You are on page 1of 16

r S t o r y,

O u
Ou r Wor

The story of 53 nations
Hello, did you know that about
30% of the world’s people live in
The people of the Commonwealth
the Commonwealth? That’s over
are a diverse group. Some live in
2 billion adults and children!
very small islands like Nauru in
the Pacific, and some live in big
countries like India in Asia.

Introducing the
The Commonwealth
is a vibrant family of
53 countries spread Commonwealth
across every continent people work together
and ocean. All countries in the by sharing ideas and
Commonwealth are experiences, skills and
independent and knowledge.
It is about friendship
equal nations. and respect between
individuals and nations.

Commonwealth values
The Commonwealth
believes people have The Commonwealth
rights, such as the stands against
right to education intolerance, prejudice
and healthcare. and racism.

The Commonwealth
regards girls and boys as
equally important and aims
to improve the lives of
young men and women.

The Commonwealth
promotes democracy
and believes everyone
should be free to
choose their leaders.

The Commonwealth story In the beginning…
The Commonwealth was born out of the

The early years British Empire, which at one time included

countries in Asia, Africa, the Pacific, the
Caribbean and the Americas.

In 1931 it was called the British

Commonwealth of Nations, but in
1949 leaders decided to transform
it into an organisation of ‘free and
equal members’, and the modern
Commonwealth was created.

The Commonwealth
Ghana became a member in Secretariat encourages
1957. It was the first of many members to get together
African countries to join the to talk about their
Commonwealth as independent concerns and ideas.
nations in the 1950s and 1960s.

In 1961 South Africa left the Marlborough House

Commonwealth because of its policy
of segregating white and black
people. Commonwealth leaders In 1965 the Commonwealth
supported the struggle against white Secretariat was created. It is
minority rule. based in Marlborough House
in London.
The 90s and beyond Many other countries, big and small, from
all parts of the globe and with different
In 1994 South Africa cultures, languages and faiths are now
returned to the Commonwealth part of the Commonwealth. Rwanda, our
as a multi-racial and democratic newest member, joined in 2009.
country, under the leadership
of Nelson Mandela.

In the 1990s countries The Secretariat is led

by Secretary-General
like Namibia, Cameroon
Although the Commonwealth Kamalesh Sharma,
and Mozambique, which
Secretariat is based in the from India.
were never British colonies,
UK, people who work there
also joined.
come from all parts of the



About 60% of
the people in the

The Head of the Commonwealth are

Commonwealth is HM Queen under 30 years old. The
Elizabeth II. She is also Head of Commonwealth Youth

State for 16 Commonwealth Council helps young

member countries. Other people to work together
countries are republics or and share their ideas with
have their own monarch. decision makers.
Diversity and unity Hundreds of
in the Commonwealth languages are
represented in
this community
of 53 nations.
The people of the
are from many races
and religions.

Some large countries like

Australia, which has a
population of 23 million,
are sparsely populated.
Some smaller countries like
Bangladesh, where over 150
million people live, are very
densely populated.

Commonwealth countries
Thirty-one Commonwealth also have many things in
countries are ‘small states’ – common. Most use the
usually with populations of English language, have
less than 1.5 million. similar laws and support
democracy as a form of
Helping The Commonwealth
Secretariat gives small
Commonwealth countries countries the opportunity to
make contributions to global
meetings and conversations
The Commonwealth has about big issues like the
many programmes that world economy and trade.
assist member countries.

It makes special efforts to

improve education for all, and
For example, the to support women and young
Commonwealth Secretariat people to start and run their
helps countries look for own businesses. It also helps
solutions to economic and to improve health services.
environmental problems. This
includes climate change, which
causes rising sea levels and
damaging storms. In 2015
leaders will meet
in Malta, which is in
Every two years, southern Europe.
Commonwealth Heads
The Commonwealth also of Government meet to
encourages member discuss shared challenges
countries to care about and suggest possible
human rights, which means solutions.
ensuring that people are
treated fairly and enjoy
basic freedoms.
A Commonwealth From children having fun with their

connected by sport
friends to serious athletes training to
set new world records, the people of
the Commonwealth love sports.

