World Bank

Posted: 23 May 2002

The World Bank was founded in 1944 at a conference attended by 44 governments in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire, USA. It has a membership of 183 countries (as at April 2002). Its headquarters are in Washington DC, and it has over 100 country offices around the world.

The World Bank is actually a group of five organisations: the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), the International Development Association (IDA), the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA), and the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID).

Its original purpose was to help rebuild Europe after the Second World War, and its first loan was to France for post-war reconstruction. Today, however, its stated goal is to help developing countries fight poverty, and to establish economic growth that is stable, sustainable, and equitable. A major part of its work is to provide financial loans and technical assistance to its members.