A chronology of key events:
1880s - France annexes the area.
1894 - France sets up a dependency in the area called Ubangi-Chari and partitions it among commercial concessionaires.
1910 - Ubangi-Chari becomes part of the Federation of French Equatorial Africa.
1920-30 - Indigenous Africans stage violent protests against abuses by concessionaires.
1946 - The territory is given its own assembly and representation in the French parliament; Barthelemy Boganda, founder of the pro-independence Social Evolution Movement of Black Africa (MESAN), becomes the first Central African to be elected to the French parliament.
1957 - MESAN wins control of the territorial assembly; Boganda becomes president of the Grand Council of French Equatorial Africa.
1958 - The territory achieves self-government within French Equatorial Africa with Boganda as prime minister.
1959 - Boganda dies.
1960 - The Central African Republic becomes independent with David Dacko, nephew of Boganda, as president.
1962 - Dacko turns the Central African Republic into a one-party state with MESAN as the sole party.
1964 - Dacko confirmed as president in elections in which he is the sole candidate.
The Bokassa era
1965 - Dacko ousted by the army commander, Jean-Bedel Bokassa, as the country faces bankruptcy and a threatened nationwide strike.
1972 - Bokassa declares himself president for life.
1976 - Bokassa proclaims himself emperor and renames the country the "Central African Empire".
1979 - Bokassa ousted in a coup led by David Dacko and backed by French troops after widespread protests in which many school children were arrested and massacred while in detention.
1981 - Dacko deposed in a coup led by the army commander, Andre Kolingba.
1984 - Amnesty for all political party leaders declared.
1986 - Bokassa returns to the CAR from exile in France.
1988 - Bokassa sentenced to death for murder and embezzlement, but has his sentence commuted to life imprisonment.
Ban on parties lifted
1991 - Political parties permitted to form.
1992 October - Multiparty presidential and parliamentary elections held in which Kolingba came in last place, but are annulled by the supreme court on the ground of widespread irregularities.
1993 - Ange-Felix Patasse beats Kolingba and Dacko in elections to become president, ending 12 years of military rule. Kolingba releases several thousand political prisoners, including Bokassa, before standing down as president.
1996 May - Soldiers stage a mutiny in the capital, Bangui, over unpaid wages.
1997 November - Soldiers stage more mutinies.
1997 - France begins withdrawing its forces from the republic; African peacekeepers replace French troops.
1999 - Patasse re-elected; his nearest rival, former President Kolingba, wins 19% of the vote.
2000 December - Civil servants stage general strike over back-pay; rally organised by opposition groups who accuse President Patasse of mismanagement and corruption deteriorates into riots.
2001 May - At least 59 killed in an abortive coup attempt by former president Andre Kolingba. President Patasse suppresses the attempt with help of Libyan and Chadian troops and Congolese rebels.
2001 November - Clashes as troops try to arrest sacked army chief of staff General Francois Bozize, accused of involvement in May's coup attempt. Thousands flee fighting between government troops and Bozize's forces.
2002 February - Former Defence Minister Jean-Jacques Demafouth appears in a Bangui court to answer charges related to the coup attempt of May 2001.
2002 October - Libyan-backed forces help to subdue an attempt by forces loyal to dismissed army chief General Bozize to overthrow President Patasse.
2003 March - Rebel leader Francois Bozize seizes Bangui, declares himself president and dissolves parliament. President Ange-Felix Patasse is out of the country at the time. Within weeks a transitional government is set up.
2004 December - New constitution approved in referendum.
2005 May - Francois Bozize is named the winner of presidential elections after a run-off vote.
2005 August - Flooding in the capital, Bangui, leaves up to 20,000 people homeless.
2005 June onwards - Thousands flee lawlessness in north-west CAR for southern Chad. Aid bodies appeal for help to deal with the "forgotten emergency".
2006 June - UN says 33 people have been killed in a rebel attack on an army camp in the north.
2006 August - Exiled Former President Ange-Felix Patasse is found guilty, in absentia, of fraud and sentenced to 20 years' hard labour.
