A chronology of key events
6th century BC - Area of what is now Turkmenistan forms part of the Persian Empire of Cyrus the Great.
Showpiece buildings dominate Ashgabat's skyline
- Founded in 1881 as Russian military outpost
- Largely destroyed in 1948 earthquake
- Population: 605,000
4th century BC - Alexander the Great of Macedonia conquers Central Asia.
7th century AD - Arabs conquer Central Asia and convert inhabitants Islam.
10th-13th centuries - Nomadic Oghuz Seljuk tribes - the ancestors of present-day Turkmens - and Mongols immigrate from northeast; Genghis Khan conquers the region.
15th-17th centuries - Southern part of modern Turkmenistan comes under Persian rule, while the northern part is dominated by the Uzbek-ruled states of Khiva and Bukhara.Russian rule
1881 - Area of present-day Turkmenistan incorporated into Russian Turkestan after Battle of Gok Tepe.
1916 - Turkmens join other Central Asians in violently opposing Russian decree conscripting them for non-combatant duties.
1921 - Turkmenistan forms part of the Turkestan Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic (ASSR).
1925 - Turkmenistan becomes a fully-fledged constituent republic of the USSR.
1920s and 1930s - Sporadic armed resistance and popular uprisings in response to Soviet programme of agricultural collectivisation and secularisation.
1948 - Over 100,000 killed when earthquake devastates Ashgabat.
1960-67 - Turkmen cotton production expands dramatically following the completion of the Karakum Canal.
1985 - Saparmurat Niyazov assumes leadership of the Turkmen Communist Party, replacing Muhammad Gapurov, who had held the post since 1971.
1989 - Turkmen fledgling opposition sets up Agzybirlik people's front, which is banned by the Turkmen Communist Party the following year.Independence
1990 - Turkmen parliament declares sovereignty and elects Saparmurat Niyazov as its chairman.
Children stand in front of the independence monument in Ashgabat
- Living standards dropped in the post-Soviet years
1991 - Saparmurat Niyazov supports attempted coup against Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, but declares independence just before the collapse of the USSR; joins Commonwealth of Independent States.
1992 - Turkmenistan adopts a new constitution making the president head of government as well as head of state and giving him the option to appoint a prime minister at any time; President Niyazov re-elected in direct popular ballot in which he stood unopposed.
1993 - Turkmenistan introduces the manat as its national currency, begins programme of cautious economic reform and encourages foreign investment in its oil and gas reserves.
1994 - Referendum approves extending President Niyazov's term until 2002 without the need for an election.
1997 - Turkmenistan legalises private ownership of land.
1998 - Natural-gas pipeline to Iran opens.President for life
1999 - Parliament votes Saparmurat Niyazov president for life. Death penalty abolished.
2000 - President Niyazov announces that he will step down by 2010, after reaching the age of 70.
2000 - President Niyazov announces plans for a 2,000 sq km artificial lake, to be built in the Karakum desert. The lake would aim to guarantee water supplies, but scientists warn the plan could wreck the local environment.
2002 August - President Niyazov renames the months of the year after himself, his mother and a book he wrote, the Ruhnama.
Parliamentary elections 2004
- Elections were denounced by exiled opponents of authoritarian President Niyazov; there were no opposition candidates
2002 November - President Niyazov unhurt as his motorcade comes under fire in capital. Authorities blame "mercenaries" acting for exiled opposition leaders who in turn accuse Niyazov of staging incident as excuse to crack down.
Opposition activist and former foreign minister Boris Shikhmuradov is soon arrested, accused of being mastermind and sentenced to life imprisonment. More than 40 others convicted and jailed.
2003 April - Agreement signed with Russian Gazprom monopoly under which Russia will buy 60bn cubic metres of Turkmen gas annually.
President Niyazov decree cancels 1993 dual citizenship agreement with Russia, sparking diplomatic row with Moscow.
2004 August - President Niyazov orders the construction of a giant ice palace in the desert.
2004 November - Turkmen and Uzbek presidents sign friendship declaration, agreement on water resources.
2005 February - President Niyazov undergoes eye operation. Suggests closing hospitals other than those in capital.
2005 May - Deputy Prime Minister Elly Kurbanmuradov, a senior figure in charge of the energy sector, is sacked. He is subsequently jailed for 25 years on charges which include corruption.
2005 July - Rejep Saparov sacked as head of presidential administration and sentenced to 20 years in jail for corruption.
The late President Niyazov tolerated no dissent
2006 January - President Niyazov orders substantial cuts to state pensions saying he wants to "bring order" to the system.
2006 April - Agreement signed with Beijing on building pipeline to supply Turkmen gas to China.
2006 September - Russia's Gazprom agrees to pay 54% more for supplies of Turkmen gas.
Radio Liberty journalist and human rights activist Ogulsapar Muradova dies in prison. The authorities insist that she died from natural causes but her family dispute this.President dies
2006 21 December - Death of President Niyazov from heart failure is announced.
2007 14 February - Kurbanguly Berdymukhamedov is declared the winner of presidential elections, in which no opposition candidate was allowed.
2007 July - Russia, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan agree to build new pipeline north of the Caspian Sea which will ensure Russian access to Turkmen gas.
2008 January - Turkmenistan cuts gas supplies to Iran, blaming a technical fault and Iran's failure to pay for supplies. Iran reacts angrily, saying its neighbour wants to double the price.
2008 April - Turkmenistan reverts to traditional Gregorian calendar.
2008 May - President orders removal of rotating gold statue of his predecessor in Ashgabat.New constitution
2008 September - People's Council approves new constitution that replaced it with larger, directly-elected parliament and promise of multi-party system.
2008 December - First elections held under new constitution, still dominated by pro-government candidates.
2009 December - Pipeline opened for gas exports to China, breaking Russia's stranglehold on Turkmenistan's energy reserves.
2010 January - Turkmenistan opens second gas pipeline to Iran.
2010 July - President Berdymukhamedov suggests that private newspapers might be allowed. International media freedom monitors dismiss his comments as window-dressing.
2010 November - Turkmenistan says it will supply gas for the planned Nabucco pipeline, a project to allow EU countries to rely less on Russian supplies. The country says it will have up to 40bn cubic metres (1,412bn cu ft) of spare gas annually.
2010 December - Turkmenistan agrees to the "Tapi" deal to build a pipeline to carry gas across Afghanistan to Pakistan and India. No details are given about funding or how to secure a pipeline that would have to cross the violent Afghan-Pakistan border area.
2011 May - In a move seen as designed to further restrict access to foreign media, President Berdymukhamedov says the number of satellite dishes in Turkmenistan will be limited.
2011 October - Parliament supports a motion conferring the title "hero of the nation" on President Berdymukhamedov.Corruption listing
2011 December - Transparency International names Turkmenistan as joint third most corrupt country in the world.
2012 February - President Berdymukhamedov wins a second term in office, standing against token candidates and securing over 97% of the vote.
2012 September - The first phase of the 2012 population census begins, with data being collected in remote, inaccessible areas. It is the first census to be conducted in Turkmenistan since 1995.