Aung San Suu Kyi is the daughter of the country's independence hero, General Aung San.
Ms Suu Kyi was a toddler when her father was assassinated
Profile: The woman who has become the face of Burma's democracy movement
He was assassinated during the transition period in July 1947, just six months before independence.
Aung San Suu Kyi was only two years old at the time.
In 1960 she went to India with her mother Daw Khin Kyi, who had been appointed Burma's ambassador to Delhi.
Four years later she went to Oxford University in the UK, where she studied philosophy, politics and economics. There she met her future husband, academic Michael Aris.
After stints of living and working in Japan and Bhutan, she settled down to be an English don's housewife and raise their two children, Alexander and Kim.
But Burma was never far from her thoughts.
When she arrived back in Rangoon in 1988 - to look after her critically ill mother - Burma was in the midst of major political upheaval.
Thousands of students, office workers and monks took to the streets demanding democratic reform.
"I could not, as my father's daughter remain indifferent to all that was going on," she said in a speech in Rangoon on 26 August 1988.
Ms Suu Kyi was soon propelled into leading the revolt against the then-dictator, General Ne Win.
Inspired by the non-violent campaigns of US civil rights leader Martin Luther King and India's Mahatma Gandhi, she organised rallies and travelled around the country, calling for peaceful democratic reform and free elections.
But the demonstrations were brutally suppressed by the army, who seized power in a coup on 18 September 1988.
The military government called national elections in May 1990.
Aung San Suu Kyi's NLD convincingly won the polls, despite the fact that she herself was under house arrest and disqualified from standing.
But the junta refused to hand over control, and has remained in power ever since.