A chronology of key events
1880s-1905 - Colonial France consolidates its hold over Madagascar in the face of local resistance.
1910-20 - Growth of nationalism fuelled by discontent over French rule.
1946 - Madagascar becomes an Overseas Territory of France.
1947 - French suppress armed rebellion in east. Thousands are killed.
1958 - Madagascar votes for autonomy.
1960 26 June - Independence with Philibert Tsiranana as president.
1972 - Amid popular unrest, President Tsiranana dissolves government and hands power to army chief Gen Gabriel Ramanantsoa as head of a provisional government. He reduces the country's ties with France in favour of links with the Soviet Union.
1975 June - Lieutenant-Commander Didier Ratsiraka is named head of state after a coup. The country is renamed the Democratic Republic of Madagascar, and Mr Ratsiraka is elected president for a seven-year term.
1976 - President Ratsiraka nationalises large parts of the economy, and forms the Arema party. Over the years he increases state control over the economy until 1986, when he changes tack and promotes market reforms.
1992 - Under pressure of demonstrations, President Ratsiraka introduces democratic reforms. A new constitution is approved by referendum.
1993 - Opposition leader Albert Zafy is elected president.
1995 - Fire destroys most of Rova complex of royal tombs and palaces in Antananarivo, shortly before it was to receive UN World Heritage Site status. Reconstruction work continues.
1996 - President Zafy is impeached, and Mr Ratsiraka is voted back into office.
2000 March - Thousands are left homeless after two cyclones hit the island and Mozambique.
2001 May - Senate reopens after 29 years, completing the government framework provided for in the 1992 constitution, which replaced the socialist revolutionary system.
The new framework comprises the presidency, national assembly, senate and constitutional high court.
2001 December - First round of presidential elections. Opposition candidate Marc Ravalomanana claims an outright victory and says there's no need for a second round.
2002 February - Mr Ravalomanana declares himself president after weeks of political deadlock with President Ratsiraka over the December polls, which he says the government rigged. Violence breaks out between rival protesters.
2002 April - The Constitutional Court declares Marc Ravalomanana winner of the December polls after a recount. Didier Ratsiraka says he'll ignore the verdict. In June the US recognises Mr Ravalomanana as legitimate leader of Madagascar.
2002 July - Mr Ratsiraka seeks exile in France, marking the end of the seven-month political crisis.
2002 December - Ravalomanana's party, I Love Madagascar (TIM), wins a parliamentary majority in elections which are seen as a test of popular support.
2004 February/March - Tropical cyclones Elita and Gafilo hit; thousands are left homeless.
2004 October - World Bank, International Monetary Fund say they're writing off nearly half of Madagascar's debt - around $2bn.
2005 March - Madagascar is the first state to receive development aid from the US under a scheme to reward nations considered by Washington to be promoting democracy and market reforms.
2006 December - Marc Ravalomanana wins a second presidential term.
2007 April - Voters in a referendum endorse constitutional reforms to increase presidential powers and make English an official language.
2007 July - President Ravalomanana dissolves parliament after new constitution calls for end to autonomy of provinces.
2007 September - President Ravalomanana's I Love Madagascar (TIM) party wins 106 seats out of 127 in early parliamentary elections.
2007 November - President Ravalomanana opens 3.3 billion dollar nickel cobalt mining project in Tamatave. Mine said to be largest of its kind in the world.
2008 Feb-March - Cyclone Ivan, second of the season and one of the largest to hit the island kills 93 and leaves 332,391 homeless. UN launches flash appeal for $36.4 million to help cyclone-hit areas in the country.
2008 March - Madagascar produces first barrels of crude oil in 60 years and at a time of record oil prices. The government issued 19 licenses to search for offshore oil since previous August.
Rise of Rajoelina
2009 January - Dozens are killed as a result of violent protests in Antananarivo following the closure of opposition TV and radio stations.
Opposition leader Andry Rajoelina calls on the president to resign, and proclaims himself in charge of the country.
2009 March - Andry Rajoelina assumes power with military and high court backing after another month of violent protests.
President Ravalomanana flees to South Africa. Move is condemned internationally and isolates Madagascar.
2011 November - New unity government is unveiled. Opposition parties agree to join new government "with reservations".
2014 January - Hery Rajaonarimampianina sworn in as president after elections.
2018 May - Supreme Court scraps electoral laws that sparked weeks of demonstrations and death of two protesters.
2019 January - Andry Rajoelina wins presidential election, defeating President Rajaonarimampianina and his long-standing rival Marc Ravalomanana.