Chronology of Key Events:

60-80,000 years ago: Evidence of Neanderthal people living in Shanidar Caves near the Big Zab River in Erbil Province.

30-300,000 years ago: Evidence of Old Stone Age (Middle Paleolithic) people living in six caves near the village of Hazar Merd, south-west of Suleimaniah.

9,000 BC: At Karim Shahir near Chemchemal, the earliest evidence of wild wheat and barley cultivation and domesticated dogs and sheep.

6,750 BC: At Jarmo village near Chemchemal, evidence of the oldest known permanent farmed settlement of mud houses, with wheat grown from seed and herds of goats, sheep and pigs.

4,000 BC: Evidence that Arbela was settled, making it one of the oldest, continuously inhabited sites in the world. Excavation is difficult because the modern city lies on top of the ancient town.

612 BC: After the Babylonians destroyed the Assyrian capitals of Ashur and Nineveh, the Assyrian empire city of Arbela, becomes part of the Babylonian empire.

539 BC: After Persian leader Cyrus the Great takes over Babylon, Arbela joins the vast Achaemenid or ancient Persian empire.

331 BC: Alexander the Great and Darius III of Persia fight the Battle of Gaugamela, also known as the Battle of Arbela, about 75 kilometers north-west of Erbil. In the aftermath, his Army’s officers murder Darius and Alexander goes on to conquer the Persian Empire including Babylon and extends his empire to the Punjab.

6-700 AD: Arabs conquer Kurdistan Region and convert many to Islam.

1100s – 1800s: In this period several semi-independent principalities, the Ardalan, Botan, Badinan, Baban and Soran, ruled the Kurdistan Region.

Early 1500s: The Kurdistan Region becomes the main focus of the rivalries between the Ottoman and Persian empires.

1534 - 1918: Region is part of the Ottoman Empire.

1514: After Turkish Sultan Selim I defeats the Shah of Persia, Kurdish scholar Idriss Bitlissi persuades the Sultan to give back to the Kurdish Princes their former rights and privileges in exchange for their commitment to guard the border between the two empires. The principalities in the Kurdistan region enjoyed wide autonomy until the early 19th century.

1784: Prince Ibrahim Pasha Baban founds the city of Suleimaniah when he decides to transfer the Baban emirate’s capital from Qala Chwalan.

1847: Collapse of Botan, the last independent Kurdish principality, which included the towns of Amadiya and Akra.

1914 - 1918: World War I.

1917: Britain seizes Baghdad.

1918: Sheikh Mahmoud Barzinji becomes governor of Suleimaniah under British rule. He and other Kurdish leaders who want Kurdistan to be ruled independently of Baghdad rebel against the British. He is defeated a year later.

1920 - Britain creates state of Iraq with League of Nations approval.

1920 - Great Iraqi Revolution - rebellion against British rule.

1921 - Faysal, son of Hussein Bin Ali, the Sharif of Mecca, is crowned Iraq's first king.

1923: The Treaty of Lausanne between Turkey and the allied powers invalidates the Treaty of Sevres, which had provided for the creation of a Kurdish state.

1925: After sending a fact-finding committee to Mosul province, the League of Nations decides that it will be part of Iraq, on condition that the UK hold the mandate for Iraq for another 25 years to assure the autonomy of the Kurdish population. The following year Turkey and Britain signed a treaty in line with the League of Nation’s decision.

1932 - Iraq becomes an independent state.

1939-1945 - World War II. Britain re-occupies Iraq.

1946-1947: The Republic of Mahabad, which was officially known as the Republic of Kurdistan was established in Iran. While short lived, it was the only time that Kurds had truly established their own independent state.

1958 - The monarchy is overthrown in a military coup led by Brig Abd-al-Karim Qasim and Col Abd-al-Salam Muhammad Arif. Iraq is declared a republic.

1963 - Prime Minister Qasim is ousted in a coup led by the Arab Socialist Baath Party (ASBP). Arif becomes president.

1963 - The Baathist government is overthrown by a group of officers led by Arif.

