The Group of Seven industrialized countries has its origin in an ad hoc meeting of U.S., U.K., French and West German finance ministers representing the world’s four richest countries in the wake of the oil crisis of 1973.

Japan, Italy and Canada were added to the group over the next three years. It supposedly reflects the values of pluralism and representative democracy, although Russia’s participation in the group’s meetings for some years (1997–2013) rather diluted the commonality of political and market economy values.

Begun as an informal body to discuss trade related issues, it has gradually become more formal as an intergovernmental forum with an annual summit that brings together the seven leaders to discuss current topics of most concern in world affairs. The host countries have considerable latitude in choosing the exact venue, prioritizing some agenda items and inviting selected nonmembers to attend as observers.