The 22nd Commonwealth Games have begun in Birmingham.
More than 5,000 athletes are taking part, representing states from around the world which are part of the Commonwealth group of nations.
But which countries are in the global club?
1) It’s home to almost one-third of the world’s population
About 2.5 billion people – out of 7.9 billion globally – live in the Commonwealth’s 56 countries.
More than 60 per cent of the Commonwealth’s population is aged 29 or under. Globally, a third of all young people aged between 15 and 29 live in Commonwealth countries.
The biggest country by population is India, which accounts for about half of the total.
Pakistan, Nigeria and Bangladesh are the next biggest by population, with the UK fifth.
2) Some members were never part of the British Empire
Rwanda and Mozambique became members in 2009 and 1995 respectively, and neither were colonised by the British.
Gabon and Togo are the most recent joiners, becoming members in June 2022, but both are former French colonies.
The club has also lost members.
South Africa withdrew in 1961 after it was criticised by Commonwealth members for its apartheid policies. It became a member again in 1994.
Pakistan was thrown out after a military coup in 1999, but was readmitted in 2004. Membership was suspended again between 2007 and 2008.
Former president of Zimbabwe Robert Mugabe took his country out in 2003 after its membership was suspended amid reports of election rigging.
It applied for re-admission in 2018, but no decision has been reached.
The last country to leave was the Maldives in 2016, but it re-joined in 2020.
3) The Queen is head of state in only 15 of the countries
Most of the Commonwealth states are republics, with Barbados becoming the latest, having removed the Queen as head of state in 2021.
Five countries – Lesotho, Eswatini (previously known as Swaziland), Brunei Darussalam, Malaysia and Tonga – have their own monarch.
The Queen remains head of state in Australia and Canada, although for many years there has been an active movement in Australia in favour of becoming a republic.
4) It’s big
The Commonwealth makes up a quarter of the world’s land mass.
The giant of the group is Canada, the world’s second largest country by area. India and Australia are huge too.
But many of the states are small – such as the Pacific island nations of Nauru, Samoa, Tuvalu and Vanuatu, and Antigua and Barbuda, and Dominica in the Caribbean.
5) The UK is no longer the biggest economy
The UK is no longer the biggest economy in the Commonwealth, according to the latest GDP numbers from the International Monetary Fund, with India overtaking it for the first time this year.
The combined GDP of the 56 members is more than $13tn (£10.8tn). That’s more than twice the size of Japan ($5tn, £3.75tn), but some way behind the US on $23tn (£17.2tn).
Trade with the Commonwealth accounted for 8.7% of the UK’s total trade in 2020 – around the same as the UK’s total trade with Germany.
UK exports to the Commonwealth that year were worth about £56bn, while imports from the Commonwealth were about £48bn.
6) It changed its name
The modern Commonwealth was formed in 1949, after “British” was dropped from the name and allegiance to the Crown was removed.
Only two people have been head of the organisation – King George VI and Queen Elizabeth II.
It’s not a hereditary role, although the Prince of Wales is widely expected to take it up when he becomes king.
The organisation is run from its headquarters in London by its secretary-general, currently Baroness Scotland. She is seeking a second term in office despite facing criticism from some member states over her performance.
The other founding members were Australia, Canada, India, New Zealand, Pakistan, South Africa, and Sri Lanka.
The Commonwealth Charter was adopted in 2012, and commits members to the values of democracy, gender equality, sustainable development and international peace and security.
The Commonwealth has been criticised for being a post-colonial club and for having little influence in the modern world.
Supporters argue the benefits which membership brings include developmental support and co-operation on international goals.
7) There’s more than one commonwealth
There’s also the Commonwealth of Independent States, which was set up in 1991 by Russia and other former members of the Soviet Union.
And don’t forget the International Organisation of La Francophonie – a group of French-speaking countries which aims to promote the French language and increase mutual co-operation.