A chronology of key events:
1450s - Incas of Peru conquer the Caras people, whose kingdom had its capital in Quito.
1531 - Spanish led by Francisco Pizarro land on Ecuadoran coast en route to Peru, where they defeat the Incas.
1534 - Spanish conquer Ecuador, which becomes part of the Spanish Vice-royalty of Peru.
1809 - Ecuadoran middle class begins to push for independence.
1822 - Antonio Jose de Sucre, a follower of pro-independence Simon Bolivar, defeats Spanish royalists at the battle of Pichincha; Ecuador becomes part of independent Gran Colombia, which also encompasses Colombia, Panama and Venezuela.
War, economic boom and instability
1830 - Ecuador leaves Gran Colombia and becomes fully independent.
1941 - Peru invades part of the Amazonian mineral-rich province of El Oro.
1942 - Ecuador cedes some 200,000 square kilometres of disputed territory to Peru under the terms of the Rio Protocol.
Thirty percent of Ecuadoreans belong to an indigenous community
1948-60 - Growth in banana trade brings prosperity.
1963 - President Carlos Arosemena Monroy deposed by military junta, which implements social and economic reforms, including agrarian reform.
1966 - Interim government takes over from military junta, which was forced to step down following violent demonstrations and harsh retaliation; newly elected constituent assembly chooses Otto Arosemena Gomez as head of state.
1967 - New constitution promulgated.
1968 - Former President Jose Maria Velasco elected president for the fifth time and, two years later, assumes dictatorial power in response to declining support.
1972 - Oil production starts and Ecuador emerges as a significant oil producer; General Guillermo Rodriguez Lara becomes president after overthrowing Velasco.
1979 - New constitution heralds return to democracy.
1981 - Border war with Peru erupts, but ends with international arbitration.
1982 - A deterioration of the economy due to falling oil prices leads to strikes, demonstrations and a state of emergency.
1987 - President Leon Febres Cordero kidnapped and beaten up by the army in protest at policies of privatisation and public expenditure cuts.
1992 - Indigenous peoples granted title to 2.5 million acres in Amazonia; Ecuador leaves the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries to increase its oil output.
1995 - Vice-President Alberto Dahik Garzoni flees, seeks political asylum in Costa Rica to escape corruption charges.
1996 - Abdala Bucaram Ortiz elected president.
1997 - Fabian Alarcon becomes president after Bucaram is deposed by parliament on grounds of mental incapacity.
Ecuador was predominantly agrarian until the discovery of oil
1998 - Jamil Mahuad Witt elected president.
2000 - Vice-President Gustavo Noboa becomes president after Mahuad is forced to leave office by the army and indigenous protesters; Ecuador adopts the US dollar as its national currency in an effort to beat inflation and stabilise the economy.
2001 January - Ecuador declares state of emergency in Galapagos Islands after an oil spill from a stricken tanker threatens the islands' fragile ecological balance. The potential danger is, in the end, largely averted.
2001 September - Indigenous community leader Luis Maldonado sworn in as minister for social welfare, the first Indian to hold a cabinet post which does not deal exclusively with indigenous affairs.
2002 February - Protests by indigenous peoples bring oil production to a near standstill. The protesters demand that more of the oil revenues should be invested in their communities.
Abdala Bucaram: Exiled former president returned briefly in 2005
Ousted in 1997 on grounds of mental incapacity
Nicknamed El Loco, "the crazy one"
His Roldosista Party backed 2004 replacement of Supreme Court
2002 November - Leftist and former coup leader Lucio Gutierrez wins presidential elections. He takes office in January 2003.
2003 August - Former president Gustavo Noboa, who faces corruption charges, goes into exile in the Dominican Republic.
2004 April - Jail crisis: Hundreds of people are held hostage by prisoners demanding better conditions and shorter sentences. Police regain control after 10 days.
2004 December - Congress dismisses most of the Supreme Court's members and appoints a new court. President Gutierrez accuses the former court of pro-opposition bias.
