Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi has vowed to fight on to death or victory after jubilant rebels forced him to abandon his Tripoli stronghold. Here are some major events during his 42-year rule:

1969 - Muammar Gaddafi seizes power on 1 September in a coup against King Idris.

1970 - Libya closes US and British military bases.

1980 - Demonstrators sack US embassy in Tripoli.

1981 - US fighter planes shoot down two Libyan jets over the Gulf of Sirte, which Libya claims as territorial waters.

April 1984 - Shots fired from Libyan embassy in London kill policewoman Yvonne Fletcher, guarding demonstrators protesting against Gaddafi. Britain cuts diplomatic ties. Gaddafi said 'we are sorry' for the killing in October 2009.

January 1986 - US President Ronald Reagan orders halt to economic and commercial relations with Libya, freezes Libyan assets in the United States.

April - Libya is blamed for bombing a West Berlin disco used by US servicemen, killing three and wounding more than 200.

April - US aircraft bomb Tripoli, Benghazi and Gaddafi's home. Libya says more than 40 people are killed, including Gaddafi's adopted baby daughter.

December 1988 - Pan Am Flight 103 from London to New York is blown up over Lockerbie, Scotland, killing 270 people.

September 1989 - Bomb explodes on a French UTA airliner over Niger, killing 170 people. In 1999, France convicts six Libyans in absentia, but Tripoli denied responsibility.

November 1991 - The US and Britain accuse Libyans Abdel Basset Ali Mohamed al-Megrahi and Al-Amin Khalifa Fahima of Lockerbie bombing. Libya denies involvement.

January 2001 - Judges unanimously find Abdel Basset al-Megrahi guilty of murder and acquit Al-Amin Khalifa Fahima. Megrahi is given a mandatory life sentence.

March 2003 - Libya reaches political agreement with the US and Britain to accept civil responsibility for the bombing. Libya agrees to pay about $2.7 billion in total.

September - UN Security Council votes unanimously to lift sanctions imposed on Libya in 1992 after Libya accepted responsibility for the Lockerbie bombing.

December - Libya says it is to abandon weapons of mass destruction programmes and allow in international weapons inspectors.

January 2004 - Lawmakers arrive on the first visit by a US congressional delegation to Libya since Gaddafi came to power.

March - British Prime Minister Tony Blair meets Gaddafi.

September - President George W Bush ends US trade embargo on Libya but leaves US terrorism-related sanctions in place.

May 2006 - The US says it will restore full diplomatic ties with Libya.

August 2008 - Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi signs a deal in Benghazi under which Italy will pay $5 billion in compensation for its colonial misdeeds.

September 2008 - Condoleezza Rice meets Gaddafi in Tripoli in the first visit by a US Secretary of State since 1953.

June 2009 - Gaddafi makes a controversial first visit to former colonial power Italy. The next month Gaddafi and US President Barack Obama shake hands during a G8 summit in Italy.

August - Megrahi is set free on compassionate grounds and arrives home to a hero's welcome. The next day, Britain condemns the celebrations in Tripoli.

17 February, 2011 - Activists designate 17 February as a day of rage, a day after first riots in Benghazi. 17 February is the anniversary of 2006 clashes there, when security forces killed protesters attacking the Italian consulate.

5 March - The rebel National Transitional Council meets in Benghazi and declares itself the sole representative for Libya.

27 June - The ICC issues arrest warrants for Gaddafi and his son Saif al-Islam on charges of crimes against humanity.

21 August - Rebels enter Tripoli with little resistance.

24 August - Gaddafi, in hiding, vows 'martyrdom' or victory in his six-month war against the Western alliance and Libyan foes.