1492. Spanish explorer Christopher Columbus lands on the island of Hispaniola. Spain eventually battles the Arawak Indian population on the islands and establishes a colony.
1697. Spain cedes to France the western part of Hispaniola and founds the colony of Saint-Domingue (which later becomes Haiti). France turns the colony into the center of its slave trade.
1804. Haiti gains independence after a 12-year war against the French led by Touissant L'Ouverture.
1915-34. The United States occupies Haiti in the name of regional security.
1958-71. François "Papa Doc" Duvalier rules the country as a dictator, and the country's economy collapses.
1971-86. Jean-Claude "Baby Doc" Duvalier continues the dictatorship but encourages the development of manufacturing and tourism.
1986. Opposition groups force Duvalier to flee the country, leading to several years of instability and military rule.
1990. Jean-Bertrand Aristide is chosen president in elections overseen by the United Nations. About 9 months later, in 1991, the military ousts Aristide and places its candidate in office. The international community condemns these actions, leading to international isolation for Haiti.
1994. U.S. and, later, United Nations troops enter Haiti to help the nation return to democratic rule. Aris-tide is returned to serve the remainder of his term in office.
1995. In new elections, from which Aristide is barred, Aristide associate René Préval wins the presidency. His presidency is marred by violence and instability.
2000. Aristide wins the presidency in elections that are plagued by accusations of fraud, but he returns a semblance of political stability to the country.