G8 Frequently Asked Questions

Who created the G8 and when?

In 1975, the leaders of West Germany, the United States, Japan, the United Kingdom and Italy met in Rambouillet, France, at the invitation of French President Giscard d'Estaing to discuss international economic issues of common concern. The leaders decided to make the event an annual one; Canada joined in 1976, forming the G7; and Russia joined in 1997 to form the G8.

Which countries make up the G8? Why eight and not more or fewer?

The G8 consists of the United States, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and the United Kingdom. The European Union is also represented by the Presidents of the European Commission and the European Council. G8 members account for 15 percent of the world population, 53 percent of global gross domestic product and 70 percent of global official development assistance.

All G8 countries are also currently members of the G20. The G20 Summit 2012 will be hosted by Mexico in Los Cabos in June.

What does the G8 do?

Originally, the G8 focused exclusively on economic and trade issues but has expanded over time to include many aspects of common concern among the members. At previous Summits, G8 leaders have discussed global security, energy, the environment and climate change and development.

How does the G8 work?

The G8 is an informal group of advanced economies that meets annually in the country which holds the rotating presidency. It is not an international institution and as such has no permanent secretariat. The design of the G8 allows for candid discussions among leaders

When has the United States previously held the G8 Presidency?

In 2012, the United States will be hosting the G8 for the sixth time. Previous Summits were held in Dorado, Puerto Rico in 1976, Williamsburg, Virginia in 1983, Houston, Texas in 1990, Denver, Colorado in 1997, and Sea Island, Georgia in 2004.