Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama made history by becoming the first ever African American to be nominated for the role by a major political party.

Barack Hussein Obama II was born on August 4, 1961 in Hawaii. His mother, Ann Dunham, a white American from Kansas, met his Kenyan father, Barack Obama I, while they were studying together at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. His parents separated when Obama was two, and he barely knew his father, who died in an automobile accident in 1982.

In 1967, Obama’s mother married Indonesian Lolo Soetoro, and the family moved to Jakarta, where Obama lived until he was 10. He has a half-sister Maya Soetoro-Ng.

Obama moved back to Hawaii in 1971 and lived with his maternal grandparents until he graduated from high school in 1979. A graduate of Columbia University, he entered Harvard Law School in 1988, where he served as the first African American president of the Harvard Law Review.

First elected to the Illinois Senate in 1996 Barack Obama served as an Illinois state senator for seven years before he was elected to the US State Senate in November 2, 2004.

He met his wife, Michelle Robinson, in June 1989. Obama has often recalled how she initially rejected his offers to date before finally giving in. They married on October 3, 1992.

The couple have two daughters, Malia Ann and Natasha (Sasha), who have become household figures through the campaign. Michelle has actively campaigned for her husband, often joining him on the campaign trail gathering support.

Obama’s 2004 speech at the Democratic National Convention vaulted him to rock-star status. In it, he introduced himself to America as someone who hoped to bridge divisions, political and racial. In 2005, Obama featured on Times magazine’s 100 most influential people in the world list.

On June 3, 2008, sixteen months after announcing his candidacy, Barack Obama officially became the Democratic nominee for the US presidency.

His charismatic appearance and public speaking skills have transcended boundaries and widened his appeal. Known for his stirring eloquence, Obama now draws tens of thousands to his political rallies.

Obama worked as a community organiser for many of his formative years and has banked on that experience throughout his campaign. His first autobiography, “Dreams From My Father,” details his search for identity and his efforts to connect with his father’s roots in Africa. The1995 memoir showcased the lyrical writing style that would later mark some of his best-known speeches. It also helped to shape Obama’s political identity.

Obama’s campaign has been dogged by controversy, including this satirical cover on New Yorker magazine. The illustration attempts to demonstrate the many rumours and smears against him, but was strongly criticised by his camp.

Obama has resounding celebrity support, with figures ranging from Ben Affleck to the Black Eyed Peas. Obama’s presidential campaign raised a staggering $58 million, setting the record for fundraising by a presidential campaign in the first six months of the calendar year before the run up to the election.

Early on August 23, 2008, Obama’s camp announced via email and text message that Senator Joe Biden has been picked as his running mate. Biden brings with him 35-years of foreign policy and national security experience.

Obama created further history October 29, 2008 with a 30 minute ad that aired across major national television networks. The glitzy production cost $3 million and was the most expensive ad in political history.