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Swaziland, officially the Kingdom of Swaziland (Swazi: Umbuso weSwatini), and sometimes called Ngwane orSwatini, is a landlocked country in southern Africa, bordered to the north, south and west by South Africa, and to the east by Mozambique. The nation, as well as its people, are named after the 19th-century king Mswati II. HP G62-a30SP Laptop Keyboard

Swaziland is a small country, no more than 200 kilometres (120 mi) north to south and 130 kilometres (81 mi) east to west. The western half is mountainous, descending to a lowveld region to the east. Lenovo 45N2106 Laptop Keyboard

The eastern border with Mozambique and South Africa is dominated by the escarpment of the Lebombo Mountains. The climate is temperate in the west, but may reach 40 °C (104 °F) in summer in the lowveld. Rainfall occurs mainly in the summer and may reach 2 metres (6.6 ft) in the west. DELL FM8 Laptop Keyboard

The area that Swaziland now covers has been continuously inhabited since prehistory. Today, the population is primarily ethnic Swazis whose language is Swati, though English is spoken as a second language. The Swazi people descend from the southern Bantu who migrated from central Africa in the 15th and 16th centuries.  Lenovo 3000 C100 Laptop Keyboard

TheAnglo-Boer War saw the United Kingdom make Swaziland a protectorate under its direct control. Swaziland gained independence in 1968. Swaziland is a member of the Southern African Development Community, the African Union, and the Commonwealth of Nations. The head of state is the king, who appoints the prime minister and a small number of representatives for both chambers of parliament. Elections are held every five years to determine the majority of the representatives. A new constitution was adopted in 2005. DELL PVDG3 Laptop Keyboard

Some 75% of the population are employed in subsistence farming, and 60% of the population live on less than the equivalent of US$1.25 per day.[5] Swaziland's main trading partner is South Africa, and its currency is pegged to the South African Rand. Many of Swaziland's peasants make their living by growing marijuana, which is sold to South Africa.[6] ASUS F3F Laptop Keyboard

Swaziland's economic growth and societal integrity is highly endangered by its disastrous HIV epidemic, to an extent where the United Nations Development Program has written that if it continues unabated, the "longer term existence of Swaziland as a country will be seriously threatened.".[7]  HP 636376-001 Laptop Keyboard

The infection rate in the country is unprecedented and the highest in the world at 26.1% of adults,[citation needed]and over 50% of adults in their 20s.[citation needed] In the CIA World Factbook, Swaziland is ranked 191st out of 198 countries in life expectancy, with an average life expectancy of only 47.36 years.  COMPAQ Presario CQ60-104TU Laptop Keyboard

Artifacts indicating human activity dating back to the early Stone Age 200,000 years ago have been found in the Kingdom of Swaziland. Prehistoric rock art paintings date from ca. 25,000 B.C. and continue up to the 19th century. HP G42-380LA Laptop Keyboard

The earliest inhabitants of the area were Khoisan hunter-gatherers.They were largely replaced by the Bantu tribes during Bantu migrations who hailed from the Great Lakes regions of eastern Africa. Lenovo ThinkPad Edge E520 Laptop Keyboard

Evidence of agriculture and iron use dates from about the 4th century and people speaking languages ancestral to currentSotho and Nguni languages began settling no later than the 11th century. HP G42-380LA Laptop Keyboard

The Bantu people known as the Swazis established iron-working and settled farming colonies in the 15th century after crossing the Limpopo river. They experienced great economic pressure from the rival Ndwandwe clans from the south.[8]  TOSHIBA NB200-10J Laptop Keyboard

The country derives its name from a later king, Mswati I. However, Ngwane is an alternative name for Swaziland and Dlamini remains the surname of the royal house, while Nkosi means "king". DELL PVDG3 Laptop Keyboard

Scholarly history of Swaziland shows that independent chiefdoms and small kingdoms dominated by various clans were initially conquered and incorporated into the growing Ngwane kingdom ruled by members of the Dlamini clan sometime in the 18th and 19th centuries, long before British colonisation.[9] DELL Vostro 1510 Laptop Keyboard

According to Swazi royalist tradition, these clans came to be classified in the Dlamini kingdom as theEmakhandzambile category of clans ("those found ahead", e.g. the Gamedze), meaning that they were on the land prior to Dlamini immigration and conquest, as opposed to the Bomdzabuko ("true Swazi") who accompanied the Dlamini kings, and the Emafikemuva ("those who came behind") who joined the kingdom later.  HP Pavilion dv6-2135er laptop keyboard

