The International Space Station is a joint venture of several countries, including the United States, Japan and the European Space Agency.
The idea for the space originated in the Cold War. In the early 1980's, the United States began development on a space station named Freedom. It never made it past the drawing boards and component tests, however, due to budget constraints. The Soviet Union was planning on constructing a new space station to replace Mir, but the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990's prevented this.
In 1992, then President George H.W. Bush met with Russian President Boris Yeltsin and signed an act that would move towards a cooperative space exploration initiative.