A chronology of key events:
1542 - Spanish expedition claims the islands and names them the Philippines after the heir to the Spanish throne.
1890s - Beginnings of insurrection against Spanish rule.
1898 - During the Spanish-American War, the US navy destroys the Spanish fleet in Manila Bay. Spain cedes the Philippines to the US under the Treaty of Paris in December. The US proclaims military rule.
1899 - Insurgent activity against US forces begins.
1901 - Leader of insurgents, Emilio Aguinaldo, is captured.
1902 - US civil government replaces military rule.
Mount Mayon volcano, with its near-perfect cone, is active
1907 - A Philippine assembly is inaugurated.
1935 - A plebiscite approves the establishment of the Commonwealth of the Philippines. Manuel Quezon is the first president. The Philippines is promised full independence within 10 years.
Invasion and occupation
1941 - Japan attacks the Philippines by air and invades two weeks later.
1944 - US forces retake the islands.
1946 - The islands are granted full independence and renamed the Republic of the Philippines.
1947 - The US is awarded military bases on the islands.
1951 - Peace treaty signed with Japan. The Philippines eventually receive $800m in reparations payments.
1965 - Ferdinand Marcos becomes president.
Ex-president Ferdinand Marcos
Marcos amassed an estimated $10bn fortune
- Born in 1917
- Became president in 1965
- Fled the country in 1986
- Died in Hawaii in 1989
1969 - Marcos is re-elected amidst allegations of electoral fraud. Marcos supports the US policy in Vietnam. There are protests against this. Muslim separatists in the south of the country also begin their campaign of guerrilla war.
1972 - Marcos declares martial law. The parliament is suspended, opposition politicians are arrested, censorship is imposed.
1973 - A new constitution gives Marcos absolute powers.
1977 - Opposition leader Benigno Aquino is sentenced to death. Marcos delays the execution.
1980 - Aquino allowed to travel to the US for medical treatment.
1981 - Martial law is lifted. Marcos wins presidential elections.
1983 - Aquino returns to the Philippines, but is shot dead as he leaves his plane. The military is blamed for the murder.
1986 - Presidential elections see Marcos opposed by Aquino's widow, Corazon. Marcos declares himself the winner, but Aquino disputes the result. There are mass protests, dubbed "people power", in Manila. The military withdraws its support for Marcos, who flees to Hawaii. The new government claims Marcos had looted billions of dollars during his time in power.
1989 December - US jets assist Philippine government forces in suppressing an attempted coup.
Joseph Estrada: Former film star was ousted in coup
1990 - Military officials are convicted of the murder of Benigno Aquino.
1991 - The US abandons Clark Air Base after a volcanic eruption smothers it with ash.
1992 - Aquino's defence minister, Fidel Ramos, wins presidency. The US closes Subic Bay Naval Station.
1996 - Peace agreement reached with Muslim separatist group, the Moro National Liberation Front. Another group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), carries on its campaign.
1998 - Joseph Estrada elected president.
2000 November - Impeachment proceedings start against President Estrada on allegations of corruption, betrayal of public trust, and violation of the constitution.
2001 January - Suspension of impeachment causes mass street protests. The military withdraws its support and President Estrada stands down on 20 January, still proclaiming his innocence. His vice-president, Gloria Arroyo, is sworn in as president.
2001 March - The MILF declares a ceasefire and says it is ready to hold talks with the government.
2001 April - Joseph Estrada is charged with plundering more than $80m from state funds while in office. He is eventually found guilty and jailed for life. He wins a pardon.
Conflict in the south Philippines
2002 January - US and Filipino armies hold joint counterterror exercises take place near stronghold of the Abu Sayyaf group, which US says has links to Osama Bin Laden.
2002 October - Series of deadly bomb blasts - on a Manila bus and at three locations in Zamboanga city - are blamed on Islamic militants.
2003 February Ceasefire between MILF and government breaks down. Planned talks are called off in May after a rebel attack on Mindanao kills 30 people.
2003 July - Government signs ceasefire with MILF ahead of planned talks in Malaysia.
Army mutiny in Manila; some 300 soldiers seize a shopping centre but surrender peacefully following negotiations. President Arroyo declares a state of rebellion.
2004 February - Peace talks between government and communist rebel New People's Army start in Norway, but are called off by the rebels in August.
2004 June - Gloria Arroyo wins May's presidential elections.
Arroyo under pressure
2005 January - Heavy fighting between troops and MILF rebels breaks the July 2003 ceasefire.
2005 April- Breakthrough achieved on contentious issue of ancestral land achieved at peace talks in Malaysia between government and MILF rebels.
2005 June - Influential Cardinal Jaime Sin, who led the two peaceful revolts that toppled Presidents Marcos and Estrada, dies aged 76.
