Rotary was founded by Paul Harris in Chicago on February 23, 1905.

Rotary is an international organisation of service clubs, known as Rotary Clubs. It is a secular organisation open to all persons regardless of race, sex, color, creed or political preference. Rotary was founded in 1905 by Paul P Harris, a Chicago lawyer, who wished to capture in a professional club the same friendly spirit he had felt in the small towns of his youth. The Rotary name derived from the early practice of rotating meetings among members' offices.

Rotary's popularity spread, and within a decade, clubs were chartered from San Francisco to New York to Winnipeg, Canada. By 1921, Rotary clubs had been formed on six continents.As Rotary grew, its mission expanded beyond serving club members' professional and social interests. Rotarians began pooling their resources and contributing their talents to help serve communities in need. The organization's dedication to this ideal is best expressed in its motto: SERVICE ABOVE SELF.

There are now more than 32,000 clubs and over 1.2 million members in some 170 countries.



Rotary’s early emblem was a simple wagon wheel designed in 1905 by Montague M Bear, a member of the founding club of Chicago.  He designed the emblem to represent both civilisation and movement. Most of the early Rotary clubs adopted the wheel in one form or other. This design is represented in the Rotary membership and the Paul Harris Award badge.  During World War II Rotary played a strong part in international understanding and planted the seeds of development for the UN. Fifty delegates served as consultants to the founding of the U.N Rotary is acknowledged with eradicating Polio worldwide and works closely with the UN World Health and UNICEF.

Rotary Clubs are non religious, non governmental and open to every race, culture and creed.

Rotary International provides exchange programs and humanitarian grants. Provides centres for international studies in peace and conflict resolution, hosted at seven leading International Universities funding 70 world peace scholars.  35,000 students from 110 countries have studied abroad since 1947 as Rotary Ambassadorial Scholars and explored their career fields. Youth Exchange has provided secondary school students with experience of life in another country.

Since 1965, the Group Study Exchange (GSE) program has provided inspiring vocational, educational, and cultural experiences to more than 32,000 men and women who at the time of the award were not Rotarians.

Rotary has assisted in the clean water projects, disaster relief, health care and medical supplies, education, job training, poverty relief, as a part of Rotary’s international charter.