• Born in Lima on May 23, 1949, studied law in Madrid, and sociology in Paris.

  • Once said he partly financed his studies by playing guitar in the streets.

  • Joined the centre-left APRA - Peru's oldest political party - as a student in 1976 and was elected to the constitutional assembly in 1978.

  • Won a seat in Congress two years later.

  • Secretary-general of APRA from 1983 to 1985.

  • Elected president in 1985 at the age of 36.

  • Faced several corruption lawsuits at the end of his term.

  • Fled the country in 1992, when troops were sent to arrest him after the then president Alberto Fujimori shut down Congress and imposed martial law.

  • Wrote several books about Peru and Latin America during his years in exile in Bonn, Paris and Bogota.

  • His 1985-1990 administration was marked by four-digit inflation, unchecked leftist insurgencies and rampant  corruption.

  • Admits he made some errors during his administration, but says he has learned the hard way how Peru should be run.

  • Returned to the political scene in 2001 after nine years of self-imposed exile, narrowly losing his first re-election bid to Alejandro Toledo, the current president.

  • Once fiery, he has toned down his speech, which now includes more free-market concepts and less populist rhetoric.

  • Has drawn support from the political right and the business community that once opposed him but feared a win by Ollanta Humala, who was seen as anti-business.

  • The 1.90-m tall lawyer punctuates his speech with poetry and salutes to independence heroes dear to the hearts of Peruvians.

  • Has promised to maintain orthodox macro-economic discipline, pledged to slash government spending, boost economic growth and support small and medium-size enterprises.

  • Says he will get tough on crime.

  • Is married and has four children.