Former long-time Cuban leader Fidel Castro is most remembered for having created the first communist state in the Western Hemisphere. He did this by leading a revolution that culminated in overthrowing dictator Fulgencio Batista in 1959.
According to History.com, before ruling over Cuba for 50 years, Castro worked as a lawyer in his native country. He became involved in early Cuban revolution efforts around the age of 30, eventually rising as the movement's biggest activist.
Once he took the helm in Cuba, Castro quashed illiteracy and racism while improving public health care. However, critics noted his regime allowed neither political nor economic freedom for Cubans.
The United States took a dim view of Castro in part owing to his anti-capitalism stance and in part because of his alliance with the USSR, according to the History.com. Antagonism between Cuba and the United States peaked with the Bay of Pigs invasion and Cuban Missile Crisis.
According to a report by the BBC, Castro inspired attempts at revolution in a number of nations, including El Salvador and Bolivia. Still others were horrified by the Cuban Revolution and subsequent establishment of a communist state so close to the United States.
Castro turned over rule of Cuba to his younger brother Raul in 2008.