|Lebanese revellers drink champagne to celebrate the new year in Beirut [AFP]
Fireworks have exploded over the London Eye in the British capital and Paris' Eiffel Tower has been covered in glittering lights as Europe became the latest continent to welcome in 2011
Around 50,000 revellers gathered in Madrid, the Spanish capital, after a break in the rain to take part in a ritual known as "The Grapes," during which people eat a grape for each of the 12 chimes of midnight.
As many people bid farewell to a tough year filled with continent-wide economic troubles, thousands of Greeks had earlier spent the day in lines to pay their road tax or sign up for a tax amnesty.
"We can see that the quality of life is being degraded every day," Giorgos Karantzos told the Associated Press news agency in Athens. "What can I say? I don't see the light at the end of the tunnel."
Earlier, the United Arab Emirates marked the new year with a fireworks extravaganza after a string of Asian countries had earler held their own celebrations.
Beijing, China's capital, Taipei, Taiwan's capital, Hong Kong, and Malaysia were among those that kicked off their parties with spectacular fireworks displays.
Thousands of people gathered in Hong Kong to watch one of the best shows, which lit up the skyline against Victoria Harbour.
A numbered countdown on the city's tallest building signaled the start of the new year.
It was a similar story in Taipei, where crowds gathered at a concert for the celebrations.
The countdown was followed with a display of white coloured fireworks from different locations around the city with the centerpiece display coming from the Taipei 101 skyscraper, the world's second-tallest building.
In Beijing, residents gathered at the ancient Big Bell Temple to see in the new year with the traditional ringing of one of the biggest bells in China.
In Tokyo, Japan's capital, thousands of people gathered at the historic Bhuddist Zojoji temple to celebrate the start of 2011 by releasing silver balloons filled with notes describing their hopes for the year.
|Balloons filled with notes are released at Tokyo's Zojoji Buddhist temple [AFP]
In Hanoi, Vietnam's capital, an estimated 55,000 people packed a square in front of the city's elegant French colonial-style opera house for their first new year's countdown blowout, complete with dizzying strobe lights and thumping techno music spun by international DJs.
South-Pacific countries, including Kiribati, New Zealand and Australia were the first to welcome in 2011.
When the clock struck midnight in Auckland, New Zealand's biggest city, fireworks were launched from atop the 328 metres high Sky Tower, the world's 15th tallest structure.
Tens of thousands gathered around Auckland Harbour to watch the spectacular display which could be seen from across the city.
In Sydney, Australia's capital, about 1.5 million people crammed around Sydney's Harbour to see a spectacular fireworks show.
The city touted its claim to be the New Year's Eve capital of the world, with a spectacular display over the iconic Harbour Bridge using 7 tonnes of fireworks, its largest since 2000.
Luxury yachts and smaller boats filled the harbour, while others filled pubs, clubs and balconies with a view of the show.