Emakhandzambileclans initially were incorporated with wide autonomy, and often in part by granting them special ritual and political status (cf. mediatisation), but the extent of their autonomy was drastically curtailed by KingMswati II, who attacked and subdued some of the clans in the 1850s.[9] HP Pavilion G7T-1000 Series laptop keyboard

The autonomy of the Swaziland Nation was influenced by British rule of southern Africa in the 19th and early 20th centuries. In 1881 the British government signed a convention recognising Swazi independence. However, controversial land and mineral rights concessions were made under the authority of the Foreign Jurisdiction Act of 1890 in terms of which the administration of Swaziland was also placed under that of the then South African Republic (Transvaal). ASUS X53S laptop keyboard

Swaziland was indirectly involved in theSecond Boer War (1899–1902). In 1902 Swaziland became a British Protectorate, with much of its administration (for example, postal services) being carried out from South Africa (SA postage stamps were used in Swaziland until 1933).

The Swaziland independence Constitution was promulgated by Britain in November 1963 in terms of which a legislative Council and an Executive Council were established. This development was opposed by the Swazi National Council (liqoqo). SONY Vaio PCG-K23 laptop keyboard

Despite such opposition, elections took place and the first Legislative Council of Swaziland was constituted on 9 September 1964. Changes to the original constitution proposed by the Legislative Council were accepted by Britain and a new Constitution providing for a House of Assembly and Senate was drawn up. SONY VGN-FE790G/N laptop keyboard

Elections under this Constitution were held in 1967. Swaziland was briefly a Protected State until Britain granted it full independence in 1968.

According to the US State Department, "Swaziland is a member of the Southern African Customs Union (SACU), with which the U.S. ACER PK1306F0200 laptop keyboard

began negotiating a free trade agreement in May 2003."[10] This free trade agreement meant changes to SACU's formula, and as a result whereas "SACU receipts contribute more than half of the country's national revenue", however "due to changes in the revenue formula, Swaziland's share has dropped from 741 million dollars to 281 million dollars."[11]As a result, in June 2011, Swaziland, fearing bankruptcy, asked for a financial bailout from South Africa.[12] SONY VGN-FE790 laptop keyboard

The head of state is the king or Ngwenyama (lit. Lion), currently King Mswati III, who ascended to the throne in 1986 after the death of his father King Sobhuza II in 1982 and a period of regency. By tradition, the king reigns along with his mother or a ritual substitute, the Ndlovukati (lit. She-Elephant). The former was viewed as the administrative head of state and the latter as a spiritual and national head of state, with real power counterbalancing that of the king, HP G42-164LA Laptop Keyboard

but during the long reign of Sobhuza II the role of the Ndlovukati became more symbolic. The king appoints the prime minister from the legislature and also appoints a minority of legislators to both chambers of Libandla (parliament), with help from an advisory council. The king is allowed by the constitution to appoint some members to parliament for special interests.  HP Pavilion dv6-2157sb Laptop Keyboard

These special interests are citizens who might have been left out by the electorate during the course of elections or did not enter as candidates. This is done to balance views in parliament. Special interests could be people of gender, race, disability, business community, civic society, scholars, HP Mini 1116NR Laptop Keyboard

chiefs and so on. The Senate consists of 30 members, of which some are appointed by the king on recommendation of the advisory council and others elected by the lower house. The House of Assembly has 65 seats, 55 of which are occupied by elected representatives from the 55 constituencies around the country, 10 appointed by the king on recommendation of the advisory council and the attorney general is the ex-officio member. HP Pavilion DV7-3065dx Laptop Keyboard

Elections are held every five years.

In 1968, Swaziland adopted a Westminster-style constitution, but in 1973 King Sobhuza II on the advice of parliament at the time suspended it due to widespread complaints by citizens of the country. In 2001, King Mswati III appointed a committee to draft a new constitution. Drafts were released for comment in May 1999 and November 2000. HP Pavilion dv5-1104tu Laptop Keyboard

These were strongly criticised by civil society organisations in Swaziland and human rights organisations elsewhere. In 2005, the constitution was put into effect, though there is still much debate in the country about the constitutional reforms. From the early seventies, there was active resistance to the royal hegemony. ACER Aspire 7520 Laptop Keyboard

However despite complaints from progressive formations, support for the monarchy and the current political system remains strong in a majority of the population. Submissions were made by citizens around the country to commissions including the constitutional draft committee that they would prefer to maintain the current situation. DELL Latitude D620 Laptop Keyboard

