A chronology of key events:
3rd-7th centuries AD - Berber and Arab migrants arrive in present-day Mauritania.
9-10th centuries - Empire of Ghana has its capital in present-day south-west Mauritania.
1076 - Berber Almoravid warriors defeat the Empire of Ghana.
1500s - European mariners and traders establish settlements.
1644-74 - Mauritanian Thirty-Year War: Berbers unsuccessful in repelling Arab warriors.
1850s-60s - French forces gain control of southern Mauritania. In 1898 France wins the allegiance of Moors in the region.
1904 - France establishes Mauritania as a colonial territory.
1920 - Mauritania becomes part of French West Africa, and is administered from Senegal.
1946 - Becomes a French overseas territory.
1958 - Mauritania becomes self-governing.
1960 November - Mauritania becomes independent.
1976 - Mauritania and Morocco divide up Spanish Sahara, now known as Western Sahara, after Spain pulls out. Guerrillas of the Polisario front, aiming to establish an independent state in the territory, fight the forces of both countries.
1978 - First post-independence president, Moktar Daddah, is deposed in a military coup, prompted partly by pressure of Polisario campaign.
1979 - Mauritania signs a peace agreement with the Polisario front and renounces its claim to Western Sahara. Morocco annexes Mauritania's former share of the territory.
1984 - Coup brings Colonel Maaouiya Ould Sid Ahmed Taya to power.
1989 - Race riots erupt in Mauritania and Senegal after a border dispute. Tens of thousands of black Mauritanians are driven out of the country into Senegal. Others become the targets of attacks and land seizures. Hundreds of people are killed.
1992 - Colonel Ould Taya elected president.
1993 - US ends development aid over Mauritania's treatment of its black population and its support for Iraq in the 1991 Gulf War.
1997 - President Ould Taya re-elected in a poll boycotted by the main opposition parties.
2002 January - Opposition party Action for Change, which campaigns for greater rights for blacks and descendants of slaves, is banned.
2003 June - Attempted coup: Troops loyal to President Ould Taya regain control of the capital after heavy fighting with rebel soldiers.
2003 November - President Ould Taya re-elected with 67% of vote in first round of elections. Opposition alleges fraud.
2004 September - Government says it has foiled a coup plot - the third in 15 months. In October President Taya accuses Libya and Burkina Faso of financing recent coup attempts.
2005 January - UN calls for food aid in the wake of locust invasions in 2004. Mauritania was the African country worst hit, with its crop production obliterated.
2005 August - With President Ould Taya out of the country, troops seize government buildings and a group of officers announces the overthrow of the president and the formation of a military council.
2006 February - Offshore oil production begins.
2006 June - Voters in a referendum approve constitutional changes which will limit the president to two five-year terms in office.
Abdallahi elected president
2007 March - Presidential elections won by Sidi Ould Cheikh Abdallahi.
2007 April - Mauritania is readmitted to the African Union, having been suspended after the 2005 coup.
2007 August - Parliament outlaws slavery, a practise still widespread in spite of a 1981 ban.
2008 January - The 2008 Dakar Rally is cancelled following the murder of four French tourists in Mauritania in December, allegedly by attackers linked to al-Qaeda.
2008 April - Eight al-Qaeda suspects alleged to have been involved in killing of French tourists and attack on Israeli embassy are arrested.
2008 May - Members of moderate Islamist opposition party join government for first time.
2008 August - The military overthrows President Abdallahi - the country's first democratically elected leader - and forms a state council to rule the country. The move came after the president tried to dismiss several senior army commanders.
2009 July - Gen Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz - leader of the August 2008 military coup - wins presidential elections.
2010 April - Mauritania, Mali, Niger and Algeria set up joint command to tackle threat of terrorism.
2010 August - Two Spanish aid workers kidnapped in Mauritania by al-Qaeda in November are set free in Mali after nine months in captivity.
2011 November - Government approves new radio and TV stations following an announcement of media liberalisation.
2012 January - Malian refugees stream into Mauritania over several months, fleeing a Tuareg rebellion in the north of their country.
2012 April - Public burning of religious texts allegedly condoning slavery sparks widespread controversy. Abolitionist leader Biram Ould Abeid is detained.
2013 December - President Ould Abdel Aziz's Union for the Republic party wins a majority of seats in the first parliamentary polls since 2006. The vote was boycotted by most opposition groups.
2014 June - President Ould Abdel Aziz wins another five-year term in elections boycotted by the opposition.
2014 July - France announces establishment of a long-term military operation aimed at preventing jihadist groups from establishing safe havens in the Sahel, including Mauritania.
2014 December - A blogger, Mohamed Cheikh Ould Mohamed, is sentenced to death for supposed blasphemy against the Muslim prophet, Muhammad. He awaits the decision of the Supreme Court.
2015 January - Three activists, including former presidential candidate Biram Ould Abeid, are sentenced to two years in prison for their part in anti-slavery protests.
2017 August - Voters in a referendum endorse the president's plan to scrap the Senate and change the flag.