By Brian Ellsworth
CARACAS, Feb 18 (Reuters) - Venezuelan opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez has handed himself over to security forces to face charges of fomenting unrest that has killed four people in the South American nation.
The following are facts about him:
* A former mayor of the affluent Chacao district of Caracas, Lopez has emerged in recent months as a hardline leader of those in the opposition who seek an immediate end to President Nicolas Maduro's socialist government.
His strategy of high-profile rallies and demonstrations has run counter to the moderate wing of the opposition, which is more focused on improving shoddy public services and highlighting the problems with the Socialist Party's state-led economic model.
* Lopez briefly ran as one of five presidential hopefuls in the 2012 opposition primary that picked a unified leader to run against Hugo Chavez. He bowed out of the race to back state governor Henrique Capriles' ultimately unsuccessful bid.
* Lopez has maintained an off-and-on rivalry with Capriles, who galvanized the opposition and became its de facto leader after running a vigorous campaign against Chavez and nearly beating Maduro in the April vote to replace the deceased Chavez.
* The government in 2008 quashed Lopez's bid for Caracas mayor by ruling he could not hold public office, even if he won the election, due to corruption charges for which he was accused but never tried. Critics say that halted a political career that could have ended in the presidency.
* An athletic 42-year-old who plays up his photogenic looks, Lopez speaks flawless English and studied in the United States on a swimming scholarship, gaining a Masters from Harvard.
* The economist and father-of-two lives in an apartment in the wealthy Chacao district where he was once mayor.
* Lopez founded the Popular Will political party after disagreements with other opposition figures, and built a network of supporters in poor and middle-class areas.
* Lopez is a distant relative of Venezuela's independence hero Simon Bolivar.
* The Maduro government has accused him of charges including murder and terrorism relating to the unrest in Venezuela in which four people have died. He denies that, saying he is being made a scapegoat by a dictatorial government. (Editing by Daniel Wallis, Andrew Cawthorne and James Dalgleish)
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