A chronology of key events:
1915 - Italy enters World War I on side of Allies.
1919 - Gains Trentino, South Tyrol, and Trieste under peace treaties.
1922 - Fascist leader Mussolini forms government after three years of political and economic unrest.
1926 - Suppression of opposition parties.
1929 - Lateran Treaty creates state of Vatican City.
1935 - Italy invades Ethiopia.
1936 - Mussolini forms axis with Nazi Germany.
1939 - Albania annexed.
1940 - Italy enters World War II on German side. Italian forces occupy British Somaliland in East Africa.
1941 - Italy declares war on USSR.
1943 - Sicily invaded by Allies. King Victor Emmanuel III imprisons Mussolini. Armistice signed with Allies. Italy declares war on Germany.
1944 - Allied armies liberate Rome.
1945 - Mussolini, who had been rescued from prison by Germans, is captured and executed by Italian partisans.
Towards European integration
1946 - Referendum votes for republic to replace monarchy.
1947 - Italy cedes land and territories under peace treaty.
1948 - New constitution. Christian Democrats win elections.
1951 - Italy joins European Coal and Steel Community.
1955 - Italy joins United Nations.
1957 - Founder member of European Economic Community.
1963 - Italian Socialist Party joins Christian Democrat-led coalition under Prime Minister Aldo Moro.
1972 - Giulio Andreotti becomes prime minister - a post he will hold seven times in 20 years.
1976-78 - Communist election gains lead to voice in policy making.
1978 - Former Prime Minister Aldo Moro kidnapped and murdered by fanatical left-wing group, the Red Brigades. Abortion legalised.
1980 - Bombing of Bologna station kills 84, linked to right-wing extremists.
1983 - Bettino Craxi becomes Italy's first Socialist prime minister since war.
1984 - Roman Catholicism loses status as state religion.
1991 - Communists rename themselves Democratic Party of the Left.
1992 - Revelations of high level corruption spark several years of arrests and investigations.
Cultural treasures abound in the Tuscan capital, Florence
Top anti-Mafia prosecutor, Giovanni Falcone, his wife and three bodyguards killed in car bomb attack.
1993 - Bribery scandal leads to Craxi's resignation as leader of Socialist Party. He later flees the country, is tried and sentenced in absentia to imprisonment but dies in Tunisia in 2000.
1994 March - Freedom Alliance wins election. The coalition, which includes Silvio Berlusconi's Forza Italia, the Northern League and the neo-Fascist National Alliance, collapses by end of year following clashes with anticorruption magistrates and a battle with trade unions over pension reform.
1995-96 - Lamberto Dini heads government of technocrats. Austerity budget.
1996 - Centre-left Olive Tree alliance wins election. Romano Prodi becomes prime minister.
1997 - Earthquakes strike Umbria region, causing extensive damage to Basilica of St Francis of Assisi. Four killed.
Prodi government loses confidence vote. Massimo D'Alema becomes prime minister.
1999 - Carlo Ciampi becomes president.
2000 April - D'Alema resigns after poor regional election results and is replaced by Giuliano Amato.
2001 May/June - A centre-right coalition, led by Silvio Berlusconi of the Forza Italia party, wins the general elections.
Berlusconi forms new coalition government which includes the leaders of two right-wing parties, Gianfranco Fini of the National Alliance and Umberto Bossi of the Northern League as well as the pro-European Renato Ruggiero who becomes foreign minister.
2001 Oct - First constitutional referendum since 1946 sees vote in favour of major constitutional change giving greater autonomy to the country's 20 regions in tax, education and environment policies.
2002 Jan - Euro replaces the lira.
Foreign Minister Renato Ruggiero resigns in protest at the Eurosceptical views of right-wing cabinet colleagues.
2002 February-March - Controversy as parliament approves bill enabling Berlusconi to keep control of his businesses.
2002 October - Lower house of parliament passes controversial criminal reform bill which critics allege is intended to help PM Berlusconi avoid trial on corruption charges.
Berlusconi in court
2003 May-June - Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi appears in Milan court at his own trial on corruption charges relating to business dealings in the 1980s. He asserts that he is the victim of a conspiracy by a politically-motivated judiciary.
2003 June - Mr Berlusconi's trial halted after parliament passes law granting immunity from prosecution to five holders of key state posts, including the prime minister.
2003 November - Italy declares national day of mourning after 19 of its servicemen are killed in a suicide bomb attack on their base in southern Iraq.
Multi-billion euro fraud uncovered at Parmalat food-manufacturing giant. The company is declared insolvent.
2004 January - Constitutional Court throws out law granting Mr Berlusconi and other top state post holders immunity from prosecution. Mr Berlusconi's trial resumes in April.
