U.S. Democratic Senator Barack Obama on Saturday officially announced his candidacy for president in the 2008 elections, which could make him the first black president of the country.
Obama, considered a leading contender for the Democratic presidential nomination in next year's elections, made his announcement in Springfield, Illinois, where he was elected in 2004 to the Senate for the first time.
The following is some basic information about the first-term senator.
Obama was born in Honolulu, Hawaii, on Aug. 4, 1961. His father was Barack H. Obama, Sr., from Kenya, and his mother, Ann Dunham, was from Kansas.
He received his bachelor's degree in 1983 from Columbia University, where he majored in political science with a specialization in international relations. He entered Harvard Law School in 1988, and obtained his doctor's degree in 1991.
In February 1990, he gained national recognition for becoming the first African American to be elected president of the Harvard Law Review.
Obama served as a Illinois State senator from 1997 to 2004, and taught constitutional law at the University of Chicago Law School from 1993 until his election to the U.S. Senate in 2004.
Obama, who was married to Michelle and had two daughters, was said to be the fifth African American Senator in U.S. history and the only African American currently serving in the U.S. Senate.
During the 109th Congress in 2005 and 2006, Obama sponsored 152 bills and resolutions, and cosponsored another 427.
On Jan. 16, he announced that he had taken the first step toward becoming a candidate for the 2008 presidential election by forming an exploratory committee.
Obama, who favors abortion rights and universal health care coverage, has voted to give illegal immigrants a route to citizenship, and is opposed to the Iraq war.