The United States has elected its first African-American president with the victory of Barack Obama in Tuesday's balloting.
The Democratic Party candidate captured well over the 270 electoral votes he needed with projected victories in several West Coast states. Senator Obama has a total of 297 electoral votes to 138 for his Republican opponent, Senator John McCain.
Hundreds of thousands of Obama supporters in his hometown of Chicago broke into screams of joy as soon as U.S. television networks declared him the winner.
McCain's bid for the White House fell short when he lost several hotly-contested states, including Pennsylvania, Florida, Ohio, and Virginia. No Republican had lost Virginia since 1964.
In his home state of Arizona in the city of Phoenix, McCain said he called Mr. Obama to congratulate him on his historic win, noting that the victory is of special significance to African-Americans.
The White House says President George Bush called Mr. Obama to congratulate him on the win.
Obama's victory ends eight years of Republican control of the White House under President George Bush.
He becomes the first black president in the United States' 232-year history. He will be sworn in on January 20, 2009.
Obama, not even a national figure just a few short years ago, overtook a host of Democratic presidential hopefuls, including Senator Hillary Clinton, to clinch the Democratic Party's nomination for the 2008 presidential election.
The son of a white American woman and a black Kenyan man, the 47-year-old Obama burst into the national spotlight after delivering the keynote address at the 2004 Democratic National Convention. Four years later, he became the party nominee and the first African-American to win the nomination of a major U.S. political party.
Obama, who was born in Hawaii, spent his youth on the Pacific Island U.S. state, as well as in Indonesia.
Obama attended Columbia University in New York and set his sights on public service after graduation, becoming a community organizer in Chicago. He later attended Harvard Law School and served in the Illinois State Senate.
He won his U.S. Senate seat by a landslide in 2004.
He has campaigned on a message of hope and unity, stressing the need to overcome long-standing political and social divisions. He has also emphasized his call for change after eight years of Republican control of the White House under President George Bush.
Obama's wife Michelle is a fellow Harvard Law School graduate. They have two young girls.