Commonwealth of Nations  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

The Commonwealth of Nations, normally referred to as the Commonwealth and formerly known as the British Commonwealth, is an intergovernmental organisation of 54 independent member states. All members except Mozambique and Rwanda were part of the British Empire, out of which the Commonwealth developed.

The member states cooperate within a framework of common values and goals, as outlined in the Singapore Declaration. These include the promotion of democracy, human rights, good governance, the rule of law, individual liberty, egalitarianism, free trade, multilateralism and world peace.

The Commonwealth is an intergovernmental organisation in which countries with diverse social, political and economic backgrounds are regarded as equal in status, not a political union.

Activities of the Commonwealth are carried out through the permanent Commonwealth Secretariat, headed by the Secretary-General, and biennial meetings of Commonwealth Heads of Government. The symbol of their free association is the Head of the Commonwealth, which is a ceremonial position currently held by Queen Elizabeth II. Elizabeth II is also monarch, separately and independently, of 16 Commonwealth members, which are known as the "Commonwealth realms".

The Commonwealth is a forum for a number of non-governmental organisations, collectively known as the Commonwealth Family, which are fostered through the intergovernmental Commonwealth Foundation. The Commonwealth Games, the Commonwealth's most visible activity, are a product of one of these organisations. These organisations strengthen the shared culture of the Commonwealth, which extends through common sports, literary heritage, and political and legal practices. Due to this, Commonwealth countries are not considered to be "foreign" to one another. Reflecting this, diplomatic missions between Commonwealth countries are designated as High Commissions rather than embassies.

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Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Commonwealth of Nations" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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