The Commonwealth

The Commonwealth is a diverse community of 52 nations and more than 80 organisations that work together to promote prosperity, democracy and peace. It is home to a third of the world’s population and nearly 40% of its young people.

The people and businesses of the Commonwealth enjoy the advantage of having a common language, legal systems, and values, making it easier for them to communicate, trade and cooperate with one another. 

Every member has an equal voice, no matter its size.

The Commonwealth member states

Her Majesty the Queen is the Head of the Commonwealth and attends the biennial Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting.

She has devoted much of her reign to reinforcing the links which bind this community of nations. In a radio broadcast recorded on her 21st birthday, Her Majesty made a commitment to the citizens of the Commonwealth, saying: 'I declare before you all that my whole life whether it be long or short shall be devoted to your service.' 

Since then, she has undertaken more than 200 visits to Commonwealth countries and keeps in touch with developments through regular contact with the Commonwealth Secretary General and the Secretariat.

The Commonwealth’s strength lies in its unique network of people-to-people links and organisations that celebrate and strengthen the vibrancy of Commonwealth citizens.

Members are united around shared Commonwealth commitments to democracy, human rights, equality and good governance; values that are set out in its charter and upheld by the Commonwealth Secretariat and its Secretary-General Patricia Scotland.

Throughout its existence, the modern Commonwealth has had a lasting impact on the promotion of peace, democracy and human rights.

It helped to bring about an end to apartheid in South Africa and to violence and emergency rule in Pakistan in 2007. It has observed over 140 elections in more than 40 countries since 1980.

The Commonwealth is home to nearly one billion of the world’s young people, half of its top 20 emerging cities and provides almost half of the UN’s peacekeepers.

Taken together, the Commonwealth’s common legal systems, language and administrative systems mean that intra-Commonwealth trade benefits from what is recognised as the ‘Commonwealth Advantage’.

This means that when both partners are Commonwealth countries, trade and investment flows are increased by up to 20% and the cost of doing business reduced by up to 19% more than would otherwise be the case.

commonwealth quiz

How much do you know about the Commonwealth?