Born in 1924 in Salisbury in what was then Southern Rhodesia, Mugabe rose to prominence in the 1960s as secretary-general of the African National Union party, which opposed the white-minority government of Ian Smith. This led to a lengthy stint in prison, from 1964 to 1975.
Upon his release, Mugabe joined guerilla fighters in Mozambique, thus becoming a revolutionary.
He emerged from the war for independence from Britain a hero, winning 1980 elections to become Zimbabwe's first prime minister.
After holding the premiership for seven years, Mugabe assumed the presidency in 1987.
He was re-elected – amid widespread claims of vote-rigging and intimidation – in 1990, 1996 and 2002.
Mugabe was reelected again in hotly-contested 2008 polls, which were followed by the signing of a power-sharing agreement with political rival Morgan Tsvangirai of the Movement for Democratic Change.
In 2013, Mugabe clinched yet another term as president, which is slated to end in 2018.
Over the years, he has been revered as a pan-African visionary by supporters while being accused of racism by his critics.
During the 1980s, Mugabe's socialist policies saw the national economy thrive. Since then, however, national GDP has declined by some 40 percent, according to World Bank figures, due largely to hyperinflation and land reforms that saw white-owned farms taken over by blacks.
His anti-white land reforms saw Western nations impose sanctions on Zimbabwe and suspend the country's membership in the Commonwealth.
Mugabe has often accused the US and UK of pursuing "imperialistic" policies.
According to his profile on the Zimbabwean government's official website, Mugabe, now the father of four, wed Sally Hayfron in 1961.
They remained married until her death in 1992.
Four years later, he married Grace Marufu, his former secretary.
A Roman Catholic, Mugabe is an alumnus of the University of London, the University of South Africa and the University of Fort Hare.