He seized power with a band of revolutionaries in 1959, so determined to create an egalitarian paradise that 'socialism or death' became his rallying cry.
He most famously was at the centre of the Cuban missile crisis which brought the US and the Soviet Union to the very brink of nuclear war.
The world held its breath for 12 unbearably tense days in October 1962 after President John F Kennedy discovered that Kremlin leader Nikita Khruschev was placing nuclear missile installations on the island, just 90 miles from Florida.
The crisis - probably the most perilous time of the entire Cold War - was abated only when Khruschev backed down and said the installations would be dismantled.
When Castro, and his Marxist revolutionary friends, seized power, he proceeded to nationalise factories, plantations and all American property, leading to relentless hostility towards him from the United States.
The CIA tried all manner of ways to assassinate him, including a bizarre exploding cigar, designed to detonate when Castro puffed on it, and booby-trapped seashells in spots where he used to enjoy diving.
In 1961, US-backed Cuban exiles tried to invade the island at the Bay of Pigs, but forces led by Castro successfully fought them off.
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3973462/Life-death-Cuban-dictator-Communist-revolutionary-defied-11-American-presidents-pushed-world-brink-nuclear-war.html#ixzz4R7cbwcPx