The Commonwealth is a voluntary association of 53 independent and equal countries.
It is home to 2.4 billion people, and includes both advanced economies and developing countries. 31 of our members are small states, including many island nations.
Our member governments have agreed to pursue shared goals such as development, democracy and peace. Our values and principles are expressed in the Commonwealth Charter.
The Commonwealth's roots go back to the British Empire, but membership of the modern Commonwealth does not depend on formerly being part of the British Empire. The last country to join the Commonwealth was Rwanda in 2009.
The Commonwealth is often described as a 'family' of nations and peoples. Member countries are supported by a network of more than 80 intergovernmental, civil, cultural and professional organisations.
At the heart of this family are 3 intergovernmental organisations: the Commonwealth Secretariat, the Commonwealth Foundation and the Commonwealth of Learning.