Latin America & Caribbean

Venezuela profile - Timeline

A chronology of key events:

1498-99 - Christopher Columbus and Alonso de Ojeda visit Venezuela, which is inhabited by Carib, Arawak and Chibcha peoples.

Marcos Perez Jimenez, right, who was ousted by Admiral Wolfgang Larrazabal
The coup leader of 1948, Marcos Perez Jimenez (r), was himself ousted 10 years on by Admiral Wolfgang Larrazabal (l) who restored civilian rule

1521 - Spanish colonisation begins on the north-east coast.

1749 - First rebellion against Spanish colonial rule.

1810 - Venezuelans take advantage of Napoleon's invasion of Spain to declare independence.

1829-30 - Venezuela secedes from Gran Colombia.

1870-88 - Ruler Antonio Guzman Blanco attracts foreign investment, modernises infrastructure and develops agriculture and education.

1902 - Venezuela fails to repay loans. Ports blockaded by British, Italian and German warships.

1908-35 - Dictator Juan Vicente Gomez governs at time when Venezuela becomes world's largest oil exporter.

1945 - Coup establishes civilian government after decades of military rule.

1948 - President Romulo Gallegos, Venezuela's first democratically-elected leader, overthrown within eight months in military coup led by Marcos Perez Jimenez.

Democratic rule

1958 - Admiral Wolfgang Larrazabal ousts Marcos Perez Jimenez; leftist Romulo Betancourt of the Democratic Action Party (AD) wins presidential election.

1964 - Venezuela's first presidential handover from one civilian to another takes place when Dr Raul Leoni is elected president.

1973 - Venezuela benefits from oil boom and its currency peaks against the US dollar; oil and steel industries nationalised.

1983-84 - Fall in world oil prices generates unrest and cuts in welfare spending; Jaime Lusinchi (AD) elected president and signs pact involving government, trade unions and business.

1989 - Carlos Andres Perez (AD) elected president amid economic depression, launches austerity programme with IMF loan. Riots, martial law and general strike follow, with hundreds killed in street violence.

1992 - Colonel Hugo Chavez and supporters make two coup attempts. Some 120 people killed in suppression of coups, Col Chavez jailed for two years before being pardoned.

1993-95 - President Perez impeached on corruption charges.

Rise of Chavez

1998 - Hugo Chavez elected president amid disenchantment with established parties, launches 'Bolivarian Revolution' that brings in new constitution, socialist and populist economic and social policies funded by high oil prices, and increasingly vocal anti-US foreign policy.

1999 - Severe floods and mudslides hit the north, killing tens of thousands of people.2001 - President Chavez uses enabling act to pass 49 laws aimed at redistributing land and wealth. Concern grows in business and some labour circles that he is trying to concentrate economic and political power in the state, along Cuban lines.

View of Caracas
The capital Caracas sprawls along the foot of high mountains

Coup attempt

2002 April - Armed forces rebel over violent stand-off between government and Petroleos de Venezuela state oil monopoly managers and unions over appointment of new board. Chavez taken into military custody, but interim government of business federation leader Pedro Carmona collapses and Chavez returns to office.

2002 December Nine-week opposition strike temporarily cripples oil industry and leads to fuel shortages.

2003 May - Government, opposition sign deal brokered by Organisation of American States which sets out framework for referendum on Hugo Chavez's rule.

2004 March - Several people killed and many injured in clashes between opponents and supporters of President Chavez.

2004 August - President Chavez wins referendum to serve out remaining two-and-a-half years of his term.

Land reform

2005 January - President Chavez signs decree on land reform to eliminate Venezuela's large estates and benefit rural poor. Ranchers say move is attack on private property.

Bitter dispute with Colombia over the capture of a Colombian rebel Farc leader on Venezuelan soil. The presidents of both nations resolve the affair at talks in Caracas in February.

2005 March - New media regulations provide stiff fines and prison terms for slandering public figures.

2005 June - Venezuela and 13 Caribbean states launch regional oil company to supply members with cheap Venezuelan fuel.

2005 December - Parties loyal to President Chavez dominate parliament after opposition parties boycott election.

2006 July - President Chavez signs a $3bn (£1.6bn) arms deal with Russia, including an agreement to buy fighter jets and helicopters, marking a re-orientation away from US arms supplies.

