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A world of surprising splendor, captured by AP photographers

December 27, 2018 GMT

              Paratroopers drop into the Mediterranean Sea before an air show during Independence Day celebrations marking 70 years since the founding of the state in 1948, in Tel Aviv, Israel, Thursday, April 19, 2018. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)
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Paratroopers drop into the Mediterranean Sea before an air show during Independence Day celebrations marking 70 years since the founding of the state in 1948, in Tel Aviv, Israel, Thursday, April 19, 2018. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)
1 of 76
Paratroopers drop into the Mediterranean Sea before an air show during Independence Day celebrations marking 70 years since the founding of the state in 1948, in Tel Aviv, Israel, Thursday, April 19, 2018. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

Through the eyes of Associated Press photographers, the world of 2018 was always captivating, sometimes comical, often awe-inspiring — and above all, beautiful.

They saw beauty in the disarray of clothing left behind by 450 refugees and migrants, rescued from a boat off the Libyan coast; in the clouds of smoke from a California wildfire, captured from aloft; in the toil of a Mexican farmworker, surrounded by a carpet of cabbage.

They found splendor in some of the most unexpected places. At an Israeli bodybuilding exhibition, competitors flex and glisten; at a Brazilian fashion show, sex workers shimmy and strut.

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There are oddities: goats in a tree in Morocco. Painted aboriginal performers in traditional dress passing through airport security in Papua New Guinea.

But some of the most striking images mingle beauty, tragedy and even horror. We glimpse a young man in a body bag, one of thousands of migrants gone missing in South Africa. A South Carolina man, hand to his face, is battered by the winds and storm clouds of Hurricane Florence.

And a Rohingya woman takes her infant son, the product of a rape by six Myanmar soldiers, from her 8-year-old daughter as the girl looks away — a family arrayed like the figures of a Renaissance painting, in Bangladesh, in the terror of the 21st century.