World leaders are paying tribute to the figurehead of South Africa's anti-apartheid movement who led the country into a new era. US President Obama said Mandela embodied the "promise of change for the better" while The UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called him a "giant for justice."
Announcing his death to the world, South African President Jacob Zuma said "we've lost our greatest son."
Politicians worldwide praised Mandela and called him a beacon of hope for other strife-torn countries.
Desmond Tutu, archbishop emeritus of Cape Town, South Africa. He won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984.
"Never before in history was one human being so universally acknowledged in his lifetime as the embodiment of magnanimity and reconciliation as Nelson Mandela was.
He set aside the bitterness of enduring 27 years in apartheid prisons - and the weight of centuries of colonial division, subjugation and repression - to personify the spirit and practice of ubuntu. He perfectly understood that people are dependent on other people in order for individuals and society to prosper.
That was his dream for South Africa, and the hope that he represented the world over. If it was possible in South Africa, it was possible in Ireland, it was possible in Bosnia and Rwanda, it was possible in Colombia, it is possible in Israel and Palestine."
African National Congress.
"South Africa and the world have lost a colossus and epitome of humility, equality, justice and peace. His life gives us the courage to push forward for development and progress towards ending hunger and poverty."
Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan.
"Dr Mandela served as a source of inspiration to the oppressed peoples all over the world. In the course of his lifelong epic struggle for freedom, fairness, justice, equity and the human rights of his oppressed people, Dr Mandela made unparalleled personal sacrifices.
The indefatigable spirit which he demonstrated throughout his life will continue to inspire present and future generations."
John Kerry, US Secretary of State.
"Nelson Mandela was a stranger to hate. He gave everything he had to heal his country and lead it back into the community of nations, including insisting on relinquishing his office and ensuring there would be a peaceful transfer of power. Today, people all around the world who yearn for democracy look to Mandela's nation and its democratic Constitution as a hopeful example of what is possible."
French President François Hollande.
"Nelson Mandela made history. That of South Africa and the whole world. Nelson Mandela's message will not disappear. It will continue to inspire fighters for freedom, and to give confidence to peoples in the defence of just causes and universal rights."