1966 - After Arif is killed in a helicopter crash on 13 April, his elder brother, Maj-Gen Abd-al-Rahman Muhammad Arif, succeeds him as president.

1968 - A Baathist led-coup ousts Arif. Revolution Command Council (RCC) takes charge with Gen Ahmad Hasan al-Bakr as chairman and country's president.

1970: The Kurdistan Democratic Party, lead by Mustafa Barzani, reaches an agreement with Baghdad on autonomy for the Kurdistan region and political representation in the Baghdad Government. By 1974, key parts of the agreement are not fulfilled, leading to disputes.

1971-1980: The Iraqi Government expels more than 200,000 Faili (Shia) Kurds from Iraq.

1972 - Iraq nationalizes the Iraq Petroleum Company (IPC).

1974 - Iraq grants limited autonomy to Kurdish region.

1975: The Iraqi Government signs the Algiers Agreement with Iran, in which they settle land disputes in exchange for Iran ending its support of the Kurdistan Democratic Party and other concessions.

1979 - Saddam Hussein succeeds Al-Bakr as president.

1980-1988 - Iran-Iraq war.

1981 June - Israel attacks an Iraqi nuclear research center at Tuwaythah near Baghdad.

1983: 8,000 boys and men from the Barzani clan disappear under the Iraq Government. In 2005, 500 of them are found in mass graves near Iraq’s border with Saudi Arabia, hundreds of kilometers from the Kurdistan Region. The discovery of the remains of the Barzani Kurds is chronicled in the award-winning documentary “Saddam’s Road to Hell.”

1988 March - Iraq attacks Kurdish town of Halabja with poison gas, killing thousands.

1987-1989: The Iraqi Government carries out the genocidal Anfal campaign against Kurdish civilians, including mass summary executions and disappearances, widespread use of chemical weapons, destruction of some 4,500 villages and of the rural economy and infrastructure. Residents are forcibly removed to collective towns. An estimated 200,000 are killed in the campaign. On 16 and 17 March 1988, Iraqi Government airplanes drop chemical weapons on the town of Halabja. Between 4,000 and 5,000 people, almost all civilians, are killed.

1990 - Iraq invades Kuwait, prompting what becomes known as the first Gulf War. A massive US-led military campaign forces Iraq to withdraw in February 1991.

1991: The people in the Kurdistan Region rise up against the Iraqi Government days after the Gulf War ends. Within weeks the Iraqi military and helicopters suppress the uprising. Tens of thousands of people flee to the mountains, causing a humanitarian crisis. The US, UK and France declare a no-fly zone at the 36th parallel. The establishment of a safe haven prompts the return of refugees. Months later, Saddam Hussein withdraws the Iraqi Army and his administration and imposes an internal blockade on Kurdistan. The KRG begins to rebuild the villages destroyed during the Anfal campaign.

1991 April - Iraq subjected to weapons inspection program. Mid-March/early April - Southern Shia and northern Kurdish populations - encouraged by Iraq's defeat in Kuwait - rebel, prompting a brutal crackdown. An UN-approved safe-haven is established in northern Iraq to protect the Kurds. Iraq ordered to end all military activity in the area.

1992 August - A no-fly zone, which Iraqi planes are not allowed to enter, is set up in southern Iraq, south of latitude 32 degrees north. The Iraqi Kurdistan Front, an alliance of political parties, holds parliamentary and presidential elections and establishes the Kurdistan Regional Government.

1993 June - US forces launch a cruise missile attack on Iraqi intelligence headquarters in Baghdad in retaliation for the attempted assassination of US President George Bush in Kuwait in April.

1994: Power-sharing arrangements between the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) fall apart, leading to conflict and two separate administrations in Erbil and Suleimaniah respectively.

1995 April - UNSC Resolution 986 allows the partial resumption of Iraq's oil exports to buy food and medicine (the "oil-for-food program").

October - Saddam Hussein wins a referendum allowing him to remain president for another seven years.

1996 August - After call for aid from KDP, Iraqi forces launch offensive into northern no-fly zone and capture Irbil.

September - US extends northern limit of southern no-fly zone to latitude 33 degrees north, just south of Baghdad.

