1494. Jamaica is discovered by Christopher Columbus, and comes under the control of Spain in 1509.
1655. England establishes a colony on Jamaica, which is confirmed by the Treaty of Madrid in 1670. The English begin importing slaves to harvest sugar on large plantations.
1807. England bans the slave trade, ending the flow of African slaves into Jamaica.
1834. England abolishes slavery in its colonies, forcing sugar plantation owners to change their labor relations and granting more power to the island's largely black population.
1865. The Morant Bay Rebellion against the authoritarian rule of white colonial leaders is crushed, but British authorities decide to rule Jamaica as a crown colony, which means that it is administered by British officials.
1938. Labor leader Alexander Bustamante helps establish the first trade union in the Caribbean region, the Bustamante Industrial Trade Union (BITU). In the same year Norman Washington Manley forms Jamaica's first political party, the People's National Party (PNP).
1943. Alexander Bustamante forms the nation's second political party, the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP).
1944. England grants Jamaica a new constitution allowing for the election of a governor by all citizens. Jamaica is now self-governed.
1958-61. The West Indies Federation attempts to join Caribbean nations in a single political entity, but is undermined by competition between Jamaica and Trinidad, the federation's 2 largest members.
1962. Jamaica is granted its independence from England on 5 August 1962, and becomes an independent state within the British Commonwealth.
1968. Jamaica joins Caribbean Free Trade Association (CARIFTA), hoping to enlarge the regional market for its goods.
1973. Jamaica becomes a founding nation of the Caribbean Common Market (CARICOM), a union of Caribbean nations dedicated to ensuring the free flow of goods between countries. CARICOM has never received sufficient support from member countries to operate effectively.
1973-74. The worldwide oil crisis undermines Jamaica's economy and puts the nation on the path to lasting trade imbalances and debt.
1988. Hurricane Gilbert devastates the island's agricultural sector, causing damage that continues to affect the economy into the 1990s.
1995. Bruce Golding helps found the National Democratic Movement (NDM), the nation's third major political party.