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Our history

The Commonwealth is one of the world’s oldest political association of states. Its roots go back to the British Empire when some countries were ruled directly or indirectly by Britain. Some of these countries became self-governing while retaining Britain’s monarch as Head of State. They formed the British Commonwealth of Nations.

In 1949 the association we know today, the Commonwealth came into being. Since then, independent countries from Africa, the Americas, Asia, Europe and the Pacific have joined the Commonwealth.

Membership today is based on free and equal voluntary co-operation. The last two countries to join the Commonwealth - Rwanda and Mozambique - have no historical ties to the British Empire.

Ghana joins the Commonwealth

6 March 1957

6 March 1957

Ghana becomes the 9th country to join the Commonwealth.

Sri Lanka joins the Commonwealth

4 February 1948

4 February 1948

Sri Lanka becomes the 8th country to join the Commonwealth.

India joins the Commonwealth

15 August 1947

15 August 1947

India becomes the 6th country to join the Commonwealth.

Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, Coolum, Australia, 6-9 October, 2002 Heads of Government at CHOGM in Coolum, Australia, 2002

6 October 2002

Theme: The Commonwealth in the 21st Century: Continuity & Renewal

Declarations and Statements

  • The Coolum Declaration — The Commonwealth in the 21st Century: Continuity and Renewal
  • The Coolum Communiqué
  • CHOGM Statement on Zimbabwe
  • Commonwealth Functional Co-operation: Report of the Committee of the Whole
  • Commonwealth Ministerial Group on Small States: Chairperson’s Report to the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting
  • Report by the Commonwealth High Level Review Group to Commonwealth Heads of Government

Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, Durban, South Africa, 11-20 November, 1999 Commonwealth Heads of Government at CHOGM in Durban, South Africa, 1999

11 November 1999

Theme: Globalisation & People-Centred Development

Declarations and Statements

  • The Fancourt Commonwealth Declaration on Globalisation and People-Centred Development
  • The Durban Communiqué
  • Commonwealth Ministerial Group on Small States: Chairperson’s Report
  • Functional Co-operation: Report of the Committee of the Whole

Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, Edinburgh, United Kingdom, 24-27 October, 1997 Commonwealth Heads of Government at CHOGM in Edinburgh, UK, 1997

24 October 1997

Theme: Promoting Shared Prosperity

Declarations and Statements

  • Edinburgh Communique
  • Functional Co-operation: Report of the Committee of the Whole
  • Promoting Shared Prosperity: Edinburgh Commonwealth Economic Declaration
  • Ministerial Group on Small States: Report of the Chairperson

Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, Limassol, Cyprus. 21-25 October 1993 Image of Commonwealth Heads of Government at CHOGM in Limassol, Cyprus, 1993

21 October 1993

Declarations and Statements

  • Limassol Statement on the Uruguay Round
  • Limassol Communiqué
  • Commonwealth Functional Co-operation: Report of the Committee of the Whole
  • Message to Commonwealth Heads of Government from Ministers Responsible for Women Affairs

Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, Harare, Zimbabwe. 16 - 21 October 1991 Image of Commonwealth Heads of Government at CHOGM in Harare, Zimbabwe, 1991

16 October 1991

Declarations and Statements

  • Harare Commonwealth Declaration
  • Harare Communiqué
  • Commonwealth Functional Co-operation
  • Ottawa Declaration on Women and Structural Adjustment

Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. 18-24 October 1989 Image of Commonwealth Heads of Government at CHOGM in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 1989

18 October 1989

Declarations and Statements

  • The Langkawi Declaration on Environment
  • Southern Africa: The Way Ahead; The Kuala Lumpur Statement
  • Kuala Lumpur Communiqué
  • Commonwealth Functional Co-operation

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