The Swazi bicameral Parliament or Libandla consists of the Senate (30 seats; 10 members appointed by the House of Assembly and 20 appointed by the monarch; to serve five-year terms) and the House of Assembly (65 seats; 10 members appointed by the monarch and 55 elected by popular vote; to serve five-year terms) elections: TOSHIBA Satellite L455 Laptop Keyboard

House of Assembly – last held 19 September 2008 (next to be held in 2013) election results: House of Assembly – balloting is done on a non-party basis; candidates for election are nominated by the local council of each constituency and for each constituency the three candidates with the most votes in the first round of voting are narrowed to a single winner by a second round. Lenovo 39T7417 laptop keyboard

Swaziland lies across a geological fault which runs from the Drakensberg Mountains of Lesotho, north through the Eastern highlands of Zimbabwe, forms the Great Rift Valley of Kenya and, eventually, peters out in present-day Turkey. ACER TravelMate 8204WLMi laptop keyboard

A small, land-locked Kingdom, Swaziland is bordered in the North, West and South by the Republic of South Africa and by Mozambique in the East. Although Swaziland has a land area of only 17,364 km2, roughly the size of Wales or the American State of New Jersey, it contains four separate geographical regions.  HP Mini 110-3102sl laptop keyboard

These run from North to South and are determined by altitude. Swaziland is located at approximately 26°30'S, 31°30'E.[13] Swaziland also offers a wide variety of landscapes, from the mountains along the Mozambican border to savannas in the east and rain forest in the northwest. Several rivers flow through the country, such as the Great Usutu River.

Along the eastern border with Mozambique is the Lubombo, a mountain ridge, at an altitude of around 600 meters. The mountains are broken by the canyons of three rivers, the Ngwavuma, the Usutu and the Mbuluzi River. This is cattle ranching country. TOSHIBA Satellite P300-1EI laptop keyboard

The western border of the country, with an average altitude of 1200 meters, lies on the edge of an escarpment. Between the mountains rivers rush through deep gorges making this a most scenic region. Mbabane, the capital, is located on the Highveld.

The Middleveld, lying at an average 700 meters above sea level is the most densely populated region of Swaziland with a lower rainfall than the mountains. Manzini, the principal commercial and industrial city, is situated in the Middleveld.  HP Pavilion dv6-2114sa laptop keyboard

The Lowveld of Swaziland, at around 250 meters, is less populated than other areas and presents a typical African bush country of thorn trees and grasslands. Development of the region was inhibited, in early days, by the scourge of malaria. HP Mini 110-1116NR laptop keyboard

The seasons are the reverse of those in the Northern Hemisphere with December being mid-summer and June mid-winter. Generally speaking, rain falls mostly during the summer months, often in the form of thunderstorms. Winter is the dry season. Annual rainfall is highest on the Highveld in the West, between 1,000 and 2,000 mm (39.4 and 78.7 in) depending on the year. The further East, the less rain, HP Pavilion dv6-3106tu laptop keyboard

with the Lowveld recording 500 to 900 mm (19.7 to 35.4 in) per annum. Variations in temperature are also related to the altitude of the different regions. The Highveld temperature is temperate and, seldom, uncomfortably hot while the Lowveld may record temperatures around 40 °C (104 °F) in summer. SONY VAIO VGN-CS31Z/Q laptop keyboard

The average temperatures at Mbabane, according to seasons:

Swaziland's economy is diversified, with agriculture, forestry and mining accounting for about 13% of GDP, manufacturing (textiles and sugar-related processing) representing 37% of GDP and services – with government services in the lead – constituting 50% of GDP. Title Deed Lands (TDLs), where the bulk of high value crops are grown (sugar, forestry, and citrus) are characterised by high levels of investment and irrigation, SONY VAIO VGN-SR290 laptop keyboard

and high productivity. Nevertheless, the majority of the population – about 75%—is employed in subsistence agriculture on Swazi Nation Land (SNL), which, in contrast, suffers from low productivity and investment. SONY VAIO VGN-CS31S/R laptop keyboard

This dual nature of the Swazi economy, with high productivity in textile manufacturing and in the industrialised agricultural TDLs on the one hand, and declining productivity subsistence agriculture (on SNL) on the other, may well explain the country's overall low growth, high inequality and unemployment. IBM 42T3297 laptop keyboard

