The Group of Eight (G8) comprises Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan,Russia, United Kingdom and the United States.
In 1975, the French President invited the leaders of Germany, Japan, the United Kingdom, the United States and Italy to an informal gathering near Paris to discuss then-current world issues. Following the success of the Rambouillet Summit, these meetings became an annual event.
Canada joined the group at the 1976 Summit. In 1997 Russia, who had attended the meetings as an observer throughout the 1990s, was invited to formalise this relationship. The first G8 Summit subsequently took place in 1998.
Since then, the G8 Summit has evolved from a forum dealing essentially with macro-economic issues to an annual meeting that addresses a wide range of international economic, political, and social issues.
The presidency for 2007 belongs to Germany, which will host the 33rd G8 summit in Heiligendamm from June 6 to June 8.
In Heiligendamm, the leaders will discuss foreign policy issues including Iran's nuclear program, Middle East peace, Sudan and Kosovo.
The German hosts are also aiming to secure new G8 pledges on development aid and AIDS funding for Africa, but differences were evident before the summit even began.