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Current Commonwealth members (blue), current suspended members (green), and former members (orange).

The Commonwealth of Nations is a voluntary association of 54 independent sovereign states (one of whose membership is currently suspended), most of them are former British colonies, or dependencies of these colonies. No one government in the Commonwealth exercises power over the others, as in a political union. Rather, the relationship is one of an international organisation through which countries with diverse social, political, and economic backgrounds are regarded as equal in status, and co-operate within a framework of common values and goals, as outlined in the Singapore Declaration.[1] These include the promotion of democracy, human rights, good governance, the rule of law, individual liberty, egalitarianism, free trade, multilateralism, and world peace, and are carried out through multilateral projects and meetings, as well as the quadrennial Commonwealth Games.[2 ] The symbol of this free association is Queen Elizabeth II, known for this purpose as Head of the Commonwealth. This position, however, does not imbue her with any political or executive power over any Commonwealth member states; the position is purely symbolic, and it is the Commonwealth Secretary-General who is the chief executive of the organisation.[3]

The Commonwealth was first officially formed in 1931 when the Statute of Westminster gave legal recognition to the independence of dominions. Known as the "British Commonwealth", the first members were the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, the Irish Free State and Dominion of Newfoundland, although Australia and New Zealand did not adopt the statute until 1942 and 1947 respectively.[4] In 1949, the London Declaration was signed and marked the birth of the modern Commonwealth and the renaming to its present name.[5] The most recent member is Rwanda, which joined on 29 November 2009.[6]

Presently, there are 54 states that are members of the Commonwealth of Nations. Three members are in Europe, twelve in North America, one in South America, nineteen in Africa, eight in Asia, and eleven in Oceania (including one suspended member, Fiji). There are six former members, four of which no longer exist as independent entities (but form part of current member states). The members have a combined population of 2.1 billion people, almost a third of the world population, of which 1.17 billion live in India and 94% live in Asia and Africa combined.[7 ]

Contents

Current members

All table information based on figures provided by the Commonwealth of Nations Secretariat members list, most population figures are based on 2007 estimates, unless otherwise noted.[8]

Note: The table can be sorted alphabetically or chronologically using the Sort none.gif icon.

