Aug 22 (Reuters) - Jubilant rebel fighters streamed into the heart of Tripoli and crowds took to the streets to celebrate, tearing down posters of Libyan ruler Muammar Gaddafi.
Here are some facts about Gaddafi, who is the Arab world's longest-serving leader. With no official government function, he is known as the "Brother Leader and Guide of the Revolution".
* Born to a Bedouin herdsman in 1942 in a tent near Sirte on the Mediterranean. Abandoned university geography studies for a military career that included a short spell at a British army signals school. Seized power in a coup in 1969.
* Embraced the pan-Arabism of the late Egyptian leader Gamal Abdel Nasser and tried without success to merge Libya, Egypt and Syria into a federation. A similar attempt to join Libya and Tunisia ended in acrimony.
* In 1977 he changed the country's name to the Great Socialist Popular Libyan Arab Jamahiriyah (State of the Masses) and said citizens would be allowed to air their views at people's congresses.
* U.S. warplanes bombed Libya in 1986 in reponse to the bombing of a Berlin disco used by U.S. soldiers.
* U.N. sanctions, imposed in 1992 to pressure Tripoli to hand over two Libyan suspects for trial for the 1988 Lockerbie airliner bombing over Scotland, crippled oil-rich Libya's economy and took the sting out of Gaddafi's anti-capitalist, anti-Western rhetoric.
* Gaddafi, shunned internationally for much of his rule because the West accused him of terrorism, abandoned his programme of prohibited weapons in 2003 to return Libya into international mainstream politics.
* In September 2004, U.S. President George W. Bush formally ended a U.S. trade embargo as a result of Gaddafi's scrapping of the arms programme and taking responsibility for Lockerbie.
* His showmanship is most on display on foreign visits when he sleeps in a Bedouin tent guarded by dozens of female bodyguards. During a visit to Italy in August 2010, Gaddafi's invitation to hundreds of young women to convert to Islam overshadowed the two-day trip, which was intended to cement the growing ties between Tripoli and Rome.