1498. Trinidad sighted and named by Christopher Columbus.
1592. Large-scale Spanish settlement begins in Trinidad.
1797. Trinidad becomes British colony.
1814. British take control of Tobago from French.
1838. End of slavery creates labor shortages on plantations.
1845. First arrival of indentured Indian laborers.
1857. First oil well drilled.
1888. Trinidad and Tobago are formally combined as political entity.
1917. End of indentureship system.
1956. Self-government begins.
1962. Independence from Great Britain, but the country remains a member of the British Commonwealth. Eric Williams of the People's National Movement (PNM) becomes first prime minister, a position he holds until his death in 1981.
1976. Trinidad and Tobago declare independence as a republic, creating the office of president to take the place of the British monarch as chief of state.
1970S. Economic boom as world oil prices rise sharply.
1982. Collapse of oil prices leads to a 10-year recession.
1995. Indian-dominated United National Congress (UNC) wins elections.
2000. UNC wins second term in office amidst contested elections.