Profile: Nicolas Maduro
Where Hugo Chavez was a charismatic whirlwind, the man who has now won an election victory to succeed him as president of Venezuela has always come across as just the opposite - a quiet man.
Mr Chavez named his 50-year-old vice-president and foreign minister, Nicolas Maduro, as his preferred successor following the recurrence of his cancer.
"He is a complete revolutionary, a man of great experience despite his youth, with great dedication and capacity for work, for leading, for handling the most difficult situations," Mr Chavez said.
In early March, it fell to Mr Maduro to announce to Venezuelans that their leader was dead.
He presided over the late president's funeral on 8 March and later the same day was sworn in as acting president.
Analysts said that by naming Mr Maduro as his successor, President Chavez appeared to be trying to boost the vice-president's standing ahead of any potential rivals within the "chavismo" political system built up around the Venezuelan leader.
Mr Maduro, a former bus driver with a bushy black moustache, was one of the president's closest advisers. He was made foreign minister in 2006 and in October last year, following Mr Chavez's election victory, he was chosen by the president to serve as his deputy.
Their friendship goes back to when Mr Chavez served time in prison for the attempted coup of 1992. Mr Maduro campaigned for Mr Chavez to be released - which happened in 1994.
During this period, Mr Maduro also met his future wife, Cilia Flores, a prominent lawyer on Mr Chavez's defence team.
He was regularly seen alongside the president and his daughters in Cuba where Mr Chavez was given treatment for the cancer that was detected in May 2011.
Mr Maduro was thought to be one of just a few people who had access to Mr Chavez's diagnoses, which were treated like a state secret.
He has called himself "Chavez's son" and said that the late leader had appeared to him in the form of a little bird.Jovial, spiritual, shrewd
A lifelong socialist and trade union member and leader, Mr Maduro was part of the Constituent Assembly which drafted a new constitution, put in place by Mr Chavez after he came to power in 1999.
Mr Maduro subsequently became deputy speaker and later speaker of the national assembly until 2006.
He then became foreign minister at Mr Chavez's request, prompting criticism from some quarters that he lacked a university education as a bus driver who left school without qualifications.
His practical skills came to the fore when he drove Mr Chavez's truck while the president was campaigning for the election of 7 October.
Mr Chavez often used Mr Maduro's rise to the vice-presidency as an example of direct power by the people.
"Look where he is going, Nicolas the bus driver... How they mocked him, the bourgeoisie," Mr Chavez said as he appointed him his vice-president.
Mr Maduro has also continued to play up his professional roots in his election campaign slogan: "Chavez sets the route, Maduro takes the wheel!"
Those who have been close to Mr Maduro describe him as a calm man and he also appears to have a spiritual side - he and his wife used to travel to India to hear the teachings of Indian guru Sathya Sai Babaa who died in 2011.
"He's not verbally loud. He's one of those people who has the personality of a foreign diplomat, always open to dialogue," said political scientist Ricardo Sucre of the Central University of Venezuela (UCV.)
Mr Maduro is said to be of friendly and jovial nature, but he has also been credited with being a shrewd operator and a skilled negotiator.Anti-US friends
As someone who occupied the centre ground among the senior figures in Mr Chavez's powerbase, analysts say he may be able to hold together the various factions such as the military and those groups more ideologically driven.
Mr Maduro's long-standing connection with Cuba - where he trained as a union organiser in his youth - is also seen as being to his advantage.
As Venezuelan foreign minister, Mr Maduro followed the Chavez line to seek openly the "construction of a multipolar world free from the hegemony of 'American imperialism'," analyst Carlos Luna told the BBC.
In that role, Mr Maduro was the country's top diplomat as tensions rose with the United States and ties grew with Cuba.
Hours before he announced the president's death, he rounded on his country's enemies, accusing the US of plotting against Venezuela and revealing the expulsion of a US air force attache.
Unsurprisingly, Mr Maduro was also instrumental when it came to forging relationships beyond Latin America's borders with governments critical of the US.
Venezuela now counts among its allies Belarus, China, Iran and Russia, as well as Syria's Bashar al-Assad, and previously Libya under Muammar Gaddafi.
But Mr Maduro has also been described as a pragmatist, whose achievements include a turnaround in long-strained relations with Colombia.
There have been moments, however, when Mr Maduro has lost his apparent calm, such as when he called US Secretary of State John Negroponte in 2008 a "petty bureaucrat" who - he said - was trying to bring violence to the region.