Samoa and Tokelau first to enter 2012

The South Pacific Islands are the first countries to enter 2012 in a day that will see billions celebrating the beginning of the New Year.

Malta and the rest of the world will welcome 2012 with fireworks, music and big parties.
Malta and the rest of the world will welcome 2012 with fireworks, music and big parties.

The islands of Samoa and Tokelau, located in the South Pacific Ocean, entered 2012 on 31 December at 11am Malta time. New Zealand and Chatham Islands will be next to follow.

Samoa and Tokelau have skipped 31 December and jumped westwards across the international dateline to align with trade partners.

As the clock struck midnight on 29 December, Samoa and Tokelau fast-forwarded to 31 December, missing out on 30 December entirely.

Samoa and Tokelau decided to change their time zone in a bid to improve ties with major trade partners Australia and New Zealand.

At 2pm Malta time Australia will enter 2012. Huge celebrations are expected in Australia's major cities. More than 1.5 million people are expected to mass at vantage points along Sydney Harbour to watch the traditional pyrotechnic show that has the arch of the Sydney Harbour Bridge as its focal point.

Melbourne will be one of the first big cities to welcome 2012. Fine weather is expected to draw half a million people to the city centre for a spectacular fireworks display. The city will welcome 2012 with a million dollar celebration involving ten tonnes of fireworks exploding from 17 city locations.

Malta will be greeting the New Year with two street parties being held in Floriana and Valletta. Thousands of people are expected to attend the two open-air parties with bands, fireworks, confetti and much more. Special traffic arrangements are planned to avoid lat year's chaotic welcome to 2011.

Spectacular fireworks and packed out parties will ring in the New Year for revellers around the world, as billions mark the end of 2011 with noisy celebrations from Sydney to Stockholm.

From New York's glittering Times Square, to Berlin's Brandenburg Gate and Hong Kong's jostling harbour, crowds will gather to usher in 2012 in a blaze of fireworks, light, sound and music.

In London crowds will see in 2012, the year it hosts the Olympic Games, with fireworks bursting above the River Thames as Big Ben chimes out midnight in a display watched by more than 250,000 people on the river banks.

In Paris, tens of thousands are expected to gather on the illuminated Champs Elysees to mark the celebration known as la Fete de Saint-Sylvestre while in Amsterdam, revellers are gearing up for the first "kiss" between two giant inflatable puppets representing a Dutch boy and girl, which will 'walk' towards each other as the seconds tick down to 2012.

More than a million New Yorkers are expected to flock to Times Square where pop diva Lady Gaga and tenor Placido Domingo are among the star-studded line-up, where a crystal ball will drop at the stroke of midnight.

In Rio, two million white-clad partygoers, Brazilians and foreign tourists, are expected to greet the New Year on Copacabana beach, watching a spectacular 'green' fireworks extravaganza.

American Samoa, the Midway Islands and parts of the US will be the last to welcome 2012 at noon Malta time on Sunday.

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