Rotary International is an association that brings together 34,738 clubs as of September 30, 2014, in nearly 200 countries and geographical areas. All Rotary clubs include a total of nearly 1,125,000 members as of September 30 2014, called Rotarians.
Rotary has historically been the first “service club” created in the world. The association, whose headquarters are in Evanston, Illinois, is as a non-political and open organization that encourages high ethical and civic and professional work to advance understanding and world peace. Its first motto was “Service Above Self“, and there is a secondary motto, “One profits most who serves best“.
Rotary International is financed by annual membership dues and donations for the Foundation.
The Rotary emblem is a gear wheel with 24 teeth, a symbol of power transmission. These 24 teeth also symbolize the fact that the spirit of service shall be exercised at any time of the day.
The local representatives of Rotary are designated by the name of Rotary Club.
Rotary was born in Chicago, Illinois, USA, on February 23, 1905, when its founder, Paul P. Harris, a lawyer, held the first meeting with three friends: Silvester Schiele (a coal merchant), Gustavus H. Loehr (a mining engineer) and Hiram E. Shorey (a tailor). Their origins were German, Swedish, Irish, and American and belonged to Protestant , Catholic and Jewish denominations.
Originally, the idea of Paul Harris was to promote solidarity between businessmen, but soon, the concept of humanitarian action was grafted on this. The meetings were held in turn in the work place of each of the members, hence the name of Rotary. The first months were difficult, many very lively discussions about desired changes between members of the first club. It was not until late 1906 that could be considered calmly the development of Rotary.
Translated from Wikipedia