t the start of 2011, the euro zone was already in the throes of a debt crisis after Greece and Ireland sought bailouts from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund in 2010, and credit rating agencies downgraded several peripheral European countries, including Spain and Portugal.
Worse was yet to come, as the eurozone crisis essentially determined the direction of global stock markets. Italy and Spain came to the fore as the newest and so far, largest EU economies to suffer from soaring borrowing costs.
Numerous summits, fresh bailouts and a plethora of austerity measures brought little relief to the euro zone or global markets. In September, President Barack Obama made the stark assertion that the debt crisis in Europe was "scaring the world."
Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece and Spain are ending 2011 with entirely new political administrations that must implement austerity measures in order to balance their books.
What were the big decisions made in relation to the crisis in 2011? Which of the many summits should we remember? Who will be the major players in 2012? Click ahead to find out.
By Antonya Allen and Bianca Schlotterbeck