A chronology of key events:
1820s - Basutoland founded by Moshoeshoe, who unites various groups to repel challenges from Zulus.
1834 - Territorial encroachment by Boer trekkers starts decades of conflict.
1860s - Becomes a British protectorate.
1871 - Annexed to the Cape Colony.
1884 - Becomes a British colony after revolt against Cape Colonial rule. Paramount chiefs retain large degree of autonomy.
1939-45 - World War II, with 20,000 Sotho serving in the British forces.
1950s - Political parties emerge, press for independence.
1966 - Independence as Kingdom of Lesotho, with Moshoeshoe II as king and Chief Leabua Jonathan (Basotho National Party) as prime minister.
1970 - Oppostion Basutoland Congress Party leads in polls but Chief Jonathan suspends constitution, sends king into temporary exile.
1986 - South Africa blocks borders, demanding expulsion of anti-apartheid activists. Major-General Justin Lekhanya replaces Chief Jonathan in coup.
1990 - King Moshoeshoe II goes into exile. His son is sworn in as Letsie III.
1991 - General Lekhanya forced out by Colonel Elias Tutsoane Ramaema, who lifts ban on political activity.
1993 - Basutoland Congress Party comes to power in elections.
1994 - Fighting among rival army factions.
King Letsie III restored
1995-1996 - Moshoeshoe II restored to throne, but dies in a car crash. Letsie III restored as king.
1998 - Lesotho Congress of Democrats (LCD) wins general elections, Pakalitha Mosisili becomes prime minister. South African Development Community (SADC) sends troops to help restore order after opposition riots.
Mosisili's second term
2002 June - Prime Minister Mosisili is sworn-in for a second five-year term.
2004 February - Prime Minister Mosisili declares state of emergency, appeals for food aid. Aid officials say hundreds of thousands face shortages after three-year struggle against drought.
2004 March - Official opening of first phase of multi-billion-dollar Lesotho Highlands Water Project, which supplies water to South Africa.
2007 February - Ruling LCD wins early parliamentary elections, taking 61 of 80 constituencies; leader of the opposition All Basotho Convention (ABC) challenges the outcome.
2007 July - State of emergency declared as Lesotho experiences its most severe drought in 30 years.
2012 May - ABC's Thomas Thabane becomes prime minister following elections.
2014 August - Prime Minister Thabane flees to South Africa, accusing the military of trying to overthrow him.
2015 February - Pakalitha Mosisili becomes prime minister at the head of a coalition formed after early elections.
2017 June - Prime Minister Mosisili loses early elections, Thomas Thabane returns to power.
2017 September - The head of the armed forces, Khoantle Mots'omots'o, is shot dead. A multinational security force is deployed to ease tensions.