Country Joined Continent Population Notes[A]
Antigua and Barbuda Antigua and Barbuda 1981-11-011 November 1981 North America 88,000
Australia Australia 1931-12-1111 December 1931 Oceania 22,073,000 Granted nominal independence (Dominion status) on 1 January 1901. Australia was one of the original Dominions at the time of the Statute of Westminster 1931, although the statute was not adopted in Australia until 1942.[9]
The Bahamas Bahamas 1973-07-1010 July 1973 North America 342,000
Bangladesh Bangladesh[B] 1972-04-1818 April 1972[10] Asia 162,221,000 Gained independence from Pakistan in 1971.[11]
Barbados Barbados 1966-11-3030 November 1966 North America 279,000
Belize Belize 1981-09-2121 September 1981 North America 322,130
Botswana Botswana 1966-09-3030 September 1966 Africa 1,950,000
Brunei Brunei 1984-01-011 January 1984 Asia 400,000
Cameroon Cameroon 1995-11-1313 November 1995[12] Africa 19,522,000 Most of the country was formerly French and gained independence from France on 1 January 1960, uniting with the much smaller former British territory on its gaining independence from the United Kingdom on 1 October 1961.
Canada Canada 1931-12-1111 December 1931 North America 33,860,000 Granted nominal independence (Dominion status) on 1 July 1867. Canada was the first among the several original Dominions at the time of the Statute of Westminster 1931.[13] Incorporated another original Dominion, Newfoundland, on 31 March 1949.[14]
Cyprus Cyprus 1961-03-1313 March 1961[15] Europe / Asia 794,200 Gained independence from the United Kingdom on 18 August 1960.
Dominica Dominica 1978-11-033 November 1978 North America [C]79,000
The Gambia Gambia 1965-02-1818 February 1965 Africa 1,717,000
Ghana Ghana 1957-03-066 March 1957 Africa 23,837,000
Grenada Grenada 1974-02-077 February 1974 North America 103,000
Guyana Guyana 1966-05-2626 May 1966 South America 761,000
India India 1947-08-1515 August 1947 Asia 1,173,230,000
Jamaica Jamaica 1962-08-066 August 1962 North America 2,721,000
Kenya Kenya 1963-12-1212 December 1963 Africa 39,856,000
Kiribati Kiribati 1979-07-1212 July 1979 Oceania [D]99,000
Lesotho Lesotho 1966-10-044 October 1966 Africa 2,000,000
Malawi Malawi 1964-07-066 July 1964 Africa 15,884,000
Malaysia Malaysia 1963-09-1616 September 1963 Asia 28,356,000 Joined as the Federation of Malaya in 1957; reformed as Malaysia with its federation in 1963 with Singapore (became a separate member in 1965), Sabah, and Sarawak.[16]
Maldives Maldives 1982-07-099 July 1982 Asia 329,000 Gained independence from the United Kingdom on 26 July 1965.[17] Maldives was a special member from 9 July 1982 until 20 July 1985.[18]
Malta Malta 1964-09-2121 September 1964 Europe 412,668
Mauritius Mauritius 1968-03-1212 March 1968 Africa 1,285,000
Mozambique Mozambique 1995-11-1313 November 1995[19] Africa 22,892,000 Gained independence from Portugal on 26 June 1975. The first country to be admitted to the Commonwealth without any former colonial or constitutional links with the United Kingdom.[20]
Namibia Namibia 1990-03-2121 March 1990 Africa 2,131,000 Gained independence from South Africa.[21]
Nauru Nauru[B] 1968-11-01†1 November 1968 Oceania 14,000 Nauru is a special member. Gained independence on 31 January 1968 from joint trusteeship of Australia, New Zealand and United Kingdom. The nation was a special member from 1 November 1968 until 1 May 1999, when it became a full member,[22] before reverting back to special status in January 2006.[23]
New Zealand New Zealand 1931-12-1111 December 1931 Oceania 4,317,972 Granted nominal independence (Dominion status) on 26 September 1907. One of the original Dominions at the time of the Statute of Westminster 1931, although the Statute was not adopted in New Zealand until 1947.[24]
Nigeria Nigeria 1960-10-011 October 1960 Africa 154,796,000 Suspended in 1995, suspension lifted in 1999.[25]
Pakistan Pakistan 1947-08-1414 August 1947 Asia 168,052,000 Left in 1972, rejoined 1989; suspended in 1999, suspension lifted in 2004; again suspended in 2007,[26] suspension lifted in 2008.[27]
Papua New Guinea Papua New Guinea 1975-09-1616 September 1975 Oceania 6,737,000 Gained independence from Australia.
Rwanda Rwanda 2009-11-2929 November 2009[6] Africa 9,998,000 Gained independence from Belgium on 1 July 1962. The second country to be admitted to the Commonwealth without any former colonial or constitutional links with the United Kingdom.[20]
Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Kitts and Nevis[B] 1983-09-1919 September 1983 North America 52,000
Saint Lucia Saint Lucia 1979-02-2222 February 1979 North America 171,000
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 1979-10-2727 October 1979 North America [C]119,000 Saint Vincent and the Grenadines was a special member from 27 October 1979 until 1 June 1985.
Samoa Samoa 1970-08-2828 August 1970 Oceania 185,000 Gained independence from New Zealand on 1 January 1962. Joined as Western Samoa, subsequently changing its name to Samoa on 4 July 1997.[28]
Seychelles Seychelles 1976-06-2929 June 1976 Africa 84,000
Sierra Leone Sierra Leone 1961-04-2727 April 1961 Africa 5,695,000
Singapore Singapore 1965-10-15†15 October 1965 Asia 4,986,000 First joined as part of Malaysia on 16 September 1963.
Solomon Islands Solomon Islands 1978-07-077 July 1978 Oceania 913,000
South Africa South Africa 1931-12-1111 December 1931 Africa 49,423,000 Granted nominal independence (Dominion status) on 1 July 1867. One of the original Dominions at the time of the Statute of Westminster 1931. Left on 31 May 1961, rejoined on 1 June 1994.[29]
Sri Lanka Sri Lanka 1948-02-044 February 1948 Asia 20,743,000 Joined as the Dominion of Ceylon, subsequently changing its name in 1972.
Swaziland Swaziland 1968-09-066 September 1968 Africa 1,182,000
Tanzania Tanzania 1964-04-2626 April 1964 Africa 43,729,000 Merger of Tanganyika and Zanzibar.[30]
Tonga Tonga 1970-06-044 June 1970 Oceania 102,000
Trinidad and Tobago Trinidad and Tobago 1962-08-3131 August 1962 North America 1,335,000
Tuvalu Tuvalu[B] 1978-10-011 October 1978 Oceania 12,000 Tuvalu was a special member from 1 October 1978 until 1 September 2000.[31]
Uganda Uganda 1962-10-099 October 1962 Africa 32,816,000
United Kingdom United Kingdom 1931-12-1111 December 1931 Europe 61,609,500 The Parliament of the United Kingdom enacted the Statute of Westminster 1931.
Vanuatu Vanuatu[B] 1980-07-3030 July 1980 Oceania 241,000 Gained independence from joint rule of France and United Kingdom.
Zambia Zambia 1964-10-2424 October 1964 Africa 12,935,000

^ A. Unless otherwise noted, independence was gained from United Kingdom on date of joining the Commonwealth as shown in column 2.
^ B. Not a member of the Commonwealth Foundation.
^ C. The population figure is based on 2004 estimates.
^ D. The population figure is based on 2005 estimates.

