How much do you know about the Commonwealth of Nations?


By: John Miller

5 Min Quiz

Image: Shutterstock

About This Quiz

It's one of the biggest political organizations on the planet, and it has a tremendous influence on the lives of billions of people. Do you know much of anything about the Commonwealth of Nations?

The Commonwealth of Nations was formerly known as what?

The Commonwealth of Nations is the sort of newfangled name for a very old entity -- the British Commonwealth. It's often just called the "Commonwealth."


Wait, so it's no longer called the British Commonwealth? When did they change the name?

Following the end of World War II, the British Commonwealth underwent many changes, in part because Britain's empire was shrinking. So it made sense to take the "British" part out of the title.


What is the Commonwealth of Nations, anyway?

The Commonwealth is an intergovernmental organization that has dozens of voluntary members. Most of these nations were (or still are) British colonies, and they work together on a variety of causes.


As of mid-2017, how many countries are part of the Commonwealth?

There are currently 54 countries that maintain membership in the Commonwealth. None of them are named the United States.


The Pacific islands of Tuvalu and Nauru are the smallest countries in the Commonwealth. They each have a population of _____.

Tuvalu and Nauru each have a population of around 10,000. They are about halfway between Australia and Hawaii.


The London Declaration established the status of Commonwealth members, which is _____.

The London Declaration of 1949 established Commonwealth members as "free and equal." But the British are still very much leaders of the club.


Why have a small minority of countries been suspended from the Commonwealth?

Some countries, such as Pakistan and Nigeria, have committed some pretty grievous human rights offenses. They weren't expelled, but they were suspended.


What's one of the stated purposes of the Commonwealth?

The Commonwealth is intended to promote development, peace and democracy. And sometimes, tea and scones.


Which of the following countries is NOT part of the Commonwealth?

Although it's a close neighbor to Britain, Ireland has always had a rocky relationship with the Crown. Ireland hasn't been part of the Commonwealth since the 1940s.


Most of the countries in the group are _____.

Thirty-two member countries are republics. Five are monarchies, and 16 are commonwealth realms which are presided over by the queen.


There are 52 countries in the Commonwealth. What's the combined population of all of those countries?

There are a whopping 2.4 billion people in the Commonwealth -- that's nearly one-third of Earth's population. Let's hope it never decides to start a war.


Which country accounts for the majority of the Commonwealth's large population?

India, which is one of the most densely populated countries on Earth, is the largest member of the Commonwealth. More than 1.3 billion people live there.


Who serves as the Head of the Commonwealth?

All members of the Commonwealth are declared free and equal, but the Queen of England serves as the Head of the Commonwealth. Currently, that's Queen Elizabeth II.


In 1960, the Queen had her own personal ____ created to reassert the fact that she's the Head of the Commonwealth and not the ruler of member countries.

In 1960, the Queen had her own personal flag created. It symbolizes her importance as the Head of the Commonwealth and reaffirms that she's not, like, a dictator.


Which country was the first to become a free and independent nation within the Commonwealth?

In 1867, Canada became an independent confederation. It was still a part of the Commonwealth, but it stood alone as a free and independent nation for the first time.


The Commonwealth was established in 1949. How many initial members were there?

There were just 8 members of the Commonwealth when it was first created. But Britain, of course, was one of the most notable charter members.


True or false, can a nation can voluntarily withdraw from the Commonwealth at any time?

It's true, nations aren't locked into some sort of covenant with the group, so they can leave at any time. But they mostly choose to be a part of the power and prosperity of the the Commonwealth.


How do nations join the group?

Nations have to recognize the queen as the head of the group. They also have to have a direct constitutional link to a current member.


Most of the people in the Commonwealth are under the age of ______.

The Commonwealth is an old organization, but it's made of mostly young people. About 60 percent of its population is 29 or younger.


Every four years, the Commonwealth puts on its version of ______.

The Commonwealth Games are held every four years in one of the member nations. They're a less famous version of the Olympics.


True or false, do all members of the Commonwealth have equal say, with no weight given to their size or wealth?

All members are equal, without any weight given to their size or wealth. Whether that's actually true in practice is a question of concern for some people.


What's the purpose of the Ministerial Action Group?

The Ministerial Action group is meant to address any violations of the Commonwealth's values. So if you're torturing citizens, you might well face consequences. The key word? "Might."


Many people have criticized the group as being purely _____.

The Commonwealth has been criticized as being a purely symbolic organization that doesn't really do much to further its ideals and values. It's also been accused of looking past violations of its stated values.


What's one big benefit of membership in the group?

In the Commonwealth, every country is (supposedly) equal. That means even small nations have a voice in global politics.


True or false, have any countries ever been expelled from the Commonwealth?

So far, the Ministerial Action Group hasn't found any violations serious enough to expel a nation from the Commonwealth. If that day ever comes, you can bet that the offending country will hang its head in shame. Maybe.


Thirty of the Commonwealth's nations have a population of less than _____.

Most of the Commonwealth's nations are pretty small. Thirty of them have 1.5 million or fewer residents.


Mozambique had no direct constitutional link to Britain or member nations, so why was it admitted into the group?

Mozambique was admitted in 1995 under special consideration -- because it was committed to fighting the evils of apartheid in South Africa.


What symbol appears on the Commonwealth's flag?

The group's flag is a gold globe on a solid blue background. Why? Those were the Queen's favorite colors, that's why! And we made that part up.


Commonwealth Day is a celebration of the group that takes place the second Monday in March. How do people celebrate?

Commonwealth Day is a day set aside to recognize the unity of the group. Unlike, say, the Fourth of July, there's no real set of customs for celebrating the day.


True or false, does the Commonwealth have a constitution?

The group has no constitution or charter. Every two years, national leaders gather to discuss important issues.


Explore More Quizzes

About HowStuffWorks Play

How much do you know about dinosaurs? What is an octane rating? And how do you use a proper noun? Lucky for you, HowStuffWorks Play is here to help. Our award-winning website offers reliable, easy-to-understand explanations about how the world works. From fun quizzes that bring joy to your day, to compelling photography and fascinating lists, HowStuffWorks Play offers something for everyone. Sometimes we explain how stuff works, other times, we ask you, but we’re always exploring in the name of fun! Because learning is fun, so stick with us!