Economic growth in Swaziland has lagged behind that of its neighbours. Real GDP growth since 2001 has averaged 2.8%, nearly 2 percentage points lower than growth in other Southern African Customs Union (SACU) member countries. Low agricultural productivity in the SNLs, repeated droughts, the devastating effect of HIV/AIDS and an overly large and inefficient government sector are likely contributing factors. TOSHIBA Satellite M105-S3004 laptop keyboard

Swaziland's public finances deteriorated in the late 1990s following sizeable surpluses a decade earlier. A combination of declining revenues and increased spending led to significant budget deficits. GATEWAY MX8715 laptop keyboard

The considerable spending did not lead to more growth and did not benefit the poor. Much of the increased spending has gone to current expenditures related to wages, transfers, and subsidies. The wage bill today constitutes over 15% of GDP and 55% of total public spending; these are some of the highest levels on the African continent. The recent rapid growth in SACU revenues has, SONY Vaio VGN-AW330J laptop keyboard

however, reversed the fiscal situation, and a sizeable surplus was recorded since 2006. SACU revenues today account for over 60% of total government revenues. On the positive side, the external debt burden has declined markedly over the last 20 years, and domestic debt is almost negligible; external debt as a percent of GDP was less than 20% in 2006. SONY Vaio PCG-K315S Laptop Keyboard

The Swazi economy is very closely linked to the South African economy, from which it receives over 90% of its imports and to which it sends about 70% of its exports. Swaziland's other key trading partners are the United States and the EU, from whom the country has received trade preferences for apparel exports (under the African Growth and Opportunity Act – AGOA – to the US) and for sugar (to the EU). HP Business Notebook nx9000 Laptop Keyboard

Under these agreements, both apparel and sugar exports did well, with rapid growth and a strong inflow of foreign direct investment. Textile exports grew by over 200% between 2000 and 2005 and sugar exports increasing by more than 50% over the same period.  HP pavilion DV7-1000 Laptop Keyboard

The continued vibrancy of the export sector is threatened by the removal of trade preferences for textiles, the accession to similar preferences for East Asian countries, and the phasing out of preferential prices for sugar to the EU market. Swaziland will thus have to face the challenge of remaining competitive in a changing global environment. A crucial factor in addressing this challenge is the investment climate.  IBM Lenovo ThinkPad X300 Laptop Keyboard

The recently concluded Investment Climate Assessment provides some positive findings in this regard, namely that Swaziland firms are among the most productive in Sub-Saharan Africa, although they are less productive than firms in the most productive middle-income countries in other regions. They compare more favourably with firms from lower middle income countries, but are hampered by inadequate governance arrangements and infrastructure. HP 519004-001 Laptop Keyboard

Swaziland's currency is pegged to the South African Rand, subsuming Swaziland's monetary policy to South Africa. Customs duties from the Southern African Customs Union, which may equal as much as 70% of government revenue this year, and worker remittances from South Africa substantially supplement domestically earned income.  ACER Aspire One D150-1577 Laptop Keyboard

Swaziland is not poor enough to merit an IMF program; however, the country is struggling to reduce the size of the civil service and control costs at public enterprises. The government is trying to improve the atmosphere for foreign direct investment.

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As reported in the 2012 CIA World Factbook, Swaziland has the highest HIV infection rate in the world (25.8% of all adults; more in other reports) and also the fourth-lowest life expectancy at 49 years. From another perspective, the last available World Health Organization data in 2002 shows that 64% of all deaths in the country were caused by HIV/AIDS.[14] In 2009, an estimated 7,000 people died from AIDS-related causes,[15]  HP G61-465SL Laptop Keyboard

from a total population of approximately 1,185,000.[16] This translates into an estimated 0.6% of the population dying from AIDS every year. Chronic illnesses that are the most prolific causes of death in the developed world account only for a minute fraction of deaths in Swaziland; for example, heart disease, strokes, and cancer cause fewer than 5% of deaths in Swaziland in total, compared to 55% of all deaths yearly in the US.[17] HP Pavilion ze5715ca Laptop Keyboard

In 2004, Swaziland acknowledged for the first time that it suffered an AIDS crisis, with 38.8% of tested pregnant women infected with HIV (see AIDS in Africa). The then-Prime Minister Themba Dlamini declared a humanitarian crisis due to the combined effect of drought, land degradation, increased poverty, and HIV/AIDS. According to the 2011 UNAIDS Report, Swaziland is close to achieving universal access to HIV/AIDS treatment, defined as 80% coverage or greater. Estimates of treatment coverage range from 70% to 80% of those infected.[18]  GATEWAY MX8715 Laptop Keyboard

