G8 stand for the "Group of Eight," a collection of some of the most powerful nations in the world. They include: United States, United Kingdom, Russia, Japan, Germany, France, Canada, and Italy. This group does not designate nations with the largest populations (Brazil, India, and China would certainly qualify) nor does it designate the largest economies (Russia would not be one of the eight largest). The heads of each state meet in the summer for a three day summit to discuss matters of global concern ranging from the economy to terrorism. Each year, leadership of the group rotates, with the leader's state serving as the host country. In 2006, Russia is hosting the G8 Summit in Saint Petersburg from 15 July to 17 July. Current heads of state serving the G8 are:
Canada - Prime Minister Stephen Harper
France - President Jaques Chirac
Germany - Chancellor Angela Merkel
Italy - Prime Minister Romano Prodi
Japan - Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi
Russia - President Vladimir Putin
United States - President George W. Bush
United Kingdom - Prime Minister Tony Blair
The European Union is also represented at the G8 Summit by Jose Manuel Barroso, Chairman of the European Commission and former Head of Portugal.
The G8 is met with mixed response from the world. There is controversy over the limited membership of nations. There is also the view that the G8 represents a "world government" and promotes an improper growth of globalization. Each year, the G8 Summit is met by anti-globalization protesters and becomes a highlight in the media. In 2001 during the summit in Genoa, a protester was shot and killed during a small riot. In 2005, while Great Britain was hosting the summit, there were bombings of the subway and public buses in London. These attacks were claimed by Al-Qaeda, and were planned to coincide with the G8 Summit.