A chronology of key events:
1820 - Britain and local rulers sign a treaty to combat piracy along the Gulf coast. From this, and later agreements, the area becomes known as the Trucial Coast.
1892 - Deal between the Trucial States and Britain gives Britain control over foreign affairs and each emirate control over internal affairs.
1948 - Sheikh Saqr Bin-Muhammad al-Qasimi becomes Ruler of Ras al-Khaymah.
1950s - Oil is discovered.
1952 - The seven emirates form a Trucial Council.
1962 - Oil is exported for the first time from Abu Dhabi.
1966 August - Sheikh Zayed Bin-Sultan Al Nuhayyan takes over as Ruler of Abu Dhabi.
1968 - As independence looms, Bahrain and Qatar join the Trucial States. Differences cause the union to crumble in 1971.
1971 November - Iran occupies the islands of Greater and Lesser Tunb and Abu Musa.
1971 December - After independence from Britain, Abu Dhabi, Ajman, Dubai, Fujayrah, Sharjah, and Umm al-Qaywayn come together as the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Sheikh Zayed Bin-Sultan Al Nuhayyan presides over the federation.
1971 - UAE joins the Arab League.
1972 - Ras al-Khaymah joins the federation.
1972 January - Sheikh Sultan Bin-Muhammad al-Qasimi becomes Ruler of Sharjah.
1972 February - Federal National Council (FNC) is created; it is a 40 member consultative body appointed by the seven rulers.
1974 September - Sheikh Hamad Bin-Muhammad Bin-Hamad al-Sharqi becomes Ruler of Fujayrah.
1981 February - Sheikh Rashid Bin-Ahmad al-Mualla becomes Ruler of Umm al-Qaywayn.
1981 May - UAE is a founding member of the Gulf Cooperation Council; its first summit is held in Abu Dhabi.
1981 September - Sheikh Humayd Bin-Rashid al-Nuaymi becomes Ruler of Ajman.
1986 October - Sheikh Zayed Bin-Sultan Al Nuhayyan is re-elected as UAE president - his fourth term.
1987 June - Attempted coup in Sharjah. Sheikh Sultan Bin-Muhammad al-Qasimi abdicates in favour of his brother after admitting financial mismanagement but is reinstated by the Supreme Council of Rulers.
1990 October - Sheikh Rashid Bin-Said Al Maktum dies and is succeeded by his son Sheikh Maktum Bin-Rashid Al Maktum as ruler of Dubai and UAE vice-president.
1991 - UAE forces join the allies against Iraq after the invasion of Kuwait.
1991 July - Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI) collapses. Abu Dhabi's ruling family owns a 77.4% share.
1992 Iran angers the UAE by saying visitors to Abu Musa and Greater and Lesser Tunb must have Iranian visas.
1993 December - Abu Dhabi sues BCCI's executives for damages.
1994 June - 11 of the 12 former BCCI executives accused of fraud are given jail sentences and ordered to pay compensation.
1996 - Iran fuels the dispute over Abu Musa and Greater and Lesser Tunb by building an airport on Abu Musa and a power station on Greater Tunb.
1996 June - Two BCCI executives are cleared of fraud charges on appeal.
1998 - UAE restores diplomatic relations with Iraq; they were severed at the outbreak of the 1991 Gulf War.
1999 November - Gulf Cooperation Council backs the UAE in its dispute with Iran over Greater and Lesser Tunb and Abu Musa .
2001 June - President Sheikh Zayed pardons 6,000 prisoners.
2001 November - Government orders banks to freeze the assets of 62 organisations and individuals suspected by the US of funding terrorism.
2004 November - UAE President Sheikh Zayed Bin-Sultan Al Nahyan dies and is succeeded by his son, Sheikh Khalifa.
2005 December - Sheikh Khalifa announces plans for the UAE's first elections. Half of the members of the consultative Federal National Council will be elected by a limited number of citizens.
2006 January - Sheikh Maktoum bin Rashid al-Maktoum, UAE PM and vice-president and ruler of Dubai, dies during a visit to Australia. He is succeeded by his brother, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum.