Life expectancy has fallen from 61 years in 2000 to 32 years in 2009.[19] Tuberculosis is also a significant problem, with an 18% mortality rate. Many patients have a multi-drug resistant strain, and 83% are co-infected with HIV.[20] DELL Vostro 1015 Laptop Keyboard

Public expenditure was at 4% of the GDP of the country, whereas private expenditure was at 2.3%.[21][specify] There were 16 physicians per 100,000 persons in the early 2000s.[21][specify] Infant mortality was at 69 per 1,000 in 2005,[21][specify] with the WHO showing that 47% of all deaths under 5 are caused by HIV/AIDHP Pavilion zv6233ea Laptop Keyboard

The principal Swazi social unit is the homestead, a traditional beehive hut thatched with dry grass. In a polygamous homestead, each wife has her own hut and yard surrounded by reed fences. There are three structures for sleeping, cooking, and storage (brewing beer). In larger homesteads there are also structures used as bachelors' quarters and guest accommodation.

Central to the traditional homestead is the cattle byre, SONY VAIO VGN-FS940 laptop keyboard

a circular area enclosed by large logs interspaced with branches. The cattle byre has ritual as well as practical significance as a store of wealth and symbol of prestige. It contains sealed grain pits. Facing the cattle byre is the great hut which is occupied by the mother of the headman. SONY VAIO VGN-FS730F laptop keyboard

The headman is central to all homestead affairs and he is often polygamous. He leads through example and advises his wives on all social affairs of the home as well as seeing to the larger survival of the family. He also spends time socialising with the young boys, who are often his sons or close relatives, advising them on the expectations of growing up and manhood. HP Pavilion dv3-2157cl laptop keyboard

The Sangoma is a traditional diviner chosen by the ancestors of that particular family. The training of the Sangoma is called "kwetfwasa". At the end of the training, a graduation ceremony takes place where all the local sangoma come together for feasting and dancing. The diviner is consulted for various reasons, such the cause of sickness or even death. SONY Vaio PCG-K315S laptop keyboard

His diagnosis is based on "kubhula", a process of communication, through trance, with the natural super-powers. The Inyanga (a medical and pharmaceutical specialist in western terms) possesses the bone throwing skill ("kushaya ematsambo") used to determine the cause of the sickness. HP Pavilion dv3-2157cl laptop keyboard

The most important cultural event in Swaziland is the Incwala ceremony. It is held on the fourth day after the full moon nearest the longest day, 21 December. Incwala is often translated in English as 'first fruits ceremony', but the King's tasting of the new harvest is only one aspect among many in this long pageant. Incwala is best translated as 'Kingship Ceremony' : when there is no king, there is no Incwala. HP Pavilion dv6-2030ev laptop keyboard

It is high treason for any other person to hold an Incwala.

Every Swazi may take part in the public parts of the Incwala. The climax of the event is the fourth day of the Big Incwala. The key figures are the King, Queen Mother, royal wives and children, the royal governors (indunas), the chiefs, the regiments, and the "bemanti" or "water people".HP G61-465SL laptop keyboard

Swaziland's most well-known cultural event is the annual Umhlanga Reed Dance. In the eight-day ceremony, girls cut reeds and present them to the queen mother and then dance. (There is no formal competition.) It is done in late August or early September. Only childless, unmarried girls can take part. The aims of the ceremony are to preserve girls' chastity, provide tribute labour for the Queen mother,  LENOVO IdeaPad S10 20015 laptop keyboard

and to encourage solidarity by working together. The royal family appoints a commoner maiden to be "induna" (captain) of the girls and she announces over the radio the dates of the ceremony. She will be an expert dancer and knowledgeable on royal protocol. One of the King's daughters will be her counterpart. SONY VAIO VGN-FS315M laptop keyboard

Today's Reed Dance is not an ancient ceremony, but developed out of the old "umchwasho" custom. In "umchwasho", all young girls were placed in a female age-regiment. If any girl became pregnant outside of marriage, her family paid a fine of one cow to the local chief. After a number of years, when the girls had reached a marriageable age, they would perform labour service for the Queen Mother, ending with dancing and feasting. The country was under the chastity rite of "umchwasho" until 19 August 2005. HP Mini 110-1150EV laptop keyboard

Swaziland is also known for a strong presence in the handcrafts industry. The formalised handcraft businesses of Swaziland employ over 2,500 people, many of whom are women (per TechnoServe Swaziland Handcrafts Impact Study," February 2011). The products are unique and reflect the culture of Swaziland, ranging from housewares, to artistic decorations, to complex glass, stone, or wood artwork.  Packard Bell NEW95 laptop keyboard

