|Fidel Castro led the Communist revolution in Cuba in 1959|
"The commander in chief of the Cuban revolution died at 22:29 hours this evening (03:29 GMT Saturday)," President Raul Castro said.
Fidel Castro ruled Cuba as a one-party state for almost 50 years before Raul took over in 2008. His supporters said he had given Cuba back to the people. But he was also accused of suppressing opposition.
Obituary: Fidel Castro
Fidel Castro: A life in pictures
Ashen and grave, President Castro told the nation in an unexpected late night broadcast on state television that Fidel Castro had died and would be cremated on Saturday.
There would now be several days of national mourning on the island.
Barring the occasional newspaper column, Fidel Castro had essentially been retired from political life for some time, the BBC's Will Grant in Havana reports.
In April, Fidel Castro gave a rare speech on the final day of the country's Communist Party congress.
He acknowledged his advanced age but said Cuban communist concepts were still valid and the Cuban people "will be victorious".
|Fidel Castro made a rare appearance at Cuba's Communist Party congress|
Castro temporarily handed over the power to his brother in 2006 as he was recovering from an acute intestinal ailment.
Raul Castro officially became president two years later.
more at BBCNews.com