Tributes from around the world have been pouring in following the death of South African leader and legend Nelson Mandela. 

"He achieved more than could be expected of any man and today he’s gone home," U.S. President Barack Obama said. "We've lost one of the most influential, courageous and profoundly good human beings that any of us will ever share time with on this earth. He no longer belongs to us. He belongs to the ages.”

Crowds gathered outside Mandela's home in Johannesburg, some dancing and singing in honour of the anti-apartheid icon.

British Prime Minister David Cameron said "a great light has gone out in the world."

French President ​François Hollande said Mandela's message will continue to "inspire fighters for freedom, and to give confidence to peoples in the defence of just causes and universal rights."

Former South African President F.W. de Klerk, who had reached an agreement with Mandela to end apartheid and hold elections, told CNN that Mandela was a "great unifier and a very, very special man in this regard beyond everything else he did. This emphasis on reconciliation was his biggest legacy."

Prime Minister Stephen Harper said that "the world has lost one of its great moral leaders and statesmen."

South African President Jacob Zuma, who announced Mandela's death, said that the nation "has lost its greatest son. Our people have lost a father."

Former U.S. presidents also reacted to Mandela's death. George W. Bush said Mandela was "one of the great forces for freedom and equality of our time." Meanwhile, Bill Clinton tweeted that "I will never forget my friend Madiba."

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hailed Mandela as one of the "most honourable figures of our time."

"He was the father of his people, a man of vision, a freedom fighter who rejected violence."

 Mandela was a "man of quiet dignity and towering achievement," UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said, adding he was a "giant for justice and a down-to-earth human inspiration."

The UN Security Council interrupted a meeting on the tribunals for former Yugoslavia and Rwanda and stood for a minute in silent tribute to Mandela.

Argentina's UN Ambassador Maria Cristina Perceval called Mandela "a man who gave hope to the entire world."

"Good men and women, men such as Mandela, resisted and taught us to resist fear … to resist oblivion," she said. 

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair said Mandela "made racism everywhere not just immoral but stupid; something not only to be disagreed with, but to be despised. In its place he put the inalienable right of all humankind to be free and to be equal." 

With files from The Associated Press and Reuters