Education in Swaziland is now free at primary level mainly first and second grades and also free for orphaned and vulnerable children but not compulsory.[22] In 1996, the net primary school enrolment rate was 90.8%, with gender parity at the primary level.[22] In 1998, 80.5% of children reached grade five.[22] HP Envy 15-1090eg laptop keyboard

TheUniversity of Swaziland provides higher education. The Swaziland National Library Service operates public community libraries throughout Swaziland and establishes school libraries in partnership with Fundza, a non-governmental organization and the African Library Project.[23] SONY Vaio VGN-FW390 laptop keyboard

The majority of Swaziland's population is ethnically Swazi, mixed with a small number of Zulu and White Africans, mostly people of British and Afrikaner descent. Traditionally Swazi have been subsistence farmers and herders, but most now mix such activities with work in the growing urban formal economy and in government. Some Swazi work in the mines in South Africa.

Swaziland also received Portuguese settlers and African refugees from Mozambique. SONY VAIO PCG-FR55E Laptop Keyboard

Christianity in Swaziland is sometimes mixed with traditional beliefs and practices. Many traditionalists believe that most Swazi ascribe a special spiritual role to the monarch. Residents of Swaziland have the lowest documented life expectancy in the world at 31.88 years, less than half the world average of 69.4.[24] DELL M711P Laptop Keyboard

82.70% of the total population adheres to Christianity, making it the most common religion in Swaziland. Anglican, Protestant and indigenous African churches, including African Zionist, constitute the majority of the Christians (40%), followed by Roman Catholicism at 20% of the population.  HP AEAT5U00010 Laptop Keyboard

On 18 July 2012, the Revd Ellinah Wamukoya, was elected Anglican Bishop of Swaziland, becoming the first woman bishop in Africa. There are also smaller numbers non-Christian religions practised in the country such as Islam (0.95%), the Bahá'í Faith (0.5%), and Hinduism (0.15%).[27] There are 14 Jewish families. [28]  HP 540 Laptop Keyboard

Geologically, the range is considered a monocline; part of a rifted volcanic margin.[1] The Lebombo monoclinestrikes N-S and dips to the east. It is composed of a sequence of Jurassic age volcanic rock, both basaltic lavasand rhyolitic flows and tuffs. The sequence rests on essentially horizontal Karoo Supergroup sedimentary rocks of the Kalahari Craton to the west and is overlain by Cretaceous to recent sediments to the east. DELL PVDG3 Laptop Keyboard

The alternating resistant rhyolite and easily eroded basalts produce a series of parallel sharp cuesta ridges separated by savanna plains.[2]

The range is relatively low with heights between 450 and less than 800 m. The highest peak is 776 m high Mount Mananga. The 480 m high Longwe is the highest point in the Lebombo Range north of the Letaba River.[3]  HP G62-361TX Laptop Keyboard

The mountains dominate Lubombo District in Swaziland. Towns in the area include Siteki in the centre, Lubhuku in the west and Mayaluka and Big Bend in the south with the Lusutfu River running past the southern region of the mountain range. At the north lie the towns of Simunye, Tambankulu and Namaacha, and the Mlawula Nature Reserve as well as theMbuluzi River.

A number of rivers, including the Pongola, Mkuze, and Lusutfu, cross the mountains from west to east.  DELL Vostro 1014 Laptop Keyboard

The name of the mountains is derived from the Zulu word ubombo meaning "big nose".

The Commonwealth of Nations is an intergovernmental organisation of 53 member states that were mostlyterritories of the British Empire. The Commonwealth operates by intergovernmental consensus of the member states, organised through the Commonwealth Secretariat, and non-governmental organisations, organised through theCommonwealth Foundation.[1]  DELL Vostro 3550 Laptop Keyboard

The Commonwealth dates back to the late 19th century with the decolonisation of the British Empire through increased self-governance of its territories. It was formally constituted by the London Declaration in 1949, which established the member states as "free and equal".[2] The symbol of this free association is Queen Elizabeth II who is the Head of the Commonwealth, a wholly symbolic position. HP Pavilion dv5-1104tu Laptop Keyboard

Elizabeth II is also the head of state of 16 members of the Commonwealth, known as realms. The other members of the Commonwealth have their own heads of state: 32 members are republics and 5 members are monarchies. GATEWAY NV-59 Laptop Keyboard

