Commonwealth of Nations
The Commonwealth of Nations (also known only as "Commonwealth") is a confederation of countries. Originally, it was called the British Commonwealth which was founded in 1926 when the British Empire began to break up. Now, there are 54 member countries of the Commonwealth.
Only countries which were part of the British Empire are allowed to become members of the Commonwealth (although an exception was made for Rwanda and Mozambique which were never colonized by Britain, when they were allowed to become members). Members are free to leave and rejoin the Commonwealth. However, joining or rejoining the Commonwealth can become difficult, when the candidate country has serious human rights violations.
The term the Commonwealth of Nations originated in 1884. Lord Rosebery was on a visit to Australia in 1884. At Adelaide he said that over a period of time a number of colonies of the British Empire will become free and many may become more independent. He further said that all of these countries would then become the Commonwealth of Nations.
The Commonwealth of Nations is not a political organization. Queen Elizabeth II is also head of state of 16 Commonwealth countries, referred to as Commonwealth realms. Canada and Australia are two of the largest realms. A Secretary General manages the day-to-day matters of the Commonwealth of Nations. Patricia Scotland is the Secretary General since 2015. However, the United Kingdom or the Secretary General does not have any direct or indirect control over these countries. In fact, almost all the 53 members are independent countries with their own governments. These countries have come together to form an association with some common aims. Such common aims include:
- To increase economic cooperation among the member countries.
- To encourage democracy in the member countries.
- To ensure that member countries follow human rights.
- The total population of all the 54 countries of the Commonwealth is about 2.245 billion. This is almost a third of the population of the whole world. About half of these live in India.
- The four largest Commonwealth nations by population are India at 1.37 billion, Pakistan at 230 million, Nigeria at 174 million, and Bangladesh at 166 million.
- Tuvalu and Nauru are the smallest members, each with less than 11,000 people.
- These 53 countries cover an area of 12.1 million square miles. This is about 21 % of the total land area of the world.
- The three largest Commonwealth nations by area are Canada at 3.8 million square miles, Australia at 3.0 million square miles, and India at 1.3 million square miles.
- The economy of these countries is about 16 % of the world economy.
- Based on the purchasing power parity, the four largest economies are India at 2,600 billion US dollars, the United Kingdom at 1,500 billion US dollars, Canada at 930 billion US dollars, and Australia at 520 billion US dollars.
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