A chronology of key events:
1535 - Indigenous Araucanian people successfully resist first Spanish invasion of Chile.
1541 - Pedro de Valdivia begins Spanish conquest and founds Santiago.
1553 - Araucanians capture and kill Valdivia.
1810 - Junta in Santiago proclaims autonomy for Chile following the overthrow of the king of Spain by Napoleon.
1814 - Spain regains control of Chile.
1817 - Spanish defeated by Army of the Andes led by Jose de San Martin and Bernardo O'Higgins at the battles of Chacabuco and Maipu.
1818 - Chile becomes independent with O'Higgins as supreme leader.
1823-30 - O'Higgins forced to resign; civil war between liberal federalists and conservative centralists ends with conservative victory.
1851-61 - President Manuel Montt liberalises constitution and reduces privileges of landowners and church.
1879-84 - Chile increases its territory by one third after it defeats Peru and Bolivia in War of the Pacific.
late 19th century - Pacification of Araucanians paves way for European immigration; large-scale mining of nitrate and copper begins.
1891 - Civil war over constitutional dispute between president and congress ends in congressional victory, with president reduced to figurehead.
1925 - New constitution increases presidential powers and separates church and state.
1927 - General Carlos Ibanez del Campo seizes power and establishes dictatorship.
1938-46 - Communists, Socialists and Radicals form Popular Front coalition and introduce economic policies based on US New Deal.
1948-58 - Communist Party banned.
1952 - Gen Carlos Ibanez elected president with promise to strengthen law and order.
1964 - Eduardo Frei Montalva, Christian Democrat, elected president and introduces cautious social reforms, but fails to curb inflation.
1970 - Salvador Allende becomes world's first democratically elected Marxist president and embarks on an extensive programme of nationalisation and radical social reform.
1973 - Gen Augusto Pinochet ousts Allende in CIA-sponsored coup and proceeds to establish a brutal dictatorship.
1988 - Gen Pinochet loses a referendum on whether he should remain in power.
1989-90 - Christian Democrat Patricio Aylwin wins presidential election; Gen Pinochet steps down in 1990 as head of state but remains commander-in-chief of the army.
1994-95 - Eduardo Frei succeeds Aylwin as president and begins to reduce the military's influence in government.
1998 - Gen Pinochet retires from the army and is made senator for life but is arrested in the UK at the request of Spain on murder charges.
2000 March - British Home Secretary Jack Straw decides that Gen Pinochet is not fit to be extradited. Gen Pinochet returns to Chile.
Socialist Ricardo Lagos is elected president.
2000 onwards - Chilean courts strip Gen Pinochet of his immunity from prosecution several times, but attempts to make him stand trial for alleged human rights offences fail, with judges usually citing concerns over the general's health.
2002 July - Gen Pinochet resigns from his post as a lifelong senator.
2004 May - President Lagos signs a law giving Chileans the right to divorce, despite opposition from the Roman Catholic Church.
Manuel Contreras, former head of secret police, is jailed for 15 years over the disappearance and death of a journalist in 1974.
2005 May - 45 young soldiers perish in a blizzard, prompting calls for an end to compulsory military service.
2005 July - Senate approves changes to the Pinochet-era constitution, including one which restores the president's right to dismiss military commanders.
2005 December - Presidential elections. Socialist Michelle Bachelet gains the most votes but fails to win more than 50% support, forcing a second-round vote against conservative billionaire and former senator Sebastian Pinera.
2006 January - Michelle Bachelet wins the second round of presidential elections to become Chile's first woman president and the fourth consecutive head of state from the centre-left Concertacion coalition. She takes office in March.
2006 August - Chile and China sign a free-trade deal, Beijing's first in South America.
2006 December - Pinochet dies.
2007 January - President Bachelet signs a decree allowing the morning-after contraceptive pill to be given to girls as young as 14 without their parents' consent.
2007 March - Ongoing protests in the capital Santiago over chaos following the introduction of a new transport system.
2007 June - Government agrees to pay compensation to the families of 12 victims of Pinochet.
Tensions with Peru
2008 January - Peru files a lawsuit at the International Court of Justice in a bid to settle a long-standing dispute over maritime territory with neighbouring Chile.
2008 May - Unexpected eruption of Chaiten volcano which has been dormant for 9,000 years. Authorities order complete evacuation of two towns in Patagonian region.
2008 September - Emergency declared in parts of southern Chile where eight people were killed in torrential rain and widespread flooding.
2008 October - Local elections signal that the political right, long out of office in Chile, may be gaining ground ahead of next year's presidential poll.
2009 February - President Bachelet makes the first visit to Cuba by a Chilean leader in almost four decades.
2009 October - Relations with Peru become further strained after Chile stages a military exercise in the north, close to the disputed border.
2009 November - A new diplomatic row erupts after a Peruvian air force officer is accused of spying for the Chilean military.
2010 January - Right-wing candidate Sebastian Pinera defeats former President Eduardo Frei in presidential election, ending 20 years of rule by the left-wing Concentracion coalition.
2010 February - Hundreds die and widespread damage is caused as massive earthquake strikes central Chile. The 8.8 magnitude quake is the biggest to hit the country in 50 years.
2010 March - President Pinera is inaugurated, and pledges to tackle the consequences of the earthquake.
2010 October - 33 miners trapped deep underground for 69 days are winched to safety, watched by TV audiences around the world.
2010 December - President Pinera promises penal reform after a fire at an overcrowded Santiago jail claims the lives of 81 prisoners.
2011 May - Trades unions organise demonstration in Valparaiso in protest at government's environmental, education and labour policies.
2011 July - Thousands of high school and university students take to the streets to demand a more equal education system. Copper miners strike over government plans to restructure the industry.
2012 January - Government sparks row by changing desigation of Gen Pinochet's government from "dictatorship" to "regime" in school textbooks.
2012 April - Congress passes much-debated anti-discrimination law, which names discrimination because of sexual orientation as an offence.