Shortcut: From British Empire to Commonwealth

The British Empire once controlled a quarter of the world. These days, all the former British colonies are independent. About fifty of them belong to a group called the British Commonwealth. The Commonwealth has rich countries like Australia, as well as poor ones like Tanzania. The USA and Ireland are not part of the Commonwealth.

Most of the countries have the British Queen as head of state. They all share roots in British culture, such as the sports cricket and rugby. These sports are played in the Commonwealth Games every four years. The countries in the Commonwealth Games make up 30% of the world's population.

Commonwealth countries also share the English language. Canada, Australia and New Zealand have English as a first language. The other Commonwealth nations have it as a second language used in government and education.

Membership in the Commonwealth is voluntary. Countries can leave anytime. Some have been forced to leave, like South Africa because of its racist government. In 1994 when apartheid ended, South Africa was let back in.

Red double-Decker bus outside Victoria Station in Mumbai, India Red double-Decker bus outside Victoria Station in Mumbai, India