23 December 2012
Last updated at 17:16
Gangnam Style, the dance track by South Korean pop phenomenon Psy, has become YouTube's most-watched video. It has notched up more than one billion views since it was posted in July.
British singer Adele won six Grammy awards and dominated the US charts. Her second album, 21, went straight to number one when it was released in March 2011, and did not leave the top 10 until the beginning of September this year.
With $110m (£68m) in pre-tax earnings, rapper Dr Dre is this year's top-earning musician, according to Forbes. But the magazine says his money comes largely from his brand of headphones, not his music.
Jamaica's Usain Bolt (right) retained his title as the world's fastest man at this year's Olympics in London. Britain's Mo Farah hit the top as well, winning gold for 5,000m and 10,000m.
US swimmer Michael Phelps retired after being named the greatest Olympic athlete of all time. He ended his career with 22 medals in total, 18 of them gold, from four Olympic Games.
Felix Baumgartner made history by breaking the world record for the highest skydive, jumping from a balloon more than 39km (128,000 ft) up in the stratosphere. He went faster than the speed of sound.
The photo-app Instagram was bought by Facebook for $1bn (£600m) in April 2012 and has more than 100 million users.
Aung San Suu Kyi won a landslide victory in a Burmese parliamentary by-election. The 66-year-old spent most of the past two decades in some form of detention because of her efforts to bring democracy to military-ruled Burma.
Xi Jinping has become China's new Communist Party chief, and is now certain to take over next year as the country's president.
After a gap of four years, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has been re-elected for a third presidential term of six years.
Kim Jong-un has taken on the mantle of North Korea's supreme leader. The country celebrated after successfully launching a rocket into space, something the US condemned as a banned test of long-range missile technology.
The words "four more years" coupled with a photo of Barack and Michelle Obama has become the most retweeted Twitter post. The picture, originally tweeted by President Obama as he announced his re-election, also became the most "liked" Facebook photo.