5 March 2013
Last updated at 18:00 ET
Hugo Chavez was one of the most visible, vocal and controversial leaders in Latin America. The former army paratrooper first came to prominence as leader of a failed coup in 1992.
Mr Chavez led a doomed attempt to overthrow the government of President Carlos Andres Perez amid growing anger at economic austerity measures. He spent two years in prison before being granted a pardon. He then relaunched his party as the Movement of the Fifth Republic and made the transition from soldier to politician.
In 1998, he caused a seismic shift in Venezuelan politics, riding a wave of popular outrage at the traditional political elite to win the presidency.
By the time Mr Chavez was swept into power, the old Venezuelan order was falling apart. Mr Chavez promised "revolutionary" social policies, and constantly attacked the "predatory oligarchs" of the establishment as corrupt servants of international capitalism.
Relations with Washington reached a new low when he accused the Bush administration of "fighting terror with terror" during the war in Afghanistan after 11 September 2001. Mr Chavez accused the US of being behind a short-lived coup that saw him removed from office for a couple of days in 2002.
Mr Chavez's government later implemented a number of "missions" or social programmes, including education and health services for all. But poverty and unemployment are still widespread, despite the country's oil wealth.
In 2006 Mr Chavez was re-elected leader, receiving nearly 63% of the final vote, well ahead of rival Manuel Rosales.
But in 2007 he lost a constitutional referendum which included a proposal to allow the president to run indefinitely for office. He was also told to "shut up" by Spain's King Juan Carlos as the Ibero-American summit drew to a close in Santiago, Chile. The outburst came after Mr Chavez called former Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar a "fascist".
In 2009 Venezuelans voted in another referendum to change the constitution to end term limits. This meant Hugo Chavez could stand again for the presidency.
In June 2011, President Chavez told the Venezuelan people he was being treated for cancer. Several trips to Cuba for surgery and radiation treatment followed. Speculation over his health was fuelled as the exact nature of his illness was not disclosed.
In October 2012, Mr Chavez won a new six-year term, defeating his main rival Henrique Capriles by 54% to 45%.
Dogged by the cancer that he had been battling for the last 18 months, Mr Chavez indicated in December 2012 that his health would not allow him to continue in office for many more years. He returned to Cuba for a fourth "complex, difficult, delicate" operation to remove more cancerous tissue.
President Chavez returned home in February to continue his treatment at a Caracas hospital. With little news about his health, photographs taken in Cuba of Mr Chavez with his two daughters at his beside became a must-have souvenir for his supporters. "We shall win" the caption reads.
Mr Chavez's death was announced by the vice-president on 5 March, sparking scenes of grief on the streets of Caracas.