Suspended members

Country Joined Continent Population Notes
Fiji Fiji[A] 1970-10-1010 October 1970 Oceania 848,000 Left in 1987; rejoined in 1997; suspended on 6 June 2000;[32] suspension lifted on 20 December 2001;[33 ] again suspended on 8 December 2006 because of the 2006 Fijian coup d'état.[34]

^ A. Not a member of the Commonwealth Foundation.

Former members

Country Joined Continent Left Notes
Republic of Ireland Irish Free State/Ireland 1931-12-1111 December 1931 Europe 1949-04-18]]18 April 1949 One of the original Dominions at the time of the Statute of Westminster 1931. Left after passing the Republic of Ireland Act in 1949.[11][14]
Federation of Malaya Malaya 1957-08-3131 August 1957 Asia 1963-09-1616 September 1963 Entered into Malaysia on 16 September 1963.[11]
Dominion of Newfoundland Newfoundland 1931-12-1111 December 1931 North America 1934-02-1616 February 1934 One of the original Dominions at the time of the Statute of Westminster 1931 (although the Statute was never adopted by Newfoundland). Government suspended on 16 February 1934, joined Canada on 31 March 1949.[14]
Tanganyika Tanganyika 1961-12-099 December 1961 Africa 1964-04-2626 April 1964 Merged with Zanzibar to form Tanzania on 26 April 1964.[30]
Zanzibar Zanzibar 1963-12-1010 December 1963 Africa 1964-04-2626 April 1964 Merged with Tanganyika to form Tanzania on 26 April 1964.[30]
Zimbabwe Zimbabwe 1980-10-011 October 1980 Africa 2003-12-077 December 2003 Suspended on 19 March 2002.[33 ] Withdrew voluntarily on 7 December 2003.[35]

