Fidel Castro: A look at the Life of the Revolutionary Leader
Cuba's President Fidel Castro gestures during a tour of Paris in this March 15, 1995 file photo. (REUTERS)
NAME: Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz
TITLES: Former president of Council of State and Council of Ministers, first secretary of Communist Party of Cuba, commander in chief of Cuba's Revolutionary Armed Forces.
Before resigning February 19, 2008, he was the world's longest-ruling head of government, and leader of one of world's last five communist states.
Had been off public stage for year and half after provisionally ceding power to his brother Raul following emergency intestinal surgery.
BIRTH DATE: Officially listed as August 13, 1926, in Cuba's Oriente province, although some say he was born a year later.
EDUCATION: Attended Roman Catholic schools and University of Havana, where he earned law and social science degrees.
Also Read: Facts About Former Cuban Leader Fidel Castro
BEFORE THE REVOLUTION: Launched his revolutionary fight with July 26, 1953, attack on military barracks in eastern city of Santiago.
Was arrested, later freed under amnesty.
Travelled to Mexico to form a rebel army, and returned to Cuba with followers aboard small yacht.
Most were killed or captured, but Castro and a small group escaped into eastern mountain strongholds.
Took power when dictator Fulgencio Batista fled New Year's Day 1959.
AFTER THE REVOLUTION: Emerged as head of new government and quickly gained nearly absolute power.
All American businesses eventually expropriated and Cuba was declared socialist state in April 1961, on eve of disastrous US-backed Bay of Pigs invasion by Cuban exiles.
United States cut all trade with Cuba as island allied with Soviet Union, leading to October 1962 missile crisis that brought world to brink of nuclear war.
For three decades, Cuba was Soviet ally and remained alienated from United States after communism collapsed in eastern Europe.
The two countries began to move toward full diplomatic relations after a surprise announcement by President Barack Obama and Raul Castro on December 17, 2014.
FAMILY: Married Mirta Diaz-Balart in 1948; son, Fidel Felix Castro Diaz-Balart, born in 1949; divorced in 1955.
Although Castro never confirmed remarrying, reportedly wed former schoolteacher Dalia Soto del Valle and had five sons.
Also reportedly had several other children out of wedlock.
QUOTE: "Homeland or death! Socialism or death! We shall overcome!"