A chronology of key events:
2000 BC- 250 AD: Mayan Preclassic Period
250 AD- 900 AD: Mayan Classic Period during which many Maya cities reached their historically recognized height of making great contributions to astrology, mathematics, writing, language, architecture, religion, and agriculture.
900 AD – 1523: Mayan Postclassic Period. At its peak, the Mayan Civilization was one of the most densely populated and culturally dynamic societies in the world. (Today there are 24 distinct Maya ethnic groups, each with their own language, totaling roughly 55% of the 2009 population of 14 million people.)
1523-24 - Spanish adventurer Pedro de Alvarado defeats the indigenous Maya and turns Guatemala into a Spanish colony.
1821 - Guatemala becomes independent and joins the Mexican empire the following year.
1823 - Guatemala becomes part of the United Provinces of Central America, which also include Costa Rica, El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua.
1839 - Guatemala becomes fully independent.
1844-65 - Guatemala ruled by conservative dictator Rafael Carrera.
1873-85 - Guatemala ruled by liberal President Justo Rufino Barrios, who modernizes the country, develops the army and introduces coffee growing.
1931 - Jorge Ubico becomes president; his tenure is marked by repressive rule and then by an improvement in the country's finances.
1941 - Guatemala declares war on the Axis powers.
1944 - Juan Jose Arevalo becomes president following the overthrow of Ubico and introduces social-democratic reforms, including setting up a social security system and redistributing land to landless peasants.
1951 - Colonel Jacobo Arbenz Guzman becomes president, continuing Arevalo's reforms.
1954 - Land reform stops with the accession to power of Colonel Carlos Castillo in a coup backed by the US and prompted by Arbenz's nationalization of plantations of the United Fruit Company.
1963 - Colonel Enrique Peralta becomes president following the assassination of Castillo.
1966 - Civilian rule restored; Cesar Mendez elected president.
1970 - Military-backed Carlos Arena elected president.
--Human rights violated--
More than 200,000 were killed, or disappeared, in 36 year conflict (1960-1996)
1970s - Military rulers embark on a program to eliminate left-wingers, resulting in at least 50,000 deaths.
1976 - 27,000 people are killed and more than a million rendered homeless by earthquake.
1981 - Around 11,000 people are killed by death squads and soldiers in response to growing anti-government guerrilla activity.
1982 - General Efrain Rios Montt (b. 1926) gains power following military coup. He was responsible for some of the worst atrocities committed during the war.
1983 - Montt ousted in coup led by General Mejia Victores, who declares an amnesty for guerrillas.
1985 - Marco Vinicio Cerezo Arevalo elected president and the Guatemalan Christian Democratic Party wins legislative elections under a new constitution.
1989 - Attempt to overthrow Cerezo fails; civil war toll since 1980 reaches 100,000 dead and 40,000 missing.
1991 - Jorge Serrano Elias elected president. Diplomatic relations restored with Belize, from whom Guatemala had long-standing territorial claims.
1992 – Rigobera Menchu Tum awarded Nobel Peace Prize
1993 - Serrano forced to resign after his attempt to impose an authoritarian regime ignites a wave of protests; Ramiro de Leon Carpio elected president by the legislature.
1994 - Peace talks between the government and rebels of the Guatemalan Revolutionary National Unity begin; right-wing parties win a majority in legislative elections.
1995 - Rebels declare a ceasefire; UN and US criticize Guatemala for widespread human rights abuses.
--End of civil war--
1996 - Alvaro Arzu elected president, conducts purge of senior military officers and signs peace agreement with rebels, ending 36 years of war.
1998 - Bishop Juan Gerardi, a human rights campaigner, murdered.
1999 - UN-backed commission says security forces were behind 93% of all human rights atrocities committed during the civil war, which claimed 200,000 lives, and that senior officials had overseen 626 massacres in Maya villages.
2000 - Alfonso Portillo sworn in as president after winning elections in 1999.
2001 December - President Portillo pays $1.8 million in compensation to the families of 226 men, women and children killed by soldiers and paramilitaries in the northern village of Las Dos Erres in 1982.
2002 September - Guatemala and Belize agree on draft settlement to their long-standing border dispute at talks brokered by Organization of American States (OAS). Both nations will hold referendums on draft settlement.
November - Presidential elections go to second round. Former military leader Efrain Rios Montt (FRG party) trails in third place, accepts defeat.
2003 December - Conservative businessman Oscar Berger - a former mayor of Guatemala City - wins presidential election in second round.
Guatemala - along with Nicaragua, El Salvador and Honduras - agrees on free-trade agreement with US.
2004 May - Former military leader Efrain Rios Montt placed under house arrest.
2004 – Rigoberta Menchu Tum appointed as the Goodwill Ambassador to the Peace Accords.
2004 May/June - Major cuts to the army; bases are closed and 10,000 soldiers are retired.
2004 July - $3.5 million in damages paid to victims of civil war. Move follows state's formal admissions of guilt in several well-known human rights crimes.
2004 September - Deadly clashes as police try to evict around 600 squatters from private farm. Eleven people are killed.
2004 December - UN mission, set up to monitor post-civil war peace process, winds up. But UN says Guatemala still suffers from crime, social injustice, human rights violations.
2005 March - Government ratifies Central American free trade deal with US amid street protests in capital.
2006 December- UN International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala is founded, with a two year mandate as an independent body to support the Public Prosecutor’s Office, National Police, and other State institutions in the investigation of difficult and sensitive cases, to uncover illegal and clandestine security groups, in order to dismantle them.
2009 April – CICIG’s mandate is renewed for another two years.
2005 October - Hundreds of people are killed as Tropical Storm Stan sweeps through, triggering landslides and floods.
2005 November - Guatemala's leading anti-drugs investigator is arrested in the US on charges of drug trafficking.
2006 July - A Spanish judge issues a warrant for the arrest of former military leader Efrain Rios Montt and other former officials over atrocities committed during the civil war.
2006 December - Government and the UN agree to create a commission - to be known as the CICIG - to identify and dismantle powerful clandestine armed groups.
2007 February - Three El Salvador politicians and their driver are murdered near Guatemala City. The trio were members of the Central American Parliament, based in the capital.
2007 May - Guatemala ratifies an international adoption treaty, committing it to ensure that babies are not bought or stolen.
2007 July - Amnesty International urges the government to ratify the CICIG as a first step towards tackling the culture of impunity it says has contributed to Guatemala's soaring murder rate.
2007 August - International election monitors say they are worried about the high murder rate among political candidates and activists in the run-up to the 9 September polls.
2007 November - Alvaro Colom of centre-left National Unity of Hope Party wins presidential elections with nearly 53 percent of the vote. Rigoberta Menchu, a campaigner for Mayan rights, is the first female indigenous presidential candidate.
2008 October - Former president Alfonso Portillo is extradited from Mexico to face corruption charges linked to disappearance of $15m (£8.5m) earmarked for Guatemalan defense department.
2008 November - Fifteen bus passengers including a Dutch national are shot dead and then set on fire in eastern Guatemala in what police believe to be a drug-related incident.
2009 May - President Alvaro Colom denies allegations of involvement in murder of a prominent who in a video made before to his death claimed Colom and other top officials were out to kill him.
2009 September - An ex-paramilitary officer, Felipe Cusanero, becomes the first person to be jailed for the forced disappearance of civilians in Guatemala's civil war.
Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2009/09/02 15:46:50 GMT