Rotary is an organisation whose members come together from all fields of life in order to perform humanitarian services and to promote peace and international understanding. The world's first service club, the Rotary Club of Chicago, Illinois, was founded by Paul P. Harris on February 23, 1905.
The name "Rotary" derived from the early practice of rotating meetings among members' offices. Today more than 1.2 million Rotarians are organised in 31,000 Rotary clubs in over 160 countries.
Rotary Austria is made up of two districts: District 1910 consists of the eastern provinces of Vienna, Lower Austria, Burgenland and Styria, together with the countries of Hungary, Slovenia, Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina. The western provinces of Salzburg, Tyrol and Vorarlberg form District 1920.
At present, there are around 120 Rotary Clubs in Austria alone, with around 6,000 members. The individual Rotary Clubs organise and support on-going local and supra-regional social projects.
As part of the its largest project, PolioPlus, Rotary will by 2005 have contributed over 500 million dollars in the campaign to eradicate polio and provided countless hours of voluntary work. In collaboration with the WHO, UNICEF and the CDC (the US health authority), Rotary has developed a model for world-wide partnerships between governmental and non-governmental organisations that has won recognition around the world. The future social projects will focus, amongst other things, on the prevention of drug addiction. The Austrian Post Office released a set of stamps with coloured overprint in 1931 on the occasion of the International Rotary Convention in Vienna. In continuation of this tradition, a commemorative is being issued on February 23, 2005, to mark the 100th anniversary of the Rotary organisation.