A chronology of key events:
1493 - Christopher Columbus visits the island and names it Dominica (Sunday Island).
Valley of Desolation: A volcanic hotspot
1627 - England's King Charles I puts the Earl of Carlisle in charge of Dominica, but initial attempts at colonisation are fiercely resisted by the indigenous Carib community.
1635 - France claims Dominica, paving the way for French missionaries to colonise the island. However, resistance by the indigenous Carib Indians continues.
1660 - Britain and France agree to abandon Dominica and St Vincent.
1763 - Britain gains possession of Dominica in accordance with the Treaty of Paris, which ended the Seven Years' War. However, France continues to challenge this until 1805.
Britain establishes a legislative assembly, representing only the white population.
1831 - Britain confers political and social rights on free non-whites.
1834 - Slavery abolished.
1838 - Dominica becomes the first and only British colony in the Caribbean to have a black-controlled legislature.
1865 - Britain replaces the elected assembly with one consisting of one-half elected members and one-half appointed.
1896 - Britain re-establishes crown colony government over Dominica.
1951 - Britain declares universal adult suffrage established in Dominica.
1958-62 - Dominica a member of the British-sponsored West Indies Federation.
1960 - Britain grants Dominica self-government, with a legislative council and a chief minister.
1961 - Edward leBlanc, head of the Dominica Labour Party (DLP) becomes chief minister.
1974 - LeBlanc retires and is replaced as chief minister by Patrick John, also of the DLP.
1978 - Dominica becomes independent with John as prime minister.
Roseau: Market town, capital, and port of call for cruise ships
1979 - Severe hurricane hits Dominica, causing widespread devastation.
1980 - Another hurricane hits Dominica; Eugenia Charles replaces John as prime minister - and becomes the Caribbean's first female prime minister, after her Dominica Freedom Party wins a convincing victory.
1981 - Two coup attempts, allegedly backed by Patrick John, foiled; John tried and acquitted; Dominican Defence Force disbanded.
1983 - Token Dominican force participates in the US invasion of Grenada.
1985 - John retried, found guilty and sentenced to 12 years imprisonment.
1993 - Eugenia Charles resigns as DFP leader but continues as prime minister.
1995 - Edison James becomes prime minister following the victory of his United Workers Party (UWP) in the general elections; Eugenia Charles retires after 27 years in politics.
1998 - Government announces plans to make Dominica a principal provider of offshore financial services "not only in the Caribbean, but the world".
1999 - Hurricane Lenny causes widespread damage.
2000 January - Rosie Douglas becomes prime minister after his Dominica Labour Party ousts the United Workers Party in a closely contested election.
2000 October - Douglas dies. He is succeeded by Pierre Charles.
2000 December - Parliament approves amendments to the legislation allowing the state-owned National Commercial Bank to engage in offshore financial services.
2002 May - Prime Minister Pierre Charles tells Caribbean Development Bank that Dominica faces economic and financial crisis. Exports and tourism are down. Charles also cites effects of globalisation.
2004 January - Pierre Charles dies in office, aged 46. Education Minister Roosevelt Skerrit succeeds the late premier.
2004 March - Dominica cuts diplomatic relations with Taiwan in favour of ties with mainland China. China agrees to give aid worth more than $100m over five years.
2004 November - An earthquake damages buildings in the north of the island. Prime Minister Skerrit says repairs will cost millions of dollars.
2005 May - Roosevelt Skerrit and the governing Labour Party win general elections.
2007 August - Hurricane Dean wipes out 99% of Dominica's banana crop, putting further pressure on the island's struggling main industry.
2008 May - Chief Charles Williams, leader of ancient Native American Kalinago (Carib) tribe, asks legislators to pass law requiring ethnic Kalinagos to marry only each other for self-preservation.
2009 February - PM Roosevelt Skerrit says his government has secured $49m in grants from Venezuela as part of the ALBA trade group of left-wing Latin American governments.
2009 January - PM Roosevelt Skerrit and the governing Dominican Labour Party are re-elected with an increased majority in parliament.