1998:The PUK and KDP sign the Washington Agreement, ending the conflict.

October - Iraq ends cooperation with UN Special Commission to Oversee the Destruction of Iraq's Weapons of Mass Destruction (Unscom).

December - After UN staff are evacuated from Baghdad, the US and UK launch a bombing campaign, "Operation Desert Fox", to destroy Iraq's nuclear, chemical and biological weapons programs.

1999 February - Grand Ayatollah Sayyid Muhammad Sadiq al-Sadr, spiritual leader of the Shia community, is assassinated in Najaf.

December - UNSC Resolution 1284 creates the UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (Unmovic) to replace Unscom. Iraq rejects the resolution.

2001 February - Britain, US carry out bombing raids to try to disable Iraq's air defense network. The bombings have little international support.

2002 September - US President George W Bush tells skeptical world leaders at a UN General to confront the "grave and gathering danger" of Iraq - or stand aside as the US acts. In the same month British Prime Minister Tony Blair publishes a ''dodgy'' dossier on Iraq's military capability.

November - UN weapons inspectors return to Iraq backed by a UN resolution which threatens serious consequences if Iraq is in "material breach" of its terms.

2003: The Peshmerga, Kurdistan’s official armed forces, fight alongside the coalition to liberate Iraq from Saddam Hussein’s rule.

March - Chief weapons inspector Hans Blix reports that Iraq has accelerated its cooperation but says inspectors need more time to verify Iraq's compliance.

March - US-led invasion topples Saddam Hussein's government, marks start of years of violent conflict with different groups competing for power.

March - UK's ambassador to the UN says the diplomatic process on Iraq has ended; arms inspectors evacuate; US President George W Bush gives Saddam Hussein and his sons 48 hours to leave Iraq or face war 2006: At the start of the year, the PUK and KDP agree to unify the two administrations. On 7 May, Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani announces a new unified cabinet.

July - US-appointed Governing Council meets for first time. Commander of US forces says his troops face low-intensity guerrilla-style war. Saddam's sons Uday and Qusay killed in gun battle in Mosul.

August - Suicide truck bomb wrecks UN headquarters in Baghdad, killing UN envoy Sergio Vieira de Mello. Car bomb in Najaf kills 125 including Shia leader Ayatollah Mohammed Baqr al-Hakim.

14 December - Saddam Hussein captured in Tikrit.

2004 March - Suicide bombers attack Shia festival-goers in Karbala and Baghdad, killing 140 people.

April-May - Shia militias loyal to radical cleric Moqtada Sadr take on coalition forces.
Hundreds are reported killed in fighting during the month-long US military siege of the Sunni Muslim city of Falluja. Photographic evidence emerges of abuse of Iraqi prisoners by US troops.

June - US hands sovereignty to interim government headed by Prime Minister Iyad Allawi.

August - Fighting in Najaf between US forces and Shia militia of radical cleric Moqtada Sadr.

November - Major US-led offensive against insurgents in Falluja.

2005 30 January - Some 8 million vote in elections for a Transitional National Assembly. 2005 28 February - At least 114 people are killed by a car bomb in Hilla, south of Baghdad, in the worst single such incident since the US-led invasion.

April - Amid escalating violence, parliament selects Kurdish leader Jalal Talabani as president. Ibrahim Jaafari, a Shia, is named as prime minister.

2005 May onwards - Surge in car bombings, bomb explosions and shootings: Iraqi ministries put the civilian death toll for May at 672, up from 364 in April.

June - Massoud Barzani is sworn in as regional president of Iraqi Kurdistan.

August - Draft constitution is endorsed by Shia and Kurdish negotiators, but not by Sunni representatives.

October - Voters approve a new constitution, which aims to create an Islamic federal democracy.

December - Iraqis vote for the first, full-term government and parliament since the US-led invasion.

2006 February onwards - A bomb attack on an important Shia shrine in Samarra unleashes a wave of sectarian violence in which hundreds of people are killed.

22 April - Newly re-elected President Talabani asks Shia compromise candidate Nouri al-Maliki to form a new government, ending months of deadlock.

