On June 23, 52 percent of British voters back a divorce from the European Union at a referendum.
On November 8, Republican billionaire Trump, a 70-year-old populist with no political experience, wins the US presidential election against Hillary Clinton.
Elsewhere in the world 2016 is also marked by a surge in populism. In Asia, firebrand Rodrigo Duterte overwhelmingly wins the Philippines' presidency in May, while in Europe, nationalist and far-right parties gain ground.
On June 23, 52 percent of British voters back a divorce from the European Union at a referendum. Conservative prime minister David Cameron steps down, to be replaced in July by Theresa May. She promises by March 31, 2017 to invoke Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, the first step in leaving the bloc.
From February, the "Balkan route" leading from Greece to Germany, and taken by hundreds of thousands of migrants the year before, is closed.
In March, the EU and Turkey forge a deal for Ankara to halt the flow of migrants to Europe, an accord which is largely successful in reducing numbers crossing the Aegean Sea between Turkey and Greece.
However the flow of migrants to Italy via the Mediterranean Sea reaches record levels and at least 4,700 people have died or are missing feared drowned this year while trying to cross the perilous sea.
In France, the notorious "Jungle" migrant camp near the port of Calais is finally closed in October, and an estimated 7,000 migrants are evacuated.
Syria's Aleppo is on the point of being completely retaken by regime forces, who with their allies have carried out repeated offensives against rebel districts in eastern parts of the city.
While denouncing "war crimes" and criticising Moscow for blocking UN Security Council efforts to obtain a ceasefire, the West proves unable to end the onslaught.
The Syrian conflict has left more than 312,000 dead since March 2011.
As it continues to lose territory in Iraq, Syria and Libya, the jihadist Islamic State claims responsibility for, or inspires, deadly attacks around the world.
Several western countries, including France, where 86 die in Nice, the United States (49 dead in Orlando), Belgium (32 dead in Brussels) and Germany are hit by attacks.
Turkey is also targeted by several attacks blamed on the IS or on Kurdish guerrillas which leave dozens dead.
West Africa suffers attacks by Al-Qaeda, notably in Burkina Faso and the Ivory Coast.
Overnight July 15-16 a rogue military faction tries unsuccessfully to oust President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The regime says exiled Muslim preacher Fethullah Gulen is behind the putsch and tightens its grip on power.
More than 37,000 people are arrested and tens of thousands more sacked in purges. The regime also steps up arrests in pro-Kurdish circles.
After Argentina in 2015, Brazil in August puts an end to 13 years of leftist rule with the impeachment of president Dilma Rousseff for fiddling the country's books. She is replaced by Michel Temer of the centre right.
In July, Peru elects Pedro Pablo Kuczynski of the centre right.
And in Venezuela, which is going through a severe economic crisis, the opposition stages mass protests as it seeks a recall referendum on Socialist President Nicolas Maduro.
On November 25, Fidel Castro, the father of the Cuban revolution and international communism's last great figure, dies aged 90, having been the counterpart to 11 US presidents from Dwight Eisenhower to Barack Obama.
In February, scientists say they have glimpsed the first direct evidence of gravitational waves, ripples in the fabric of space-time that Albert Einstein predicted a century ago.
2016 takes three of rock music's moved loved icons: Britain's David Bowie, Prince in the US, and Canada's Leonard Cohen.
Meanwhile, Bob Dylan becomes the first songwriter to win the Nobel Literature Prize.