The 57-year-old leader won election in 2013 to replace Hugo Chávez. His term runs until 2025.
Born in the village of Algarrobo, in the western Venezuelan state of Trujillo, he studied medicine at the Central University of Venezuela before spending two years at a university in Uruguay. He studied law, under the auspices of UNASUR, the South American regional bloc, but left the course to take a shot at higher office.
He was elected as a member of parliament in 1988, the year the country won independence from Colombia. He was defeated by opposition parties in 1990, but was re-elected in 1992.
In 1993 he went on to become speaker of the National Assembly after the previous speaker was jailed and was then elected president.
He served as Venezuela’s head of state for more than a decade, avoiding presidential elections until 2013. He was succeeded by Nicolás Maduro.
After he won election he said: “We are living through a very new and demanding epoch in history. We are assuming responsibility for the eternal legacies that we have acquired in these 50 years of Chavismo.”
He is often called “Nicolas the 6”, after being born on 6 February 1958.
His father is from the west coast of Venezuela and his mother, who was named Flora, is from Madrid.
He always uses the titles, “governor” and “president”, according to many media reports. However, it is the latter that corresponds to his post.
His favourite food is his mother’s cooking, according to media reports.
In 2002, he was brought into power by a military coup after its leader, Manuel Rosales, was arrested on corruption charges. Mr Rosales was later exonerated and reinstated to power.
Under Mr Maduro’s rule, Venezuela has been hit by massive shortages of many goods, including food, and spiralling inflation.
The country’s economy is also in trouble, with inflation on track to hit 2,500% this year.
The son of a bus driver, Mr Maduro has focused on economic development, joining trade deals with Beijing and attracting investments.
He inherited a country in tatters after spending the last six years attempting to consolidate his hardline socialist vision of Venezuela’s history.
He has further bolstered his popularity by imposing strong control over media outlets in the country. He often accuses the opposition of seeking to sabotage the country’s oil industry with a US-led “economic war”.
He has also tightened his grip on control over the military, which is supposed to be subordinated to the government, allowing him to counter any “coup attempts” by the opposition.
Mr Maduro refuses to concede defeat over the right to hold nationwide presidential elections in Venezuela, which is barred by law from holding a new presidential poll until December 2021. His opponents say that he is seeking to postpone the vote so he can run again.
In a bitter feud with the opposition leader, Leopoldo López, the president has blamed Mr López for taking part in last year’s unrest, which claimed at least 125 lives. More than 1,000 people were injured.
Last year the ruling Socialist party temporarily blocked the jailed opposition leader from leaving prison and condemned an appeal filed by López’s lawyers.