While watching the lunchtime news today I was suddenly struck by what a strange assortment of countries constituted the G8 and so did a little research on Wikipedia. The G8 constitutes: France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada and Russia. This group is termed eight of the world’s leading industrialised democratic nations. It does not include Spain or China or India presumably because they’re not leading, industrial or democratic enough.
Anyway, I then decided that I didn’t really know enough about the spread of power inside the G8 so I swiftly knocked up a couple of pie-charts to try and get my head around who had most or least influence in the group and came up with the following (stats courtesy of the impressive CIA World Factbook):
This first one is the make-up of the G8 by population (and ordered by population). The United States contains around 300 million people, which is roughly a third of the population of all of the G8 countries combined – equal to Japan and Russia combined and to Germany, France, Italy, Canada and the UK combined.
This second one is the make-up of the G8 by GDP (ordered still by population though so you can see disparities). The US makes up almost half of the GDP of all the G8 countries combined, much more than its population alone would suggest. In contrast, Russia has much less of a proportion of GDP than it does population. Japan, Canada and the European countries have roughly the same share of GDP as they do of population, with European members again making up a third of the overall proportion.
All of which leads me to two conclusions – firstly that it’s hardly a shock that the US has so much influence in these organisations, and secondly that it’s also hardly a shock that the US right-wing is so snotty about the concept of a United Europe.
The other thing that it reminds me is that the British shouldn’t be so negative about our country. Sure, as a nation we don’t stride the world like giants any more. But for Christ’s sake – we’re a country which at its widest point is only a few hundred miles across and yet we’re the eighth biggest economy in the world. (Or higher – depending on who you ask) That’s enormously impressive. We could change the world with that…