Fidel Castro, Cuba's divisive leader who held power from 1959 to 2008, has died. Castro's death was announced by his younger brother, President Raúl Castro, on Cuban Television Friday night. Castro had been suffering from failing health since he was hospitalized in 2006. He was later forced to step down from his position in 2008, at which point he officially handed the presidency to his sibling, Raúl, who had been holding his place in the interim.

According to The New York Times, Fidel "held on to power longer than any other living national leader except Queen Elizabeth II." He is said to have survived over 600 assassination attempts by the CIA over the course of his political reign. 

Castro is known for his role in the Cuban Missile Crisis, where he pushed the world to the brink of nuclear war. He will be remembered by many as a ruthless dictator who jailed and even executed political opponents. He banned free speech, freedom of assembly and a free press. At the same time, some of his followers saw him as a man of the people, as he provided free healthcare and raised Cuba's literacy rate to 99.7%, one of the best in the world.

Cuba now enters a 9-day mourning period in which Castro's ashes will be taken to different parts of the country. His remains will be buried on December 4th.