US President-elect Joe Biden has declared during his acceptance speech that it is "time to heal" America, after prevailing in a bitter election, even as President Donald Trump refused to concede.
Biden's victory in the battleground state of Pennsylvania put him over the threshold of 270 Electoral College votes he needed to clinch the presidency, ending four days of nail-biting suspense and sending his supporters into the streets of major cities in celebration.
"The people of this nation have spoken. They have delivered us a clear victory, a convincing victory," Biden told cheering supporters in a parking lot during his victory speech in his home town of Wilmington, Delaware.
"I pledge to be a president who seeks not to divide, but to unify," he said, then addressed Trump's supporters directly.
"Now, let's give each other a chance. It's time to put away the harsh rhetoric, lower the temperature, see each other again, listen to each other again," he said. "This is the time to heal in America."
He was introduced by his running mate, US Senator Kamala Harris, who will be the first woman, the first Black American and the first American of Asian descent to serve as vice president, the country's No. 2 office.
"What a testament it is to Joe's character that he had the audacity to break one of the most substantial barriers that exists in our country, and select a woman as his vice president," Harris said.
Congratulations poured in from around the world, including from Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, making it hard for Trump to push his repeated claims, without evidence, that the election was rigged against him.
Trump, who was golfing when the major television networks projected his rival had won, immediately accused Biden of "rushing to falsely pose as the winner."
"This election is far from over," he said in a statement.
Trump has filed a raft of lawsuits to challenge the results but elections officials in states across the country say there has been no evidence of significant fraud, and legal experts say Trump's efforts are unlikely to succeed.
As the news of his win broke, loud cheers erupted in the halls of the hotel where aides to the former vice president were staying.
Cheers and applause were also heard around Washington, with people emerging onto balconies, honking car horns and banging pots. The wave of noise in the nation's capital built as more people learned of the news. Some sobbed. Music began to play, "We are the Champions" blared.
In the Brooklyn neighbourhood of Bedford-Stuyvesant, some people erupted in screams of joy as word spread. Several residents danced on the fire escape of one building, cheering while others screamed "Yes!" as they passed by.
Trump supporters reacted with a mix of disappointment, suspicion and resignation, highlighting the difficult task that Biden faces winning over many Americans in more rural areas who believe Trump was the first president to govern with their interests at heart.
Angry pro-Trump "Stop the Steal" demonstrators gathered at state capital buildings in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Arizona. Protesters in Phoenix chanted "We want audits!" One speaker told the crowd: "We will win in court!"
There were no signs of the violence or turmoil many had feared, and the pro-Trump protests mostly faded as the results sunk in. Prior to the election, Trump refused to commit to a peaceful transfer of power if he lost, and he falsely declared victory long before counting was complete.
The networks' declaration for Biden came amid concerns within Trump's team about the strategy going forward and pressure on him to pick a professional legal team to outline where they believe voter fraud took place and provide evidence.
Trump's allies made it clear the president does not plan to concede anytime soon.