References

  1. ^ "FAQs". Commonwealth Secretariat. http://www.thecommonwealth.org/FAQs/20706/faqs/. Retrieved 2008-06-16.  
  2. ^ "Singapore Declaration of Commonwealth Principles 1971". Commonwealth Secretariat. http://www.thecommonwealth.org/Internal/20723/32987/singapore_declaration_of_commonwealth_principles/. Retrieved 2008-06-12.  
  3. ^ "Head of the Commonwealth". Commonwealth Secretariat. http://www.thecommonwealth.org/Internal/150757/head_of_the_commonwealth/. Retrieved 2008-06-16.  
  4. ^ "The Commonwealth–History–Dominion Status". Commonwealth of Nations. http://www.commonwealth-of-nations.org/article.php?&id=4&subsection=3&page=3. Retrieved 2008-06-16.  
  5. ^ "The Commonwealth–History–Modern Commonwealth". Commonwealth Secretariat. http://www.thecommonwealth.org/Internal/34493/38150/modern_commonwealth/. Retrieved 2008-06-16.  
  6. ^ a b Josh Kron (2009-11-29). "Rwanda Joins British Commonwealth". The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/29/world/africa/29rwanda.html. Retrieved 2009-11-29.  
  7. ^ "Country Comparisons - Population". The World Factbook. Central Intelligence Agency. 19 March 2009. https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/rankorder/2119rank.html. Retrieved 2009-03-22.  
  8. ^ "Members". Commonwealth Secretariat. http://www.thecommonwealth.org/Internal/142227/members/. Retrieved 2008-02-15.  
  9. ^ "Australia". Commonwealth Secretariat. http://www.thecommonwealth.org/Templates/YearbookHomeInternal.asp?NodeID=138122. Retrieved 2008-02-15.  
  10. ^ Kohen, Marcelo G. (2006). Secession. London: Cambridge University Press. p. p. 122. ISBN 9780521849289.  
  11. ^ a b c "Wind of Change". Commonwealth of Nations. http://www.commonwealth-of-nations.org/article.php?&id=4&subsection=3&page=6. Retrieved 2008-02-15.  
  12. ^ Pondi, Jean-Emmanuel (October 1997). "Cameroon and the Commonwealth of Nations". The Round Table 86 (344): pp. 563–570. doi:10.1080/00358539708454389. 10.1080/00358539708454389.  
  13. ^ "Canada - History". Commonwealth Secretariat. http://www.thecommonwealth.org/YearbookInternal/145152/history/. Retrieved 2008-02-15.  
  14. ^ a b c "Dominion Status". Commonwealth of Nations. http://www.commonwealth-of-nations.org/article.php?&id=4&subsection=3&page=3. Retrieved 2008-02-15.  
  15. ^ McIntyre, W. David (January 2000). "Britain and the creation of the Commonwealth Secretariat". Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History 28 (1): pp. 135–158. doi:10.1080/03086530008583082. 10.1080/03086530008583082.  
  16. ^ "Malaysia - History". Commonwealth Secretariat. http://www.thecommonwealth.org/YearbookInternal/145165/history/. Retrieved 2008-02-15.  
  17. ^ "Maldives - History". Commonwealth Secretariat. http://www.thecommonwealth.org/YearbookInternal/145167/history/. Retrieved 2008-02-15.  
  18. ^ "The Maldives and the Commonwealth". Republic of Maldives. http://www.maldiveshighcommission.org/?id_w=8. Retrieved 30 January 2009.  
  19. ^ Ingram, Derek (April 1996). "Commonwealth Update". The Round Table 85 (338): pp. 153–165. doi:10.1080/00358539608454302. 10.1080/00358539608454302.  
  20. ^ a b "Rwanda becomes a member of the Commonwealth". BBC News. 2009-11-29. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/8384930.stm. Retrieved 2009-11-29.  
  21. ^ Chronology of Namibian Independence
  22. ^ "Nauru Accedes to Full Membership of the Commonwealth". Commonwealth Secretariat. 12 April 1999. http://www.thecommonwealth.org/press/31555/34582/34786/nauru_accedes_to_full_membership_of_the_commonweal.htm. Retrieved 30 January 2009.  
  23. ^ "Nauru–History". Commonwealth Secretariat. http://www.thecommonwealth.org/YearbookInternal/145172/history/. Retrieved 2008-02-15.  
  24. ^ "New Zealand- History". Commonwealth Secretariat. http://www.thecommonwealth.org/YearbookInternal/145173/history/. Retrieved 2008-02-15.  
  25. ^ "Nigeria". Commonwealth Secretariat. http://www.thecommonwealth.org/Templates/YearbookHomeInternal.asp?NodeID=138917. Retrieved 2008-02-15.  
  26. ^ "Pakistan suspended from the Commonwealth". Commonwealth Secretariat. 2007-11-22. http://www.thecommonwealth.org/news/34581/172911/221107cmag.htm. Retrieved 2008-06-15.  
  27. ^ "Commonwealth lifts Pakistan suspension". Commonwealth Secretariat. 2008-05-12. http://www.thecommonwealth.org/news/34580/34581/179063/120508cmag.htm. Retrieved 2008-06-15.  
  28. ^ "Constitution Amendment Act (No 2) 1997". http://www.paclii.org/ws/legis/num_act/caa21997295/. Retrieved 2007-11-27.  
  29. ^ "South Africa". Commonwealth Secretariat. http://www.thecommonwealth.org/Templates/YearbookHomeInternal.asp?NodeID=139444. Retrieved 2008-02-15.  
  30. ^ a b c "Tanzania - History". Commonwealth Secretariat. http://www.thecommonwealth.org/YearbookInternal/145193/history/. Retrieved 2008-02-15.  
  31. ^ "Tuvalu Accedes to Full Membership of the Commonwealth". Commonwealth Secretariat. 14 August 2000. http://www.thecommonwealth.org/press/31555/34582/141646/tuvalu_accedes_to_full_membership_of_the_commonwea.htm. Retrieved 30 January 2009.  
  32. ^ Ingram, Derek (July 2000). "Commonwealth Update". The Round Table 89 (355): pp. 311–55. doi:10.1080/00358530050083406.  
  33. ^ a b Ingram, Derek (April 2002). "Commonwealth Update". The Round Table 91 (364): pp. 131–59. doi:10.1080/00358530220144148.  
  34. ^ Ingram, Derek; Soal, Judith (February 2007). "Commonwealth Update". The Round Table 96 (388): pp. 2–28. doi:10.1080/00358530701189734.  
  35. ^ "Editorial: CHOGM 2003, Abuja, Nigeria". The Round Table 93 (373): pp. 3–6. January 2004. doi:10.1080/0035853042000188139.  

See also

External links

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