BRIC is an acronym for the combined economies of Brazil, Russia, India and China. The economies of these four nations are collectively called "BRIC," "the BRIC countries," "the BRIC economies" or the "Big Four." The countries currently represent about 25% of the world's land mass and 40% of its population. Economist Jim O'Neill, chairman of Goldman Sachs Asset Management, introduced the acronym in his 2001 paper, "Building Better Global Economic BRICs." The paper drew attention to the importance of BRIC and the growth of these emerging market economies.

O'Neill's paper theorized that India and China will grow to become the world's leading suppliers of manufactured goods and services, respectively, and Brazil and Russia will become dominant raw materials suppliers. In addition, O'Neill surmised that by 2050, the combined economies of BRIC would surpass those of the world's current wealthiest countries.

It should be noted that O'Neill grouped these nations together because they have the potential to form an influential economic bloc, not because they represent a political alliance or a formal trading association. The nations, however, have met at an international relations summit annually since 2009. The first two conferences were referred to as the 2009 BRIC Summit and 2010 BRIC Summit. In 2010, South Africa was officially admitted as a BRIC nation following an invitation from China and the other BRIC nations, making the current acronym BRICS, for Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. As a result, since 2011, the annual conference has been referred to as the BRICS summit.

(For related reading, see: Understanding the Risk in the BRICs.)