Saturday, November 5, 2022

Commonwealth of Nations

Today is the 5th of November which is Guy Fawkes night.  So Happy Bonfire night to all of my Commonwealth peeps.  

Here's a bit about the Commonwealth of Nations.

The Commonwealth of Nations is a political association of 56 countries, most of which, 52 of them, were once part of the British Empire either as colonies or dependencies.

With the passing of Queen Elizabeth II's passing, Charles III immediately succeeded his mother as monarch of the Commonwealth realm even though he has not yet be crowned king.

Once Charles III will be king, he will be both monarch and head of state, of the 15 countries of the Commonwealth realm.

These 15 countries are the United Kingdom, Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, the Bahamas, Belize, Canada, Grenada, Jamaica, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, the Solomon Islands, and Tuvalu.

There are five countries that have other monarchs but are still a part of the Commonwealth.  These five are Brunei, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malaysia, and Tonga.

The remaining 36 members of the Commonwealth are all republics.  They include Bangladesh, Barbados,  Botswana, Cameroon, Cyprus, Dominica, Fiji, Gabon, The Gambia, Ghana, Guyana, India, Kenya, Kiribati, Malawi, Maldives, Malta, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Nauru, Nigeria, Pakistan, Rwanda, Samoa, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Singapore, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Uganda, Vanuatu, and Zambia.

The Commonwealth consists of 31,5 million km² (12.2 million square miles) which is about 21% of the world's total land area.  The Commonwealth countries are home to 2,4 billion people which is about ⅓ of the world's population with 94% living in Asia and Africa.

There's no requirement that a member has to have been a British colony.  Mozambique, Rwanda, and Gabon never were.  The Commonwealth Charter states that members have shared values of democracy, human rights and the rule of law.

The human rights thing is a bit funny to me.  The UK left a legacy of anti-homosexuality laws, particularly during the 19th century, at the height of the British Empire.  Being gay is still a criminal offence in more than 30 Commonwealth countries.  There's a direct link between anti-gay law and increased rates of HIV.  While the Commonwealth accounts for about a ⅓ of the world's population it has more than 60% of the world's HIV cases.    

Membership in the Commonwealth isn't forever.  Ireland was the first country to leave.  It left when the country became a republic.  Prior to India becoming a republic the rules were changed so that India could remain a member.  Zimbabwe left in 2003 but it is now trying to rejoin.  Other potential members currently include Somaliland, South Sudan, Suriname, and Burundi.

The three Crown dependencies of Jersey, Guernsey, and the Isle of Man aren't happy with only being represented by the UK.  All three want to have direct representation with the Commonwealth.

The Commonwealth Games are held every four years.  They began in 1930 as the Empire Games.  They contain the usual Summer Olympic events plus "British" sports like bowls, netball and rugby sevens.  The next games take place in 2026 in Victoria, Australia.

Update August 2023:  Looks like it's getting too expensive for cities to host the Commonwealth Games.  Two cities have withdrawn their bids for upcoming games.  Here's a BBC report about it.

©BBC News

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