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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.

Maldives joins the Commonwealth Image of Maldives flag

9 July 1982

9 July 1982

Maldives becomes the 49th country to join the Commonwealth.

Antigua and Barbuda join the Commonwealth

1 November 1981

1 November 1981

Antigua & Barbuda becomes the 48th country to join the Commonwealth.

Vanuatu joins the Commonwealth

30 July 1980

30 July 1980

Vanuatu becomes the 46th country to join the Commonwealth.

Kiribati joins the Commonwealth

12 July 1979

12 July 1979

Kiribati becomes the 43rd country to join the Commonwealth.

Dominica joins the Commonwealth

3 November 1978

3 November 1978

Dominica becomes the 41st country to join the Commonwealth.

Seychelles joins the Commonwealth Image of Seychelles flag

28 June 1976

28 Jun 1976

Seychelles becomes the 38th country to join the Commonwealth.

Papua New Guinea joins the Commonwealth Image of Papua New Guinea flag

16 September 1975

16 September 1975

Papua New Guinea becomes the 37th country to join the Commonwealth.

Grenada joins the Commonwealth Image of Grenada flag

7 February 1974

7 February 1974

Grenada becomes the 36th country to join the Commonwealth.

The Bahamas joins the Commonwealth Image of The Bahamas flag

10 July 1973

10 July 1973

The Bahamas becomes the 35th country to join the Commonwealth.

Bangladesh joins The Commonwealth Image of Bangladesh flag

18 April 1972

18 April 1972

Bangladesh becomes the 34th country to join the Commonwealth.

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