November 2nd, 2011
12:27 PM ET
The Group of 5 originated in the early 1970's as a term used to describe the world's five leading economies: the United States of America, the United Kingdom, Japan, Germany and France.
The concept of a forum for the world's major industrialized democracies emerged following the 1973 oil crisis. In 1974, a series of meetings in the library of the White House in Washington, D.C. was known as the "Library Group". This was an informal gathering of senior financial officials from the five leading industrialized nations.
In 1975, French President Valéry Giscard d'Estaing invited the leaders of Germany, Japan, the United Kingdom, the United States and Italy to a meeting at a chateau of Rambouillet near Paris. The idea was to discuss world issues of the day in an informal setting. The group took on the moniker the G6 with the addition of Italy.
After the '75 meeting in France, the G5 leaders decided to make it an annual event and invited Canada to join them to form the G7 in 1976.
The group expanded once again when Russia formally joined the group, then called the G8, at the 1998 Birmingham Summit.
With the major economies growing in stature, world leaders from the G8 announced at their summit in September of 2009, that they would replace the G8 as the main economic council of wealthy nations with the G20. The G8 group added 11 countries and the EU to make up the G20. Its members are Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, the United Kingdom, the United States and the European Union.