2006 October - Rebels seize Birao, a town in the north-east. President Bozize cuts short an overseas visit.
2006 December - French fighter jets fire on rebel positions as part of support for government troops trying to regain control of areas in the northeast.
2007 February - The rebel People's Democratic Front, led by Abdoulaye Miskine, signs a peace accord with President Bozize in Libya and urges fighters to lay down their arms.
2007 May - The International Criminal Court says it is to probe war crimes allegedly committed in 2002 and 2003 following the failed coup against the Ange-Felix Patasse.
2007 September - UN Security Council authorises a peacekeeping force to protect civilians from violence spilling over from Darfur in neighbouring Sudan.
2008 January - Civil servants and teachers strike in protest over non-payment of salaries for several months.
Prime Minister Elie Dote and his cabinet resign a day before parliament was to debate a censure motion against him.
President Bozize appoints Faustin-Archange Touadera, an academic with no previous background in politics, to replace Mr Dote.
2008 February - Ugandan Lord's Resistance Army rebels raid CAR.
2008 June - Two of three main rebel groups - the Union of Democratic Forces for Unity (UFDR) and the Popular Army for the Restoration of Democracy (APRD) - sign peace agreement with government providing for disarmament and demobilisation of rebel fighters.
2008 September - Parliament adopts amnesty law seen as last remaining obstacle to successful conclusion of peace talks between rebels and the government.
2008 December - Government-rebel peace deal envisages formation of consensus government and elections in March 2010.
2009 January - National unity government unveiled; includes leaders of the two main rebel groups. Main opposition UVNF criticises the changes to the cabinet as insufficient.
2009 February - Ugandan LRA rebels cross into CAR.
2009 March - French troops reportedly deploy in Bangui after rebels infiltrate the capital.
2009 April - Clashes between government and rebels continue. UN Security Council agrees to creation of new UN peacebuilding office for CAR to address ongoing insecurity.
2009 July - New electoral commission established after parliament approves new election law.
2009 September - Ugandan army confirms that it is pursuing LRA rebels in CAR.
2009 August - UN report says more than a million people have been affected by civil unrest in CAR.
2009 October/November - Former President Ange-Felix Patasse returns from exile, hints that he may stand for the presidency in 2010.
2010 February - Rights groups, opposition and France call for prove into claims - denied by the authorities - that rebel leader Charles Massi was tortured to death in government custody.
President Bozize says elections to be held on 25 April; opposition rejects date, fearing vote will be rigged.
2010 April - Elections postponed. Parliament extends President Bozize's term until polls can be held.
2010 May - UN Security Council votes to withdraw a UN force from Chad and the Central African Republic, deployed to protect displaced Chadians and refugees from Sudan's Darfur.
2010 July - Rebels attack northern town of Birao.
2010 September - Voter registration begins for presidential, parliamentary elections due in January 2011.
2010 October - Four countries affected by LRA violence agree to form joint military force to pursue the rebels.
2010 November - Ex-DR Congo vice-president Jean-Pierre Bemba goes on trial at International Criminal Court accused of letting his troops rape and kill in Central African Republic between 2002 and 2003.
2010 December - 50th independence anniversary. Former self-styled Emperor Jean-Bedel Bokassa is officially rehabilitated.
2011 January - Presidential and parliamentary elections. Mr Bozize wins another term.
2011 April - Former President Ange-Felix Patasse dies aged 74.
2011 December - The charity Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) warns that the Central country is in a state of chronic medical emergency because of epidemic diseases, conflict, an economic downturn and a poor health system.
2012 March - African Union deploys a military force to hunt down Ugandan warlord Joseph Kony, believed to be in the Central African Republic.
2012 August - Last historic armed group - Convention of Patriots for Justice and Peace (CPJP) - signs peace deal.
2012 November - New Seleka rebel coalition rapidly overruns north and centre of country.
2013 March - Seleka rebels overrun the capital and seize power. President Bozize flees. Rebel leader Michel Djotodia suspends constitution and dissolves parliament in a coup condemned internationally.
