The Independent's photo-history of the 20th-century brings a suitably grim Hulton Getty Picture Library image to illustrate a year of turmoil and revolution the world over. In post-colonial Nigeria, the Biafran rebels continued their struggle to liberate their homeland. By August, the government's federal troops looked to have beaten their opponents - the photograph shows federal troops guarding Ibo women and children prisoners.

In the face of worldwide concern at the conduct of his forces, General Gowon, the federal leader, advanced to within a dozen miles of the rebel stronghold of Aba. Denied adequate supplies, the Biafran population faced another enemy: famine. In September, Gowon allowed the Red Cross 10 days to deliver supplies.

In Vietnam, the impressive tactical gains made by South Vietnamese and American forces in response to the Vietcong's Tet offensive were little compared to the disastrous political consequences of the war. The decision to allow the media free reign looked increasingly naive. Images of a Southern Vietnamese general's summary execution of a prisoner were among many to provoke violent anti-U.S. government demonstrations both in the United States and, notoriously, in Grosvenor Square, London. In France, students, Communists and striking workers rose up against the Gaullist government and, after the worst street fighting in Paris since the Liberation in 1944, brought the country to a standstill.

In Czechoslovakia, Alexander Dubcek's liberal Communist regime, the Prague Spring, was crushed by Soviet forces in September after eight months.