Today, the Commonwealth is a vibrant and growing association of states working to promote democracy and good governance, respect for human rights and the rule of law, as well as sustainable environmental, economic and social development.
It is a unique global family of 54 member countries. From Africa to Asia, from the Pacific to the Caribbean, from Europe and the Mediterranean to North America, the Commonwealth's membership stretches across all the world's continents and oceans and includes 1.8 billion people, or 30% of the world's population. Over half are young people aged 25 or under.
The Commonwealth's member nations are characterised by an astonishing diversity. They include Canada, the world's largest territory and Nauru, the world's smallest republic. They include Namibia, the world's driest country and Guyana which has some of the world's best conserved tropical forests. Many Commonwealth members are small; some are isolated island states, others are completely landlocked. All share special vulnerabilities. Some of today's most rapidly industrialising countries, such as India and Malaysia, are members. But so too are Mozambique and Tanzania which, in terms of GNP, are some of the world's poorest. All of the world's major religions are practised within the association.
Yet, despite this amazing diversity, all Commonwealth members are united by certain agreed common values and principles; a common heritage and language. They share similar systems of law, public administration and education. As voluntary members of the association, the Commonwealth's members work together in a spirit of cooperation, partnership and understanding.