Among the terrestrial planets, Mercury is the smallest and has the highest bulk density. Mercury exhibits a lunar-like surface, shaped by impact basins and craters. Rapid cooling and contraction as well as tidal despinning have resulted in a large inventory of tectonic scarps and faults visible on the surface. With plans for new orbiter missions to this intriguing planet taking shape, this paper presents a summary of our current knowledge on Mercury's geology and cratering history. On the basis of improved data on asteroid populations and crater scaling, we updated the time stratigraphic sequence for the planet and made new estimates for the time of formation of impact basins such as Tolstoj and Caloris, which generally are now thought to be younger than in previous estimates. In order to advance our understanding of the geology of the planet, imaging experiments on future missions must fill the gap in the global coverage left by the Mariner spacecraft, and increase the global multispectral spatial resolution to at least 100 m/ pixel. Locally, the image resolution must reach approx. 10 m/ pixel. Also, stereo topographic models with global and local resolutions of 200 and 20 m, respectively, are required.