A chronology of key events:
2nd century AD – Kingdom of Axum becomes a regional trading power.
4th century – Christianity becomes state religion.
1530-31 – Muslim leader Ahmad Gran conquers much of Ethiopia.
1818-68 – Lij Kasa conquers Amhara, Gojjam, Tigray and Shoa.
1855 – Kasa becomes Emperor Tewodros II.
1868 – Tewodros defeated by a British expeditionary force and commits suicide to avoid capture.
1872 – Tigrayan chieftain becomes Yohannes IV.
1889 – Yohannes IV killed fighting Muslim forces and is succeeded by the king of Shoa, who becomes Emperor Menelik II.
1889 – Menelik signs a friendship treaty with Italy, which Italy interprets as a protectorate. Ethiopia rejects this interpretation.
1889 – Addis Ababa becomes Ethiopia’s capital.
1895 – Italy invades Ethiopia, but its forces are defeated the following year at Adwa. Italy recognises Ethiopia’s independence but retains control over Eritrea.
1913 – Menelik dies and is succeeded by his grandson, Lij Iyasu.
1916 – Lij Iyasu deposed and is succeeded by Menelik’s daughter, Zawditu, who rules through a regent, Ras Tafari Makonnen.
1930 – Zawditu dies and is succeeded by Ras Tafari Makonnen, who becomes Emperor Haile Selassie I.
1935 – Italy invades Ethiopia. Haile Selassie flees the following year.
Haile Selassie’s reign
1941 – British and Commonwealth troops aided by the Ethiopian resistance defeat the Italians, and restore Haile Selassie.
1952 – United Nations federates Eritrea with Ethiopia.
1962 – Haile Selassie annexes Eritrea, which becomes an Ethiopian province.
1963 – First conference of the Organisation of African Unity held in Addis Ababa.
End of empire
1973-74 – An estimated 200,000 people die in Wallo province as a result of famine.
1974 – Haile Selassie overthrown in military coup, and dies in custody the following year
1977 – Colonel Mengistu Haile Mariam emerges as leader of the Derg pro-Soviet military regime.
1977-79 – Thousands of government opponents die in “Red Terror” orchestrated by Col Mengistu; collectivisation of agriculture begins; Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front launches war for regional autonomy.
1977 – Somalia invades Ethiopia’s Ogaden region, and are defeated the following year with massive help from the Soviet Union and Cuba.
1984-85 – Worst famine in a decade strikes; Western food aid sent; thousands forcibly resettled from Eritrea and Tigre.
1987 – Col Mengistu elected president under a new constitution.
1991 – Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front captures Addis Ababa, forcing President Mengistu to flee the country.
1993 – Eritrea becomes independent following referendum.
1994 – New constitution divides Ethiopia into ethnically-based regions.
1995 – Meles Zenawi assumes post of prime minister.
War with Eritrea
1999-2000 – Ethiopian-Eritrean border war, which is eventually resolved in 2018.
2004 March – Start of resettlement programme to move more than two million people away from parched, over-worked highlands.
2005 April – First section of Axum obelisk, looted by Italy in 1937, is returned to Ethiopia from Rome.
2006 November – Ethiopian troops enter Somalia to oust al-Shabab Islamists controlling large parts of the country.
2006 December – Exiled former dictator Mengistu Haile Mariam is convicted, in absentia, of genocide at the end of a 12-year trial. He is later sentenced to death.
2012 August – Prime Minister Meles Zenawi dies. Succeeded by Foreign Minister Hailemariam Desalegn in September.
2016 October – Government declares state of emergency following months of violent anti-government protests.
2018 February – As anti-government protests continue, Prime Minister Desalegn resigns.
2018 April – Abiy Ahmed, an ethnic Oromo, wins over his challengers to become leader of the ruling EPRDF and therefore prime minister. He launches a comprehensive programme of political reform at home and diplomatic bridge-building abroad.
2018 May-June – Government releases thousands of political prisoners, and lifts state of emergency.
2018 July – Ethiopia and Eritrea declare their war is over as Ethiopia agrees to evacuate disputed territory.
2018 October – The government signs a peace deal with the separatist Ogaden National Liberation Front, ending a 34-year armed rebellion.
Parliament elects Sahle-Work Zewde as Ethiopia’s first woman president, and first female head of state since Empress Zawditu (1928-1930).
2019 June – Army chief Seare Mekonnen and Amhara State Governor Ambachew Mekonnen killed while putting down coup attempt against the federal government.
2020 October – The federal government severs ties and funding to the Tigray region leadership after the state conducted an election deemed unconstitutional by parliament because of the Covid-19 pandemic.