Timeline: Haiti

BBC News, 10 February 2004

A chronology of key events:

1492—Christopher Columbus lands and names the island Hispaniola, or Little Spain.

1496—Spanish establish first European settlement in western hemisphere at Santo Domingo, now capital of Dominican Republic.

1697—Spain cedes western part of Hispaniola to France, and this becomes Haiti, or Land of Mountains.

1801—A former black slave who became a guerrilla leader, Toussaint Louverture, conquers Haiti, abolishing slavery and proclaiming himself governor-general of an autonomous government over all Hispaniola.

1802—French force led by Napoleon's brother-in-law, Charles Leclerc, fails to conquer Haitian interior.


1804—Haiti becomes independent; former slave Jean-Jacques Dessalines declares himself emperor.

1806—Dessalines assassinated and Haiti divided into a black-controlled north and a mulatto-ruled south

1818-43—Pierre Boyer unifies Haiti, but excludes blacks from power.

1915—US invades Haiti following black-mulatto friction, which it thought endangered its property and investments in the country.

1934—US withdraws troops from Haiti, but maintains fiscal control until 1947.

Duvalier dictatorships

1956—Voodoo physician Francois "Papa Doc" Duvalier seizes power in military coup and is elected president a year later.

1964—Duvalier declares himself president-for-life and establishes a dictatorship with the help of the Tontons Macoute militia.

1971—Duvalier dies and is succeeded by his 19-year-old son, Jean-Claude, or "Baby Doc", who also declares himself president-for-life.

1986—Baby Doc flees Haiti in the wake of mounting popular discontent and is replaced by Lieutenant-General Henri Namphy as head of a governing council.

1988—Leslie Manigat becomes president, but is ousted in a coup led by Brigadier-General Prosper Avril, who installs a civilian government under military control.

Democracy, coup and intervention

1990—Jean-Bertrand Aristide elected president.

1991—Aristide ousted in a coup led by Brigadier-General Raoul Cedras, triggering sanctions by the US and the Organisation of American States.

1993—UN imposes sanctions after the Haitian military regime rejected an accord facilitating Aristide's return.

1994—Haitian military regime relinquishes power in the face of an imminent US invasion; US forces land in Haiti peacefully to oversee a transition to civilian government; Aristide returns.

1995—UN peacekeepers begin to replace US troops; Aristide supporters win parliamentary elections; Rene Preval elected in December to replace Aristide as president.

1996—Preval sworn in as president.

1997-99—Serious political deadlock; new government named.

1999—Preval declares that parliament's term has expired and begins ruling by decree following a series of disagreements with deputies.

Aristide's second term

2000 November—Aristide elected president for a second non-consecutive term, amid allegations of irregularities.

2001 July—Presidential spokesman accuses former army officers of trying to overthrow the government after armed men attack three locations, killing four police officers.

2001 December—30 armed men try to seize the National Palace in an apparent coup attempt; 12 people are killed in the raid, which the government blames on former army members.

2002 July—Haiti is approved as a full member of the Caribbean Community (Caricom) trade bloc.

2003 April—Voodoo recognised as a religion, on a par with other faiths.

2003 July—Inter-American Development Bank resumes loan programme, raising hopes for further international support.

2004 January—Celebrations marking 200 years of independence marred by violence and protests against President Aristide's rule.

2004 February—Uprising against Aristide intensifies. Rebels claim to have seized some towns and cities. Dozens are killed in violence.