May and June - An average of more than 100 civilians per day are killed in violence in Iraq, the UN says.

7 June - Al-Qaeda leader in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, is killed in an air strike.

November - Iraq and Syria restore diplomatic relations after nearly a quarter century. More than 200 die in car bombings in the mostly Shia area of Sadr City in Baghdad, in the worst attack on the capital since the US-led invasion of 2003.

December - Saddam Hussein is executed for crimes against humanity.

2007 January - US President Bush announces a new Iraq strategy; thousands more US troops will be dispatched to shore up security in Baghdad. UN says more than 34,000 civilians were killed in violence during 2006; the figure surpasses official Iraqi estimates threefold.

February - A bomb in Baghdad's Sadriya market kills more than 130 people. It is the worst single bombing since 2003.

March - Insurgents detonate three trucks with toxic chlorine gas in Falluja and Ramadi, injuring hundreds.

April - Bombings in Baghdad kill nearly 200 people in the worst day of violence since a US-led security drive began in the capital in February.

August - Truck and car bombs hit two villages of Yezidi Kurds, killing at least 250 people - the deadliest attack since 2003. Kurdish and Shia leaders form an alliance to support Prime Minister Maliki's government but fail to bring in Sunni leaders.

September - Controversy over private security contractors after Blackwater security guards allegedly fire at civilians in Baghdad, killing 17.

October - The number of violent civilian and military deaths continues to drop, as does the frequency of rocket attacks.

December - Britain hands over security of Basra province to Iraqi forces, effectively marking the end of nearly five years of British control of southern Iraq.

2008 January - Parliament passes legislation allowing former officials from Saddam Hussein's Baath party to return to public life.

March - Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad visits. Prime Minister Maliki orders crackdown on militia in Basra, sparking pitched battles with Moqtada Sadr's Mehdi Army. Hundreds are killed.

September - US forces hand over control of the western province of Anbar - once an insurgent and Al-Qaeda stronghold - to the Iraqi government. It is the first Sunni province to be returned to to the Shia-led government. Iraqi parliament passes provincial elections law. Issue of contested city of Kirkuk is set aside so elections can go ahead elsewhere.

November - Parliament approves a security pact with the United States under which all US troops are due to leave the country by the end of 2011.

2009 January - Iraq takes control of security in Baghdad's fortified Green Zone and assumes more powers over foreign troops based in the country. PM Nouri al-Maliki welcomes the move as Iraq's "day of sovereignty".

March - US President Barack Obama announces withdrawal of most US troops by end of August 2010. Up to 50,000 of 142,000 troops now there will stay on into 2011 to advise Iraqi forces and protect US interests, leaving by end of 2011.

June - US troops withdraw from towns and cities in Iraq, six years after the invasion, having formally handed over security duties to new Iraqi forces.

July - New opposition forces make strong gains in elections to the regional parliament of Kurdistan, but the governing KDP and PUK alliance retains a reduced majority. Masoud Barzani (KDP) is re-elected in the presidential election.

October - Two car bombs near the Green Zone in Baghdad kill at least 155 people, in Iraq's deadliest attack since April 2007.

December - The al-Qaeda-linked Islamic State of Iraq claims responsibility for suicide bombings in Baghdad that kill at least 127 people, as well as attacks in August and October that killed 240 people. Tension flares with Tehran as Iranian troops briefly occupy an oilfield in Iraqi territory. 2010 January - Controversy as candidates with alleged links to Baath Party are banned from March parliamentary polls. A court later lifts the ban, prompting a delay in campaigning. "Chemical" Ali Hassan al-Majid, a key figure in Saddam Hussein's government, is executed.

March - Parliamentary elections. Nine months pass before a new government is approved.

August - Seven years after the US-led invasion, the last US combat brigade leaves Iraq.

September - Syria and Iraq restore diplomatic ties a year after breaking them off.

October - Church in Baghdad seized by militants. 52 people killed in what is described as worst single disaster to hit Iraq's Christians in modern times.