2005 July-September - President Arroyo pressured to resign over allegations of vote-rigging; survives an opposition attempt to impeach her.
2006 February - More than 1,000 people are killed by a mudslide which engulfs a village on the central island of Leyte.
President Arroyo declares a week-long state of emergency after the army says it has foiled a planned coup.
2007: students in Quezon city stage a mock massacre in protest against political killings
- Report implicated military in deaths of hundreds of activists
2007 January - Death of Abu Sayyaf leader Khaddafy Janjalani confirmed; army says he was killed in fighting in 2006.
2007 February - Government report accuses military of being behind the killings of hundreds of mainly left-wing activists since 2001.
2007 April - The military says stepping up its offensive against Abu Sayyaf, after the group beheaded seven Christian hostages.
2007 November - Renegade soldiers make failed coup bid at luxury hotel in Manila after breaking out of court where they were standing trial for failed 2003 mutiny.
2008 July-August - Government negotiators say they have reached an agreement with MILF rebels on the expansion of a Muslim autonomous region in the south. Deal collapses after Christian communities raise objections and renewed fighting on the southern island of Mindanao leaves at least 30 people dead.
2008 December - Norwegian-brokered peace talks with Maoist guerrillas of the New People's Army (NPA) break down; NPA attacks army patrol on Mindanao.
2009 September - Army announces capture of leading MILF figure Camarudin Hadji Ali.
2009 November - An attack on group of people travelling to file election nomination papers on Mindanao leaves 57 dead. Victims' relatives blame the rival Ampatuan clan.
2009 December - Peace talks between Manila and MILF resume in Malaysia, after breaking down 16 months ago.
A founder of Abu Sayyaf alleged to have helped forge links with al-Qaeda, Abdul Basir Latip, is arrested on Mindanao. He denies being a member of a militant group.
The 2009 massacre of 57 people on Mindanao shocked the Philippines
2010 February - The army captures Abu Sayyaf leader Mujibar Alih Amon, suspected of a kidnapping raid on a Malaysian resort in 2000 and the killing of Christian missionaries in 2001.
Prosecutors charge 196 more people with murder over the Maguindanao massacre in November, including Andal Ampatuan Snr, a former provincial governor and ally of President Arroyo.
2010 March - Peace monitors return to Mindanao to oversee MILF talks.
2010 June - Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino becomes president.
2010 September - Andal Ampatuan junior, a member of the powerful Ampatuan clan, goes on trial on charges of organising the Maguindanao mass killings.
2011 February - Manila and communist NPA agree to work towards a peace deal by 2012 at talks in Oslo, their first negotiations since the previous round broke down in 2004. Troops arrested prominent NPA member Tirso Alcantara the previous month.
2011 November - Former President Gloria Arroyo is arrested on vote-fraud charges over a Senate seat election in 2007. She denies the charges.
2012 May - Philippines and Chinese naval vessels confront one another off the Scarborough Shoal reef in the South China Sea. Both countries claim the reef, which may have significant reserves of oil and gas.
2012 October - The government signs a framework peace plan with the Muslim rebel Moro Islamic Liberation Front, ending a 40-year conflict that has cost an estimated 120,000 lives. The plan will set up an autonomous region in part of the south where Muslims are the majority. The more extreme Abu Sayyaf group, which is affiliated to al-Qaeda, remains unreconciled.
Government enacts controversial cybercrime law amid anti-censorship protests. The Supreme Court suspends the law only days after it has come into force, in response to numerous legal challenges.
Former President Gloria Arroyo is arrested in hospital on charges of plundering state funds while in office, a little over two months after being released on bail in a separate case relating to electoral fraud allegations.
2012 December - Parliament defies the Catholic Church to vote for state-funded contraception, approving a bill that has been debated for 13 years.
2013 February - Armed followers of a self-proclaimed sultan invade Sabah state on Malaysian Borneo, sparking several days of fighting with Malaysian forces. More than 60 people are killed.
2013 May - Major diplomatic row erupts between Taiwan and the Philippines after Filipino coastguards kill a Taiwanese fisherman in disputed waters.
2013 September - Stand-off between the army and rebels of the Moro National Liberation Front in the southern city of Zamboanga prompts 75,000 residents to flee.
2013 November - Typhoon Haiyan sweeps across central areas of the country leaving devastation and thousands of dead in its wake. A major international aid effort is organised to help more than four million people affected.
2014 March - Moro Islamic Liberation Front rebel group signs a peace deal with the government that brings an end to one of Asia's longest and deadliest conflicts.
The Philippines submits evidence to a UN tribunal hearing its case against China's territorial claims in the South China Sea.
2014 April - Supreme Court approves a birth control law, which requires government health centres to distribute free contraceptives. The bill marks a defeat for the Catholic Church, which campaigned strongly against it.