"We are heartbroken to announce that Dr. Madeleine K. Albright, the 64th U.S. Secretary of State and the first woman to hold that position, passed away earlier today," her family said on Twitter.
"The cause was cancer," the tweet added.
Albright, who was born in the former Czechoslovakia in 1937, fled the Nazi Germans as a child during World War II. She served as US secretary of state from 1997 to 2001.
'She introduced Poland to NATO': Polish foreign ministry
"While leading the US Department of State, she introduced Poland to NATO in 1999," the Polish foreign ministry said in a tweet.
It added: "Together with her family, she fled Europe from Nazism and communism. Through life experiences she understood the plight of Central and Eastern Europe."
In her later years, Albright became an icon and inspiration for many women looking for respect in the workplace, the Reuters news agency reported.
'Hers were the hands that turned the tide of history': Biden
US President Joe Biden took to Twitter to say that Albright "was a force for goodness, grace, and decency — and for freedom."
"Hers were the hands that turned the tide of history," he added.
'Enormous contribution to transatlantic community': Polish president
Polish President Andrzej Duda also paid tribute in a tweet, saying he was "deeply saddened by the news."
He added that Albright had made an "enormous contribution to the transatlantic community of security and of values, including to the accession of Poland and of other European countries to NATO."
Madeleine Albright, pictured in 2017. Photo: EPA/MICHAEL REYNOLDS
Source: PAP, Reuters