The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) was founded in Shanghai on June 15, 2001. The SCO groups China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. The SCO has four observers—Mongolia, Pakistan, Iran and India, and two dialogue partners—Belarus and Sri Lanka.
SCO member states cover a land area of more than 30 million square km, three fifths of the total area of the Eurasian continent. They have a combined population of about 1.5 billion.
When it was founded, the SCO was largely defined as an intergovernmental mutual security organization. But it has since expanded cooperation to other areas, including economy, science, technology and culture.
A regular meeting mechanism among the SCO prime ministers was established in September 2001. The next SCO prime ministers' meeting will be held in Kyrgyzstan in 2012.