by two events that occurred seven years and a few blocks apart.

The attacks on the World Trade Center in New York on 11 September 2001, killed nearly 3,000 people and directly affected many more. They also led to a chain of events that altered the lives of hundreds of thousands in Afghanistan and Iraq, Bali and Madrid, London and Mumbai, and throughout the world.

Portrait of the Decade logo
We want readers to help us to create a portrait of the decade
Each day this week we focus on a different theme - words , people , news stories , objects and culture
Readers can make their suggestions using the form below
Try to be original
It is not a vote - an expert will pick 20 in each category
The final 100 things about the Noughties will be revealed on Monday, 14 December
An artist will illustrate them on a colour poster for readers

The collapse of Lehman Brothers on 15 September 2008 showed just how serious the financial crisis was, and symbolised the precarious nature of the economics that had underpinned material prosperity during the Noughties.

That said, the sight of stunned employees carrying away their cardboard boxes didn't encourage us to look any more kindly upon bankers.

But isn't that a very Western perspective? After all, far more people - about 230,000 - died in the Indian Ocean tsunami on 26 December 2004 than perished on 9/11.

Do we in the West disregard that catastrophe, and Cyclone Nargis in Burma, and the Bam earthquake in Iran, because they didn't happen in New York?

Depending where you are in the world, did the assassination of Benazir Bhutto in Pakistan have more impact on your life, or East Timor finally achieving independence? Cyprus joining the EU, or the retirement of Fidel Castro in Cuba?

Maybe you ignored politics altogether, and the big news event of the decade was Lance Armstrong winning his seventh Tour de France, the Led Zeppelin reunion, the end of Concorde or the arrival of the final Harry Potter book?


The contributions are now closed

We will publish a list of 20 of your news stories of the decade on Monday

The emotional impact of Michael Jackson's death transcended geography, culture and age, although the compulsively weird spectacle of his funeral was a real only-in-America moment.

To identify the really big stories, we have to consider not just the interest they generated, but how much real impact they had on people's lives; although in some cases the jury will still be out as we enter 2010.

Debate continues to rage over whether global warming is the single biggest threat to life on earth, or whether the Copenhagen Climate Summit will turn out to be a lot of fuss over nothing.

It may be too early to say whether the stuttering launch of the Large Hadron Collider or the election of President Obama will turn out to be false dawns. By contrast, the election of George W Bush eight years before was more like a false start; the closeness of the Florida vote - the so-called "hanging chads" controversy - delayed the final decision for weeks.

Tim Footman
Tim Footman is the author of The Noughties: a Decade That Changed the World (Crimson Publishing), as well as books about Leonard Cohen and Radiohead. He has also written for The Guardian, Prospect and Mojo

The same fears were raised about the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, but it lived up to expectations, and not only as a sporting spectacle; the event showed the extent to which China had been welcomed as a truly global power, with an economic heft that outweighed the private qualms that many governments had about its human rights record.

But I've got a hunch that one of the really big stories of the decade went all but unreported at the time.

The launch of Wikipedia, on 15 January 2001 represented a fundamental shift in the hierarchy of information.

Along with Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, blogs and the other manifestation of Web 2.0, it meant that the final judgement as to what was significant would never again be left to a self-appointed elite of media professionals.

The nature of news itself is changing. What were the big events of the Noughties? You tell me, and that, in the long run, may turn out to be the biggest change of all.

We have now stopped accepting your suggestions, but thanks to all who have contributed. The series continues all week and the Portrait of the Decade will be published on Monday

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