Page last updated at 15:49 GMT, Thursday, 16 August 2012 16:49 UK

Timeline: Honduras

A chronology of key events:

1502 - Christopher Columbus lands in Honduras.

Houses in Tegucigalpa destroyed by Hurricane Mitch
Hurricane Mitch wiped out homes in Tegucigalpa, killed thousands

1525 - Spain begins conquest of Honduras, which is accomplished only in 1539 after bitter struggles with the native population and rivals representing Spanish power centres in Mexico, Panama and Hispaniola.

17th century - Northern coast falls to British buccaneers; British protectorate established over the coast until 1860 while the Spanish concentrate on the inland area.

1821 - Honduras gains independence from Spain but becomes part of Mexico.

1823 - Honduras joins the United Provinces of Central America, which also include Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala and Nicaragua.

Independence and US economic control

1840 - Honduras becomes fully independent.

Late 19th-early 20th century - US becomes economically involved in Honduras, with the United Fruit Company controlling two-thirds of banana exports by 1913.

1932-49 - Honduras under right-wing National Party of Honduras (PNH) dictatorship led by General Tiburcio Carias Andino.

1963 - Colonel Osvaldo Lopez Arellano takes power after leading a coup.

1969 - Brief but costly war with El Salvador over heavy immigration and disputed border.

US soldiers in Honduras
Honduras hosted US bases in 1980s war on Nicaragua


- Lopez resigns after allegedly accepting a bribe from a US company.

1975 - Colonel Juan Alberto Melgar Castro take power.

1978 - Melgar ousted in coup led by General Policarpo Paz Garcia.

1980 - General Paz signs peace treaty with El Salvador.

Civilian rule, war with Nicaragua

1981 - Roberto Suazo Cordova of the centrist Liberal Party of Honduras (PLH) is elected president, leading the first civilian government in more than a century.

But armed forces chief General Gustavo Alvarez retains considerable power and Honduras becomes embroiled in various regional conflicts. US-run camps for training Salvadorans in counterinsurgency are set up on Honduran territory.

1982 - US-backed Nicaraguan counter-revolutionaries, or Contras, launch operations to bring down Nicaragua's Sandinista government from Honduran territory.

1982-83 - General Alvarez responds to increasing political unrest by ordering the detention of trade union activists and left-wing sympathisers. Death squads are allegedly used to eliminate subversive elements.

1984 - General Alvarez is deposed amid anti-American demonstrations in Tegucigalpa. US-run training camps for Salvadoran counter-revolutionaries are shut down, but the government continues to cooperate with the US administration's anti-Sandinista activities in return for substantial economic aid.

1986 - Another Liberal Party man, Jose Azcona del Hoyo, elected president after the law was changed to stipulate a maximum one-term presidency.

Human rights abuses

1987 - Amnesty granted both to military and left-wing guerrillas for abuses committed during early 1980s.

1988 February - An Amnesty International report alleges an increase in human rights violations by armed forces and right-wing death squads.

Honduran street children
UN has claimed security forces are behind many child killings

1988 August - Inter-American Court of Human Rights finds Honduran government guilty of "disappearances" of Honduran citizens between 1981 and 1984.

1989 January - General Alvarez is assassinated by left-wing guerrillas in Tegucigalpa.

1989 February - Summit of Central American presidents in El Salvador reaches agreement on demobilisation of Nicaraguan Contras based in Honduras.

1990 January - Rafael Callejas sworn in as president; proceeds to introduce neo-liberal economic reforms and austerity measures.

1990 June - Last Nicaraguan Contras leave Honduras.

1992 - International Court of Justice gives ruling establishing new boundaries between Honduras and El Salvador.

Demilitarising society

1993 March - Government sets up commission to investigate alleged human rights violations by military.

1993 November - Liberal Party candidate and veteran rights activist Carlos Reina elected president. Reina pledges to reform judicial system and limit power of armed forces.

1995 April - Compulsory military service abolished.

1995 July - First military officers charged with human rights abuses.

1997 - Carlos Flores of the Liberal Party elected president; pledges to restructure armed forces.

1998 May - Control of police transferred from military to civilian authorities, but reports of rights abuses continue.

1998 October - Hurricane Mitch devastates Honduras.

1999 - Armed forces placed under civilian control.

1999 November - Congress ratifies 1986 maritime agreement with Colombia settling claims over the Caribbean Sea. This upsets Nicaragua, which claims some of the area as its own.