Member states have no legal obligation one to another, instead they are united by language, history and culture, and their shared values of democracy, human rights and the rule of law.[1] These values are enshrined in theCommonwealth Charter[3] and promoted by the quadrennial Commonwealth Games. ACER Aspire 5930 Laptop Keyboard

The Commonwealth covers more than 29,958,050 km2 (11,566,870 sq mi), almost a quarter of the world land area, and spans all the continents. With an estimated population of 2.245 billion, almost a third of the world population,[4]the Commonwealth in 2012 produced a nominal gross domestic product (GDP) of $9.767 trillion, representing 15% of the world GDP when measured in purchasing power parity (PPP). This represents the second largest nominal GDP and GDP PPP in the world. DELL Vostro 3450 Laptop Keyboard

Member states are seeking to establish a Commonwealth Union[5] (CU) through the creation of a free trade area,[6]visa-free travel area,[7] common foreign policy and representation at the United Nations and Group of 20.[8] There is significant support in the United Kingdom for a CU as an alternative to its membership in the European Union.[ ACER Aspire 5610Z Laptop Keyboard

In 1884, while visiting Australia, Lord Rosebery described the changing British Empire, as some of its colonies became more independent, as a "Commonwealth of Nations".[10] Conferences of British and colonial prime ministers occurred periodically from the first one in 1887, leading to the creation of the Imperial Conferences in 1911.[11] TOSHIBA NSK-TAJ01 Laptop Keyboard

The Commonwealth developed from the Imperial Conferences. A specific proposal was presented by Jan Christiaan Smuts in 1917 when he coined the term "the British Commonwealth of Nations" and envisioned the "future constitutional relations and readjustments in essence" at the all-important Versailles Conference of 1919 by delegates from the dominions as well as Britain.[12][13]  Lenovo Thinkpad T420 Laptop Keyboard

The term first received imperial statutory recognition in the Anglo-Irish Treaty of 1921, when the term "British Commonwealth of Nations" was substituted for "British Empire" in the wording of the oath taken by members of parliament of the Irish Free State.[14]  HP Mini 110-1032NR Laptop Keyboard

In the Balfour Declaration at the 1926 Imperial Conference, Britain and its dominions agreed they were "equal in status, in no way subordinate one to another in any aspect of their domestic or external affairs, though united by common allegiance to the Crown, and freely associated as members of the British Commonwealth of Nations". These aspects to the relationship were formalised by the Statute of Westminster in 1931. SONY VAIO VGN-NW23GF laptop keyboard

The statute applied to Canada without the need for ratification, but Australia, New Zealand, and Newfoundlandhad to ratify the statute for it to take effect. Newfoundland never did, as on 16 February 1934, with the consent of its parliament, SONY VAIO VPC-F12 laptop keyboard

the Government of Newfoundland voluntarily ended, and governance reverted to direct control from London. Newfoundland later joined Canada as its tenth province in 1949.[15]Australia and New Zealand ratified the Statute in 1942 and 1947 respectively.[16][17] SONY VAIO VGN-NW320F/T laptop keyboard

After World War II ended, the British Empire was gradually dismantled to the 14 British overseas territories still held by the United Kingdom. In April 1949, following the London Declaration, the word "British" was dropped from the title of the Commonwealth to reflect its changing nature. SONY VAIO PCG-FR55E/B laptop keyboard

Former British protectorates and mandates that did not become members of the Commonwealth are Egypt (independent in 1922), Iraq (1932), Transjordan (1946),British Palestine (part of which became the state of Israel in 1948), Sudan (1956), British Somaliland (which united with the former Italian Somaliland in 1960 to form Somalia), Kuwait (1961), Bahrain (1971), Oman (1971), Qatar (1971), and the United Arab Emirates (1971). SONY VAIO PCG-FR55E/B laptop keyboard

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In 1949 Ireland stripped the Crown of its remaining powers and declared itself to be a republic.[19] Under the then rules of Commonwealth, this act caused Ireland to immediately leave the Commonwealth.  COMPAQ Presario V6405CA laptop keyboard

While Ireland had not actively participated in the Commonwealth since the early 1930s and was content to leave, other dominions wished to become republics without cutting their ties with Britain. The issue came to a head in April 1949 at a Commonwealth prime ministers' meeting in London. Under the London Declaration, India agreed that, when it became a republic in January 1950, HP Pavilion G7-1077NR laptop keyboard

it would accept the British Sovereign as a "symbol of the free association of its independent member nations and as such the Head of the Commonwealth". Upon hearing this, King George VI told the Indian politician Krishna Menon: "So, I've become 'as such'".[20] The other Commonwealth countries recognised India's continuing membership of the association. At Pakistan's insistence, India was not regarded as an exceptional case and it was assumed that other states would be accorded the same treatment as India. Packard Bell Easynote TK85 laptop keyboard

