Crowded planet: 17 pictures of 2012's craziest crowds (PHOTOS)

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Egyptians protest a decree by President Mohamed Morsi that gave him powers above judicial review in Cairo’s Tahrir Square on Dec. 1, 2012.

Credit:

Mahmud Khaled

When Time magazine declared "the protester" its 2011 person of the year, it chose a popular vision of history over the usual egocentric view. Call it a Howard Zinn, bottom-up take on influence. Time's selection boldly claimed no individual or idea influenced 2011 more than millions of people whose names we don't know.

And in 2012, they're still out there. On Wednesday, Egyptians protested — some violently — their democratically elected president's recent power grab. On Nov. 22 President Mohamed Morsi decreed that until a new constitution is ratified, his executive decisions are above judicial oversight. Tens of thousands gathered in Tahrir Square and outside the presidential palace, banging on gates and voicing their opposition.

There's madness in crowds — you never know what dangerous things people will do en masse — but there's also tested wisdom in the tyranny of the majority.

What draws a crowd can be just as surprising as their behavior. In a bizarre turn this year, Time's 2012 person of the year list was again dominated by the masses: An online community of 4Chan members thrust North Korea's dictator Kim Jong Un to the No. 1 spot. It's strange and disturbing, but it's democratic.

Here's a look at the crowded world of 2012.

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    Egyptians protest a decree by President Mohamed Morsi that gave him powers above judicial review in Cairo’s Tahrir Square on Dec. 1, 2012.

    Credit:

    Mahmud Khaled

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    Egyptian women demonstrate ahead of a mass rally to demand democratic change, a year after the country's revolt that overthrew the regime, in Cairo's Tahrir Square on Jan. 27, 2012,

    Credit:

    Khaled Desouki

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    Crowds gather outside Macy's department store before 'Black Friday' shopping weekend on Nov. 22, 2012 in New York City.

    Credit:

    Stan Honda

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    Supporters gather to see Prime Minister Raila Odinga, Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka and Trade Minister Moses Wetangula after they announced a powerful alliance as running mates in upcoming 2013 presidential elections on December 4, 2012 in Nairobi, Kenya.

    Credit:

    Tony Karumba

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    A crowd of internally displaced persons listen to a man speaking at in the Mugunga III IDP camp in the east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo on Dec. 2, 2012.

    Credit:

    Phil Moore

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    Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney waves to the crowd as he concedes the presidency to President Obama at the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center on Nov. 7, 2012 in Boston, Massachusetts.

    Credit:

    Joe Raedle

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    Supporters of the German national football team celebrate a goal scored during a public viewing event showing the Euro 2012 quarterfinal football match between Germany and Greece on June 22, 2012 in Dresden, Germany.

    Credit:

    Robert Michael

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    Thousands protest new austerity measures outside the parliament in Athens on Nov. 7, 2012.

    Credit:

    Louisa Gouliamaki

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    Protesters stand in pouring rain in front of the Greek Parliament during a demonstration against new austerity measures, in Athens on Nov. 7, 2012.

    Credit:

    Max Gyselinck

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    A pro-Palestinian demonstrator holds a sign and raises his fist as he gathers with others to protest Israeli airstrikes over Gaza, outside the Israeli embassy in Athens on Nov. 16, 2012.

    Credit:

    Angelos Tzortzinis

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    UN General Assembly members applaud after granting 'non-member observer' status to Palestine on Nov. 29, 2012 in New York City.

    Credit:

    John Moore

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    North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un (C) during a photo session with participants in the national meeting of chiefs an undisclosed location in North Korea on Nov. 27, 2012.

    Credit:

    KCNA VIA KNS

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    Thousands of Chinese protesters demonstrate against Japan's claim to the Diaoyu (Senkaku) islands on Aug. 19, 2012 in Chengdu, China.

    Credit:

    Mahmud Khaled

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    Members of a political movement called Yo Soy 132 carry a banner through the crowds during celebrations to mark Mexico's Independence Day at the Zocalo Square in Mexico City on Sept. 15, 2012.

    Credit:

    Alfredo Estrella

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    Mexico City's Zocalo Square during a gathering called by the former presidential candidate for the leftist coalition Progressive Movement of Mexico, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, on Sept. 9, 2012.

    Credit:

    Ronaldo Schemidt

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    Occupy Wall Street protesters march down Fifth Avenue as part of May Day events in New York City on May 1, 2012.

    Credit:

    Emmanuel Dunand

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    Russian people march along a street during an anti-Putin protest rally in Moscow on May 6, 2012.

    Credit:

    Khaled Desouki