THE events of September 11 cast a giant shadow over 2001. The images of jets crashing into the World Trade Center before the giant twin towers collapsed, killing 3000 innocents, transfixed the entire planet.
In the aftermath, the faces of George Bush and Osama bin Laden became permanent fixtures in newspapers and on TV screens - one struggling to digest the enormity of the outrage, the other gloating as he admitted responsibility.
But there were many others who made a significant impact in the past year. Here is our selection of the people who helped shape 2001:
OSAMA BIN LADEN
PUBLIC Enemy Number One, wanted by the USA - dead or alive. The 44-year-old terror chief has a pounds 20million bounty on his head. Sporting a greying beard and dressed in army fatigues, he released flickering home videos with messages for the West and his followers.
In the most sickening, the softly-spoken Saudi exile smirked while talking about the September 11 attacks.
He grinned: "The brothers were overjoyed when the first plane hit the building."
With his Taliban backers routed in Afghanistan and his al-Qaeda network in tatters, time is running out for Osama, who may even be dead already.
GEORGE W. BUSH
THE new US president looked like a startled rabbit caught in a car's headlights on September 11, when he spent most of the day on board Air Force One and told America he would hunt down the "folks" responsible.
But he quickly regained his poise and used diplomacy to build and lead a coalition against terrorism.
Bush, 55, and his war cabinet persisted in a bombing campaign in Afghanistan and brought the Taliban to its knees within two months.
THE Prime Minister established himself as America's closest ally and embarked on several shuttle-diplomacy missions across Europe, Asia and the Middle East.
Months earlier, he had led Labour to a resounding victory in one of the most predictable - and boring - General Election campaigns in decades. But the Afghan conflict turned Blair into a true world statesman.
At a shortened Labour conference, he promised richer nations could no longer ignore the plight of the poor.
The 48-year-old is hugely popular in the United States for standing shoulder-to-shoulder with their president.
TOUGH-TALKING US Secretary of Defence has ditched political correctness in his War On Terrorism press conferences, admitting he does not care if Osama bin Laden is captured dead or alive.
The 69-year-old former navy pilot has been a rock in the Bush administration, consistently hitting back at criticism of the Afghan bombing campaign. He has played a hawk to US Secretary of State Colin Powell's dove.
AMID the smoking ruins of the World Trade Center, a legend was born. Mayor Giuliani, 55, rallied his city with his repeated visits to the disaster site and his show of defiance and humanity amid the appalling carnage.
New Yorkers now regard him as the Big Apple's Winston Churchill. His bravery and compassion earned him a knighthood from the Queen.
Before stepping down from the post at the end of his term of office, he refused a $10m donation from a Saudi prince who had criticised US policy in the Middle East.
QUOTE of the year belongs to Scotland's outgoing First Minister, Henry McLeish, who claimed his failure to declare to Westminster that he had been sub-letting his Glenrothes office was a "muddle, not a fiddle".
With the affair taking a toll on his private life, McLeish, 53, shocked the nation with his resignation.
His short reign as First Minister had been marred by verbal gaffes and political misjudgment. He was even caught on tape calling Northern Ireland Secretary John Reid a "patronising bastard".
SCOTLAND'S new First Minister quickly showed why he has been nicknamed Jack The Lad. …