Fidel Castro ruled Cuba for 47 years and saw off 10 U.S. presidents in the process.
He remained a force behind the scenes after bowing out of day-to-day politics for health reasons in 2006. Fidel Castro Ruiz
According to his official biography, Castro was born in Biran in eastern Cuba on 26 July 1926. He was said to have found the gap between rich and poor in his country to be unacceptable even in his youth.
As a young lawyer he took up the fight against the regime of Dictator, Fulgencio Batista. Following several years in exile, head landed in Cuba with 80 revolutionaries in late 1956.
His troops entered the capital Havana victorious in January 1959.
An agricultural reform and the nationalisation of formerly owned concerns put him on a collision course with Washington which imposed a trade embargo that would last decades.
In those years, Havana became more and dependent on the former Soviet Union. Cuba faced a severe economic crisis when the Soviet Union collapsed in 1990. But the communist system and Castro both survived against all odds.
Castro bowed out of frontline politics in July 2006 for health reasons, handing the reins of power over to his brother Raul, initially only provisionally and then on a permanent basis.
He is said to have been very skeptical of the normalisation of ties which saw U.S. President Barack Obama visit Cuba in March this year.