Population: approximately 25-30 million (some Kurds reside outside of Kurdistan)
Kurds have never achieved nation-state status, making Kurdistan a non-governmental region and one of the largest stateless nations in the world.
Portions of the region are recognized by two countries: Iran, where the province of Kordestan lies; and northern Iraq, site of the autonomous region known as Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG)
or Iraqi Kurdistan.
Kurds were mostly nomadic until the end of World War I
and the breakup of the Ottoman Empire.
October 30, 1918 - (TURKEY) - The Armistice of Mudros marks the defeat of the Ottoman Empire in World War I.
November 3, 1918 - (IRAQ) - With the discovery of oil in the Kurdish province of Mosul, British forces occupy the region.
August 10, 1920 - (TURKEY) - The Treaty of Sèvres outlines the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire, with Turkey renouncing rights over certain areas in Asia and North Africa. It calls for the recognition of new independent states, including an autonomous Kurdistan. It is never ratified.
July 24, 1923 - (TURKEY) - The Allies and the former Ottoman Empire sign and ratify the Treaty of Lausanne, which recognizes Turkey as an independent nation. In the final treaty marking the conclusion of World War I, the Allies drop demands for an autonomous Turkish Kurdistan. The Kurdish region is eventually divided among several countries.
1923 - (IRAQ) - Former Kurdish Governor Sheikh Mahmud Barzinji stages an uprising against British rule, declaring a Kurdish kingdom in Sulaimaniya in northern Iraq.
1924 - (IRAQ) - British Forces retake Sulaimaniya.
1943-1945 - (IRAQ/IRAN) - Mustafa Barzani leads an uprising, gaining control of areas of Erbil and Badinan. When the uprising is defeated, Barzani and his forces retreat to Kurdish areas in Iran and align with nationalist fighters under the leadership of Qazi Muhammad.
January 1946 - (IRAN) - The Kurdish Republic of Mahābād is established as a Kurdish state, with backing from the Soviet Union. The short-lived country encompasses the city of Mahābād in Iran, which is largely Kurdish and near the Iraq border. However, Soviets withdraw the same year and the Republic of Mahābād collapses.
August 16, 1946 -
(IRAQ) - The Kurdish Democratic Party of Iraq (KDP) is established.
(IRAN) - The same day, Massoud Barzani is born in Kurdish Republic of Mahābād
1957 - (SYRIA) - 250 Kurdish children die in an arson attack on a cinema. It is blamed on Arab nationalists.
1958 - (SYRIA) - The government formally bans all Kurdish-language publications.
1958 - (IRAQ) - After Iraq's 1958 revolution, a new constitution is established, which declares Arabs and Kurds as "partners in this homeland."
1961 - (IRAQ) - KDP begins a rebellion in northern Iraq. Within two weeks, the Iraqi government dissolves the Kurdish Democratic Party.
March 1970 - (IRAQ) - A peace agreement between Iraqi government and Kurds grants the Kurds autonomy. Kurdish is recognized as an official language, and an amendment to the constitution states: "the Iraqi people is made up of two nationalities: the Arab nationality and the Kurdish nationality."
March 6, 1975 -
(ALGERIA) - Iraqi President Saddam Hussein
and Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi of Iran sign a treaty. Iraq gives up claims to the Shatt-al-Arab waterway, while Iran agrees to end its support of the independence seeking Kurds.
June 1975 -
(IRAQ) - Former KDP Leader Jalal Talabani
, establishes the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK). The following year, PUK takes up an armed campaign against the Iraqi government.
1978 - (IRAQ) - KDP and PUK forces clash, leaving many dead.
Late 1970s - (IRAQ) - The Baath Party, under Hussein's leadership, uproots Kurds from areas with Kurdish majorities, and settles southern-Iraqi Arabs into those regions. Into the 1980s, Kurds are forcibly removed from the Iranian border as Kurds are suspected of aiding Iranian forces during the Iran-Iraq War.
(IRAQ) Mustafa Barzani dies in Washington. His son, Massoud Barzani,
is elected president of KDP following his death.
1980 - (IRAQ) - The Iran-Iraq War begins. Although the KDP forces work closely with Iran, the PUK does not.
1983 - (IRAQ) - PUK agrees to a cease-fire with Iraq and begins negotiations on Kurdish autonomy.
August 1984 -
(TURKEY) - PKK launches violent separatist campaign in Turkey, starting with killing two soldiers. The conflict eventually spreads to Iran, Iraq and Syria
1985 - (IRAQ) -The cease-fire between Iraq and PUK breaks down.
1986 - (IRAQ) - After an Iranian-sponsored reconciliation, both KDP and PUK receive support from Tehran.
1987 - (TURKEY) - Turkey imposes state of emergency in the southeastern region of the country in response to PKK attacks.
February-August 1988 -
(IRAQ) - During Operation Anfal
("spoils" in Arabic), created to quell Kurdish resistance, the Iraqi military uses large quantities of chemical weapons on Kurdish civilians. Iraqi forces destroy more than 4,000 villages in Kurdistan.
It is believed that some 100,000 Kurds were killed.
March 16, 1988 - (IRAQ) - Iraq uses poison gas against the Kurdish people in Halabja in Northern Iraq. Thousands of people are believed to have died in the attack.
