• Reading Levels 3 - 5
History | Geography

The Commonwealth

Commonwealth country Barbados has announced that it will remove the Queen as its head of state. From next year, it will become a republic. But what does this mean for the Commonwealth? What is the Commonwealth? It is a group of 54 countries from all over the world. There are Commonwealth countries in the Pacific, Africa, Asia, Europe, the Caribbean and the Americas. The countries vary hugely, but they are united by the English language. The largest member state is India, with a population of 1.37 billion people. Meanwhile, the smallest is an island in the Pacific called Nauru: only 10,000 people live there. The Commonwealth covers 21% of the world, and it is home to two billion people - that's one in every three people on the planet. When was it set up? Britain once governed most of the countries in the Commonwealth as part of the British EmpireA group of countries that were once ruled or controlled by the UK, including Australia, Canada, India and large parts of Africa.. After they became independent, many countries became part of a "family" of nations that worked together to help one another. The first countries to join were Australia, Canada, New Zealand and South Africa. What has it got to do with the Queen? When the first countries formed the Commonwealth in 1926, they kept the British King or Queen as their head of stateThe public person who officially represents the unity and legitimacy of a state.. But when India joined in 1947, it wanted to be free of British rule. So, the modern Commonwealth was born. Now, most member states have no connection to the British monarchyThe king or queen and royal family. . Barbados is one of just 15 countries still technically ruled by the Queen. Its leaders think this should change. Next year, they plan to make the country a republicA state in which the leaders are chosen by the people, and which has a president rather than a monarch. and elect their own head of state. But as for the Commonwealth, Barbados will remain a member. What does the Commonwealth do?: All of the member states have three main goals: prosperityHaving lots of wealth and success., peace and democracyA system of government based on the idea of rule by the people.. Teams from the Commonwealth work all over the world to help protect the environment and help with education. They also support smaller member states and help with money and trade. Who can join? Any country! Although the Commonwealth was originally connected to the British Empire, any country is now free to join. In 1990, NamibiaA country in southern Africa, home to the Namib desert, and 2.6 million people. became the first country to join that was never under British rule. The most recent state to join was RwandaA country in the centre of Africa. At least 500,000 people were killed in the appalling genocide of 1994. in 2009. Countries do leave, as well. No country has ever been forced to go, but some are suspended. South Africa's racist laws led to its leaving the Commonwealth in 1961 because it did not follow the shared goals of the organisation. In 1994, it was allowed to return. What are the Commonwealth games? First held in 1930, these take place every four years. They are a celebration of sport and an opportunity to come together. They include athletics, cycling, rugby, gymnastics and even lawn bowlsA sport played on a grassy court where the objective is to roll balls as close as possible to a target, known as a “jack”.. The Commonwealth Games are not a serious competition between countries but a chance to inspire each other - that's why they are sometimes known as the "friendly games".KeywordsBritish Empire - A group of countries that were once ruled or controlled by the UK, including Australia, Canada, India and large parts of Africa.

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