The Commonwealth The Games include athletics, A baton carrying a

Games are called the swimming, rugby sevens, special message from
‘friendly games’ because netball and lawn bowls. It has Queen Elizabeth ll visits
the competition is between They are held every Para-Sports events for elite every nation and territory
individual sportsmen and four years. The very athletes with a disability. of the Commonwealth.
women, not between first Games were in
countries and because it Hamilton, Canada in
1930. Four hundred But there can be lots of other The Glasgow 2014
uses sports to bring people sports too, like boxing, cycling, Queen’s Baton Relay
across the globe together. athletes attended.
gymnastics, badminton, travelled more than
triathlon and wrestling. 198,000km.

Getting involved The Commonwealth’s Sport for
Development and Peace programme
shows countries how sports can be
Children and young Clyde, the popular used to promote healthier lives and
people right across the mascot for the 2014 teach young people tolerance.
Commonwealth can Games, was designed by
also get involved in 12-year-old Beth Gilmour
the Games! from Scotland. 4,500 athletes
attended the Glasgow
2014 Games, and they
were watched on TV by
more than one billion
people around the globe.

Here are
some other
cool sporting

In September 2015, facts about
around 1,000 of the world’s Commonwealth
top young Commonwealth The Youth Games Countries.
athletes will compete in the were started in 2000

Commonwealth Youth Games and are for athletes The fastest man in the world comes from
in Samoa, in the Pacific. from 14 to 18 years old. the Commonwealth.
Ace sprinter Usain Bolt from Jamaica is
the current world record holder in the
men’s 100m dash, clocking 9.58 seconds at
the World Championships in Berlin in 2009.

Australia has won the Cricket World Cup

four times. The West Indies and India have
both won twice.
Commonwealth Day
Commonwealth Day is
the second Monday of
March every year.

The theme
focuses on the great Commonwealth Day is a
contributions that young It is also a great opportunity
time for our 2.2 billion-
people make and the for the Commonwealth to talk
strong family to celebrate
importance of providing about some of the important
diversity, strengthen their
In 2015 the them with education values in its charter, like
friendships, and recognise
theme is ‘A Young and employment democracy, human rights
the achievements of the
Commonwealth’. opportunities. and development.

A time to celebrate
In London, Queen Elizabeth II attends a
special multi-cultural, multi-faith event at
Westminster Abbey, with performances
from choirs, dancers and musicians.

Schools, communities and

governments around the
Commonwealth celebrate
Commonwealth Day in a
variety of ways.

There are street parties, poetry

performances, storytelling festivals,
fashion shows, flag ceremonies, and
sports, dance and music events.

Special messages
based on the theme
for that year are issued
by The Queen and
Commonwealth Day
the Commonwealth
themes have covered
many areas of the
Commonwealth’s work.
Previous themes include:
Connecting Cultures in
2012, Opportunity through
Enterprise in 2013, and Team
Commonwealth in 2014.

Why not create your own special Have a public speaking

project? Maybe have a fashion parade competition on the
showing the national dresses of importance of people
different Commonwealth countries. from different countries
working together.

Use the internet or

books from the library to Pretend you are a
research different cultures Draw and paint the Write a story about journalist and write a
in the Commonwealth and flags of the 53 member your own country and news story about the
make a poster to present countries and display how it became part of Commonwealth, based
to your class. them around your the Commonwealth. on the information in
classroom. this book.
What have you learnt?

