A protester reacts after police released teargas during clashes with riot police in the downtown of the capital Tunis. Image Credit: Reuters

March 20, 1956: Tunisia becomes independent after 75 years as a French protectorate. Habib Bourguiba is named prime minister.

July 25, 1957: The monarchy is abolished and Tunisia becomes a republic. Bourguiba is elected president.

July 19, 1961: Bourguiba demands that French forces leave their naval base in Bizerte in the north. Diplomatic relations with France are cut. Fighting breaks out and 1,000 are killed, mainly Tunisian civilians.

October 15, 1963: France pulls out of Bizerte.

November 7, 1987: Prime Minister Bin Ali takes power after having Bourguiba declared mentally unfit to rule.

April 2, 1989: Bin Ali wins presidential elections.

March 20, 1994: Bin Ali is re-elected.

September 25, 1999: Bin Ali wins a third term at the first multi-party presidential elections.

April 6, 2000: Bourguiba dies at the age of 96.

April 11, 2002: A bomb explosion at a synagogue in the resort of Djerba kills 21 people, 14 of them German tourists. Al Qaida claims responsibility.

May 27, 2002: Bin Ali wins a referendum on constitutional changes allowing him to stand for a fourth term.

October 24, 2004: Bin Ali wins a fourth term with 94.48 per cent of the vote.

July 3, 2005: An upper house is introduced in parliament - the Chamber of Councillors. It is dominated by the ruling RCD party.

January-June, 2008: Sporadic demonstrations take place in the south-western mining region of Gafsa. On June 6, one demonstrator is shot dead and several injured in clashes with police.

February, 2009: A French court sentences a German convert to Islam and suspected Al Qaida operative to 18 years in prison over the 2002 Djerba synagogue attack.

October, 2009: Bin-Ali wins a fifth term in office.

December 19, 2010: A wave of unrest and clashes breaks out across the country over unemployment and high prices. Protests continue in January, with at least 66 killed.

January 14, 2011: Bin Ali leaves the country to be replaced by interim president Prime Minister Mohammad Gannouchi.