A chronology of key events:
1200-1600s - Rise and decline of the Monomotapa domain, thought to have been associated with Great Zimbabwe and to have been involved in gold mining and international trade.
1830s - Ndebele people fleeing Zulu violence and Boer migration in present-day South Africa move north and settle in what becomes known as Matabeleland.
1830-1890s - European hunters, traders and missionaries explore the region from the south. They include Cecil John Rhodes.
1889 - Rhodes' British South Africa Company (BSA) gains a British mandate to colonise what becomes Southern Rhodesia.Whites settle
1890 - Pioneer column of white settlers arrives from south at site of future capital Harare.
1893 - Ndebele uprising against BSA rule is crushed.
White minority leader declared independence from Britain and fought off a bid for black majority rule
1922 - BSA administration ends, the white minority opts for self-government.
1930 - Land Apportionment Act restricts black access to land, forcing many into wage labour.
1930-1960s - Black opposition to colonial rule grows. Emergence in the 1960s of nationalist groups - the Zimbabwe African People's Union (Zapu) and the Zimbabwe African National Union (Zanu).
1953 - Britain creates the Central African Federation, made up of Southern Rhodesia (Zimbabwe), Northern Rhodesia (Zambia) and Nyasaland (Malawi).
1963 - Federation breaks up when Zambia and Malawi gain independence.Smith declares UDI
1964 - Ian Smith of the Rhodesian Front (RF) becomes prime minister, tries to persuade Britain to grant independence.
1965 - Smith unilaterally declares independence under white minority rule, sparking international outrage and economic sanctions.
1972 - Guerrilla war against white rule intensifies, with rivals Zanu and Zapu operating out of Zambia and Mozambique.
1978 - Smith yields to pressure for negotiated settlement. Elections for transitional legislature boycotted by Patriotic Front made up of Zanu and Zapu. New government of Zimbabwe Rhodesia, led by Bishop Abel Muzorewa, fails to gain international recognition. Civil war continues.
1979 - British-brokered all-party talks at Lancaster House in London lead to a peace agreement and new constitution, which guarantees minority rights.Independence
1980 - Veteran pro-independence leader Robert Mugabe and his Zanu party win British-supervised independence elections. Mugabe is named prime minister and includes Zapu leader Joshua Nkomo in his cabinet. Independence on 18 April is internationally recognised.
1982 - Mugabe sacks Nkomo, accusing him of preparing to overthrow the government.
North Korean-trained Fifth Brigade deployed to crush rebellion by pro-Nkomo ex-guerrillas in Midlands and Matabeleland provinces. Government forces are accused of killing thousands of civilians over next few years.
1987 - Mugabe, Nkomo merge their parties to form Zanu-PF, ending the violence in southern areas.
1987 - Mugabe changes constitution, becomes executive president.
1991 - The Commonwealth adopts the Harare Declaration at its summit in Zimbabwe, reaffirming its aims of fostering international peace and security, democracy, freedom of the individual and equal rights for all.
Independence fighter: Joshua Nkomo
- Was friend, then rival of President Mugabe
1998 - Economic crisis accompanied by riots and strikes.
1999 - Economic crisis persists, Zimbabwe's military involvement in DR Congo's civil war becomes increasingly unpopular.
Opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) formed.Farm seizures
2000 February - President Mugabe suffers defeat in referendum on draft constitution.
Squatters seize hundreds of white-owned farms in an ongoing and violent campaign to reclaim what they say was stolen by settlers.
2000 June - Parliamentary elections: Zanu-PF narrowly fights off a challenge from the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) led by Morgan Tsvangirai, but loses its power to change the constitution.
2001 May - Defence Minister Moven Mahachi killed in a car crash - the second minister to die in that way in a month.
2001 July - Finance Minister Simba Makoni publicly acknowledges economic crisis, saying foreign reserves have run out and warning of serious food shortages. Most western donors, including the World Bank and the IMF, have cut aid because of President Mugabe's land seizure programme.
2002 February - Parliament passes a law limiting media freedom. The European Union imposes sanctions on Zimbabwe and pulls out its election observers after the EU team leader is expelled.
2002 March - Mugabe re-elected in presidential elections condemned as seriously flawed by the opposition and foreign observers. Commonwealth suspends Zimbabwe from its councils for a year after concluding that elections were marred by high levels of violence.Food shortages
2002 April - State of disaster declared as worsening food shortages threaten famine.
2002 June - 45-day countdown for some 2,900 white farmers to leave their land begins, under terms of a land-acquisition law passed in May.Protests
2003 March - Widely-observed general strike is followed by arrests and beatings.
2003 June - Opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai is arrested twice during a week of opposition protests. He is charged with treason, adding to an existing treason charge from 2002 over an alleged plot to kill President Mugabe.
The razing of "illegal structures" in 2005 left about 700,000 people without homes
2003 November - Canaan Banana, Zimbabwe's first black president, dies aged 67.
2003 December - Zimbabwe pulls out of Commonwealth after organisation decides to extend suspension of country indefinitely.
2004 March - A group of mercenaries allegedly on the way to Equatorial Guinea to stage a coup is intercepted after landing at Harare airport. Their leader, British national Simon Mann, is sentenced to seven years in prison for attempting to buy guns.
2004 October - Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai is acquitted of treason charges relating to an alleged plot to kill President Mugabe. He faces a separate treason charge.
2005 January - The US labels Zimbabwe as one of the world's six "outposts of tyranny". Zimbabwe rejects the statement.
2005 March - Ruling Zanu-PF party wins two-thirds of the votes in parliamentary polls. Main opposition party says election was rigged against it.Urban "clean-up"
2005 May-July - Tens of thousands of shanty dwellings and illegal street stalls are destroyed as part of a "clean-up" programme. The UN estimates that the drive has left about 700,000 people homeless.
