Key events in Liberian history beginning with independence in the 19th century:
— 1847: Country gains independence; draws up U.S.-style constitution.
— 1926: Firestone Tire and Rubber Co. opens plantation; rubber becomes the backbone of the economy.
— 1943: William Tubman is elected president; promotes foreign investment and local participation in government.
— 1971: Tubman dies and William Tolbert Jr. succeeds him.
— 1981: Tolbert is assassinated in a coup led by Master Sgt. Samuel Doe, who suspends the constitution.
— 1984: Under pressure from the United States, Doe allows return of political parties.
— 1985: Doe is elected president.
— 1989: National Patriotic Front of Liberia, led by Charles Taylor, begins an uprising against the Doe government.
— 1990: Doe is executed by an offshoot of Taylor's movement.
— 1995: Economic Community of West African States brokers a peace treaty between two warring movements.
— 1997: Taylor is elected president.
— 1999: Britain and the United States threaten to suspend aid after Liberia is accused of supporting militants in neighboring Sierra Leone.
— September 2000: Liberian forces launch offensive against rebels in the country's north.
— March 2001: United Nations imposes arms embargo to punish Taylor for trading weapons for diamonds with Sierra Leone rebels.
— November 2001: Government forces start new offensive against rebels.
— April, 2003: New rebel group, Movement for Democracy in Liberia, makes gains in southeast.
— June 4, 2003: Taylor is indicted for war crimes committed during his involvement in Sierra Leone civil war.
— June 17, 2003: Taylor says he will step down under a cease-fire agreement.
— June 20, 2003: Taylor renounces his pledge to cede power in Liberia, announcing he will serve to the January 2004 end of his term — and might run again.
— June 23-27, 2003: The main rebel group in Liberia — Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy — launch an all-out assault on the capital.
— June 28, 2003: U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan asks the Security Council for an international peace force for Liberia. Two days later, West African leaders ask for 2,000 American troops to head the force.
— July 4, 2003: Taylor says he would step down, but only after an international peacekeeping force is deployed. Bush administration says it will send a team of military experts to Africa to assess whether U.S. troops would help stabilize Liberia.
— July 6, 2003: Taylor accepts offer of exile in Nigeria, but gives no timeframe for quitting and insists the transition must be orderly.
— July 8, 2003: Team of U.S. military experts begin assessment tour. They are mobbed by Liberians pleading for help.
— July 19, 2003: After peace efforts crumble, rebels launch a new offensive into the capital.
— July 21, 2003: Shelling in city kills at least 25. A team of U.S. Marines arrives to protect the embassy.
— July 22: Rebel leaders announce a cease-fire but fighting continues in Monrovia. For the next two weeks, rebels and government troops battle over the city port and nearby strategic bridges.
— Aug. 2, 2003: The U.N. Security Council votes to authorize a multinational force to help end fighting in Liberia. Taylor promises to resign Aug. 11.
— Aug. 4, 2003: Nigerian troops arrive at vanguard of what is to be a 3,250-strong peacekeeping force.
— Aug. 6, 2003: Seven U.S. Marines arrive in Monrovia from three-ship Navy group offshore to help peacekeepers. President Bush says larger force will not arrive until Taylor leaves the country.
— Aug. 7, 2003: Taylor names Vice President Moses Blah to take over Liberia, rebels warn they will not accept Blah because he is a close Taylor ally.
— Aug 11, 2003: Taylor resigns and hands over power to Blah, leaves Liberia.