The Commonwealth is staging its two-day, biennial summit in London, which closes on Friday.
Here is a factbox on the group, which comprises around a third of the world’s population and a fifth of its landmass and is made up mainly of former British colonies.
– Overview –
Full name: Commonwealth of Nations
Member states: 53
Head of the Commonwealth: Queen Elizabeth II (1952-)
Secretary-General: Patricia Scotland (2016-)
Population: 2.4 billion
Area: 30 million square kilometres
Foundation of modern Commonwealth: 1949
Headquarters: Marlborough House, London
Focus: Development, democracy, climate change
– Key moments –
1926: Balfour Declaration. Declares the UK and the dominions as equal in status as members of “the British Commonwealth of Nations”.
1931: Statute of Westminster. Established legislative independence for the dominions and set the basis for the relationship between Commonwealth realms and the crown.
1949: London Declaration. Birth of the modern Commonwealth. Allowed republics as members, to allow independent India’s continued membership. “British” dropped from title.
1971: First Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Singapore.
1991: Harare Declaration. Sets out Commonwealth’s core values.
– Population, area, GDP –
Drawn from: Africa (19), Caribbean and Americas (13), Pacific (11), Asia (7), Europe (3).
Biggest country by population: India (1.25 billion)
Smallest country by population: Tuvalu (10,000)
Biggest country by area: Canada (9,984,670 square kilometres)
Smallest country by area: Nauru (21 sq km)
Biggest GDP: UK, India, Canada, Australia, Nigeria.
Smallest GDP: Tuvalu, Kiribati, Tonga, Dominica, St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
– Membership –
Criteria: Historic association with existing member; compliance with Commonwealth principles; commitment to democracy, rule of law and good governance.
Members in 1949: Australia, Canada, Ceylon, India, New Zealand, Pakistan, South Africa, United Kingdom.
Latest first-time members: Rwanda (2009), Mozambique (1995) Cameroon (1995), Namibia (1990), Brunei (1984).
Countries which left and rejoined: South Africa (1961-1994), Pakistan (1972-1989), Fiji (1987-1997), The Gambia (2013-2018).
Countries which left and never returned: Ireland (1949), Zimbabwe (2003) and the Maldives (2016).
– Main Commonwealth events –
Summit: The Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, CHOGM, is held every two years.
Commonwealth Games: The Olympics-style multi-sport event is held every four years.
– Commonwealth in 2018 –
CHOGM held in London, April 19-20. Main agenda points: ocean governance charter, trade and investment agenda, tackling cyber crime.
Commonwealth Games held in Gold Coast, Australia, April 4-15. Australia topped the medals table ahead of England, India, Canada and New Zealand.