Overthrew the monarchy of Libya in the so-called "Green Revolution" in 1969, establishing a socialist Arab state under his leadership.
Was once (as a child) publicly slapped by one of his teachers. Many say that this is the source of his resentment for academics, apparent in many of his speeches and essays.
Libya's dictator from 1969 to 2011.
Author of the political treatise 'The Green Book', which has been mass-produced in several languages.
His eldest son, Saif al-Islam, was expected to be Libya's next president.
His son Saadi was a professional football player in Italy for a while.
In a quite eerie coincidence, the year of his death had been predicted by a 1980s sitcom Boys Will Be Boys (1987). The pilot episode of the show which aired in 1987 featured the ex-Libyan leader as one of the people showing up in Saint Peter's Office on July 29, 2011 to be judged whether he will go to hell or heaven.
His hair was actually a wig, as was revealed after his death.
During the 1970s and 1980s he funded terrorist groups in the West, including the Provisional IRA.
Rebel forces said Gaddafi was killed by crossfire, although video footage showed him being savagely beaten before being shot several times.
He was often referred to as Colonel Gaddafi, although he was actually only a lieutenant when he seized power in September 1969, having recently been passed over for promotion to captain.
His actual year of birth went unrecorded, as Libya was under Italian occupation at the time. Gaddafi himself said he could have been born before 1940.
He was a vocal opponent of South Africa's Apartheid regime.
He was an advocate of universal health care.