A chronology of key events:
Ice Age - North America's first humans migrate from Asia.
11th Century - Norse explorers reach North America, establishing the first known European settlement in the Americas on Newfoundland island.
1497 - Italian-born navigator John Cabot reaches the coasts of Newfoundland and Cape Breton.
1534 - Jacques Cartier explores the St Lawrence river, and claims the shores of the Gulf of St Lawrence for France.
1583 - Newfoundland becomes England's first overseas colony.
1600s - Fur trade rivalry between the French, English and Dutch; the Europeans exploit existing rivalries between local peoples to form alliances.
1627 - Company of New France established to govern and exploit "New France" - France's North American colonies.
1670 - Hudson's Bay Company established by London traders. The company holds trading rights for regions whose rivers drain into Hudson Bay.
1701 - Thirty-eight indigenous groups sign a peace treaty near Montreal with the French.
1756 - Seven Years' War begins between New France and the larger and economically-stronger British colonies. After early French successes, the settlement of Quebec falls in 1759 and the British advance on Montreal.
1763 - Under the Treaty of Paris, Britain acquires all French colonies east of the Mississippi including New France, which becomes the colony of Quebec.
1774 - The Quebec Act recognises the French language and the Roman Catholic religion in the colony.
1776 onwards - Loyalist refugees from the American War of Independence settle in Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Quebec and Ontario.
1783 - Fur traders in Montreal set up the North West Company. The company builds up a network of trading posts across the west and north; its expeditions reach the Pacific coast.
1800s - Immigration picks up. Thousands of newcomers from England, Scotland and Ireland arrive each year.
1812-14 - War of 1812 between the US and Britain, largely over the effects on the US of British blockades of French ports. Action includes naval battles in the Great Lakes and a US attack on York (present-day Toronto). But the US fails to realise its plans to invade Canada.
1837/8 - Armed rebellions in Upper and Lower Canada, caused by disaffection with the ruling elites, poverty and social divisions.
Union of Canada
1867 - British North America Act unites Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick in the Dominion of Canada.
1870 - Manitoba becomes fifth province, followed by British Columbia and Prince Edward Island.
1885 - Canadian Pacific railroad is completed.
1898 - Gold rush along the upper Yukon River; Yukon Territory given separate status.
1905 - Alberta and Saskatchewan become provinces of Canada.
1914 - Outbreak of World War I. Canada fights on the side of Britain and France.
Autonomy from Britain
1931 - Statute of Westminster grants British dominions complete autonomy.
1939 - Outbreak of World War II: Canadian forces are active in Europe, the Atlantic and other theatres.
1947 - Canada is declared to be of equal status with Great Britain within the Commonwealth.
1949 - Canada becomes a founder member of Nato. Newfoundland, until then a British dominion, becomes a province of Canada.
1950 - War in Korea. Canadian forces participate in the United Nations war effort.
1965 - The present Canadian flag is adopted, replacing one which had incorporated the British flag.
1967 - Expo 67 in Montreal provides impetus to Canadian national identity. French President Charles de Gaulle visits and declares 'Vive le Quebec libre' (Long live free Quebec).
1968 - Pierre Trudeau of the Liberal party wins elections and governs until 1984, with the exception of a nine months in 1979-80. Parti Quebecois (PQ) is formed to push for complete independence for Quebec.
1970 - Members of a radical Quebec separatist group, the Front de Liberation du Quebec, kidnap a British trade official and murder a Quebec minister.
1976 - PQ wins elections in Quebec.
1980 - A referendum on the separation of Quebec is defeated.
1982 - The UK transfers final legal powers over Canada. The country adopts its new constitution, which includes a charter of rights.
1984 - Trudeau retires. Elections are won by the Progressive Conservatives under Brian Mulroney. Mulroney realigns foreign policy towards Europe and the US.
1991 - Canadian forces participate in the Gulf War following Iraq's invasion of Kuwait.
1992 - Canada, US and Mexico finalise the terms of the North American Free Trade Agreement (Nafta).
Conservatives' election disaster
1993 June - Kim Campbell succeeds Brian Mulroney, becoming Canada's first female prime minister. She leads the Progressive Conservatives to disaster at the October election, leaving it with only two seats out of its previous tally of 169. Jean Chretien of the Liberals becomes prime minister.
1995 - A referendum in Quebec rejects independence by a margin of only 1%.
1999 - Territory of Nunavut (meaning "our land" in the Inuit language) is created in northern Canada. The vast self-governing region in the Arctic is the first Canadian territory to have a majority indigenous population.
2002 January - Canada sends first contingent of regular troops to Afghanistan as part of the post-Taliban stabilising mission.
2003 March - Canada opts not to join the US-led coalition against Iraq. The move sparks fierce domestic political debate, and Prime Minister Chretien comes under fire from Washington.
2003 April - Liberal Party beats the Parti Quebecois in provincial elections in Quebec, ending nine years of rule by the pro-independence party.
2003 December - Former finance minister Paul Martin is sworn in as prime minister as Jean Chretien retires after 10 years in office.
2005 November - A commission set up to investigate a 2004 scandal involving misspent government money exonerates Paul Martin, but criticises his predecessor Jean Chretien.
2006 January - Stephen Harper's Conservatives defeat Paul Martin in general elections, ending 12 years of Liberal government.
2006 June - In a major anti-terror operation, 17 people are arrested in Toronto on suspicion of planning attacks. An official says the men were inspired by al-Qaeda.
2006 November - Parliament agrees that the Quebecois should be considered a "nation" within Canada. The proposal was put forward by Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
2010 January - Canada hosts Winter Olympics.
Suspected ringleader of Islamic extremist group is jailed for life for plot to bomb Toronto stock exchange.
2010 June - Rwandan jailed under Canada's new war crimes act allowing courts to consider war crimes committed abroad.
Truth and reconciliation commission begins hearings into policy which forced indigenous people to abandon their cultural identity.
2011 April - Toronto policeman's remark that women can avoid rape by avoiding dressing like ''sluts'', prompts a global phenomenon: a slutwalk protest.
2011 December - Canada becomes the first country to formally withdraw from the Kyoto Protocol on reducing emissions of greenhouse gasses.
2012 September - One person is killed in a shooting at a victory rally in Montreal for the separatist Parti Quebecois, which is projected to win provincial polls in Quebec.
2014 August - Canada launches a mission to map the Arctic seabed, in support of its its bid to extend its territory up to the North Pole.
2014 October - Canada joins the US-led coalition carrying out air strikes against Islamic State militants in Iraq.
Two Islamist-inspired terrorist attacks - one in Quebec and one at Parliament Hill in Ottawa - leave two Canadian soldiers dead.
2015 February - Supreme Court rules that doctors can provide medical help in euthanasia cases, reversing a ban imposed in 1993.
2015 October - Liberals under Justin Trudeau, the son for former prime minister Pierre Trudeau, return to power with a large win over the Conservatives.
2016 October - Canada signs a free trade agreement with the European Union.
2017 January - French-Canadian student Alexandre Bissonnette is charged over the shooting of six Muslims at a mosque in Quebec.
2017 October - The government says it will pay compensation to thousands of indigenous people who were taken from their families as children to be brought up by primarily white middle-class families decades ago.
2018 October - The US, Canada and Mexico reach a new trade deal to replace the current North American Free Trade Agreement (Nafta). The United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) gives the US greater access to Canada's dairy market, and allows extra imports of Canadian cars.