2006 March - Political storm in the US forces state-owned Dubai Ports World to relinquish control of terminals at six major American ports. Critics of the ports deal feared an increased risk of terrorist attack, saying the UAE was home to two of the 9/11 hijackers.
2006 March-June - Economic changes announced. They include bringing the days of the official weekend into line with Western nations, introducing laws to reduce the dependence on foreign workers and allowing labourers to form trade unions.
2006 16 December - First-ever national elections. A small number of hand-picked voters choose half of the members of the Federal National Council - an advisory body.
2007 April - UAE unveils a national development strategy aimed at making it a world leader.
2007 September - Dubai and Qatar become the two biggest shareholders of the London Stock Exchange, the world's third largest stock exchange.
2008 January - France and the UAE sign a deal allowing France to set up a permanent military base in the UAE's largest emirate, Abu Dhabi.
2008 July - The UAE cancels the entire debt owed to it by Iraq - a sum of almost $7bn.
Boom grinds to halt
2009 February - Dubai sold $10bn in bonds to the UAE in order to ease liquidity problems.
2009 March - Sulim Yamadayev, a rival of Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov, dies after an apparent assassination in Dubai.
2009 May - The UAE withdraws from plans for Gulf monetary union, dealing a blow to further economic integration in the region.
2009 November/December - Government-owned investment arm Dubai World requests a moratorium on debt repayments, prompting fears it might default on billions of dollars of debt held abroad. Abu Dhabi gives Dubai a $10bn handout - $4.1bn to bail out Dubai World.
2010 January - Burj Khalifa tower opens in Dubai as the world's tallest building and man-made structure.
Palestinian militant leader Mahmoud al-Mabhouh is killed in a Dubai hotel, in a hit widely blamed on Israel.
2011 March - UAE joins international military operation in Libya.
2011 April - Five activists who signed an online petition calling for reforms are imprisoned. They are pardoned and released in November.
2012 April - The UAE recalls its ambassador to Iran after the Iranian president visits a Gulf island, Abu Musa, claimed by both countries.
A member of the ruling family in Ras al-Khaimah is put under house arrest after calling for political openness.
2012 July - The UAE begins operating a key overland oil pipeline which bypasses the Strait of Hormuz. Iran has repeatedly threatened to close the strait at the mouth of the Gulf, a vital oil-trade route.
2012 November - Mindful of protests in nearby Bahrain, the UAE outlaws online mockery of its own government or attempts to organise public protests through social media. Since March it has detained more that 60 activists without charge - some of them supporters of the Islah Islamic group, which is aligned with the Muslim Brotherhood elsewhere in Arab countries.
2013 July - Sixty eight alleged members of Al-Islah are jailed on charges of planning to overthrow the government.
2013 November - Trial in UAE of Egyptians and Emiratis accused of starting a branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, which is outlawed in the Gulf state.
2014 January - Sheikh Kalifa, president of the UAE Federal Council and Abu Dhabi's ruler, undergoes surgery after suffering a stroke.
2014 March - Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain withdraw their ambassadors to Qatar in protest at what they say is its interference in their internal affairs.
2014 July - The UAE announces plans to send an unmanned spacecraft to Mars in what would be the first space probe by an Arab or Islamic country.
2014 August - UAE intervenes in Libya, targetting Islamist militants with air strikes, US officials report.
2014 September - The UAE and four other Arab states take part in US-led air strikes on Islamic State militants in Syria.
2014 November - Amnesty International accuses UAE of carrying out an unprecedented clampdown on dissent since 2011.
UAE publishes its list ''terrorist organisations'', including dozens of Islamist groups and charities.
2014 March - The UAE, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain temporarily withdraw their ambassadors from Qatar after alleging that it has been meddling in their internal affairs.
2015 March - The UAE and four other GCC states take part in Saudi-led air strikes on Houthi rebels in Yemen.
2020 August - The UAE establishes diplomatic relations with Israel.