July 18, 1918: Born Rolihlahla Mandela in Mvezo, South Africa.
1925: Receives name "Nelson" from a primary-school teacher near Qunu.
1940: Expelled from University of Fort Hare for role in a student strike with Oliver Tambo, a future African National Congress president. Moves to Johannesburg.
1942: Joins African National Congress.
1943: Receives B.A. from Fort Hare after completing correspondence courses through University of South Africa.
1944: Helps create ANC Youth League to pressure leaders to take the ANC in a more activist direction.
1948: Dr. Daniel Malan of controlling National Party spearheads a platform called "apartheid." New laws enforce racial segregation and oppression.
1950: Mandela becomes national president of the ANC Youth League and is elected to ANC national executive committee.
1952: Leads Defiance Campaign encouraging people to break racial separation laws. Convicted under Suppression of Communism Act.
December 1956: Faces trial for treason alongside 155 others who supported Freedom Charter. All were acquitted after a four-year trial.
March 21, 1960: Anti-apartheid protesters rally against laws that limit where blacks can go. Sixty-nine people die after police open fire.
1961: Mandela goes underground and helps establish ANC guerrilla wing, Umkhonto we Sizwe, or Spear of the Nation.
January 1962: Leaves the country for military training and to gather support for Umkhonto we Sizwe.
Aug. 5, 1962: Arrested after returning to South Africa and charged with illegally leaving the country and incitement to strike. Sentenced to five years' hard labor and, eventually, five years in prison for incitement and leaving the country illegally.
October 1963: Tried along with other ANC leaders in Rivonia Trial. Faces sabotage charge.
June 1964: All but two in Rivonia Trial are convicted of sabotage. Mandela and seven others are sentenced to life in prison and sent to Robben Island.
1980: Exiled ANC members launch "Release Mandela" campaign.
July 1986: Meets with National Party administrator Kobie Coetsee in prison and raises issue of talks between National Party Government and the ANC.
December 1989: Meets with F.W. de Klerk, South Africa's last apartheid president, to pave the way for apartheid's end.
Feb. 2, 1990: De Klerk announces intent to release Mandela, lifts bans against the ANC and other political organizations.
Feb. 11, 1990: Mandela is released from Victor Verster Prison at age 71.
1991: Elected president of ANC. Government, ANC and other political groups begin negotiations for new constitution.
December 1993: Mandela and de Klerk receive the Nobel Peace Prize.
April 1994: South Africa holds its first election in which people of all races vote. ANC wins elections and Mandela is elected president.
May 10, 1994: Mandela is inaugurated as South Africa's first black president as a billion people watched on TV worldwide.
June 16, 1999: Steps down after one term but continues to promote world peace, advocate for children and fight AIDS.
June 21, 2011: Mandela meets at his home with Michelle Obama and daughters, Sasha and Malia.
June 8, 2013: Hospitalized for a lung infection again after being treated for pneumonia in April.
September 2013: Released from hospital, returns home.
Dec. 5, 2013: Mandela dies at age 95. South African President Jacob Zuma announces his death at a news conference, saying, "We've lost our greatest son."