2006 December - Hugo Chavez wins a third term in presidential elections with 63% of the vote, the largest margin since the 1947 election.

Nationalisation drive

2007 January - President Chavez announces key energy and telecommunications companies will be nationalised under 18-month enabling act approved by parliament.

2007 May - Government takes control of major oil projects in the Orinoco Delta as part of the nationalisation drive.

Government's refuses to renew terrestrial broadcasting license of RCTV channel, which was critical of President Chavez, prompting mass protests for and against and strong international condemnation.

2007 June - Two leading US oil companies, Exxon Mobil and ConocoPhilips, refuse to hand over majority control of their operations in the Orinoco Belt to the Venezuelan government, which then expropriates them.

2007 December - President Chavez suffers his first defeat at the ballot box, when a referendum narrowly rejects proposals to increase government control over the Central Bank and the power to expropriate property.

Colombian crisis

2008 March - Diplomatic crisis after Colombian armed forces make cross-border raid into Ecuador, a Venezuelan ally, killing senior Farc rebel Raul Reyes. Mr Chavez mobilises troops along Venezuelan-Colombian border.

2008 July - Relations with Colombia begin to improve again in the wake of the freeing of Farc's most high-profile hostage, Ingrid Betancourt. Mr Uribe visits Venezuela for talks with Mr Chavez.

Caracas shantytown, 2008
Poor district in Caracas - President Chavez has poured money into social programmes

2008 August - President Chavez announces plans to nationalise one of the country's largest private banks, the Spanish-owned Bank of Venezuela.

Mexican cement giant Cemex seeks World Bank arbitration over Venezuelan nationalisation of local subsidiary, which the company deems illegal.

Government lifts some price controls on staple foods in an attempt to avert shortages.

Ties with Russia

2008 September - Government approves nationalisation of household fuel distributors and petrol stations.

Venezuela and Russia sign oil and gas cooperation accord. Russian warplanes visit Venezuela, with Russian warships heading there for November joint exercises - first return of Russian navy to Americas since Cold War.

Venezuela expels US ambassador in solidarity with similar Bolivian move. US reciprocates.

2008 October - First Venezuelan telecommunications satellite launched from China.

2008 November - Opposition makes gains in regional elections and wins Caracas mayoral poll. President Chavez's allies retain control of 17 out of 22 governorships.

Russia and Venezuela sign accord on joint civilian nuclear cooperation.

2009 February - Voters in a referendum approve plans to abolish limits on the number of terms in office for elected officials. This allows President Chavez to stand again when his term expires in 2012.

Colombia tension

2009 August - Tensions between the two neighbours increase still further after Colombia accuses Venezuela of supplying arms to Farc rebels, and Mr Chavez accuses Colombia of allowing its troops to stray over their common border.

View of a table mountain in Canaima National Park, southern Venezuela
Much of southern Venezuela is tropical wilderness

2009 November - The diplomatic row escalates after the Colombian government and the US sign their long-trailed deal on the use of Colombia's military bases. President Chavez orders 15,000 troops to the Colombian border, citing increased violence by Colombian paramilitary groups.

2010 January - President Chavez devalues the bolivar, by 17% against the US dollar for "priority" imports and by 50% for items considered non-essential, to boost revenue from oil exports after economy shrank 5.8% in last quarter of 2009.

Six TV channels taken off air for breaking rules on transmitting government material.

2010 July - Venezuela briefly cuts diplomatic ties with Colombia after being accused of harbouring Farc rebels.

2010 September - Parliamentary elections. Opposition makes significant gains.

Economic problems

2010 December - Parliament grants President Chavez special powers to deal devastating floods, prompting opposition fears of greater authoritarianism.

Young Orinoco crocodile being released into wild in Venzuela's Guarico province in June 2005
Endangered species: the Orinoco Crocodile

2011 June - President Chavez begins year-long course of cancer treatment in Cuba, including several extended stays and reduced workload.

2011 November - Government introduces price controls on many basic goods in an attempt to curb the 27% annual inflation rate, one of the highest in the world. Initial price controls on a few basic goods were imposed in 2003.