2004 October - Forced expulsion from island of Lampedusa of hundreds of African asylum seekers is criticised by UN.
2004 December - After a four-year trial Prime Minister Berlusconi is cleared of corruption.
2005 March - Italian secret service officer shot dead during operation to free hostage in Iraq.
2005 April - Parliament ratifies EU constitution.
Government coalition collapses after suffering a crushing defeat in regional polls. Berlusconi resigns. Days later, he forms a new government after receiving a presidential mandate.
2005 December - Antonio Fazio resigns as governor of Bank of Italy following a scandal over the sale of Banca Antonveneta. He denies acting improperly.
2006 January - Defence minister says Italian troops will leave Iraq. The mission ends in September 2006.
Prodi in, then out
2006 April - Centre-left leader Romano Prodi wins closely-fought general elections. He is sworn in as prime minister in May.
Italy's most-wanted man, suspected head of the Sicilian mafia Bernardo Provenzano, is captured by police.
2006 May - Giorgio Napolitano, a former communist, is elected as president.
2006 June - National referendum rejects reforms intended to boost the powers of the prime minister and regions. The changes were proposed during Silvio Berlusconi's premiership.
2006 August - Hundreds of Italian peacekeepers leave for Lebanon. Italy is set to become the biggest contributor to the UN-mandated force.
2007 February - Prime Minister Prodi resigns after the government loses a Senate vote on its foreign policy. The president asks him to stay on and Mr Prodi goes on to win confidence votes in both houses of parliament.
2008 January - A no-confidence vote forces Mr Prodi's government to resign.
Berlusconi back again
2008 April - Berlusconi wins general elections, securing a third term as premier after two years in opposition.
2008 August - Berlusconi apologises to Libya for damage inflicted by Italy during the colonial era and signs a five billion dollar investment deal by way of compensation.
Italy's national airline, Alitalia, files for bankruptcy.
2008 November - After posting two consecutive quarters of negative growth, Italy is declared to be officially in recession.
2009 April - Earthquake strikes towns in the mountainous Abruzzo region, leaving hundreds of people dead and thousands homeless.
2009 May-July - Parliament approves controversial law criminalising illegal immigration and allowing citizens' patrols.
2009 October - Constitutional court overturns law that granted Premier Berlusconi immunity while in office.
2009 December - Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is assaulted at a rally in Milan. A man said to have a history of mental illness flings a model of Milan cathedral at the premier's face, breaking his nose and two teeth.
2010 January - Pope Benedict calls on Italians to respect the rights of illegal migrants. The call came after a wave of violence against African farm workers in southern Italy which left some 70 people injured.
2010 March - Mr Berlusconi's coalition makes strong gains from the centre-left in regional polls.
2010 July - Government survives confidence vote on austerity package meant to bolster the country's finances.
Mr Berlusconi splits with his former political ally, speaker of parliament Gianfranco Fini, who sets up rival centre-right party Future and Freedom for Italy (FLI).
2010 August - Mr Berlusconi's coalition loses majority in lower house of parliament after more than 30 deputies break away from his Party of Freedom and join Mr Fini's FLI.
2010 December - Mr Berlusconi wins two confidence votes - brought after scandals in his private life and corruption allegations - by slender margin.
2011 February - A Milan judge orders Mr Berlusconi to stand trial on 6 April for abuse of power and paying for sex with an under-age prostitute.
2011 July - IMF calls on Italy to do more to reduce its public debt - one of the largest in the eurozone - and push through spending cuts.
2011 September - Parliament gives final approval to a 54bn euro (£47bn; $74bn) austerity package. The package contains a pledge to balance the budget by 2013.
2011 October - Prime Minister Berlusconi wins key confidence vote over his handling of the economy.
More than 130 members of the public and more than 100 policemen are injured in mass protests in Rome marking a day of global protest against austerity and banking practices.
2011 November - Amid growing doubts about Italy's debt burden, Mr Berlusconi resigns after his government fails to gain a full majority in the Chamber of Deputies during a budget vote. President Giorgio Napolitano nominates former European Union commissioner Mario Monti to form a government of technocrats.
2011 December - Mr Monti's package of austerity measures amounting to 33bn euros (£27bn; $43bn) of spending cuts gains parliamentary approval. The package also includes measures to raise taxes and tackle tax evasion.
2012 January - Government issues de-regulation decree designed to curb restrictive practices, reduce protectionism and encourage competition. The decree is intended to promote a more meritocratic system and to make it easier for young people to find employment.
US ratings agency Fitch downgrades Italy's credit rating by two notches to A-.