1498 - Christopher Columbus sights the coast of Surinam.
1593 - Spanish explorers visit the area and name it Surinam, after the country's earliest inhabitants, the Surinen.
1602 - Dutch establish settlements.
1651 - British planters and their slaves set up the first European settlement in Surinam.
1667 - British cede their part of Surinam to the Netherlands in exchange for New Amsterdam (later called New York City).
1682 - Coffee and sugar cane plantations established and worked by African slaves.
1799-1802, 1804-16 - British rule reimposed.
1863 - Slavery abolished; indentured labourers brought in from India, Java and China to work on plantations.
1916 - Aluminium Company of America (Alcoa) begins mining bauxite - the principal ore of aluminium - which gradually becomes Surinam's main export.
1954 - Surinam given full autonomy, with the Netherlands retaining control over its defence and foreign affairs.
1975 - Surinam becomes independent with Johan Ferrier as president and Henck Arron, of the Surinam National Party (NPS), as prime minister; more than a third of the population emigrate to the Netherlands.
1980 - Arron's government ousted in military coup, but President Ferrier refuses to recognise the military regime and appoints Henk Chin A Sen of the Nationalist Republican Party (PNR) to lead a civilian administration; army replaces Ferrier with Chin-A-Sen.
1985 - Ban on political parties lifted.
1986 - Surinamese Liberation Army (SLA), composed mostly of descendants of escaped African slaves, begins guerrilla war with the aim of restoring constitutional order; within months principal bauxite mines and refineries forced to shut down.
1987 - Some 97% of electorate approve new civilian constitution.
1988 - Ramsewak Shankar, a former agriculture minister, elected president.
1989 - Bouterse rejects accord reached by President Shankar with SLA and pledges to continue fighting.
1990 - Shankar ousted in military coup masterminded by Bouterse.
1991 - Johan Kraag (NPS) becomes interim president; alliance of opposition parties—the New Front for Democracy and Development—wins majority of seats in parliamentary elections; Ronald Venetiaan elected president.
1992 - Peace accord reached with SLA.
1997 - Dutch government issues international arrest warrant for Bouterse, claiming that he had smuggled more than two tonnes of cocaine into the Netherlands during 1989-97, but Surinam refuses to extradite him.
1999 - Dutch court convicts Bouterse for drug smuggling after trying him in absentia.
2000 - Venetiaan becomes president, replacing Wijdenbosch, after winning elections that were held one year early in the wake of widespread protests against the former government's handling of the economy.