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The G8 is an informal group of eight major industrialized countries: the United States, Canada, Japan, Britain, France, Germany, and Italy (plus the EU who has observer status), and since 1998 Russia. The G8 heads of state have met annually since 1976 in summit meetings to discuss economic and political issues.

The country holding the Chair is responsible for hosting and setting the agenda of the Summit.

Since the summits are of the highest profile with leaders from nations that control some 65% of international wealth, the left and other radical groups demonstrate to attempt to disrupt the meetings and bring attention to their causes.