1961 - The Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN - Frente Sandinista de Liberación Nacional) is founded. The movement is based on broad socialist principles.

January 1978 - Pedro Joaquín Chamorro, leader of the Democratic Liberation Union, is assassinated. His death triggers a general strike and unites moderates and the FSLN in efforts to oust Anastasio Somoza, president of Nicaragua.

September 1978 - An FSLN-led insurrection in major towns in northern Nicaragua is put down with massive repression and bombing by the National Guard.

February 1979 - Riots put down by forces loyal to Somoza.

Late May 1979 - ‘Final offensive’ by the Sandanistas begins.

July 17 1979 - Somoza flees Nicaragua.

July 19 1979 - The government falls and is replaced by the FSLN.

September 17 1980 - Somoza is assassinated in Asunción, Paraguay.

1980 - FSLN government led by Daniel Ortega introduces sweeping agrarian reform that puts land into the hands of many formerly landless peasants.

1982 - US-sponsored attacks by Contra rebels begin, a state of emergency is declared.

1984 - The FSLN holds elections that result in Ortega becoming president.

The CIA mines Nicaragua’s borders and is condemned by the International Court of Justice in the Hague for doing so.

The US withdraws its acceptance of the Court and argues it had no authority in matters of sovereign state relations. The US government refuses to pay $12bn in restitutions.

In elections, the Sandinistas win more than 60 per cent the vote for parliamentary seats but the US refuses to recognise the results.

US Congress cuts off aid to the Contras, but national security officials continue to fund the Contras from money derived from surreptitious arms sales to Iran.

1987-88 - The Nicaraguan leadership holds talks with the Contras.

1990 - The FSLN is defeated in elections. Violeta Chamorro, widow of Pedro Joaquín Chamorro, backed by the US, wins the election for president. Washington immediately stops the Contra war.

1996 - Arnoldo Alemán, leader of the Constitutional Liberal Party (PLC), is elected president.

2000 - The FSLN wins municipal elections in Managua.

2001 - Enrique Bolaños of the PLC is elected president, in elections contested by Ortega. Bolaños later breaks from the PLC.

2002 - Alemán is charged with money laundering and embezzlement.

2003 - Alemán is jailed for 20 years, later being transferred to house arrest.

2006 - A free trade deal with the US comes into effect.

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