What is the Commonwealth?

What is the Commonwealth?

The violence of the two communities in Palestine led Britain to relinquish quickly its charge there and the independent state of Israel emerged. Burma, on receiving its independence in 1947, immediately left the Commonwealth. In I 960 British Somaliland joined up with Italian Somalia to become an independent state outside the Commonwealth; similarly, the Southern Cameroons joined the French Cameroons in 1961 and left the Commonwealth. The People’s Republic of Southern Yemen pulled out in 1967, while Pakistan left in 1972 after failing to receive support in its civil war. East Pakistan, however, stayed within the Commonwealth, as the new state of Bangladesh.  In 1961 South Africa voluntarily withdrew from the Commonwealth, probably just before being pushed out because of its racial policies. The white settlers of Southern Rhodesia in 1965 unilaterally declared their independence of Britain; this followed prolonged attempts by the British government and Black pressure groups to coax or coerce the whites into granting adequate political rights to the black majority population. Finally, in April1980, Rhodesia attained legal independence as the state of Zimbabwe. It became the forty-third member state of the Commonwealth.

Commonwealth Membership as at 31 December 1980

Date of Membership

Australia Q 1901
Bahamas Q 1973
Bangladesh R 1972
Barbados Q 1966
Botswana R 1966
Canada Q 1867
Cyprus R 1961 (independence 1960)
Dominica R 1978
Fiji Q 1970
The Gambia R 1965
Ghana R 1957
Grenada Q 1974
Guyana R 1966
India R 1947
Jamaica Q 1962
Kenya R 1963
Kiribati R 1979
Lesotho M 1966
Malawi R 1964
Malaysia M 1957
Malta R 1964
Mauritius Q 1968
Nauru* R 1968
New Zealand Q 1907
Nigeria R 1960
Papua New-Guinea Q 1975
St. Lucia Q 1979
St. Vincent* Q 1979
Seychelles R 1976
Sierra Leone R 1961
Singapore R 1965
Solomon Islands Q 1978
Sri Lanka R 1948
Swaziland M 1968
Tanzania R 1961
Tonga M 1970
Trinidad and Tobago R 1962
Tuvalu* Q 1979
Uganda R 1962
United Kingdom Q
Vanuatu R 1980
Western Samoa M 1970 (independence 1960)
Zambia R 1964
Zimbabwe R 1980


*  Special member
Q  Queen Elizabeth as Head of State
M  Other monarchy
R  Republic

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