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Auckland in New Zealand was the world's first major city to light the touchpaper and stand well back as a mass of fireworks greeted the dawning of 2012.
It was closely followed by Sydney in Australia where the city lashed out six million dollars on the New Year festivities.
As 2012 made its arrival in time zones around the planet Asian countries joined in the celebrations.
Beijing's residents were treated to a display of laser lights, balloons and confetti as the year was born.
In Bangkok some were just glad to see the back of 2011 after the floods that ravaged parts of Thailand.
SOUNDBITE: Linda Schlieper, resident, saying (Thai)
"I want to find something to celebrate with my family because the house was really flooded. We lost a lot."
In the Middle East Egyptians combined the New Year's arrival with a more sombre memorial to those killed during and after the revolution that toppled President Hosni Mubarak.
(SOUNDBITE) CAIRO RESIDENT, MAI MOHAMED, SAYING (Arabic):
"The new year? I hope it will be a good year for us. I don't know. (THIS MAN SAYS) We'll see whether we'll commiserate 2011 or whether we'll welcome and praise 2012. Hopefully 2012 will be better."
As Big Ben chimed the arrival of 2012 London saw one of its best firework shows in years.
The Eiffel Tower was the focus of French celebrations.
An estimated two million people turned out to welcome the New Year In the Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro.
Crowds began descending from Friday onwards to get the best view of the 16-minute fireworks show.
Up to a million revellers were reckoned to pack Times Square in New York where they greeted 2012 with music and a lot of kissing.
Paul Chapman, Reuters