Born on Aug 4, 1961 in Hawaii, Barack Obama studied law at Harvard, worked as a civil rights lawyer in Chicago, served in Illinois state senate from 1996-2004 and elected to the US Senate in 2004. He is the first black candidate to become the presidential candidate of the major US party and today, history is made as Barack Obama beats Republican, John McCain to become America's first black president elect. "Through hard work and perseverance my father got a scholarship to study in a magical place - America, which stood as a beacon of freedom and opportunity to so many who had come before," he said. After his landslide US Senate election victory a few months later, he became a media darling and one of the most visible figures in Washington, with two best-selling books to his name. He won the backing of talk-show host, Oprah Winfrey, who not only urged him to declare his candidacy for the Democratic presidential nomination on her programme but appeared on the campaign trail with him. Almost 30,000 people attended a rally in South Carolina in 2007 at which she described Mr Obama as having an "ear for eloquence and a tongue dipped in the unvarnished truth". He has also broke all records for fund-raising, by harnessing the internet to collect huge numbers of small donations, as well as larger sums from corporate donors. As an Illinois senator, he has established a firmly liberal voting record, but has also worked with Republican colleagues on issues such as Aids education and prevention. International upbringing Mr Obama is named after his father, who grew up in Kenya herding goats but gained a scholarship to study in Hawaii. There, the Kenyan met and married Mr Obama's mother, who was living in Honolulu with her parents. Barack Obama wowed the 2004 Democratic National Convention. When Mr Obama was a toddler, his father got a chance to study at Harvard but there was no money for the family to go with him. He later returned to Kenya alone, where he worked as a government economist, and the couple divorced. When Mr Obama was six, his mother, Ann, married an Indonesian man and the family moved to Jakarta. Although his father and step-father were Muslim, Mr Obama is a Christian and attended secular and Catholic schools during the four years he lived in Indonesia, a largely Muslim country. He then moved back to Hawaii to live with his grandparents and attend school. Mr Obama went on to study political science at Columbia University in New York, and then moved to Chicago where he spent three years as a community organizer. In 1988 he left to attend Harvard Law School, where he became the first African-American president of the Harvard Law Review. After Harvard, Mr Obama returned to Chicago to practice civil rights law, representing victims of housing and employment discrimination. He served in the Illinois state senate from 1996 to 2004. Family and personal life Obama met his wife, Michelle Robinson, in June 1989 when he was employed as a summer associate at the Chicago law firm of Sidley Austin. Assigned for three months as Obama's adviser at the firm, Robinson joined him at group social functions, but declined his initial offers to date. They began dating later that summer, became engaged in 1991, and were married on October 3, 1992. The couple's first daughter, Malia Ann, was born in 1998, followed by a second daughter, Natasha ("Sasha"), in 2001. Race The senator attended the Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago for almost two decades but broke away from it in May 2008 after controversial sermons by Trinity preachers hit the headlines. The Rev Jeremiah Wright was quoted as saying the 9/11 attacks were like "chickens coming home to roost" and that God should damn America for treating black people as "less than human". Seeking to defuse the uproar, Mr Obama tackled the issue of race directly, calling on the US to move beyond its long history of racial inequality. "The anger is real; it is powerful; and to simply wish it away, to condemn it without understanding its roots, only serves to widen the chasm of misunderstanding that exists between the races," he said. Mr Obama was an early critic of the Iraq war, speaking out against the prospect of war several months before the March 2003 invasion. His willingness to talk to Iranian leaders without preconditions has been criticised as reckless by his Republican rival for the presidency. Mr Obama has often joked that people are always getting his name wrong, calling him "Alabama" or "Yo Mama". He clinched the Democratic nomination after a long and grueling battle against former first lady, Hillary Clinton - a contest, that gripped the US from January to June 2008. Speaking after it became clear he won, Mr Obama talked of a "defining moment for our nation". "I face this challenge with profound humility, and knowledge of my own limitations," he said. "But I also face it with limitless faith in the capacity of the American people." Media darling Mr Obama, 47, first shot to national - and international - prominence with a speech that stirred the 2004 Democratic National Convention. The son of a Kenyan man and a white woman from Kansas, Mr Obama emphasised his personal history in a speech reflecting traditional American ideals of self-reliance and aspirations. He is the first black candidate to become the presidential candidate of the major US party and today, history is made as Barack Obama beats Republican, John McCain to become America's first black president-elect.