1999 December - Honduras and Nicaragua agree to halt ground troop deployments and pull out naval forces from the Caribbean sea pending resolution of a border dispute.

2000 June - Supreme Court rules that atrocities committed during 1980s are not covered by amnesty of 1987.

Death squads

2001 January - Honduran Committee for the Defence of Human Rights says more than 1,000 street children were murdered in 2000 by death squads backed by the police.

2001 August - UN calls on government to prevent extrajudicial killings of hundreds of children and teenagers, some at the hands of police officers.

2002 January - Ricardo Maduro inaugurated as president. He says armed forces will play greater role in fighting crime. Declaration is greeted with dismay at home and abroad.

Police detain members of youth gangs in Tegucigalpa
Hundreds of juvenile gangs - or maras - operate in Honduras

2002 January - Honduras re-establishes diplomatic ties with Cuba which it severed in 1961 when Cuba was expelled from Organisation of American States.

2003 May - Congress votes to send troops to Iraq, making Honduras the first Central American country to authorise a deployment.

2003 December - Honduras - along with Guatemala, El Salvador and Nicaragua - agrees on a free trade agreement with the US.

2004 May - Prison fire at San Pedro Sula kills more than 100 inmates, many of them gang members.

Honduran troops withdraw from Iraq.

2004 December - Suspected gang members massacre 28 bus passengers in the northern city of Chamalecon.

2005 November - Tropical Storm Gamma kills more than 30 people and forces tens of thousands from their homes.

Zelaya becomes president

2005 December - Liberal Party's Manuel Zelaya is declared the winner of presidential elections after his ruling party rival concedes defeat.

2006 April - Free trade deal with the US comes into effect. The Honduran Congress approved the Central American Free Trade Agreement (Cafta) in March 2005.

Honduras and neighbouring El Salvador inaugurate their newly-defined border. The countries fought over the disputed frontier in 1969.

2009 COUP
Honduran troops surround presidential palace, 29 June 2009
The forced exile of President Zelaya plunged Honduras into political crisis

2007 May - President Zelaya orders all the country's radio and TV stations to carry government propaganda for two hours a day for 10 days to counteract what he says is a campaign of misinformation.

2007 October - The International Court of Justice in the Hague settles a long-running territorial dispute between Honduras and Nicaragua.

President Manuel Zelaya visits Cuba, the first official trip by a Honduran president to the island in 46 years. The two countries recently agreed their maritime boundaries after a long-running dispute.

2008 August - Longtime US ally Honduras joins the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas (ALBA), an alliance of leftist leaders in Latin America headed by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, a staunch US foe. President Manuel Zelaya says a lack of international support to tackle chronic poverty forced him to seek aid from Venezuela.

Zelaya deposed

2009 June - President Manuel Zelaya is removed by the military and forced into exile. Coup is widely condemned. Organisation of American States (OAS) suspends Honduras.

2009 September - Mr Zelaya makes a surprise return to Honduras, taking refuge in the Brazilian embassy in Tegucigalpa.

2009 November - Porfirio "Pepe" Lobo Sosa of the conservative National Party wins presidential election.

2009 December - Congress rejects proposal that Mr Zelaya be allowed to return to office.

2010 January - Mr Zelaya goes into exile in the Dominican Republic.

Manuel Zelaya
Manuel Zelaya was flown out of the country in his pyjamas after upsetting the establishment

2010 January - Supreme Court dismisses charges against six military commanders who expelled Mr Zelaya from the country in June 2009.

Back to the fold

2010 February - Government says it has restored diplomatic ties with 29 countries following its isolation after the coup.

2010 March - US resumes aid programme suspended after the coup, saying President Porfirio Lobo was democratically elected.

2010 May - "Truth commission" begins investigating Mr Zelaya's removal from office in 2009, and concludes it was a coup.

2010 November - International Criminal Court investigates allegations of human rights abuses during the 2009 coup.

2010 December - Mexico, Honduras agree to work together to prevent attacks on illegal migrants from Honduras, many of whom are kidnapped on their way to the US.

2011 May - Mr Zelaya returns from exile.

2011 August - Police and troops deploy in the Aguan Valley amid deadly clashes between land owners and farm workers.

2011 December - Congress votes to allow troops to take on police duties in a bit to tackle the high murder rate.

US Peace Corps says it is withdrawing its volunteers due to rising insecurity.

2012 April - Rural workers take part in coordinated land invasions across the country.

2012 May - Thousands march to protest wave of violence against journalists - more than 20 of whom have been killed in the past three years.

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