Havel was the hero of the Velvet Revolution, the peaceful transition that split Czechoslovakia into two countries: the Czech Republic and Slovakia; and resulted in a democracy and a free economy for both.
Havel came to symbolize the power of people to peacefully overcome totalitarian rule.
He was nominated several times for the Nobel Peace Prize and won Sweden's prestigious Olof Palme Prize.
He was also awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest US civilian award, by President George W Bush who called him "one of liberty's great heroes."
A former playwright whose heroes included rocker Frank Zappa, Havel never quite shed his flower-child past and often signed his name with a small heart.
Havel was 75 years old.