1821: El Salvador gains independence from Spain in federation with other Central American colonies.
1932: Peasant organizer Farabundo Marti leads slave-wage coffee pickers in a violent uprising against wealthy landowners. The military government reacts quickly, slaughtering 10,000 to 30,000 peasants.
1972: The military takes presidential election victory away from Jose Napoleon Duarte and installs its own candidate. Disillusioned activists take up arms against the dictatorship.
1973-78: Small rebel groups begin sporadic fighting in mountains.
Oct. 1979: Reformist Army officers stage United States-backed coup and form moderate civilian-military junta, hoping to avert the type of revolution that swept Nicaragua three months earlier.
Jan. 1980: Junta collapses when most civilians resign. In March, another junta, including Duarte, pushes land reform and nationalization of banks and export trade.
Oct. 1980: The Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN) forms around five rebel factions. Army responds by arresting and often murdering suspected leftists.
Jan. 1981: FMLN launches a "final offensive." It fails, but US aid escalates sharply.
March 1982: Right-wing Arena party gains control of parliament, suspends land reform.
March 1984: With strong US backing, Duarte wins presidential vote. The US Congress approves massive military and economic aid.
Oct. 1984: Duarte and other government leaders meet with guerrillas in first attempt to negotiate a peace. Talks soon collapse.
1985-87: Duarte's Christian Democrats gain control of parliament. Armed forces improve war and human rights records. But Duarte loses popular support as his government fails to halt the war or resolve economic problems.
Aug. 1987: Central American leaders agree on regional peace plan calling for end to conflicts, demobilization of "irregular forces," and elections.
1989: Arena's Alfredo Cristiani is elected president in March. FMLN launches biggest offensive of the war in November; more than 2,000 people die in the fighting.
April 4, 1990: FMLN and government envoys sign accord in Geneva accepting United Nations mediation in peace talks.
March 10, 1991: Rebel-backed leftist parties contest legislative and municipal elections, winning seats in parliament for the first time.
Sept. 25, 1991: Government and FMLN envoys sign accords at UN headquarters calling for new civilian police force with rebel participation, purging and reduction of the armed forces, and land redistribution.
Jan. 16, 1992: UN-brokered peace agreement is signed in Mexico City.