Some call it the “Arab Spring,” a time of revolt and change in the Arab world. It started in Tunisia, with just one man, Mohamed Bouazizi, a poor seller of fruits and vegetables.
He was distraught at being constantly harassed by the police and set himself on fire in protest. His death ignited a storm of public anger at the government of longtime Tunisian president Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali.
Within days of Bouazizi’s death, the president was ousted as leader.
The Tunisian protests inspired similar demonstrations in Egypt in January 2011 and forced President Hosni Mubarak to leave office.
Demonstrations broke out in other Arab countries such as Yemen, Bahrain, Libya and Syria. People were tired of living under repressive regimes that limited their freedom and rights.
They were angry about tough economic conditions, corruption and high unemployment. They wanted change.
Each of the countries caught up in the Arab Spring movement has a different history, and each is made up of different political and ethnic groups.
How these interests and groups interact will determine the social, economic and political effects of the Arab Spring in the years to come.