The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is an international financial institution which is affiliated to the United Nations. It was created to develop international cooperation in finance, stabilize international exchange rates, improve access to hard currency, and reduce world poverty.
The IMF was founded at the Bretton Woods Conference in 1944 (along with the World Bank), and initially had 45 members. It became operational the two years later. The IMF currently has 188 member countries. Members contribute to a pool of money which is offered to countries on a temporary basis to help balance their international payments.