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.
'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.
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.