One of the founding members of the Mozambican Liberation Front (Frelimo) that fought Portuguese colonial rule, Joaquim Chissano has long been at the forefront of Mozambican political life.
Chissano is credited with negotiating an end to a long war
He played a fundamental role in negotiating the 1974 Lusaka Accord that ended colonial rule.
He was prime minister of the transitional government that led up to independence in 1975, and thereafter was foreign minister under independent Mozambique's first president, Samora Machel.
Today, in his retirement, he cuts an "elder statesman" image and is often called upon by bodies like the United Nations to be an envoy or negotiator.
Currently, he chairs the Joaquim Chissano Foundation and the Forum of Former African Heads of State and Government.
Thrust to the forefront
Mozambique was in the grip of a civil war when President Machel died in a mysterious air crash in 1986.
Mr Chissano succeeded him as leader and devoted himself to restoring peace and stability to his country.
He is credited with initiating the constitutional and economic reforms which culminated with the adoption of the 1990 constitution that led Mozambique to the multi-party system and to an open market.
He built bridges with South Africa, which at the time was the principal sponsor - along with Rhodesia - of the rebel Mozambican National Resistance.
Mr Chissano then led negotiations with Renamo, which in October 1992 succeded in ending 16 years of destabilising internal conflict.
Diplomats said his ability to compromise and negotiate was a great strength which helped Mozambique become a stable, modernising, democratic country.
In 1994 he won the first multiparty elections in the history of the country, and was re-elected President of the Republic in 1999.
Despite the fact that the Mozambican constitution allowed him to stand in the 2004 presidential elections, Joaquim Chissano decided voluntarily not to do so.
Joaquim Alberto Chissano was born on 22 October 1939 in the remote village of Malehice, in the district of Chibuto in Gaza province.
He became the first black student enrolled at Liceu Salazar, and while completing his secondary education, became a member and then leader of the African Secondary School Students' Organisation in Mozambique (NESAM).
He went on to study medicine in Portugal but fled to Dar es Salaam, via Paris, when his political activism made further study impossible.
He is married to Marcelina Rafael Chissano and they have four children.