1948: Sri Lanka granted independence from Britain.

1959: Prime Minister Solomon Bandaranaike is assassinated by deranged Buddhist monk. The next year his widow becomes the first woman head of government in the world and embarks on a socialist path.

1971: Marxist Peoples Liberation Front attempts to topple government and is crushed by military. Up to 10,000 people are killed. Another aborted uprising in 1989 kills more than 60,000.

1977: Voter discontent over food shortages leads to Mrs. Bandaranaike's defeat in polls. Her successor, Junius Jayawardene, begins economic reforms. Under a new constitution, Jayawardene becomes president in 1978.

1975: Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam demand separate state for minority Tamils in northeast and assassinate government officials.

1989: Prime Minister Ranasinghe Premadasa is elected president, narrowly defeating Mrs. Bandaranaike, and begins peace talks with Tamil rebels. Rebels break off talks with surprise attacks on the military the next year.

1991: Former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, who sent troops to Sri Lanka, is assassinated by Tamil rebel suicide bomber in neighboring India.

1993: President Premadasa is assassinated by Tamil rebel suicide bomber in Colombo.