2011 December - Venezuela hosts the inaugural meeting of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (Celac), which aims to challenge the US-based Organisation of American States for regional primacy. It excludes the US, Canada, the Netherlands, and British and Danish dependencies, but includes Cuba, which is not a member of the Organisation of American States.

2012 April - Government extends price controls on more basic goods in the battle against inflation. President Chavez threatens to expropriate companies that do not comply with the price controls.

2012 June - Hugo Chavez registers to run for another term in October's presidential election, saying his doctors deem him fit to serve after he completed his course of cancer treatment in Cuba in May.

2012 July - Opposition TV channel Globovision pays a $2.1m fine to avoid having its assets seized. The media regulator imposed the fine in October over Globovision coverage of prison riot.

People cry as the coffin of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez passes by them in Caracas on 15 March 2013
Chavez supporters thronged the streets of Caracas during the funeral cortege of the late president in March 2013

After a six-year wait, Venezuela becomes a full member of regional trading bloc Mercosur, and is given four years to comply with the bloc's trading regulations.

2012 October - President Chavez wins a fourth term in office, with 54% of the vote on an official turnout at about 81%. Opposition leader Henrique Capriles concedes.

2012 December - President Chavez returns to Cuba for further cancer surgery, after naming Vice-President Nicolas Maduro as his preferred successor in the case of his health failing.

President Chavez dies

2013 March - President Hugo Chavez dies at age 58 after a battle with cancer.

2013 April - Nicolas Maduro, Hugo Chavez's chosen successor, is elected president by a narrow margin. The opposition contests the result.

2013 July - Venezuela says it is ending steps towards restoring full diplomatic ties with the US, following comments by a senior US official.

2013 August - Venezuela's highest court rejects an appeal by opposition leader Henrique Capriles over the presidential election result.

2013 September - A massive power cut leaves 70% of Venezuela, including parts of Caracas, without electricity. President Maduro blames "right-wing saboteurs".

2013 October - Venezuela expels three US diplomats, whom it accuses of plotting to sabotage the economy.

Anti-government demonstrators clash with riot police at Altamira Square in Caracas on 24 February 2014
Some Venezuelans' dissatisfaction with the Maduro government spilled over into protests in 2014

2013 November - With inflation running at more than 50% a year, the National Assembly gives President Maduro emergency powers for a year, prompting protests by opposition supporters. Mr Maduro uses the powers to limit profit margins.

2013 December - The ruling Socialist Party and allies win local elections by a margin of 10% in a poll widely seen as a test of the government's handling of the continuing economic crisis.

Opposition arrests

2014 February-March - Protests over poor security in the western states of Tachira and Merida spread to Caracas, where they win the backing of opposition parties and turn into anti-government rallies. The government accuses the opposition of seeking to launch a coup and breaks up the protests. At least 28 people die in the violence.

2014 September - Venezuela's annual inflation rate rises to 63.4%, the highest in the Americas.

One of Venezuela's main opposition leaders, Leopoldo Lopez, appears in court accused of inciting violence during anti-government demonstrations.

The government renews a May 2013 scheme to use the army to to crack down on the high murder rate after it fails to meet targets. UN says Venezuela has the second highest peacetime murder rate in the world after Honduras.

The government announces mandatory fingerprinting system in supermarkets to combat food shortages and smuggling.

2014 November - Government announces cuts in public spending as oil prices reach a four-year low.

2014 December - Venezuela's chief prosecutor formally charges leading opposition figure Maria Corina Machado with conspiracy to assassinate President Maduro.

US introduces sanctions against former and current officials over suppression of protests earlier in year.

Economy enters recession after contracting for the third consecutive quarter.

2015 February - Government devalues currency and raises public transport prices.

Antonio Ledezma, opposition mayor of Caracas, charged with plotting coup with US support. He denies this, accusing government of stifling criticism.

US tensions

2015 March - Diplomatic tension with US rises. Venezuela orders US embassy to cut 80 staff, accusing it of interference in internal affairs.

US declares 'national emergency' over Venezuela, accusing it of threatening national security and foreign policy, imposes sanctions on seven officials.