A chronology of key events:
12th Century - Shona people arrive in the area, later establishing the empire of the Mwene Mutapa, which includes southern Zambia.
- Became capital of Northern Rhodesia in 1935
- Capital of independent Zambia from 1964
- Mushroomed in the 1960s
- Population: 1 million
16th Century - Arrival of peoples from Luba and Lunda empires of Zaire to set up small kingdoms.
Late 18th Century - Portuguese explorers visit.
19th Century - Instability generated by migration as well as slave-trading by Portuguese and Arabs.
1851 - British missionary David Livingstone visits.Copper discovered
1889 - Britain establishes control over Northern Rhodesia, administering the area using a system of indirect rule which leaves power in the hands of local rulers.
Late 1920s - Discovery of copper, which later encourages an influx of European technicians and administrators.
1953 - Creation of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland, comprising Northern Rhodesia, Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) and Nyasaland (now Malawi).
1960 - UNIP (United National Independence Party) formed by Kenneth Kaunda to campaign for independence and dissolution of federation dominated by white-ruled Southern Rhodesia.
1963 - Federation dissolved.
1964 - Independence, with Kaunda as president.
Late 1960s-1970s - Key enterprises nationalised. Private land nationalised in an unsuccessful agricultural improvement programme.
1972 - Zambia becomes a one-party state, with UNIP as the only legal party.Help for rebels
1975 - Tan-Zam railway opened, providing a link between the Copperbelt to the Tanzanian port of Dar es Salaam, reducing Zambian dependence on Rhodesia and South Africa for its exports.
1976 - Zambia declares support for the independence struggle in Rhodesia. Zambian help proves crucial to the transition of Rhodesia to an independent Zimbabwe.
1990 - Food riots.
Kenneth Kaunda (right), pictured with Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, was in power between 1964 and 1991
1991 - Multi-party constitution adopted. Movement for Multi-party Democracy (MMD) wins elections and its leader, Frederick Chiluba, becomes president.
1996 - Change to constitution effectively barring Kaunda from future elections. Chiluba re-elected.
1997 - Attempted coup.
1999 - A high court sentences 59 soldiers to death after they are found guilty of treason for the failed coup attempt in 1997.
2000 May - Fighting between Angolan forces and UNITA rebels spills over into Zambian territory.
2000 July - Environment Minister Ben Mwila expelled from the MMD and dropped from the cabinet after announcing his intention to run for president in 2001.
2000 December - UN officials estimate that up to 60,000 refugees fleeing fighting in the Democratic Republic of Congo move to Zambia in less than a week.Chiluba trouble
2001 May - Setback for governing Movement for Multi-party Democracy as senior members hive off to create Forum for Democracy and Development. They're opposed to Chiluba's bid for a third term in office.
2001 July - Paul Tembo, former campaign manager for Chiluba who joined the opposition, is murdered shortly before he is due to testify against three ministers in a high-level corruption case.
2001 July - Zambia appeals for aid to feed some 2 million people after poor harvests caused by floods and drought.
2001 July - Final summit of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), launch of the African Union.
2002 January - Levy Mwanawasa is sworn in as president amid opposition protests over alleged fraud in December's presidential elections.
2002 July - Parliament votes to remove ex-president Frederick Chiluba's immunity from prosecution.
2002 October - Government says it will not accept genetically modified (GM) maize to help alleviate the severe food shortages facing three million people.
2003 February onwards - Former president Frederick Chiluba is arrested and charged with corruption. Subsequent long-running trials are dogged by adjournments and procedural problems.
2003 December - Supreme Court confirms death sentences on 44 soldiers for their role in 1997's failed coup; sentences are later commuted by President Mwanawasa.
2004 September - Many charges of corruption against former president Frederick Chiluba are dropped, but within hours he is re-arrested on six new charges.
2005 February - Supreme Court rejects opposition challenge to President Mwanawasa's 2001 election victory, but says ballot had flaws.Debt relief
2005 April - World Bank approves $3.8 billion debt relief package which will write off more than 50% of Zambia's debt.
Around 50 workers killed in explosion at Chinese-owned explosives factory.
2005 November - President Mwanawasa declares a national disaster and appeals for food aid. He says more than a million Zambians face food shortages owing to drought.
2006 April - President Mwanawasa suffers a minor stroke. He resumes "light duties" after some weeks and later declares himself fit to run for re-election towards the end of the year.
2006 September - President Mwanawasa wins a second term.
2006 October - President announces discovery of oil in the west.
2007 January - Government launches economic recovery plan which envisages encouraging foreign investment.
2007 February - Chinese President Hu Jintao inaugurates a huge mining investment zone at the end of a two-day visit. His itinerary is cut short due to planned protests against the alleged exploitation of local workers by Chinese firms.
2007 May - The High Court in Britain rules that former president Frederick Chiluba and four of his aides conspired to rob Zambia of about $46 million.
2008 January - Zambia declares floods which have killed more than 40 people "a national disaster".
2008 August - President Levy Mwanawasa dies, 59, in a Paris hospital, where he was being treated for the effects of a stroke in June.
2008 November - Vice-President Rupiah Banda sworn in as president after a narrow election win over the main opposition candidate, Michael Sata, who alleged fraud.
2009 August - Ex-President Chiluba is cleared of corruption after a six-year trial. The head of the anti-corruption task force is sacked after initiating an appeal against Chiluba's acquittal.
2010 February - Zambia and China sign mining cooperation agreement and deal to set up joint economic zone.
Supreme Court dismisses application by ex-President Chiluba aimed at preventing government from applying British High Court judgment convicting him of defrauding Zambia of $46m dollars.
2010 August - Zambia, China agree to build a second hydroelectric power plant on the Kafue River.
2010 October - Chinese mine managers charged with attempted murder following a multiple shooting at a mine where workers were demonstrating against conditions.
2010 November - UN updates its Human Development Index, which suggests Zambia is now worse off than in 1970, partly due to AIDS.
2011 January - Deadly clashes between police and demonstrators agitating for secession of western Zambia, known as Barotseland.
2011 June - Former president Frederick Chiluba dies.
2011 September - Michael Sata becomes president.
2012 August - Chinese mine manager killed during pay protest.
2013 February - The government takes over the Chinese-owned Collum Coal mine after revoking its licence because of safety lapses.
2013 March - Former president Rupiah Banda is charged with abuse of power shortly after being stripped of immunity.