DOHA: Gas and oil rich Qatar, which holds its first legislative polls on Saturday, survived a bruising stand-off with its Gulf neighbours to emerge as a key broker in Afghanistan.
Here are key dates since its independence in 1971.
- Al-Thani family in power - On September 3, 1971, Qatar gains independence from Britain.
The Gulf monarchy had become a British protectorate in 1916 as the Ottoman Empire crumbled during World War I. It had been ruled by the Al-Thani family since the mid-19th century.
Sheikh Khalifa bin Hamad Al-Thani overthrows his cousin, Emir Ahmad, in February 1972 and takes power.
In June 1992, Qatar becomes the third Gulf monarchy after Kuwait and Bahrain to sign a defence cooperation agreement with the United States, after the 1990-1991 Gulf War and the liberation of Kuwait by a US-led coalition following its invasion by Iraq.
- Bloodless coup - Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani takes power in June 1995, overthrowing his father in a bloodless coup while the latter is abroad.
In March 1999, the first direct municipal elections take place, including women candidates -- a first in the Gulf.
In March-April 2003, the US Central Command (Centcom) directs the invasion of Iraq from headquarters established in Qatar a year earlier.
In April 2003, a new constitution is overwhelmingly adopted by a referendum, and foresees a parliamentary body, the Majlis al-Shura advisory council. The new constitution comes into effect in 2004.
- Contacts with Israel - Israeli foreign minister Tzipi Livni visits Doha in April 2008. Although Qatar and Israel do not have formal diplomatic relations, they maintain informal contacts.
- World Cup - In December 2010, Qatar is selected as host of the 2022 FIFA World Cup, the first Arab nation to organise the prestigious football competition.
- Support for Arab Spring - Qatar supports popular uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Syria during the 2011 Arab Spring via its Al Jazeera network's rolling television news coverage.
In October 2012, the emir visits the Gaza Strip and its Islamist rulers Hamas. Qatar is one of the Palestinian enclave's main bankrollers.
- Emir abdicates - In June 2013, the emir abdicates in favour of his son, 33-year-old Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, a first in the recent history of the Arab world.
- Diplomatic crisis - Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain cut ties and transport links with Qatar in June 2017.
They say they want Doha to sever its alleged connections with radical Islamist groups -- which Qatar denies -- and distance itself from Iran.
Qatar announces in December 2018 that it will quit the OPEC oil cartel, citing its greater reliance on gas exports.
In January 2021, Saudi Arabia and the other three boycotting nations announce the restoration of relations with Doha.
- Labour rules scrapped - In October 2019, Qatar announces plans to scrap key aspects of its controversial "kafala" labour rules, including the requirement for some workers to obtain employers' permission to change jobs and permits to leave the country.
- Afghanistan - In August 2021, Qatar becomes a key broker in Afghanistan with the withdrawal of US forces, helping evacuate thousands of foreigners and Afghans, engaging the new Taliban rulers and supporting operations at Kabul airport.
With Washington's blessing, Qatar had invited the Taliban to open an office in Doha in 2013 as a back channel for talks.