(IRAQ) - The Gulf War
begins when Hussein invades Kuwait seeking its oil reserves. There is a mass exodus of Kurds out of Iraq as more than a million flee into Turkey and Iran.
February 28, 1991 - (IRAQ) - Hussein agrees to a cease-fire, ending the Gulf War.
March 1991 - (IRAQ) - Kurdish uprising begins, and in two weeks, the Kurdish militia gains control of Iraqi Kurdistan, including the oil-rich town of Kirkuk. After allied support to the Kurds is denied, Iraq crushes the uprising. Two million Kurds flee, but are forced to hide out in the mountains as Turkey closes its border.
April 1991 - (IRAQ) - A safe haven is established in Iraqi Kurdistan by the United States, the United Kingdom and France. Iraqi forces are barred from operating within the region, and Kurds begin autonomous rule, with KDP leading the north and PUK leading the south.
1992 - (IRAQ) - In an anti-PKK operation, 20,000 Turkish troops enter Kurdish safe havens in Iraq.
1994-1998 - (IRAQ) - PUK and KDP members engage in armed conflict, known as the Fratricide War, in Iraqi Kurdistan.
1996 - (IRAQ) - Iraq launches attacks against Kurdish cities, including Erbil and Kirkuk.
1998 - (IRAQ) - The conflict between KDP and PUK ends, and a peace agreement is reached. This is brokered by the United States, and the accord is signed in Washington.
1999 - (TURKEY) - PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan is captured in Nairobi, Kenya, by Turkish officials.
Under pressure from the European Union
, Turkey legalizes broadcasts and education in the Kurdish language. Turkish forces still combat PKK, including military incursions into northern Iraq.
May 2002 - (TURKEY) - The European Union designates the PKK as a terrorist organization.
February 1, 2004 -
(IRAQ) - Two suicide bombs kill more than 50 people in Erbil
. The targets are the headquarters of KDP and PUK, and several top Kurdish officials from both parties are killed.
March 2004 - (SYRIA) - Nine people are killed at a football (soccer) arena in Qamishli after clashes with riot police. Kurds demonstrate throughout the city, and unrest spreads to nearby towns in the following days, after security forces open fire at the funerals.
June 2004 - (TURKEY) - State TV broadcasts Kurdish-language programs for the first time.
April 6-7, 2005 - (IRAQ) - Kurdish leader Talabani is selected the country's president by the transitional national assembly, and is sworn in the next day.
July 2005 - (TURKEY) - Six people die from a bomb planted on a train by a Kurdish guerrilla. Turkish officials blame the PKK.
2005 - (IRAQ) - The 2005 Iraqi constitution upholds Kurdish autonomy, and designates Kurdistan as an autonomous federal region.
August-September 2006 -
(TURKEY) - A wave of bomb attacks target a resort area in Turkey, as well as Istanbul. Separatist group Kurdistan Freedom Falcons (TAC) claims responsibility
for most of the attacks and threatens it will turn Turkey into "hell."
2009 - (TURKEY) - A policy called the Kurdish Initiative increases Kurdish language rights and reduces military presence in the mostly Kurdish southeast.
September 2010 - (IRAN) - A bomb detonates during a parade in Mahābād, leaving 12 dead and dozens injured. No group claims responsibility for the attack, but authorities blame Kurdish separatists. In 2014, authorities arrest members of Koumaleh, a Kurdish armed group, for the attack.
April 2011 - (SYRIA) - Syria grants citizenship to thousands in the Kurdish region. According to Human Rights Watch, an exceptional census stripped 20% of Kurdish Syrians of their citizenship in 1962.
October 2011 -
Meshaal Tammo, a Syrian Kurdish activist, is assassinated. Many Kurds blame Syrian President Bashar al-Assad
's regime for the assassination.
October 19, 2011 -
(TURKEY) - Kurdish militants kill 24 Turkish troops
near the Iraqi border, a PKK base area.
June 2012 - (TURKEY) - Turkish forces strike PKK rebel bases in Iraq after a PKK attack in southern Turkey kills eight Turkish soldiers.
July 2012 -
(SYRIA) - Amid the country's civil war
, Syrian security forces retreat from several Kurdish towns in the northeastern part of the country.
August 2012 -
(TURKEY) - Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan warns that any attempts by the PKK to launch cross-border attacks from Syria would be met by force
; the Turkish Army then performs a large exercise less than a mile from border villages now controlled by the Syrian Kurdish group Democratic Union Party (PYD).
December 2012 -
(TURKEY) - Erdogan
announces the government has begun peace talks with the PKK.
January 10, 2013 -
(FRANCE) - Three Kurdish women are found shot dead in Paris
, one of whom was a founding member of the PKK.
March 21, 2013 -
(TURKEY) - Imprisoned PKK founder Abdullah Ocalan calls for dialogue
: a letter from him is read in the Turkish Parliament, "We for tens of years gave up our lives for this struggle, we paid a price. We have come to a point at which the guns must be silent and ideas must talk."
March 25, 2013 -
(TURKEY) - Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan and Iraqi Kurdistan Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani negotiate a framework deal that includes an outline for a direct pipeline export of oil and gas.
The pipeline would have the Kurdish crude oil transported from the Kurdish Regional Government directly into Turkey, allowing the KRG to be a competitive supplier of oil to Turkey.