A chronology of key events:
12th Century - Shona people arrive in the area, later establishing the empire of the Mwene Mutapa, which includes southern Zambia.
16th Century - Arrival of peoples from Luba and Lunda empires of Zaire to set up small kingdoms.
Late 18th Century - Portuguese explorers visit.
19th Century - Instability generated by migration as well as slave-trading by Portuguese and Arabs.
1851 - British missionary David Livingstone visits.
1889 - Britain establishes control over Northern Rhodesia, administering the area using a system of indirect rule which leaves power in the hands of local rulers.
Late 1920s - Discovery of copper, which later encourages an influx of European technicians and administrators.
1953 - Creation of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland, comprising Northern Rhodesia, Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) and Nyasaland (now Malawi).
1960 - UNIP (United National Independence Party) formed by Kenneth Kaunda to campaign for independence and dissolution of federation dominated by white-ruled Southern Rhodesia.
1963 - Federation dissolved.
1964 - Independence, with Kaunda as president.
Late 1960s-1970s - Key enterprises nationalised. Private land nationalised in an unsuccessful agricultural improvement programme.
1972 - Zambia becomes a one-party state, with UNIP as the only legal party.
Help for rebels
1975 - Tan-Zam railway opened, providing a link between the Copperbelt to the Tanzanian port of Dar es Salaam, reducing Zambian dependence on Rhodesia and South Africa for its exports.
1976 - Zambia declares support for the independence struggle in Rhodesia. Zambian help proves crucial to the transition of Rhodesia to an independent Zimbabwe.
1990 - Food riots.
1991 - Multi-party constitution adopted. Movement for Multi-party Democracy (MMD) wins elections and its leader, Frederick Chiluba, becomes president.
1996 - Change to constitution effectively barring Kaunda from future elections. Chiluba re-elected.
1997 - Attempted coup.
1999 - A high court sentences 59 soldiers to death after they are found guilty of treason for the failed coup attempt in 1997.
2000 May - Fighting between Angolan forces and UNITA rebels spills over into Zambian territory.
2000 July - Environment Minister Ben Mwila expelled from the MMD and dropped from the cabinet after announcing his intention to run for president in 2001.
2000 December - UN officials estimate that up to 60,000 refugees fleeing fighting in the Democratic Republic of Congo move to Zambia in less than a week.
2001 May - Setback for governing Movement for Multi-party Democracy as senior members hive off to create Forum for Democracy and Development. They're opposed to Chiluba's bid for a third term in office.
2001 July - Paul Tembo, former campaign manager for Chiluba who joined the opposition, is murdered shortly before he is due to testify against three ministers in a high-level corruption case.
2001 July - Zambia appeals for aid to feed some 2 million people after poor harvests caused by floods and drought.
2001 July - Final summit of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), launch of the African Union.
2002 January - Levy Mwanawasa is sworn in as president amid opposition protests over alleged fraud in December's presidential elections.
2002 July - Parliament votes to remove ex-president Frederick Chiluba's immunity from prosecution.
2002 October - Government says it will not accept genetically modified (GM) maize to help alleviate the severe food shortages facing three million people.
2003 February onwards - Former president Frederick Chiluba is arrested and charged with corruption. Subsequent long-running trials are dogged by adjournments and procedural problems.
2003 December - Supreme Court confirms death sentences on 44 soldiers for their role in 1997's failed coup; sentences are later commuted by President Mwanawasa.
2004 September - Many charges of corruption against former president Frederick Chiluba are dropped, but within hours he is re-arrested on six new charges.
2005 February - Supreme Court rejects opposition challenge to President Mwanawasa's 2001 election victory, but says ballot had flaws.
2005 April - World Bank approves $3.8 billion debt relief package which will write off more than 50% of Zambia's debt.
Around 50 workers killed in explosion at Chinese-owned explosives factory.
2005 November - President Mwanawasa declares a national disaster and appeals for food aid. He says more than a million Zambians face food shortages owing to drought.
2006 April - President Mwanawasa suffers a minor stroke. He resumes "light duties" after some weeks and later declares himself fit to run for re-election towards the end of the year.
2006 September - President Mwanawasa wins a second term.
2006 October - President announces discovery of oil in the west.
2007 January - Government launches economic recovery plan which envisages encouraging foreign investment.
2007 February - Chinese President Hu Jintao inaugurates a huge mining investment zone at the end of a two-day visit. His itinerary is cut short due to planned protests against the alleged exploitation of local workers by Chinese firms.
2007 May - The High Court in Britain rules that former president Frederick Chiluba and four of his aides conspired to rob Zambia of about $46 million.
2008 August - President Levy Mwanawasa dies, 59, in a Paris hospital, where he was being treated for the effects of a stroke in June.
2008 November - Vice-President Rupiah Banda sworn in as president after a narrow election win over the main opposition candidate, Michael Sata, who alleged fraud.
2009 August - Ex-President Chiluba is cleared of corruption after a six-year trial. The head of the anti-corruption task force is sacked after initiating an appeal against Chiluba's acquittal.
2010 February - Zambia and China sign mining cooperation agreement and deal to set up joint economic zone.
Supreme Court dismisses application by ex-President Chiluba aimed at preventing government from applying British High Court judgment convicting him of defrauding Zambia of $46m dollars.
2010 August - Zambia, China agree to build a second hydroelectric power plant on the Kafue River.
2010 October - Chinese mine managers charged with attempted murder following a multiple shooting at a mine where workers were demonstrating against conditions.
2010 November - UN updates its Human Development Index, which suggests Zambia is now worse off than in 1970, partly due to AIDS.
2011 January - Deadly clashes between police and demonstrators agitating for secession of western Zambia, known as Barotseland.
2011 June - Former President Frederick Chiluba dies.
Change of government
2011 September - Michael Sata becomes president.
2012 August - Chinese mine manager killed during pay protest.
2013 February - The government takes over the Chinese-owned Collum Coal mine after revoking its licence because of safety lapses.
2013 March - Former president Rupiah Banda is charged with abuse of power shortly after being stripped of immunity.
2014 January - Opposition politician Frank Bwalya is charged with defamation after comparing President Sata to a potato in a radio interview.
2014 June - President Sata goes to Israeli on a ''working holiday" amid rumours about his health.
2014 October - President Sata dies.
2015 January - Edgar Lungu becomes president after winning election.
2015 March - President Lungu has surgery in South Africa. He collapsed at an event the month before.
2016 April - Rioting and looting following accusations that Rwandans who have fled to Zambia have been involved in ritual killings. President Lungu speaks of his country's collective shame over mob attacks on foreigners.
2016 August - President Edgar Lungu is re-elected.
2017 April - Opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema is detained and charged with treason, after his convoy failed to stop for that of President Lungu.
2017 June - Forty-eight opposition MPs are suspended from parliament for boycotting an address by President Lungu. They they do not accept Mr Lungu as the legitimate winner of last year's election.
2017 July - President Lungu declares a state of emergency after a market blaze which he describes as sabotage. Critics fear a slide towards authoritarianism.
2017 August - President Lungu says he wants to introduce compulsory HIV testing to make Zambia free of the disease by 2030.