A chronology of key events:
Timeline: Dominican Republic
1492 - Christopher Columbus visits the island, which he names Hispaniola, or "Little Spain".
1496 - Spaniards set up first Spanish colony in
Western hemisphere at Santo Domingo, which subsequently serves as
capital of all Spanish colonies in America.
1697 - Treaty of Ryswick gives western part
of Hispaniola island (Haiti) to France and eastern part (Santo Domingo
- the present Dominican Republic) to Spain.
Downtown Santo Domingo
1795 - Spain cedes its portion of Hispaniola island to France.
1808 - Spain retakes Santo Domingo following revolt by Spanish Creoles.
1821 - Uprising against Spanish rules is followed by brief period of independence.
1822 - Haitian President Jean-Pierre Boyer marches his troops into Santo Domingo and annexes it.
1844 - Boyer overthrown.
Republic is born
1845 - Santo Domingo declares its independence and becomes the Dominican Republic.
1861-63 - President Pedro Santana returns the Dominican Republic to Spanish rule.
1863-64 - Spain withdraws from, and annuls its
annexation of, the Dominican Republic following popular revolt and US
1865 - The second Dominican Republic proclaimed.
1906 - Dominican Republic and US sign 50-year
treaty according to which the US takes over the republic's customs
department in return for buying its debts.
1916-24 - US forces occupy the Dominican Republic following internal disorder.
1924 - Constitutional government assumes control; US forces withdraw.
1930 - General Rafael Leonidas Trujillo Molina
establishes personal dictatorship following the overthrow of President
1937 - Army massacres 19,000-20,000 Haitians living in areas of the Dominican Republic adjacent to Haiti.
Wooden homes: Santo Domingo
1960 - Organisation of American States adopts resolution calling for severance of diplomatic ties with the Dominican Republic.
1961 - Trujillo assassinated.
1962 - Juan Bosch, founder of the leftist
Dominican Revolutionary Party (PRD) elected president in the first
democratic elections for nearly four decades.
1963 - Bosch deposed in military coup and replaced by a three-man civilian junta.
1964 - Some 30,000 US troops invade the Dominican Republic following attempt to return Bosch to power.
Return to democracy
1966 - Joaquin Balaguer, a Trujillo protege and leader of the centre-right Christian Social Reform Party (PRSC), elected president.
1978 - Silvestre Antonio Guzman (PRD) elected
president and proceeds to release some 200 political prisoners, ease
media censorship and purge the armed forces of Balaguer supporters.
1979 - Two hurricanes leave more than 200,0000
people homeless and cause damage worth 1 billion dollars as the economy
continues to deteriorate due to high fuel prices and low sugar prices.
1982 - Another PRD candidate, Jorge Blanco, elected president.
Austerity and unrest
1985 - IMF-prescribed austerity measures, including price rises for basic foods and petrol, lead to widespread riots.
1986 - Balaguer (PRSC) re-elected president.
1988 - Jorge Blanco tried in absentia and found guilty of corruption during his presidential tenure.
1990 - Balaguer re-elected, defeating Bosch by a small majority.
1994 - Balaguer re-elected, but agrees to serve only a two-year term after being accused of fraud.
1996 - Leoned Fernandez Reyna of the leftist Dominican Liberation Party (PLD) elected president.
1997 - Forty-eight hour general strike in protest against frequent power cuts, the cost of living and deteriorating public services.
Back on the campaign trail: Joaquin Balaguer, aged 93, in February 2000
1998 - Hurricane George causes widespread devastation.
1999 - Roman Catholic Church in the Dominican
Republic attacks the country's politicians, accusing them of failing to
begin a serious dialogue to solve political problems and the abuse of
2000 - PRD returned to power with Hipolito Mejia as president.
2001 May - Appeals court quashes a conviction against former President Salvador Jorge Blanco on charges of corruption.
2001 November - US jet bound for Santo Domingo
crashes in New York borough of Queens, killing all 255 people on board.
Three days of national mourning declared.
2002 January - President Mejia confirms fugitive
French politician Didier Schuller is under house arrest in the country.
Schuller returns to France in February, where he faces corruption
charges from his time in President Chirac's RPR party.
2002 May - Ruling Revolutionary Party comfortably wins local elections.
2002 July - Former President Joaquin Balaguer dies
aged 95; thousands turn out to pay their last respects to a man who
dominated political life for more than 50 years.