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Rotary is an organization that unites from all over the world the Rotarians engaged in a business or profession who believe in maintaining goodwill and peace in the world and provide services in this area.  Its goal is to promote high moral standards in all occupations that serve humanity.


The goal of Rotary is to promote and develop the ideal of service, which is considered as the basis of all honorable ventures, and particularly to encourage and foster;


  • The development of acquaintance as an opportunity for service,

  • The recognition of the worthiness of all virtuous businesses and professions and the dignifying by each Rotarian of his/her occupation as an opportunity to serve society,

  • The application of the ideal of service by every Rotarian to his/her personal, business, and community life, and

  • The development of the ideal of mutual international understanding, goodwill, and peace by establishing fellowships among people of various businesses and professions who have united in the ideal of service.


Rotary is a worldwide fellowship organization where business persons and professionals come together to promote the implementation of the ideal of service in practice both individually and collectively.


Based on the ideal of service, Rotary works toward developing, promoting, and encouraging international understanding, goodwill, and peaceful relationships all over the world.


Every Rotary Club selects people of all professions to enable widespread representation of social life and to serve the purposes of Rotary.


As the first step to lasting friendships, a minimum number of attendances to regular club meetings has been made mandatory for the continuation of membership in order to enhance acquaintance.

Rotary Clubs provide Rotarians with the opportunity to exhibit examples of high moral standards in their private or business and professional lives.


Religious and political opinions of a Rotarian are solely of their own concern.


History of Rotary

The Chicago Rotary Club, the first service club in the world, was founded by Paul P.  Harris in Illinois, USA on February 23, 1905. Harris’ intention was to capture the friendly spirit he had found in small towns where he spent his youth in a professional club again. The name “Rotary” came about from the habit in the early years of holding meetings in a rotational manner among the offices of the members.

Rotary became popular all over the United States of America within the first ten years of its foundation. Clubs were established from San Francisco to New York. By 1921, Rotary clubs had already expanded their operations over the six continents. A year later, the organization was renamed as International Rotary.


As Rotary grew, its mission went beyond serving the professional and social interests of its members. Rotarians started to unite their resources to help provide services to communities in need and to contribute in these areas with their skills. The commitment of the organization to this ideal is best expressed by its fundamental principle “Service Before Yourself”. Later, Rotary accepted a Code of Ethics, also known as the Four-Way Test, which was translated into hundreds of languages.


During World War Two and thereafter, Rotarians have become more and more engaged in the development of international understanding. In a Rotary conference held in London in 1942, the first steps were taken to establish a United Nations Education, Science and Culture Organization (UNESCO). A large number of Rotarians have served as consultants to the United Nations.


A charity fund established by Rotarians in 1917 to “provide services across the world” turned into a nonprofit entity known as the Rotary Foundation in 1928. Upon the death of Paul Harris in 1947, a surge of donations amounting to 2 million dollars made by Rotarians in the honor of Harris led to the launching of the first program of the Foundation, postgraduate scholarships known today as the Ambassadorial Scholarships. Today, the donations to the Rotary Foundation exceed 80 million dollars annually. These donations support a broad range of service activities and educational programs of Rotarians, enabling them to spread hope worldwide and develop international understanding.


In 1985, Rotary made a historical decision aiming at vaccination of all children across the world against polio. Through the Eradication of Polio Program (Polio Plus Program), Rotary worked in collaboration with non-governmental organizations and national governments and became the largest private sector contributor to the global campaign to eradicate polio on earth. Rotarians motivated hundreds of thousands of Polio Plus Program volunteers to vaccinate more than a billion children across the world.  By 2005, which was the official target date for a world free of polio, Rotary had contributed more than half a billion dollars for this purpose.


While approaching the 21st century, Rotary has performed works to meet the changing needs of society, and in this context, broadened its service efforts to deal with urgent issues such as environmental problems, illiteracy, famine, and children in need of protection. The organization started to admit women as members (throughout the world) for the first time in 1989. Today, there are 90,000 female members from various professions. After the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the Soviet Union, Rotary clubs were founded or existing ones improved in middle and east Europe. Today, there are 1.2 million Rotarians in approximately 30,000 Rotary clubs in more than 160 countries.

Milestones of Rotary

1905 - The first Rotary club was organized in Chicago, Illinois, USA.
1908 - The second club was founded in San Francisco, California, USA.
1910 - The first Rotary convention was held in Chicago.
1912 - Winnipeg Rotary Club in Manitoba, Canada became the first club to receive an official charter outside the USA (the club was founded in 1910).
1917 - The charity fund was established as a precursor to the Rotary Foundation.
1932 - Rotarian Herbert J.Taylor from Chicago formulated the Four-Way Test.
1945 - 49 Rotarians helped the United Nations Charter in San Francisco.
1947 - Rotary founder Paul Harris died; the first 18 Rotary Foundation scholarships were awarded.
1962 - The first Interact Club was established in Melbourne, Florida, USA.
1965 - The Rotary Foundation launched the Matching Grants and Group Study Exchange program.
1978 - International Rotary’s largest convention was held with 39834 participants in Tokyo.
1985 - Rotary announced its PolioPlus program to vaccinate all children in the world against polio.
1989 - The legislative board opened Rotary membership to women worldwide; the Rotary clubs in Budapest, Hungary and Warsaw, Poland received charters for the first time after approximately 50 years.
1990 - Moscow Rotary Club became the first club in the Soviet Union to receive a charter.
1990-91 - The Protect Earth Planet program inspired close to 2000 Rotary-supported environmental projects.
1994 - West Hemisphere was announced as having been freed from polio.
1999 - Rotary Centres were formed for International Studies in Peace and Conflict Resolution.
2000 - West Pacific was announced as having been freed from polio.
2001 - 30.000th Rotary club received its charter.
2002 - Europe was announced as having been freed from polio; the first 70 Rotary Peace Fellows began studies.

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