Senator Barack Obama has been elected president of the United States of America, the first African-American to hold the post. Celebrations have begun in the USA and across the world for what is seen as a moment of historic change.
The victory became clear at 11pm US time (4am GMT), after projected victories in California and Washington State on the West Coast. A record national electoral turnout was achieved.
The Rev Jesse Jackson joined civil rights campaigners in celebrating the advent of president-elect Obama, who claimed victory in Chicago while rival Republican candidate Senator John McCain conceded defeat in Phoenix, Arizona.
Obama's win is likely to impact the perception of the USA in the world positively, but while his win in terms of the Electoral College in America is decisive, in many areas of the country the popular vote remains evenly divided.
The junior senator, who is now due to be sworn in as president on 20 January 2009, will face massive challenges both domestically and internationally - ranging from the global economic crisis, to healthcare, to global warming, to the Middle East conflict.
Obama's win is seen as a milestone for black Americans, given the country's history of racial division. But supporters recognise that yet deeper change is still to be achieved.
The president-elect won 40 per cent of white voters and 97 per cent of African Americans, indicating that significant demographic differences still exist.
In Kenya, the family of Barack Obama there was joined in extravagant celebrations by local people. US assistance in the battle against HIV-AIDS in Africa is crucial to its relations on the continent.
Though the traditional religious right mobilised around the candidacy of John McCain, significant numbers of evangelical Christians supported Obama, constructing a 'values vote' around wider issues of poverty and the environment.
Observers say that religion was not the divisive issue in the election that some feared, though it is always a significant factor.
Senator John McCain made a generous speech of concession in Phoenix Arizona, wishing Mr Obama "godspeed' in his coming task of governing the nation.
But the loud boos that greeted the successful Democratic candidate's name indicated the depth of animosity and suspicion that he faces in sections of the American population.
Nonetheless, the overall mood in the USA seems to be one of poignancy and celebration, as the scale of Mr Obama's achievement begins to sink in.
President George W Bush is unlikely to comment until tomorrow, though he has already rung Mr Obama to congratulate him.