2005 August - Prosecutors drop remaining treason charges against opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai.
2005 November - Ruling Zanu-PF party wins an overwhelming majority of seats in a newly-created upper house of parliament, the Senate.
The opposition MDC splits over its leader's decision to boycott the poll.
2005 December - UN humanitarian chief Jan Egeland says Zimbabwe is in "meltdown".Galloping inflation
2006 May - Year-on-year inflation exceeds 1,000%. New banknotes, with three noughts deleted from their values, are introduced in August.
- Galloping price increases rendered Zimbabwe's currency nearly worthless by 2008
2006 September - Riot police disrupt a planned demonstration against the government's handling of the economic crisis. Union leaders are taken into custody and later hospitalised, allegedly after being tortured.
2006 December - Ruling ZANU-PF party approves a plan to move presidential polls from 2008 to 2010, effectively extending Mr Mugabe's rule by two years.
2007 February - Rallies, demonstrations banned for three months. The ban is extended in May.
2007 March - Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai is hospitalised after his arrest at a rally. One man is shot dead as riot police move to disperse the gathering.
2007 May - Warnings of power cuts for up to 20 hours a day while electricity is diverted towards agriculture.
2007 June - Ruling ZANU-PF and opposition MDC hold preliminary talks in South Africa.Elections crisis
2008 March - Presidential and parliamentary elections. Opposition MDC claims victory.
2008 May - Electoral body says Tsvangirai won most votes in presidential poll, but not enough to avoid a run-off against Mugabe.
2008 June - Run-off goes ahead. Mugabe declared winner. Tsvangirai pulled out days before poll, complaining of intimidation.
Russia, China veto a Western-backed UN Security Council resolution to impose sanctions.Power-sharing deal
2008 July - EU, US widen sanctions against Zimbabwe's leaders.
- Agreement ended months of deadlock over the disputed 2008 election result
- Robert Mugabe retained presidency
- Morgan Tsvangirai made prime minister
2008 Sept - Mugabe, Tsvangirai sign power-sharing agreement. Implementation stalls over who gets top ministerial jobs.
2008 December - Zimbabwe declares national emergency over a cholera epidemic and the collapse of its health care system.
2009 January - Government allows use of foreign currencies to try stem hyperinflation.
2009 February - Tsvangirai is sworn in as prime minister, after protracted talks over formation of government.
2009 March - Tsvangirai's wife is killed in a car crash. He is injured.
Retail prices fall for the first time after years of hyperinflation.
2009 June - Constitutional review begins.
Tsvangirai tours Europe and US to drum up donor support.
2009 September - One year after power-sharing deal, MDC remains frustrated and alleges persecution and violence against members.
Arrival of EU and US delegations seen as signs of thaw in foreign relations. Both maintain stance on targeted sanctions.
- Discovery of diamonds in 2006 prompted a scramble by thousands of illegal miners; many reportedly died in a government bid to evict them
- Questions remain over who benefits from new-found wealth
IMF provides $400 million support as part of G20 agreement to help member states.
2009 October - Mugabe calls for new start to relations with West.
2010 January - Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai urges the easing of targeted sanctions, saying the unity government's progress should be rewarded.
Zimbabwe's High Court rejects a regional court ruling against President Mugabe's land-reform programme.
2010 March - New "indigenisation" law forces foreign-owned businesses to sell majority stake to locals.
2010 August - Zimbabwe resumes official diamond sales, amid controversy over reported rights abuses at the Marange diamond fields.
2010 September - Premier Tsvangirai alleges ruling party instigating violence at public consultations on new constitution.
2010 December - Ruling Zanu-PF party nominates President Mugabe as candidate for next presidential race.
30 years of independence
President Mugabe has ruled the country since independence
Mugabe's wife Grace takes legal action over claims released by WikiLeaks that she profited from illegal diamond trading.
2011 February - European Union eases sanctions on Zimbabwe by removing the names of 35 of President Mugabe's supporters from a list of people whose assets had been frozen.
2011 March - Prime Minister Tsvangirai says unity government rendered impotent by ZANU-PF violence and disregard for power-sharing deal.
2011 August - General Solomon Mujuru, one of the country's most senior politicians, dies in a mysterious house fire.
2011 November - The Kimberly Process, which regulates the global diamond industry, lifts a ban on the export of diamonds from two of Zimbabwe's Marange fields.
2011 December - President Mugabe says he will run in the next elections. He condemns the current power-sharing government as a monster.
2012 February - European Union lifts sanctions on some prominent Zimbabweans, while retaining the travel restrictions and the freeze on the assets of President Mugabe.
Constitutional Select Committee completes draft of new constitution, but ZANU-PF and MDC continue to quarrel about the details.
2012 April - Political violence reportedly on the rise, with MDC complaining that its rallies have repeatedly been shut down.
Run-up to elections
2012 October - Rights activists say repressive structures instrumental in 2008 electoral violence are being reactivated.
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai threatens to pull out of unity government, citing violence against his party's members.
2013 January - Talks involving President Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai reach a deal over a new draft constitution.
2013 March - New constitution approved by an overwhelming majority in a referendum. Future presidents will be limited to two five-year terms.
2013 July - Presidential and parliamentary elections. Mr Mugabe gains a seventh term in office and his Zanu-PF party three-quarters of the seats in parliament. The opposition MDC dismisses the polls as a fraud.
2013 August - The United States responds to calls from southern African leaders for the West to lift all sanctions on Zimbabwe by saying that it will not do this unless there are further political reforms in the country.
2013 September - The MDC boycotts the opening of parliament presided over by President Mugabe in protest at what it says was a rigged election.