1500 - Portuguese land in the area and claim it to the Portuguese crown.
1822 - Son of Portuguese king declares independence from Portugal and crowns himself Peter I, Emperor of Brazil.
1888 - Slavery abolished. Large influx of European immigrants over the next decade.
1889 - Monarchy overthrown, federal republic established with central government controlled by coffee interests. Brazil produces 65% of world's coffee by 1902.
1930 - Revolt places Getulio Vargas at head of provisional revolutionary government.
1937 - Vargas leads coup, rules as dictator with military backing. Economy placed under authoritarian state control, start of social welfare revolution and reform of laws governing industry.
1939-45 - Brazil initially declares itself neutral but in 1943 joins Allies in World War II.
1945 - Vargas ousted in military coup. Elections held under caretaker government. New constitution returns power to states.
1951 - Vargas elected president, but faces stiff opposition.
1954 - Vargas commits suicide after military gives him the options of resigning or being overthrown.
1956-61 - Juscelino Kubitschek is president, helping Brazil achieve rapid economic growth.
1960 - Kubitschek moves capital to Brasilia.
1960 - Janio Quadros elected president, but resigns after several months, plunging country into constitutional crisis. Succeeded by left-wing vice-president Joao Goulart.
1964 - Goulart ousted in bloodless coup, flees into exile. Military rule associated with repression but also with rapid economic growth based on state-ownership of key sectors.
1974 - General Ernesto Geisel becomes president, introduces reforms which allow limited political activity and elections.
1982 - Brazil halts payment of its main foreign debt, which is among the world's biggest.
1985 - Tancredo Neves elected first civilian president in 21 years under the electoral college system set up by the military, but falls ill before he can be inaugurated and dies shortly afterwards. His vice president Jose Sarney becomes president at time of economic crisis, with inflation at 300%.
1986 - Sarney introduces Cruzado Plan, freezing prices and wages in effort to control inflation. But inflation explodes when freeze is lifted.
1988 - New constitution reduces presidential powers.
1989 - Fernando Collor de Mello elected president. Introduces radical economic reform including opening up of economy to imports, privatisation and a controversial freeze on savings and bank accounts. His promised economic improvements fail to materialise, and by 1991 inflation reaches 1,500%. Foreign debt payments suspended.
1992 - Earth Summit in Rio. Collor resigns after being accused of corruption. He is later cleared. Replaced by vice president Itamar Franco.
1994 - Fernando Henrique Cardoso elected president after helping to bring inflation under control. Makes controversial moves on land issue, seizing land for distribution among poor, and allowing indigenous land claims to be challenged.
1996 - Police kill 19 Amazon peasants in town of Eldorado dos Carajas.
1997 - Constitution changed to allow president to run for re-election.
1998 - Cardoso re-elected. IMF provides rescue package after economy hit by collapse of Asian stock markets.
2000 - Celebrations to mark Brazil's 500th anniversary marred by protests by indigenous Indians, who say that racial genocide, forced labour and disease have dramatically cut their population from an estimated 5 million before the Portuguese arrived in 1500 to the current 350,000.
2001 - Government says it is prepared to make changes to a development programme which critics say would have a catastrophic impact on the Amazon. Under the scheme, the Brazilian government expects to spend $40bn over seven years on highways, railways, hydroelectric projects and housing in the Amazon basin.
2001 May - President Cardoso abolishes two government development agencies for the Amazon and the north-east of the country. The authorities say the agencies set up bogus projects in order to steal development funds estimated at more than $1 billion.