1980: Yugoslavia begins to fracture as three main ethnic groups contend for power.

They are the Croats, predominantly Catholic; Serbs, mostly Eastern Orthodox; and "Bosniacs," Bosnians who are Muslim.1991: The republics of Croatia and Slovenia declare independence. The national government uses force but can't keep them in the union.

In Croatia, Croats and local Serbs fight each other. The Republic of Macedonia declares independence.

In the Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina, local Serbs proclaim the Republika Srpska (separate from the republic named Serbia.)

1992: Bosniacs and Croats living in Bosnia vote for independence.

Bosnian Serbs claim much of the same land and fight, soon controlling most of Bosnia. Serbs beseige Sarajevo, pounding it with artillery.

In a campaign of "ethnic cleansing" Serbs round up Muslims in Bosnia and kill many, send others to prison camps.

Trying to end the fighting, the United Nations bans sales of weapons, oil and other material in the former Yugoslavia.

1993: Siege of Sarajevo continues. Croats and Muslims battle each other in Bosnia; Serbs fights Muslims.

NATO and the U.N. ban flights over Bosnia.

1994: A federation agreement ends the war between Muslims and Croats. NATO launches air strikes against Serb positions.

1995: The federation launches an offensive against the Serbs in the northeast.

Serbs bombard downtown Tuzla, killing 71 and injuring more than 200.

Croats capture a Serb region in western Slovenia.

Serbs launch rockets against Zagreb, capital of Croatia. Serbs bombard Sarajevo. Bosnian Serbs overrun "safe havens" the United Nations had set up to protect Muslims and murder thousands.

Serbs bomb the main market in Sarajevo, killing 27. NATO and the United Nations attack Serbs.

An offensive of Croats and Muslims sweeps eastward and more than 150,000 Serbs flee.

A cease-fire starts late in the year. The Dayton Peace Accords are signed in Paris, ending the fighting. The United States and other coalition countries pour in 60,000 troops to enforce the peace.

1996: Zones of separations are enforced keeping the contending armies apart.

Bosnia, a country about the size of Georgia, is divided into areas of responsibility, with the United States patrolling a section of the eastern and central part, an area as large as Maine.

The first war-crimes trial, held in the Hague, results in a 10-year sentence.

1997 until present: Coalition forces make headway in bringing an end to fighting but unrest continues.

Back in 1995, the U.N. War Crimes Tribunal filed indictments against Serb Gen. Ratko Mladic, political leader Radovan Karadzic and scores of others but only a handful are in custody - and none of them are major leaders.

Attempts to return displaced people to their homes meet only limited success. Demonstrations occasionally result in bloodshed. Coalition troops search for Karadzic.

America hunkers down for an open-ended stay.