Fidel Castro, who led his native Cuba for nearly half a century and claimed to have survived more than 600 assassination attempts, has died at the age of 90.His younger brother, Raul Castro, announced on state television that the Communist revolutionary died on Friday night. World leaders have paid tribute to the revolutionary, who came to power in 1959, with former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev praising him for 'strengthening' his island nation. Russian President Vladimir Putin described him as a 'symbol of an era', and said he was a 'distinguished statesman'. Nine days of public mourning for the deceased Cuban leader have been announced, when 'public activities and shows' will cease, and flags will fly at half mast. The news was met with shock in Cuban capital Havana, but Castro's death was celebrated by exiles in the US (inset), where a Cuban-American US Congress representative branded the late leader 'a tyrant'. The controversial leader made his last official appearance before the country's Communist party in April and predicted that his death was near. Castro (pictured right with revolutionary icon Ernesto 'Che' Guevara in the early 1960s) was 32 when he overthrew dictator Fulgencio Batista's government in 1959. The US severed diplomatic ties in 1961, banning all exports to Cuba except for food and medicine. Castro's brother Raul and President Obama moved to restore diplomatic ties in December 2014.