2005 April - Anti-government protests mushroom after the Supreme Court drops corruption charges against two former presidents. Congress votes to oust President Gutierrez. Alfredo Palacio replaces him.
2005 August - Protesters, demanding that oil revenues should be spent on infrastructure, bring oil production to a halt. A state of emergency is declared in two oil-producing provinces. The protest ends after oil companies agree to help mend roads and pay local taxes.
2005 October - Former President Lucio Gutierrez is arrested and detained on charges of endangering national security. He is released in March 2006 after a judge dismisses the charges.
2006 March - Nationwide protests flare over a proposed free trade agreement with the US.
2006 June - Ecuador prompts US ire by cancelling the operating contract of the US oil firm Occidental Petroleum after it allegedly sold part of an oil block without government permission.
2006 November - Rafael Correa wins presidential election.
2007 January - Ecuador turns to the Organisation of American States (OAS) for help with its challenge to Colombia's coca crop-spraying programme along their common border.
2007 April - Voters in a referendum support President Correa's plan to form a citizens' assembly to rewrite the constitution.
Several opposition MPs flee to Colombia after they are accused of sedition. They are among 57 fired in March for allegedly obstructing the referendum.
2007 October - President Correa's Alianza Pais party wins 80 of the 130 seats in elections for a new constituent assembly.
2007 November - On its first day of work, the constituent assembly votes to dissolve Congress - which promises to defy the vote.
2007 December - Mr Correa's key ally, Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez, suffers a defeat in a referendum on constitutional proposals similar to those of Ecuador.
Row with Colombia
2008 March - Diplomatic crisis after a Colombia cross-border strike into Ecuador kills senior Farc rebel Raul Reyes. Venezuela and Ecuador cut ties with Colombia and order troops to their borders.
2008 April - Defence Minister Wellington Sandoval and top military chiefs resign amid continuing row over Colombian raid on Farc rebels inside Ecuador.
2008 June - Ecuador renews low-level diplomatic relations with Colombia.
2008 September - President Correa wins 64% support in a constitutional referendum to increase his powers.
2008 December - President Correa says Ecuador will officially default on billions of dollars of "illegitimate" foreign debt.
2009 February - Ecuador expels two US diplomats, accusing them of interfering in police appointments in the US-funded anti-narcotics programme.
2009 April - President Correa wins second term in office.
2009 July - Government refuses to extend US military's use of Manta air base on Pacific coast for drug surveillance flights.
President Correa dismisses allegations that Farc rebels in Colombia contributed to his 2006 election campaign. He says the allegations are part of a campaign by conservative groups to destabilise left-wing governments in the region.
2010 July - New law further increasing state control over oil industry comes into effect. Under the new legislation, the Ecuadorean state will own 100% of oil and gas produced.
2010 August - Ecuador agrees to refrain from drilling for oil in a pristine Amazon rainforest reserve in return for "compensation" payments from rich countries.
2010 September - President Correa teargassed, besieged by disaffected policemen, freed by army soldiers. State of emergency declared.
2010 November - Ecuador invites Wikileaks founder Julian Assange to live there.
2011 February - US oil giant Chevron is fined £5.3 billion for polluting the Amazon.
2011 April - Ecuador expels US ambassador after Wikileaks publishes diplomatic cable alleging widespread corruption in the Ecuadorean police force.
2011 May - Voters approve a wide-ranging package of reforms proposed by President Correa in a referendum. Critics say the changes enhance the president's powers even further.
2011 July - The owners of opposition paper El Universo and a journalist are found guilty of libelling the president and sentenced to three years in jail and a $40 m fine. They are later pardoned.
2012 March - Thousands of indigenous people stage a two-week march from the Amazon to protest against mining projects.
2012 June - Founder of Wikileaks Julian Assange takes refuge in Ecuador's London embassy and appeals for political asylum, in order to escape extradition to Sweden on rape charges. Asylum granted the following month, causing a diplomatic row with Britain.