In May 2008, leaders from Brazil, Russia, India and China held a formal gathering in Yekaterinburg, Russia, which marked the founding of the cooperative mechanism initially known as BRIC. After South Africa joined in 2010, the group came to be called BRICS.
The combined output of the BRICS countries of China, India and Brazil alone "will surpass the aggregate production of the United States, Germany, the United Kingdom, France, Italy and Canada" by 2020, according to the 2013 Human Development Report of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP).
As emerging economies, the BRICS countries share a common stand on many regional and international issues, despite their national differences.
BRICS represents nearly three billion people or about 40 percent of the global population, with four of its members (excluding South Africa) among the world's top 10 most populous nations.
The BRICS mechanism has become an important platform for dialogue and cooperation among emerging markets and developing countries. It has also become a key force in safeguarding world peace and stability, reviving global economic growth, strengthening multilateralism and promoting democratization of international relations.
Practical cooperation among the BRICS countries in such areas as finance, economy and trade, industry and commerce, agriculture, healthcare, and science and technology has brought substantial benefits to their peoples.