Nikola Tesla (10 July 1856 – 7 January 1943) was an inventor and a mechanical and electrical engineer. Tesla was born in the village of Smiljan near the town of Gospić, Austrian Empire, (today's Croatia). He was an ethnic Serb subject of the Austrian Empire and later became an American citizen. Tesla is often described as an important scientist and inventor of the modern age, a man who "shed light over the face of Earth". He is best known for many revolutionary contributions in the field of electricity and magnetism in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Tesla was the genius who lit the world, whose discoveries in the field of alternating polyphase current electricity advanced the United States and the rest of the world into the modern industrial era.