A chronology of key events:
1492 - Christopher Columbus visits the island, which he names Hispaniola, or "Little Spain".
Santo Domingo: The oldest European city in the New World
- Founded 1496 by Bartholomew Columbus
- Population: 2.4 million
1496 - Spaniards set up first Spanish colony in Western hemisphere at Santo Domingo, which subsequently serves as capital of all Spanish colonies in America.
1697 - Treaty of Ryswick gives western part of Hispaniola island (Haiti) to France and eastern part (Santo Domingo - the present Dominican Republic) to Spain.
1795 - Spain cedes its portion of Hispaniola island to France.
1808 - Spain retakes Santo Domingo following revolt by Spanish Creoles.
1821 - Uprising against Spanish rules is followed by brief period of independence.
1822 - Haitian President Jean-Pierre Boyer marches his troops into Santo Domingo and annexes it.
Republic is born
1844 - Boyer overthrown; Santo Domingo declares its independence and becomes the Dominican Republic.
1861-63 - President Pedro Santana returns the Dominican Republic to Spanish rule.
1863-64 - Spain withdraws from, and annuls its annexation of, the Dominican Republic following a popular revolt.
1865 - The second Dominican Republic proclaimed.
1906 - Dominican Republic and US sign 50-year treaty according to which the US takes over the republic's customs department in return for buying its debts.
1916-24 - US forces occupy the Dominican Republic following internal disorder.
1924 - Constitutional government assumes control; US forces withdraw.
1930 - General Rafael Leonidas Trujillo Molina establishes personal dictatorship following the overthrow of President Horacio Vazquez.
1937 - Army massacres 19,000-20,000 Haitians living in areas of the Dominican Republic adjacent to Haiti.
1960 - Organization of American States adopts resolution calling for severance of diplomatic ties with the Dominican Republic.
1961 - Trujillo assassinated.
1962 - Juan Bosch, founder of the leftist Dominican Revolutionary Party (PRD) elected president in the first democratic elections for nearly four decades.
1963 - Bosch deposed in military coup and replaced by a three-man civilian junta.
1965 - Some 30,000 US troops invade the Dominican Republic following a pro-Bosch uprising.
Return to democracy
1966 - Joaquin Balaguer, a Trujillo protege and former leader of the Reformist Party (later to become the centre-right Christian Social Reform Party (PRSC)), is elected president.
1978 - Silvestre Antonio Guzman (PRD) is elected president and proceeds to release some 200 political prisoners, ease media censorship and purge the armed forces of Balaguer supporters.
1979 - Two hurricanes leave more than 200,0000 people homeless and cause damage worth 1 billion dollars as the economy continues to deteriorate due to high fuel prices and low sugar prices.
1982 - Another PRD candidate, Jorge Blanco, elected president.
1985 - IMF-prescribed austerity measures, including price rises for basic foods and petrol, lead to widespread riots.
Joaquin Balaguer's political career spanned seven decades
- Sworn in as president in 1960 after Hector Trujillo resigns
- Forced to resign in 1962 by a military coup
- Elected president in 1966, 1970, 1974, 1986, 1990 & 1994
- Steps down in 1996 after massive public demonstrations
1986 - Balaguer (PRSC) re-elected president.
1988 - Jorge Blanco tried in absentia and found guilty of corruption during his presidential tenure.
1990 - Balaguer re-elected, defeating Bosch by a small majority.
1994 - Balaguer re-elected, but agrees to serve only a two-year term after being accused of fraud.
1996 - Leonel Fernandez Reyna of the Dominican Liberation Party (PLD) elected president.
1998 - Hurricane George causes widespread devastation.
2000 - PRD returned to power with Hipolito Mejia as president.
2001 May - Appeals court quashes a conviction against former president, Salvador Jorge Blanco, on charges of corruption.
2001 November - US jet bound for Santo Domingo crashes in New York killing all 255 people on board. Three days of national mourning declared.
2002 July - Former president Joaquin Balaguer dies aged 95; thousands pay their last respects to a man who dominated politics for more than 50 years.
2003 November - Deadly clashes between police and protesters during demonstrations against high prices, power cuts. Two months later, demonstrations about economic policies leave at least five dead.
2004 May - Former president Leonel Fernandez defeats incumbent Hipolito Mejia.
Severe floods in the south-west, and in parts of neighbouring Haiti, leave more than 2,000 dead or disappeared.
2005 September - Congress approves a proposed free trade agreement with the US and Central American nations. The DR enters the accord in March 2007.
2008 May - President Leonel Fernandez is re-elected.
2010 May - Congressional elections. Governing Dominican Liberation Party (PLD) retains firm grip on power.
2010 October - Dominican Republic tightens border restrictions to prevent cholera spreading from Haiti.
2012 May - Governing Dominican Liberation Party candidate Danilo Medina wins close presidential election over former president Hipolito Mejia.