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Looking back at 2009

Boston.com’s The Big Picture takes a wide-ranging look at 2009 and although there is plenty that could be said about these end-of-year photo reflections, really I was just struck by a strange combination of hope and despair.

Korea

A North Korean woman carries water she collected from the Yalu River in the North Korean city of Hyesan, which borders China’s Changbai county, April 6, 2009. (REUTERS/Reinhard Krause)

Pakistan

A young girl and her dog looks out from a vehicle as she and her family wait for security clearance at a checkpoint on the outskirt of Bannu, a town on edge of the Pakistani tribal region of Waziristan, Thursday, Oct. 22, 2009 as they flee a military offensive in South Waziristan. Pakistani troops and the Taliban fought fierce battles in Waziristan, a militant sanctuary near the Afghan border, with both sides claiming early victories in an army campaign that could shape the future of the country’s battle against extremism. (AP Photo/Ijaz Muhammad)

Honduras

Supporters of ousted Honduras’ President Manuel Zelaya clash with soldiers near the presidential residency Tegucigalpa, Monday, June 29. 2009. Police fired tear gas to hold back thousands of Hondurans outside the occupied presidential residency as world leaders from Barack Obama to Hugo Chavez appealed to Honduras to reinstate Zelaya as president. (AP Photo/Esteban Felix)

Pakistan

Pakistani men pray next to a bullet-ridden vehicle parked in the compound of radical Lal Masjid or Red mosque as the chief cleric Maulana Abdul Aziz, not seen, talks to his supporters during Friday prayers, in Islamabad, Pakistan, on April 17, 2009. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)

India

A Hindu woman devotee offers prayers after taking a holy dip in the waters of river Ganga in the northern Indian city of Allahabad May 4, 2009. (REUTERS/Jitendra Prakash)

Kazakhstan

A hunter holds his hawk during an annual hunting competition in Chengelsy Gorge, some 150 km (93 miles) east of Almaty, Kazakhstan on December 5, 2009. (REUTERS/Shamil Zhumatov)

China

Fishermen row a boat in the algae-filled Chaohu Lake in Hefei, Anhui province, China on June 19, 2009. China invested 51 billion yuan ($7.4 billion) towards the construction of 2,712 projects for the treatment of eight rivers and lakes in 2009, Xinhua News Agency reported. (REUTERS/Jianan Yu)

India

A leopard walks with a tranquilizer dart hanging from its neck, in the residential area of Jyotikuchi in Guwahati, the capital city of the northeastern state of Assam, India on March 15, 2009. Three people were mauled by the leopard after the cat strayed into the city before it was tranquilized by forestry department officials. The full grown male leopard was wandering through a part of the densely populated city when curious crowds startled the animal, a wildlife official said. (BIJU BORO/AFP/Getty Images)

China

Thousands of scrapped taxis are abandoned at a yard in the center of Chongqing city on March 4, 2009. Traffic congestion and pollution have worsened dramatically in Chinese cities as the country’s long-running economic expansion has allowed increasing numbers of consumers to make big-ticket purchases such as cars. (STR/AFP/Getty Images)

Indonesia

A mental patient named Totok reacts as he is given a shower at the Galuh foundation house in East Bekasi, outskirt of Jakarta, Indonesia on October 23, 2009. The Galuh foundation house has housed more than 285 underprivileged mental patients since it was founded in 1982 by Gendu Mulatip. (REUTERS/Beawiharta)