2013 August - Coup leader Michel Djotodia is sworn in as president.
UN Security Council warns CAR poses a risk to regional stability. UN chief Ban Ki-moon says CAR has suffered a "total breakdown of law and order".
2013 September - Djotodia dissolves Seleka coalition. He is criticsed for failing to control the fighters.
2013 October - UN Security Council approves the deployment of a UN peacekeeping force. It would support African Union troops already on the ground and French troops controlling the airport.
2013 November - US casts doubt on Central African Republic official reports that Ugandan Lord's Resistance Army rebel leader Joseph Kony is among LRA figures negotiating their surrender with the CAR authorities.
2013 December - With turmoil continuing in the country and rival Muslim and Christian fighters accused of killing hundreds of people, France steps up its deployment of troops to 1,600 in a bid to disarm the militias.
2014 January - Interim president Michel Djotodia resigns over criticism that he failed to stop sectarian violence. Catherine Samba-Panza takes over as interim leader.
2014 April - UN Security Council authorises a peacekeeping force of 12,000 troops.
2014 May - French and Estonian troops take charge of security at the airport in Bangui under a European Union mandate from previous French force.
2014 July - Muslim Seleka rebels and Christian "anti-balaka" vigilante forces agree to a tentative ceasefire at talks in Brazzaville.
2014 August - Muslim politician Mahamat Kamoun tasked with leading a transitional government.
2014 September - UN formally takes over and augments African Union peacekeeping mission, renamed Minusca. European Union's French mission remains in place.
2015 January - The CAR government rejects a ceasefire deal made in Kenya between two militia groups aimed at ending more than a year of clashes, saying it was not involved in the talks.
UN accuses Christian militia of ethnic cleansing.
EU-commissioned research reveals how Seleka fighters were illegally supplied with guns made in China and Iran.
2015 February - The UN says that surging violence in the Central African Republic has forced tens of thousands to flee their homes since the beginning of the year to escape killings, rape and pillaging by militias.
2015 May - Prosecutors in France open a judicial investigation into alleged child abuse by French soldiers.
2015 September - Communal clashes break out in Bangui after Muslim taxi-driver attacked.
2015 November - Pope visits, calls for peace between Muslims, Christians.
2015 December - New constitution approved in referendum. Parliamentary and presidential elections pass off peacefully, but constitutional court annuls results of parliamentary poll, citing irregularities.
2016 February - Faustin-Archange Touadera wins presidential election in the run-off.
2016 June - International Criminal Court sentences Congolese ex-rebel Jean-Pierre Bemba to eighteen years in prison for his militia's abuses in CAR between 2002 and 2003.
2016 July - Kidnappings by Lords Resistance Army reportedly on increase in CAR.
2017 April - Uganda withdraws its forces from the Central African Republic where it has been fighting the Lord's Resistance Army for five years.
2017 May - Upsurge in violence, blamed in part on the withdrawal of foreign forces.
Several UN peacekeepers are killed in a number of attacks, including on a base and a convoy.
2017 July - Several aid agencies withdraw because of the violence, saying they are leaving tens of thousands without support.
2017 September - The UN refugee agency says continuing violence has caused the highest level of displacement since the start of the crisis in 2013. More than 1 million people have left their homes.
2017 November - UN Security Council extends mandate of the peacekeeping mission MINUSCA for another year and increases its size to some 13,000 troops and police.
2018 January - The International Committee of the Red Cross warns that the situation in the country is getting worse, with half of the population in need of humanitarian aid.
2018 June - International Criminal Court overturns conviction of Congolese ex-rebel Jean-Pierre Bemba for war crimes committed in CAR.
2018 July - Three Russian journalists killed, reportedly while working on a documentary about Wagner, a Kremlin-linked mercenary company believed to be active in CAR.