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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.

16th CHOGM Heads of Government at CHOGM in Coolum, Australia, 2002

2 March 2002

The 16th Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, Coolum, Australia, 2002

15th CHOGM Commonwealth Heads of Government at CHOGM in Durban, South Africa, 1999

12 October 1999

The 15th Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, Durban, South Africa, 1999

14th CHOGM Commonwealth Heads of Government at CHOGM in Edinburgh, UK, 1997

24 October 1997

The 14th Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, Edinburgh, United Kingdom, 1997

13th CHOGM Commonwealth Leaders in session at CHOGM in Auckland, New Zealand,1995

10 November 1995

The 13th Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, Auckland, New Zealand, 1995

Tenth Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) Image of Commonwealth Heads of Government at CHOGM in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 1989

18 October 1989

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

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