Page last updated at 10:07 GMT, Monday, 28 May 2012 11:07 UK

Timeline: Dominican Republic

A chronology of key events:

1492 - Christopher Columbus visits the island, which he names Hispaniola, or "Little Spain".

Santo Domingo skyline
Santo Domingo: The oldest European city in the New World
Founded 1496 by Bartholomew Columbus
Population: 2.4 million

1496 - Spaniards set up first Spanish colony in Western hemisphere at Santo Domingo, which subsequently serves as capital of all Spanish colonies in America.

1697 - Treaty of Ryswick gives western part of Hispaniola island (Haiti) to France and eastern part (Santo Domingo - the present Dominican Republic) to Spain.

1795 - Spain cedes its portion of Hispaniola island to France.

1808 - Spain retakes Santo Domingo following revolt by Spanish Creoles.

1821 - Uprising against Spanish rules is followed by brief period of independence.

1822 - Haitian President Jean-Pierre Boyer marches his troops into Santo Domingo and annexes it.

Republic is born

1844 - Boyer overthrown; Santo Domingo declares its independence and becomes the Dominican Republic.

1861-63 - President Pedro Santana returns the Dominican Republic to Spanish rule.

1863-64 - Spain withdraws from, and annuls its annexation of, the Dominican Republic following a popular revolt.

1865 - The second Dominican Republic proclaimed.

Nightfall on Dominican Republic's northeastern coast
Fishing boat returns to shore in northeastern town of Miches

1906 - Dominican Republic and US sign 50-year treaty according to which the US takes over the republic's customs department in return for buying its debts.

1916-24 - US forces occupy the Dominican Republic following internal disorder.

1924 - Constitutional government assumes control; US forces withdraw.

Trujillo dictatorship

1930 - General Rafael Leonidas Trujillo Molina establishes personal dictatorship following the overthrow of President Horacio Vazquez.

1937 - Army massacres 19,000-20,000 Haitians living in areas of the Dominican Republic adjacent to Haiti.

1960 - Organisation of American States adopts resolution calling for severance of diplomatic ties with the Dominican Republic.

1961 - Trujillo assassinated.

US invades

1962 - Juan Bosch, founder of the leftist Dominican Revolutionary Party (PRD) elected president in the first democratic elections for nearly four decades.

1963 - Bosch deposed in military coup and replaced by a three-man civilian junta.

1965 - Some 30,000 US troops invade the Dominican Republic following a pro-Bosch uprising.

Return to democracy

Haitian workers at salt mine, Dominican Republic
Thousands of Haitians live and work in the DR, many of them illegally

1966 - Joaquin Balaguer, a Trujillo protege and former leader of the Reformist Party (later to become the centre-right Christian Social Reform Party (PRSC)), is elected president.

1978 - Silvestre Antonio Guzman (PRD) is elected president and proceeds to release some 200 political prisoners, ease media censorship and purge the armed forces of Balaguer supporters.

1979 - Two hurricanes leave more than 200,0000 people homeless and cause damage worth 1 billion dollars as the economy continues to deteriorate due to high fuel prices and low sugar prices.

1982 - Another PRD candidate, Jorge Blanco, elected president.

Austerity, unrest

1985 - IMF-prescribed austerity measures, including price rises for basic foods and petrol, lead to widespread riots.

1986 - Balaguer (PRSC) re-elected president.

1988 - Jorge Blanco tried in absentia and found guilty of corruption during his presidential tenure.

1990 - Balaguer re-elected, defeating Bosch by a small majority.

Back on the campaign trail: former premier Joaquin Balaguer, aged 93, in February 2000
Joaquin Balaguer's political career spanned seven decades
Sworn in as president in 1960 after Hector Trujillo resigns
Forced to resign in 1962 by a military coup
Elected president in 1966, 1970, 1974, 1986, 1990 & 1994
Steps down in 1996 after massive public demonstrations

1994 - Balaguer re-elected, but agrees to serve only a two-year term after being accused of fraud.

1996 - Leonel Fernandez Reyna of the Dominican Liberation Party (PLD) elected president.

1998 - Hurricane George causes widespread devastation.

2000 - PRD returned to power with Hipolito Mejia as president.

2001 May - Appeals court quashes a conviction against former president, Salvador Jorge Blanco, on charges of corruption.

2001 November - US jet bound for Santo Domingo crashes in New York killing all 255 people on board. Three days of national mourning declared.

2002 July - Former president Joaquin Balaguer dies aged 95; thousands pay their last respects to a man who dominated politics for more than 50 years.

2003 November - Deadly clashes between police and protesters during demonstrations against high prices, power cuts. Two months later, demonstrations about economic policies leave at least five dead.

Fernandez elected

2004 May - Former president Leonel Fernandez defeats incumbent Hipolito Mejia.

Severe floods in the south-west, and in parts of neighbouring Haiti, leave more than 2,000 dead or disappeared.

2005 September - Congress approves a proposed free trade agreement with the US and Central American nations. The DR enters the accord in March 2007.

2008 May - President Leonel Fernandez is re-elected.

2010 May - Congressional elections. Governing Dominican Liberation Party (PLD) retains firm grip on power.

2010 October - Dominican Republic tightens border restrictions to prevent cholera spreading from Haiti.

2012 May - Governing Dominican Liberation Party candidate Danilo Medina wins close presidential election over former president Hipolito Mejia.

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May 2004: Severe floods in the south-west




Compiled by BBC Monitoring

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