July 18, 1918 Born to Hendry Mphakanyiswa, a Thembu chief, and Nosekeni Qunu in the Umtata district of the Transkei, at a time when virtually all of Africa was under European colonial rule.
1940 Expelled from University of Fort Hare, a leading institution for blacks, for role in a student strike.
1942 Joins African National Congress, South Africa's main campaigner for black equality.
1943 Receives BA from Fort Hare after completing correspondence courses through University of South Africa.
June 4, 1948 National Party, dominated by white Dutch-descended Afrikaners, is elected to power and begins installing apartheid, a system of complete racial segregation. It will rule without interruption for 46 years.
1952 Mandela leads the Defiance Campaign, encouraging people to break racial separation laws. Convicted under Suppression of Communism Act, banned from attending gatherings and leaving Johannesburg. Passes exam to qualify as an attorney and, with Tambo, forms the first black law partnership in the country.
1958 Marries social worker Winnie Nomzamo Madikizela after divorcing Evelyn Mase, his first wife.
1961 Helps establish ANC guerrilla wing, Umkhonto we Sizwe, or Spear of the Nation.
April 20, 1964 At a time when many African colonies have become independent and Mandela is on trial for sabotage, he declares from the dock that he is "prepared to die" for a democratic South Africa.
June 12, 1964 Mandela and six others are sentenced to life imprisonment and sent to notorious Robben Island to serve their sentences.
1973 Refuses a government offer of release on condition he agrees to a kind of exile in his native Transkei.
Feb. 10, 1985 Another release offer, on condition he renounce violence. In fiery refusal, read by his daughter Zindzi at a rally, Mandela says burden is on the government to renounce violence, end apartheid and negotiate.
1985 While in hospital for prostate surgery he is visited by Justice Minister Kobie Coetsee, the beginning of a political and diplomatic process that will lead on Dec. 9, 1988, to his transfer to better prison conditions on the mainland, north of Cape Town.
July 5, 1989 Meets President P.W. Botha.
Dec. 13, 1989 Meets Botha's successor, F.W. de Klerk.
Feb. 2, 1990 At the opening of Parliament, de Klerk announces the legalization of all political organizations including the African National Congress.
Feb. 10, 1990 De Klerk announces Mandela will be released the next day.
Feb. 11, 1990 Mandela walks out of prison, hand in hand with wife Winnie, to cheering crowds.
Oct. 15, 1993 Mandela and de Klerk share Nobel Peace Prize.
May 10, 1994 Mandela inaugurated as South Africa's first black president after ANC wins South Africa's first all-race election.
March 19, 1996 Mandela granted a divorce from Winnie.
July 18, 1998 Mandela weds former Mozambican first lady Graca Machel on his 80th birthday.
June 16, 1999 Mandela retires after one term, a rarity among African presidents, but continues to be active in causes promoting world peace, supporting children and fighting AIDS.
Jan. 30, 2003 In speech, calls U.S. President George W. Bush arrogant and shortsighted for ignoring the U.N. on Iraq.
June 1, 2004 Announces retirement from public life.
July 11, 2010 Mandela waves to the crowd at Soccer City stadium in Johannesburg as South Africa bids farewell to the 2010 soccer World Cup. Driven in a small golf cart and seated alongside wife, Graca Machel, the smiling, warmly dressed Mandela is welcomed by a thunderous mix of vuvuzelas and roars from the crowd.
June 21, 2011 Mandela meets at his home with Michelle Obama, her two daughters and other Obama relatives.
December 2012 Mandela spends nearly three weeks in a hospital, where he is treated for a lung infection and has a procedure to remove gallstones.
April 29, 2013 State television broadcasts footage of a visit by President Jacob Zuma and other ANC leaders to Mandela at his Johannesburg home. Zuma said at the time that Mandela was in good shape, but the footage - the first public images of Mandela in nearly a year - showed him silent and unresponsive, even when Zuma tried to hold his hand.
June 8, 2013 The government says Mandela is admitted to a hospital with a recurring lung infection. Officials describe his condition as serious but stable.
December 5, 2013 Mandela dies at age 95.