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The International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, often referred to as the World Bank, was set up together with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) by the Bretton Woods Agreement of 1944. Its purpose was to help finance post World War II reconstruction by granting loans to governments and guaranteeing third-party loans. Those were usually given for periods ranging from fifteen to twenty-five years.

Officially, the bank is a specialized agency of the United Nations. About one third of the funds come from Europe. Members must also acquire membership in the International Monetary Fund. Two of-shoots of the Bank are the International Finance Corporation (founded in 1960) and the International Development Association (1961). Both of these place particular emphasis on aid to less-developed member countries, which have become more and more demanding in recent years.

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