A chronology of key events:
3rd-7th centuries AD - Berber and Arab migrants displace the original inhabitants of present-day Mauritania.
9-10th centuries - Empire of Ghana has its capital in present-day south-west Mauritania.
1076 - Berber Almoravid warriors defeat the Empire of Ghana.
1500s - European mariners and traders establish settlements.
1644-74 - Mauritanian Thirty-Year War: Berbers unsuccessful in repelling Arab warriors.
1850s-60s - French forces gain control of southern Mauritania. In 1898 France wins the allegiance of Moors in the region.
1904 - France establishes Mauritania as a colonial territory.
1920 - Mauritania becomes part of French West Africa, and is administered from Senegal.
1946 - Becomes a French overseas territory.
1957 - Nouakchott established as the capital.Independence
1958 - Mauritania becomes self-governing.
1960 28 November - Mauritania becomes independent.
1960 - Mauritania makes territorial claims to neighbouring Spanish Sahara.
1973 - Mauritania joins the Arab League.
1976 - Mauritania and Morocco divide up Spanish Sahara, now known as Western Sahara, after Spain pulls out. Guerrillas of the Polisario front, aiming to establish an independent state in the territory, fight the forces of both countries.Military coup
1978 - First post-independence president, Moktar Daddah, is deposed in a military coup. The coup is prompted partly by the struggle against Polisario guerrillas and resulting financial strains.
1979 - Mauritania signs a peace agreement with the Polisario front and renounces its claim to Western Sahara. Morocco annexes Mauritania's former share of the territory.
1981 - Attempted coup; Moroccan involvement is alleged and Mauritania breaks ties with the country.
1984 - Coup brings Colonel Maaouiya Ould Sid Ahmed Taya to power.
1989 - Race riots erupt in Mauritania and Senegal after a border dispute. Tens of thousands of black Mauritanians are driven out of the country into Senegal. Others become the targets of attacks and land seizures. Hundreds of people are killed.
1992 - Taya elected president.
1993 - US ends development aid over Mauritania's treatment of its black population and its support for Iraq in the 1991 Gulf War.
1997 - President Taya re-elected in a poll boycotted by the main opposition parties.
2001 September - Morocco's King Mohammed visits - a turning point in the often-strained relations between the two countries.
2002 January - Opposition party Action for Change, which campaigns for greater rights for blacks and descendants of slaves, is banned.
2002 June - Country granted $1.1bn (£740m) in debt relief.Coup plots
2003 June - Attempted coup: Troops loyal to President Maaouiya Ould Taya regain control of the capital after heavy fighting with rebel soldiers.
2003 October - First post-independence president, Moktar Ould Daddah, dies in Paris.
2003 November - President Taya re-elected with 67% of vote in first round of elections. Opposition alleges fraud.
2003 December - Former President Haidallah is fined and given suspended prison sentence for plotting coup.
2004 August - Army officers arrested in wake of alleged coup plot.
2004 September - Government says it has foiled a coup plot - the third in 15 months. In October President Taya accuses Libya and Burkina Faso of financing recent coup attempts.
2005 January - UN calls for food aid in the wake of locust invasions in 2004. Mauritania was the African country worst hit, with its crop production obliterated.
2005 June - Attack on an army base in the Sahara kills 15 soldiers. The government blames insurgents from Algeria.
2005 August - With President Taya out of the country, troops seize government buildings and a group of officers announces the overthrow of the president and the formation of a military council.
2006 February - Offshore oil production begins.
2006 June - Voters in a referendum approve constitutional changes which will limit the president to two five-year terms in office.Abdallahi elected president
2007 March - Presidential elections won by Sidi Ould Cheikh Abdallahi.
2007 April - Mauritania is readmitted to the African Union, having been suspended after the 2005 coup.
2007 August - Parliament outlaws slavery, a practise still widespread in spite of a 1981 ban.
2008 January - The 2008 Dakar Rally is cancelled following the murder of four French tourists in Mauritania in December, allegedly by attackers linked to al-Qaeda.
2008 February - Gunmen fire at the Israeli embassy in the capital, Nouakchott. Seven people detained over attack released for lack of evidence.
2008 April - Eight al-Qaeda suspects alleged to have been involved in killing of French tourists and attack on Israeli embassy are arrested.
2008 May - Members of moderate Islamist opposition party join government for first time.Abdallahi toppled
2008 August - The military overthrows President Abdallahi - the country's first democratically elected leader - and forms a state council to rule the country. The move came after the president tried to dismiss several senior army commanders.
2008 September - Twelve soldiers killed in ambush claimed by al-Qaeda, which had called on Mauritanians to rise up against the coup leaders.
2009 January - Military government promises to hold elections by June, along with a constitutional referendum.
2009 March - Israel closes embassy at government request, days before visit by Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi. Relations with Israel suspended in January in protest at Gaza military operation.
2009 July - Gen Mohamed Ould Abdelaziz - leader of the August 2008 military coup - wins presidential elections.
2009 August - A suicide bombing targetting the French embassy in Nouakchott is claimed by al-Qaeda.
2009 November - Slavery still exists in Mauritania, says the UN Special Rapporteur on Slavery.
2009 December - Al-Qaeda says it has kidnapped two Italians, weeks after kidnapping three Spanish aid workers.
2010 April - Mauritania, Mali, Niger and Algeria set up joint command to tackle threat of terrorism.
2010 May - Three al-Qaeda suspects sentenced to death for murder of four French tourists in 2007.
2010 July - Mauritania adopts new anti-terrorism law to give security forces greater powers to fight al-Qaeda.
2010 August - Two Spanish aid workers kidnapped in Mauritania by al-Qaeda in November are set free in Mali after nine months in captivity.
2010 September - Mauritanian aircraft strike at suspected al-Qaeda militants in Mali, after kidnappers crossed into Mali with seven foreigners abducted in Niger.
2010 November - Mauritania marks half-century of independence from France.
2011 February - Troops, al-Qaeda militants killed in foiled attack on Nouakchott.
2011 March - Alleged member of al-Qaeda's North African branch sentenced to death for 2009 killing of US man, Christopher Leggett, in Nouakchott.
2011 April - Police in Nouakchott fire teargas at hundres of protesters seeking to hold a "day of rage" against the government.
2011 September - National dialogue launched to discuss reforms.
Police clash with demonstrators at rallies against national census. Rights groups allege census excludes minorities and call for its suspension.
2011 November - Government approves new radio and TV stations following an announcement of media liberalisation.
2012 January - Malian refugees stream into Mauritania over several months, fleeing a Tuareg rebellion in the north of their country.
2012 March - Former Libyan intelligence chief Abdullah al-Senussi is arrested after entering the country. He is wanted by Libya, the International Criminal Court and France.
2012 April - Public burning of religious texts allegedly condoning slavery sparks widespread controversy. Abolitionist leader Biram Ould Abeid is detained.
2012 May - Opposition stages series of street protests calling on President Abdelaziz to step down.
2012 November - President Abdelaziz returns home from a month of treatment in France after having been shot in the arm in what the government said was a mistaken sentry attack on his convoy.