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2023 Begins Its Arrival

FILE: New Year's arrival fireworks, Sydney Australia, taken Jan 1, 2013.
FILE: New Year's arrival fireworks, Sydney Australia, taken Jan 1, 2013.

As the Earth rotates, Midnight sweeps over the land and seas, and with it tonight, the arrival of the new year, 2023.

The world's eight billion people have begun ushering in 2023 and bidding farewell to a turbulent 12 months marked by war in Europe, stinging price rises, Lionel Messi's World Cup glory and the deaths of Queen Elizabeth, Pele and former Pope Benedict.

Sydney was among the first major cities to ring in 2023, restaking its claim as the "New Year's Eve capital of the world" after two years of lockdowns and coronavirus-muted festivities.

Australia's borders have reopened and throngs of revelers gathered along Sydney's sparkling harbor to watch 100,000 pyrotechnics light up the southern sky.

A crowd that had been projected to hit more than one million watched as a spectacular 12-minute display showered the waterway and illuminated the Sydney Harbor Bridge.

"It's been a fairly good year for us; getting past Covid of course is great," David Hugh-Paterson told AFP as he waited in a growing crowd near the Sydney Opera House.

"Looking forward to the future as well," the 52-year-old said.

Sydney authorities expected almost half a billion more people would see the festivities online or on television.

"If we can bring everyone together in celebration and looking to the year ahead with renewed optimism and joy, then we'll see that as a job well done," fireworks organizer Fortunato Foti had said.

For some, 2022 was a year of Wordles, the Great Resignation, a new Taylor Swift album, an Oscar slap and billionaire meltdowns.

It also saw the deaths of Queen Elizabeth II, Brazilian football icon Pele, Mikhail Gorbachev, Jiang Zemin, and Shinzo Abe. Former pope Benedict XVI also died on New Year's Eve.

The global population surpassed the historic milestone of eight billion people in November.