Cuba's 'El Comandante': Castro's revolutionary mark on history

The Cuban leader, who built a communist state on the doorstep of the United States and for almost five decades defied US efforts to topple him, had been troubled by poor health since 2006. Fidel played a key role in the Cold war crisis.

Former Cuban president Fidel Castro was a global celebrity, his beard, military fatigues and big Cuban cigars making him instantly recognisable.

Former Cuban president Fidel Castro was a global celebrity, his beard, military fatigues and big Cuban cigars making him instantly recognisable.

Cuban revolutionary Fidel Castro during an address in Cuba in 1959 after unpopular US-backed dictator Fulgencio Batista was forced to flee.

Cuban revolutionary Fidel Castro during an address in Cuba in 1959 after unpopular US-backed dictator Fulgencio Batista was forced to flee.

Castro mined Cuban nationalism and Latin American pride, stirring resentment of US power and influence. Photo taken February 24, 2015 in Pinar del Rio

Castro mined Cuban nationalism and Latin American pride, stirring resentment of US power and influence.

'We shall endeavor to be brief,' he told the UN General Assembly in 1960, then set a record for UN speeches by talking for nearly 4-1/2 hours.

'We shall endeavor to be brief,' he told the UN General Assembly in 1960, then set a record for UN speeches by talking for nearly 4-1/2 hours.

Communists unite with Fidel Castro forming an alliance with Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev (1894 - 1971) in Moscow.

Fidel's alliance with the Soviet Union put him at the center of the Cold War, most notably when the 1962 Cuban missile crisis took the world to the brink of nuclear war.

Almost killed by a serious intestinal illness, he was forced to step down in 2006 and formally handed over to his brother Raul Castro, in 2008.

Almost killed by a serious intestinal illness, he was forced to step down in 2006 and formally handed over to his brother Raul Castro, in 2008.

Fidel shares a light moment with children playing chess during a simultaneous game with about 11,000 people on December 7, 2002 in Havana.

Fidel shares a light moment with children playing chess during a simultaneous game with about 11,000 people on December 7, 2002 in Havana.