Barack Obama's rise to stardom and the first African American president of the United States was meteoric.
Here are some of the key moments in his life:
August 4, 1961: Born in Honolulu, Hawaii, to Barack Obama Sr and Stanley Ann Durham Obama.
1964: Mr Obama's parents divorce.
1967: Mr Obama's mother marries Lolo Soetoro and the family moves to Jakarta, Indonesia, for four years.
1971: Mr Obama returns to Hawaii to live with his maternal grandparents.
1985-1988: Mr Obama works as a community organiser in Chicago.
1990: Mr Obama becomes the first African American president of the Harvard Law Review and, in 1991, graduates from Harvard Law School.
October 1992: Marries Michelle Robinson, with whom he now has two children, Malia and Sasha.
Early to mid-1990s: Community organiser in Chicago
1997-2004: Served in Illinois state senate.
March 21, 2000: Mr Obama loses the Democratic nomination for a seat in the House of Representatives.
October 2, 2002: Mr Obama declares his opposition to an Iraq "war based not on reason, but on politics".
July 27, 2004: Shot to fame with a well-received keynote speech at the Democratic Party's national convention in Boston, saying: "We are one people, all of us pledging allegiance to the stars and stripes, all of us defending the United States of America."
January 4, 2005: Sworn in to the US Senate as the third African American senator since Reconstruction, and the fifth in history. Serves on the Foreign Relations and Veteran's Affairs Committees.
January 16, 2007: Mr Obama forms an exploratory committee, the first step towards a presidential bid.
February 10: Mr Obama announces his presidential bid on the steps of the Old State Capitol building in Springfield, Illinois, where Abraham Lincoln spent a large part of his political career.
June 13: Obama Girl, aka Amber Lee Ettinger, first emerges on YouTube and declares the most famous crush in modern political history.
December 13: Oprah Winfrey, the queen of US television, endorses Mr Obama on the campaign trail.
January 3, 2008: Mr Obama wins Iowa and tells voters: "We are one nation; we are one people; and our time for change has come".
January 8: Mr Obama loses to Hillary Clinton in New Hampshire after the former first lady's much-publicised teary moment on campaign trail the day before.
January 26: Mr Obama beats Mrs Clinton in the South Carolina primary, saying: "We can heal this nation."
January 28: Senator Ted Kennedy endorses Mr Obama using the words of his younger brother John F Kennedy: "The world is changing. The old ways will not do... It is time for a new generation of leadership."
January 29: Former president Bill Clinton said: "Even Jesse Jackson won South Carolina twice", remarks which became central in the debate over race.
February 5: Super Tuesday settles nothing.
February 9: Mr Obama starts a month-long winning streak in the primary season which sees victories in 10 states and DC.
March 3: The row over the North Atlantic Free Trade Agreement (Nafta) engulfs Mr Obama's campaign for several days.
March 4: Mrs Clinton wins Texas, prolonging the primary season further.
March 18: Mr Obama delivers a key speech on race following the controversy over inflammatory comments by Reverend Jeremiah Wright, calling for a more perfect union so the nation could "move beyond some of our old racial wounds".
April 6: Mr Obama calls Pennsylvanians "bitter" about job losses at a San Francisco fundraiser and adds that "they cling to guns or religion... as a way to explain their frustrations".
April 29: Mr Obama jettisons Mr Wright, saying he "was not the person that I met 20 years ago" and adding that was "outraged and saddened" by Mr White's "divisive and destructive" remarks on race.
May 6: Mr Obama wins North Carolina and, despite Mrs Clinton winning Indiana, the end of the primary season is near.
May 14: Former presidential rival and ex-senator John Edwards endorses Mr Obama.
June 7: Mrs Clinton suspends her campaign after a gruelling 16-month primary season battle, and urges her supporters to back Mr Obama.
June 19: Mr Obama opts out of public financing, giving him a significant advantage over Mr McCain in the final leg.
June 27: First Obama-Clinton joint appearance in a bid to unite the Democratic Party.
July 8: Mr Obama lets his children be interviewed on Access Hollywood, but says he got "carried away" and would not do the same again.
July 21: Mr Obama's world tour sees him meet Iraqi prime minister Nouri al-Maliki and General David Petraeus, then the top US commander in Iraq. It also emerges Iraq's government shared Mr Obama's desire for a withdrawal of US forces.
July 24: Mr Obama shows his rock star-status as he tells a rally of 200,000 people in Berlin, Germany, that the US and Europe must come together "to defeat terror and dry up the well of extremism that supports it".
July 26: Mr Obama holds talks with prime minister Gordon Brown in Downing Street.
August 16: Mr Obama announces a record month of fundraising, in which he brought in 51 million dollars, compared with Mr McCain's 27 million dollars.
August 23: Mr Obama names veteran politician Joe Biden, who has three decades of experience in the US Senate and chairs its Foreign Relations Committee, as his running mate.
August 25-28: The Democratic Party's national convention in Denver, Colorado, a key battleground state, sees ailing senator Ted Kennedy, Michelle Obama, Mr Biden, and both Clintons deliver passionate speeches, uniting the party and fully endorsing Mr Obama.
August 28: Mr Obama becomes the first African American leader of a major US party in front of 80,000 people in an open-air stadium 45 years to the day after Martin Luther King Jr inspired the world with his "I Have a Dream" speech.
September 24: Mr McCain suspends his campaign to head to Washington to focus on the economic crisis, while Mr Obama says presidents must "deal with more than one thing at a time".
October 15: Mr Obama is widely seen to complete a series of victories in the three presidential debates.
October 19: Former secretary of state Colin Powell, a Republican who served under President George Bush, crosses party lines to endorse Mr Obama. The Illinois senator also announces he raised a record 150 million dollars in September, more than double the record he set a month before.