From drunken nights out with a llama to testicle-eating fishes, it’s a mixed bag of stories you’ve been sharing on social media in 2013.

Among the top twenty Independent articles you’ve been tweeting and posting on Facebook this year, there are serious reports, ferocious comment pieces, astounding research and a fair few articles that pay tribute to the adage ‘the truth is stranger than fiction.’

Two Saudi rapists beheaded

TWO SAUDI men were beheaded yesterday for kidnapping and raping a young boy.

Clashes tested Indonesian army's patience

HOURS before last night's confrontation between the Indonesian army and students started, there was a worrying portent of trouble to come, as thousands of Islamic supporters of Indonesia's President Habibie threw stones and scuffled with demonstrating students in Jakarta.

Cinema: If you go down to the Tube today...

THERE ARE parallel universes out there where Rome never fell, where Hitler won the war and where Brad Pitt and Gwyneth Paltrow lived happily ever after. In Sliding Doors (15), writer-director Peter Howitt brushes up his quantum physics to demonstrate that the tiniest events can generate a variety of different futures. Navigating the sort of inter- dimensional anomaly that regularly plagues the cast of Star Trek, he pursues two possible versions of the life of his heroine Helen (played by Gwyneth Paltrow). In the first version of events, she misses her Tube, and so returns home too late to catch her boyfriend, Gerry (a beetle-browned John Lynch), in bed with old flame Lydia (Jeanne Tripplehorn, a terrifying woman with neck sinews as tight and prominent as Deirdre Barlow's). Or maybe it doesn't happen at all ...

Grim task in Mecca

FAMILY, friends and diplomats combed hospitals and mortuaries in Mecca, Saudi Arabia yesterday to identify 118 Muslim pilgrims killed in a stampede on the last day of the annual haj.

India's new rulers enter with a whiff of fascism

The BJP nationalists' victory has made little stir, writes Peter Popham. But the world may soon have reason to take notice

Nephew of King Fahd dies

Prince Abdullah bin Saud bin Abdul-Aziz, a nephew of King Fahd of Saudi Arabia, died on Saturday, a Royal Court statement said. He was 65. The statement said Prince Abdullah had suffered for a long time from an incurable illness, but it did not say what the illness was. The Prince was governor of the holy city of Mecca during the reign of his late father, King Saud, King Fahd's brother, who ruled from 1953 to 1964.

Middle East: Septuplets born in Saudi Arabia

A Saudi woman has given birth to seven babies - four boys and three girls. It is only the third set of septuplets known to be born alive.

The best vacations are not an escape, but a liberation

holidays of the mind

Muslim was unfairly treated over headscarf

A Muslim woman who returned to her job wearing a headscarf after a pilgrimage to Mecca was sacked after her foreman claimed it was a safety hazard.

Mecca bingo hall outrages Muslims

A change of name at a Luton bingo hall has met with violent protest from the town's Muslim population - who object to it being called "Mecca".

Letter: Faith and blame

Sir: Robert Fisk's "Religion in the Middle East: the fundamental problem" (3 Dec 1997) was very thought-provoking, and I must congratulate him for his courage in highlighting the threat from fundamentalists belonging to Judaism and Christianity. The media in the West goes out of its way to tarnish the image of Islam by associating "terrorism" and "fundamentalism" to it, while ignoring the militant and terrorist activities associated with other religions. Robert Fisk has a more enlightened outlook.

Travel was once about pilgrimage. It is again

It Almost seems facetious to talk about holidays and travel after this strange week through which we have lived - except perhaps to cogitate on the rum old fact that travel was never supposed to be a joyful experience.

A match made in Mecca - we hope

Dodi Fayed is one of `us' and he has got hold of the most famous and feted of all of `them', writes Fuad Nahdi

The fine art of drinking coffee

Connoisseurs can buy art with their espresso.

Letter: Saudis reform trial procedure

Saudis reform trial procedure
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Independent Travel
Pompeii, Capri & the Bay of Naples
Seven Cities of Italy
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence
Prague, Budapest and Vienna
Lake Garda
Minoan Crete and Santorini
Prices correct as of 1 May 2015
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before