Although it didn’t start out that way, the British Commonwealth is a voluntary association between the United Kingdom and 54 of the countries and territories it once ruled. It was established in 1926. Its former name, the “British Empire,” dissolved as the countries gained their independence. Since its establishment in 1926, many people still recognize it as the “British Commonwealth.” The UK changed the name to the “Commonwealth of Nations,” or the “Commonwealth” for short in 1949. Queen Elizabeth II serves as head of the association.
The Queen may still be the monarch of the second-largest country in the world, but Canada is a constitutional monarchy, meaning its written constitution limits her powers. The nation’s prime minister is the true head of government. There are ten provinces and three territories in Canada, and the country is ethnically diverse and multicultural. From outdoor adventure to fantastic food and gorgeous landscapes, the Great White North is a fascinating place to visit.
The relationship between Great Britain and India dates back to Tudor England, Elizabeth I, and the creation of the East India Company in 1600. By the end of the 18th century, Britain ruled all but one-third of India. In 1947, both India and Pakistan achieved independence. Today, 29 states and seven territories make up this parliamentary democracy, with both a President and a Prime Minister as its leaders. With its historical monuments, temples and ashrams, beautiful natural surroundings, delicious foods, and fascinating cultural history, it’s one of the top tourism destinations in the world.
The United Kingdom once ruled Nigeria, but that stopped in 1960 when it became the eleventh country to join the Commonwealth. Nigeria sits on the western coast of Africa and has 250 ethnic groups that speak hundreds of languages. The country has an abundance of natural resources and a thriving film industry. But it’s the immense optimism of its people that visitors take note of. Nigeria’s tourism trade has experienced a decline in recent years due to civil unrest and widespread crime.
Part of the original British Commonwealth, Australia is both a continent and a country with both a representative democracy and a constitutional monarchy. Queen Elizabeth II serves as head of state; however, she must follow the country’s constitution. Australia is a massive continent filled with breathtaking landscapes, gorgeous cities, and famous natural wonders like the Great Barrier Reef and the outback wilderness. The beaches here are some of the most beautiful on the planet.
In 1962, Trinidad and Tobago gained its independence from Great Britain, joined the Commonwealth the same year, then achieved its Republic status in 1976. The President chooses a Prime Minister from the elected members of Parliament. While Trinidad’s energetic nightlife has made a name for itself, Tobago’s fame lies with its majestic natural beauty. Pink sand covers the beaches, and the clear blue water along the beaches is like no other. Unfortunately, crime and terrorism have become problematic for residents and tourists alike.
The Republic of Cyprus is one of the only three Commonwealth member countries in Europe. The United Kingdom took it over in 1878 to protect it from the Ottoman Empire. This island country in the eastern Mediterranean Sea stayed under British rule until 1960, when it officially attained its independence. With its diverse landscape, lively port cities, a unique blend of Turkish and Greek cuisines, and 300 days of sunshine each year, it may be one of the most underrated getaway spots in the world.
More than 300 islands make up the nation of Fiji, and for nearly a century, it was a territory under British rule. That ended in 1970. In 2006, following a coup, a military leader took control and remains in power today. Tourism is a huge industry here, with sojourners visiting the islands to take in amazing natural sites like the Tavoro Falls and the Signtaga Sand Dunes. Yachting, sailing, and backpacking are popular activities for visitors, but there’s also been growth in volunteer tourism opportunities — from house building to marine conservation — in recent years as well.
The first United Kingdom presence on the city-island-nation of Singapore was in 1819. It remained under British control until 1963. The Singaporean government consists of a President, who is head of state, a Prime Minister, who is head of government, and a Parliament. Singapore is in Southeast Asia, on the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula, and is a perfect blend of traditional and contemporary life. Travelers flock to its diverse neighborhoods to experience an eclectic array of cuisines, kinetic cocktail bars, and interesting shops. At night, enjoy synchronized light exhibitions, music performances, dinner tours, and night markets.
The British ruled Sri Lanka from 1815 until 1948, when it joined the Commonwealth. This democratic republic fought a civil war until 2009. Since then, it has had numerous accusations of civil rights and violence against its people. This is likely not the best destination for inexperienced travelers. Not only is the weather unpredictable, but the culture takes some getting used to. However, Sri Lanka is a beautiful place, with a long list of religious sites, ruins, wildlife, botanical gardens, and national parks to see.
Three different countries ruled Papua New Guinea from 1884 until 1975. Since then, it has emerged as one of the most culturally diverse countries in the world. Because it is so remote and isolated, it is also one of the least explored places in the world. For travelers seeking to immerse themselves in the customs and cultures of indigenous people, Papua New Guinea is an excellent destination choice. Tourism isn’t the primary industry here, but there are tours available, along with opportunities for fishing, scuba diving, and surfing. Travelers seeking new experiences in a country that isn’t overrun by tourists will most likely enjoy the atmosphere of Papua New Guinea.