Common What?

Like many of my countrymen, I didn’t know much about The Commonwealth before arriving in Canada. This week’s “The Economist” offers a primer for the ignoranti. Some highlights:

Its 53 countries represent of fifth of the earth’s land and nearly a third of the human race.

The old restriction to ex-British territories changed when Mozambique was admitted in 1995.

The Commonwealth is more popular among poorer countries, but it is misunderstood everywhere. Only a third of Canadians would be sorry if their country quit “the club” while two-thirds of Indians would feel the same way.

The Commonwealth’s “fan club” consists of Anglophiles, monarchists, and beneficiaries of its scholarship and professional networks.

A poll of seven Commonwealth countries found that only a third of the respondents could name something the body did.

“The Economist” suggests that last statistic might change if the Commonwealth summoned its collective will to address issues such as Uganda’s anti-homosexuality law. Here’s to hoping that the new year will give the Commonwealth the strength and courage to do just that.

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