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Commonwealth of Nations

Commonwealth of Nations
NameCommonwealth of Nations
Linking Namethe Commonwealth of Nations
Image FlagFlag of the Commonwealth of Nations.svg
Map CaptionThe Commonwealth (blue=present members, orange=former members, green=suspended members, light blue=dependent territories of members)
Membership54 sovereign states (thereof 1 suspended) (list)
Admin Center TypeHeadquarters
Admin CenterUnited Kingdom Marlborough House, London, England, United Kingdom
Languages TypeOfficial language
Leader Title1Head of the Commonwealth
Leader Name1Flag of EIIR.svg Queen Elizabeth II
(since 6 February 1952)
Leader Title2Secretary-General
Leader Name2India Kamalesh Sharma
(since 1 April 2008)
Leader Title3Chairperson-in-Office
Leader Name3Trinidad and Tobago Kamla Persad-Bissessar
(since 26 May 2010)
Established Event1Balfour Declaration
Established Date118 November 1926
Established Event2Statute of Westminster
Established Date211 December 1931
Established Event3London Declaration
Established Date328 April 1949
Area Km231,462,574
Area Sq Mi12,147,768
Population Estimate2,100,000,000
Population Estimate Year2005
Population Density Km261.09
Population Density Sq Mi158.2

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:For other uses, see Commonwealth (disambiguation).

The Commonwealth of Nations, normally referred to as the Commonwealth and formerly known as the British Commonwealth, is an intergovernmental organisation of fifty-four independent member states. All but two of these countries (Mozambique and Rwanda) were formerly part of the British Empire, out of which it developed. The member states cooperate within a framework of common values and goals as outlined in the Singapore Declaration. These include the promotion of democracy, human rights, good governance, the rule of law, individual liberty, egalitarianism, free trade, multilateralism, and world peace. The Commonwealth is not a political union, but an intergovernmental organisation through which countries with diverse social, political, and economic backgrounds are regarded as equal in status.

Activities of the Commonwealth are carried out through the permanent Commonwealth Secretariat, headed by the Secretary-General, and biennial meetings between Commonwealth Heads of Government. The symbol of their free association is the Head of the Commonwealth, which is a ceremonial position currently held by Queen Elizabeth II. Elizabeth II is also monarch, separately and independently, of sixteen Commonwealth members, which are known as the "Commonwealth realms".

The Commonwealth is a forum for a number of non-governmental organisations, collectively known as the Commonwealth Family, which are fostered through the intergovernmental Commonwealth Foundation. The Commonwealth Games, the Commonwealth's most visible activity, are a product of one of these organisations. These organisations strengthen the shared culture of the Commonwealth, which extends through common sports, literary heritage, and political and legal practices. Due to this, Commonwealth countries are not considered to be "foreign" to one another. Reflecting this, diplomatic missions between Commonwealth countries are designated as High Commissions rather than embassies.

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