Nelson Mandela, the anti-apartheid trailblazer and former President of South Africa, turned 95 on Thursday. Crowds of supporters gathered to celebrate the milestone outside the Pretoria hospital where Mandela is being treated for a recurring lung infection. The ailing leader has been near-death for weeks, though his health has improved this week, and he remains in critical but stable condition.

Mandela is considered one of the world's greatest leaders. After 27 years of imprisonment under South Africa's apartheid government, Mandela became the country's first black president in its first multi-racial elections in 1994. He championed peace, forgiveness and racial unity. He served a five-year term through 1999 and then devoted himself to charity work.

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