1 What percentage of the world’s population live in the Commonwealth?

2 How many athletes attended the first Commonwealth Games?

3 When is Commonwealth Day?

4 Why are the Commonwealth Games called the ‘Friendly Games’?

5 How many nations are in the Commonwealth?

6 What was the Commonwealth called in 1931?

7 Which country re-joined the Commonwealth in 1994?

8 Where is the Commonwealth Secretariat based?

9 Where will the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in 2015 be held?

10 Who is the Secretary-General of the Commonwealth?

6 The British Commonwealth of Nations 7 South Africa 8 Marlborough House in London 9 Malta 10 Kamalesh Sharma, from India
1 About 30% 2 400 3 The second Monday in March 4 The competition is between individuals, not countries 5 53
Quiz answers 12
Member countries
Member Country Capital Member Country Capital
1 Antigua and Barbuda St John’s 31 Nigeria Abuja
2 Australia Canberra 32 Pakistan Islamabad
3 The Bahamas Nassau 33 Papua New Guinea Port Moresby
4 Bangladesh Dhaka 34 Rwanda Kigali
5 Barbados Bridgetown 35 St Kitts and Nevis Basseterre
6 Belize Belmopan 36 Saint Lucia Castries
7 Botswana Gaborone 37 St Vincent and the Kingstown
8 Brunei Darussalam Bandar Seri Grenadines
Begawan 38 Samoa Apia 3
9 Cameroon Yaoundé 39 Seychelles Victoria 1
10 Canada Ottawa 40 Sierra Leone Freetown
6 35 12
11 Cyprus Nicosia 41 Singapore Singapore 18 36
12 Dominica Roseau 42 Solomon Islands Honiara 15 5
13 Fiji Suva 43 South Africa Pretoria
14 Ghana Accra 44 Sri Lanka Colombo
15 Grenada St George’s 45 Swaziland Mbabane
16 Guyana Georgetown 46 Tonga Nuku’alofa
17 India New Delhi 47 Trinidad and Tobago Port of Spain
18 Jamaica Kingston 48 Tuvalu Funafuti
19 Kenya Nairobi 49 Uganda Kampala
20 Kiribati Tarawa 50 United Kingdom London
21 Lesotho Maseru 51 United Republic Dodoma
22 Malawi Lilongwe of Tanzania
23 Malaysia Kuala Lumpur 52 Vanuatu Port Vila
24 Maldives Malé 53 Zambia Lusaka
25 Malta Valletta The designations employed and the presentation of
26 Mauritius Port Louis material on the map, based on UN practice, do not
imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on
27 Mozambique Maputo the part of the Commonwealth Secretariat concerning
28 Namibia Windhoek the legal status of any country, territory, or area, or
29 Nauru Nauru of its authorities, or concerning the delimitation of its
frontiers or boundaries.
30 New Zealand Wellington


25 11


14 44 8
9 23 23
19 41 20
34 29
51 39 33 42 48

53 27 52

26 13
28 22 2 46


Commonwealth Secretariat
Marlborough House
Pall Mall
London, SW1Y 5HX
United Kingdom
© Commonwealth Secretariat, 2015
All rights reserved. This publication may be
reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or
transmitted in any form or by any means,
electronic or mechanical, including photocopying,
recording or otherwise, provided it is used only for
education purposes and is not for resale, and
provided full acknowledgement is given to the
Commonwealth Secretariat as the original publisher.
All photographs are taken by the Commonwealth Secretariat except the
following: Commonwealth Games Federation p.7 & p.8; Alamy p.6 © Karen &
Ian Stewart, p.8 © Roger Sedres; Corbis Images p.3 Tim Shaffer/Reuters,
p.5 Andrew Bertuleit Photography, © Mohammad Asad/Demotix;
Getty Images p.4 Walter Dhladhla/Staff, Max Mumby/Indigo.
Published by the Commonwealth Secretariat
Designed by Anthony Godber
Illustrated by Mark Ruffle
Printed by Charlesworth Press
Wherever possible, the Commonwealth Secretariat uses paper sourced
from sustainable forests or from sources that minimise a destructive impact
on the environment.
Copies of this publication can be obtained from:
Communications Division
Commonwealth Secretariat
Marlborough House
Pall Mall
London SW1Y 5HX
United Kingdom