A chronology of key events
1919 - Afghanistan regains independence after third war against British forces
1926 - Amanullah proclaims himself king
1929 - Amanullah flees after civil unrest over his reforms.
1933 - Zahir Shah becomes king
1953 - General Mohammed Daud becomes prime minister
1963 - Mohammed Daud forced to resign as prime minister
1964 - Constitutional monarchy introduced
1973 - Mohammed Daud seizes power in a coup and declares a republic
1978 - General Daud is overthrown and killed in a coup by leftist People's Democratic Party
1979 - Power struggle between leftist leaders Hafizullah Amin and Nur Mohammed Taraki in Kabul won by Amin. Soviet Union finally sends in troops to help remove Amin, who is executed
1980 - Babrak Karmal, leader of the People's Democratic Party Parcham faction, is installed as ruler, backed by Soviet troops. But anti-regime resistance intensifies with various mujahedeen groups fighting Soviet forces. US, Pakistan, China, Iran and Saudi Arabia supply money and arms
1985 - Mujahedeen come together in Pakistan to form alliance against Soviet forces. Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev says he will withdraw troops from Afghanistan
1986 - US begins supplying mujahedeen with Stinger missiles. Babrak Karmal replaced by Najibullah as head of Soviet-backed regime
1988 - Afghanistan, USSR, the US and Pakistan sign peace accords and Soviet Union begins pulling out troops
1991 - US and USSR agree to end military aid to both sides
1992 - Najibullah falls
1993 - Burhanuddin Rabbani, proclaimed president
1996 - Taleban seize control of Kabul and introduce hardline version of Islam, banning women from work, and introducing Islamic punishments, which include stoning to death and amputations. Rabbani flees to join anti-Taleban northern alliance
1997 - Taleban recognised as legitimate rulers by Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. Most other countries continue to regard Rabbani as head of state. Taleban now control about two-thirds of country
1998 - Earthquakes claim thousands of people. US launches missile strikes at suspected bases of militant Osama bin Laden, accused of bombing US missions in Africa
1999 - UN imposes an air embargo and financial sanctions to force Afghanistan to hand over Osama bin Laden for trial
March 2001 - Taleban blow up giant Buddha statues in defiance of international efforts to save them
2001 - Ahmad Shah Masood, legendary guerrilla and leader of the main opposition to the Taleban, is killed, apparently by assassins posing as journalists
October 2001 - USA, Britain launch air strikes against Afghanistan after Taleban refuse to hand over Osama bin Laden, held responsible for the September 11 attacks on America
November2001 - Opposition forces seize Mazar-e Sharif and within days march into Kabul and other key cities
December 2001 - Afghan groups agree deal in Bonn for interim government
December 2001 - Taleban finally give up last stronghold of Kandahar, but Mullah Omar remains at large
December 2001 - Pashtun royalist Hamid Karzai is sworn in as head of a 30-member interim power-sharing government
April2002 - Former king Zahir Shah returns, but says he makes no claim to the throne
June 2002 - Loya Jirga, or grand council, elects Hamid Karzai as interim head of state. Karzai picks members of his administration which is to serve until 2004
July2002 - Vice-President Haji Abdul Qadir is assassinated by gunmen in Kabul
December2002 - Asian Development Bank resumes lending to Afghanistan after 23-year gap
August2003 - Nato takes control of security in Kabul. It is the organisation's first operational commitment outside Europe in its history
January2004 - Grand assembly - or Loya Jirga - adopts new Constitution which provides for strong presidency
September2004 - Rocket fired at helicopter carrying President Karzai misses its target; it is the most serious attempt on his life since September 2002
October/November2004 - Presidential elections: Hamid Karzai is declared the winner, with 55 per cent of the vote. He is sworn in, amid tight security, in December, amid Al-Qaeda threat to disrupt the swearing-in ceremony. He declares war on drug-lords at one of his first public addresses after winning elections
February 2005 - Several hundred people are killed in the harshest winter weather in a decade
May 2005 - Details emerge of alleged prisoner abuse by US forces at detention centres in Afghanistan
September 2005 - Afghans vote in the first parliamentary and provincial elections in more than 30 years
December 2005 - New parliament holds its inaugural session
January 2006 - Over 30 people are killed in a series of suicide attacks in Kandahar.
February 2006 - International donors pledge more than $10bn for reconstruction.
At least 25 people are killed in clashes between Afghan troops and suspected Taliban fighters in the southern province of Helmand.
May 2006 - Violent anti-US protests in Kabul erupt after a US military vehicle crashes and kills several people.
May-June 2006 - Almost everyday clashes between Taliban fighters and Afghan and coalition forces in the south. Several killed during Operation Mountain Thrust offensive.
July 2006 - NATO troops take over the leadership of military operations in the south. Violence continues.