1493. Columbus is the first European to arrive in the islands that are now the French Antilles. In 1496, Europeans report their first sightings of South America.
1604. The French establish their first settlement in the area that is now French Guiana.
1635. The French establish their first settlements on the islands of the Antilles, and hostilities with the indigenous inhabitants escalate.
17TH CENTURY. The territories comprising the French Antilles and French Guiana become French colonies characterized by large settler plantations and African slave labor. Control over French Guiana changes several times between France, Britain, the Netherlands, and Brazil.
1848. France abolishes slavery and the liberated slaves in the French Caribbean colonies become a free labor force, though they remain exploited and land-less.
1915. France gains final domination over Guiana.
1946. The French Caribbean colonies become overseas departments with little autonomy over their own affairs. France highly subsidizes the CDF throughout the post-war period and the economies remain dependent on France for aid and transfers to this day.
1964. The Kourou space center is established in French Guiana.
1974. French Guiana is granted regional status and thus greater economic autonomy.
1982-83. The CDF receive considerable autonomy through a process of devolution.
1990s. The French government seeks to encourage industrial development through the creation of commercial zones with special tax and import duty exemptions.
1998-99. Hurricanes George, Lenny, and Jose wreak havoc in the French Antilles. The Basse-Terre declaration issued by the CDF in 1999 calls for greater departmental control over local affairs.
2001. Unemployment and dependency continue to afflict the CDF economies.