The United States and its coalition partners launched "Operation Enduring Freedom – Afghanistan" in October 2001 as a response to the attacks of Sept. 11. At the time of the invasion, Afghanistan was already a broken nation. Decades of war and austere fundamentalist rule had left the country with little in the way of industry, infrastructure, government institutions, or an educational system.
In the five years since the invasion, the coalition has worked to fill a gaping political vacuum in the face of growing challenges. Since 2001, poppy cultivation in Afghanistan has increased from 8,000 hectares to 165,000 hectares. But Afghanistan has also made strong democratic advances, and the education system has markedly improved. Since 1999, the percentage of Afghans enrolled in primary school rose from 25 percent to 93 percent.
Afghanistan's first democratically elected parliament in more than three decades of conflict convened on Dec. 19, 2005, the culmination of an international effort.
Oct. 7: US and British military strikes launched on Afghanistan as the Taliban refuse US demands to hand over Osama bin Laden, blamed for the 9/11 attacks.
Dec. 22: Hamid Karzai, leader of one of the largest tribes in southern Afghanistan, is sworn in as head of a six-month, post-Taliban government following agreements reached in Bonn, Germany, including an interim powersharing arrangement, the creation of a new constitution, and presidential and parliamentary elections in 2004. The International Assistance Force in Afghanistan (ISAF) is established.
April 18: Deposed Afghan monarch Mohammed Zahir Shah, 87 at the time, returns from 29 years' exile in Italy, escorted by Karzai, to oversee the loya jirga, Afghanistan's traditional grand assembly.
June 10: After a power struggle, Zahir Shah renounces claim as head of state and endorses Karzai.
June 13: Karzai elected for a two-year term by the the loya jirga.
July 6: Vice President Abdul Qadir is assassinated.
Sept. 5: Karzai survives assassination attempt in Kandahar.
October: A constitutional commission of 35 members is appointed to draft a constitution.
Aug. 11: NATO assumes command of the ISAF, under leadership of Germany and the Netherlands at the time, the first NATO peacekeeping mission outside of the Euro-Atlantic area since NATO's creation in 1949.
December: Constitutional Loya Jirga delegates – 500 Afghan civic leaders – meet in Kabul to debate draft constitution.
Jan. 4: The traditional grand assembly, the loya jirga, ratifies a new constitution proposing a presidential system of government with Afghanistan as an Islamic state.
July 9: Electoral commission announces that presidential elections will be on Oct. 9, but delays parliamentary polls until 2005.
Oct. 9: First post-Taliban presidential elections pass without major incident; more than 8.1 million Afghans participate.
Nov. 3: Karzai proclaimed winner with 55 percent of vote.
March 17: Karzai announces delay in parliamentary polls until September.
July 12: Election officials say more than 5,800 candidates are eligible for the elections, more than 10 percent of them women. Later, several candidates are disqualified, mainly for links to armed factions.
Sept. 15: Taliban militants shoot dead an election candidate, the seventh to die in violence before the poll.
Sept. 18: More than 6.2 million Afghans vote in the first parliamentary elections since 1969.
Nov. 12: After a series of delays, election results are released confirming several seats for former regional warlords and some ex-Taliban.
Dec. 10: Karzai announces his choices for the remaining 34 seats in the upper house.
Dec. 16: Three days before parliament is due to open, a bomb explodes near the parliament building, killing an apparent suicide attacker and wounding two others.
Dec. 19: National Assembly inaugurated in Kabul; parliament convenes for the first time since 1973.