November/December - Parliament reconvenes after long delay, re-appoints Jalal Talabani as president and Nouri al-Maliki as prime minister. A new government includes all major factions.

2011 January - Radical Shia cleric Moqtada Sadr returns after four years of self-imposed exile in Iran.

February - Oil exports from Iraqi Kurdistan resume, amid a lengthy dispute between the region and the central government over contracts with foreign firms.

April - Army raids camp of Iranian exiles, killing 34. Government says it will shut Camp Ashraf, home to thousands of members of the People's Mujahedeen of Iran.

August - Violence escalates, with more than 40 apparently coordinated nationwide attacks in one day.

December - US completes troop pullout. Unity government faces disarray. Arrest warrant issued for vice-president Tariq al-Hashemi, a leading Sunni politician. Sunni bloc boycotts parliament and cabinet.

2012 - Bomb and gun attacks target Shia areas throughout the year, sparking fears of a new sectarian conflict. Nearly 200 people are killed in January, more than 160 in June, 113 in a single day in July, more than 70 people in August, about 62 in attacks nationwide in September, and at least 35 before and during the Shia mourning month of Muharram in November. Nearly 200 people are killed in bombings targeting Shia Muslims in the immediate wake of the US withdrawal.

March - Tight security for Arab League summit in Baghdad. It is the first major summit to be held in Iraq since the fall of Saddam Hussein. A wave of pre-summit attacks kills scores of people.

April - Oil exports from Iraqi Kurdistan halted amid row with central government over contracts with foreign firms. November - Iraq cancels a $4.2bn deal to buy arms from Russia because of concerns about alleged corruption within the Iraqi government. The purchase, signed in October, would have made Russia the country's second-largest arms supplier after the US. Moscow was the main arms supplier of to Saddam Hussein.

December - President Jalal Talabani suffers a stroke. He undergoes treatment in Germany and makes some progress through the winter and spring. Sunni Muslims stage mass rallies across the country over several months, protesting against what they see as marginalization by the Shia-led government.

2013 September - Fugitive Vice-President Tariq al-Hashemi is sentenced to be hanged for murder. He sought refuge in Turkey after being accused of running death squads.

April - Troops storm a Sunni anti-government protest camp in Hawija near Kirkuk, leaving more than 50 dead and prompting outrage and clashes in other towns. Insurgency intensifies, with levels of violence matching those of 2008. By July the country is described as being in a full-blown sectarian war zone once again.

July - At least 500 prisoners, mainly senior al-Qaeda members, escape from Taji and Abu Ghraib jails in a mass breakout.

September - Mass killing at Camp Ashraf housing Iranian exiles - members of the People's Mujahedeen Organization of Iran. Regional parliamentary elections in Iraqi Kurdistan, won comfortably by Kurdistan Democratic Party. Series of bombings hits Kurdistan capital Irbil in the first such attack since 2007. Al-Qaeda-affiliated Islamic State of Iraq says it was responding to alleged Iraqi Kurdish support for Kurds fighting jihadists in Syria.

October - Parliamentary elections set for April 2014. Government says October is deadliest month since April 2008, with 900 killed. By the year-end the UN estimates the 2013 death toll of civilians as 7,157 - a dramatic increase in the previous year's figure of 3,238.

December - At least 35 people killed in twin bombing of Baghdad churches on Christmas Day.

2014 January - Pro-al-Qaeda fighters infiltrate Fallujah and Ramadi after months of mounting violence in mainly-Sunni Anbar province. Government forces recapture Ramadi but face entrenched rebels in Fallujah.

March - The electoral commission board tenders resignation in protest at what it says is political interference ahead of parliamentary elections, amid allegations opposition candidates are being barred using a controversial legal clause.

April - Prime Minister Al-Maliki's coalition wins a plurality at first parliamentary election since 2011 withdrawal of US troops, but falls short of a majority.

June - Sunni rebels led by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) surge out of Anbar Province to seize Iraq's second city of Mosul, moving on to the oil refinery center of Baiji. Tens of thousands flee amid reports of atrocities. Iran and the US offer assistance.

What’s Next?? More to follow...