The London Declaration is often seen as marking the beginning of the modern Commonwealth. Following India's precedent, other nations became republics, orconstitutional monarchies with their own monarchs, while some countries retained the same monarch as the United Kingdom, but their monarchies developed differently and soon became fully independent of the British monarchy.  FUJITSU Lifebook S7111 laptop keyboard

The monarch of each Commonwealth realm, whilst the same person, is regarded as a separatelegal personality for each realm.

As the Commonwealth grew, Britain and the pre-1945 dominions became informally known as the "Old Commonwealth", and planners in the interwar period, like Lord Davies, who had also taken "a prominent part in building up the League of Nations Union" in the United Kingdom, SONY VAIO VGN-CR410E laptop keyboard

in 1932 founded the New Commonwealth Movement, of which Winston Churchill was the president.[citation needed] The New Commonwealth was a society aimed at creation of an international air force to be the arm of the League of Nations, to allow nations to disarm and safeguard the peace. Some of these ideas were reflected in the United Nations Charter, drafted inDumbarton Oaks (21 August to 7 October 1944) and San Francisco (25 April to 26 June 1945).[citation needed] HP Mini 110-3538tu laptop keyboard

The term "New Commonwealth" has also sometimes been used in the United Kingdom (especially in the 1960s and 1970s) to refer to recently decolonised countries, which are predominantly non-white and developing. It was often used in debates about immigration from these countries.[21] ASUS X85S laptop keyboard

Under the formula of the London Declaration, Queen Elizabeth II is the Head of the Commonwealth, a title that is currently individually shared with that of Commonwealth realms.[22] However, when the monarch dies the successor to the crown does not automatically become Head of the Commonwealth.[23] The position is symbolic, representing the free association of independent members.[22] DELL PK1303Q0100 Laptop Keyboard

Sixteen members of the Commonwealth, known as Commonwealth realms, recognise the Queen as their head of state.[citation needed] The majority of members (33) are republics, and five have monarchs of different royal houses.  ASUS X53S Laptop Keyboard

The Commonwealth Secretariat, established in 1965, is the main intergovernmental agency of the Commonwealth, facilitating consultation and cooperation among member governments and countries. It is responsible to member governments collectively. The Commonwealth of Nations is represented in the United Nations General Assembly by the Secretariat, as an observer. SAMSUNG R522 Laptop Keyboard

The Secretariat organises Commonwealth summits, meetings of ministers, consultative meetings and technical discussions; it assists policy development and provides policy advice, and facilitates multilateral communication among the member governments. It also provides technical assistance to help governments in the social and economic development of their countries and in support of the Commonwealth's fundamental political values. GATEWAY NV-54 Laptop Keyboard

The Secretariat is headed by the Commonwealth Secretary-General who is elected by Commonwealth Heads of Government for no more than two four-year terms. The secretary-general and two deputy secretaries-general direct the divisions of the Secretariat. The present secretary-general is Kamalesh Sharma, from India, who took office on 1 April 2008, succeeding Don McKinnon of New Zealand (2000–2008), HP G42-362LA Laptop Keyboard

and was re-elected in 2011 to his second term in 2012. The first secretary-general wasArnold Smith of Canada (1965–75), followed by Sir Shridath Ramphal of Guyana (1975–90) and Emeka Anyaoku of Nigeria (1990–99).  SONY KFRSBA019A Laptop Keyboard

The main decision-making forum of the organisation is the biennial Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), where Commonwealth Heads of Government, including (amongst others) Prime Ministers and Presidents, assemble for several days to discuss matters of mutual interest. Lenovo 63Y0047 Laptop Keyboard

CHOGM is the successor to the Meetings of Commonwealth Prime Ministers and earlier Imperial Conferencesand Colonial Conferences dating back to 1887. There are also regular meetings of finance ministers, law ministers, health ministers, etc. Members in Arrears, as Special Members before them, are not invited to send representatives to either ministerial meetings or CHOGMs.[22] SONY KFRMBA152B Laptop Keyboard

The head of government hosting the Head of Government Meeting is called the Commonwealth Chairperson-in-Office, and retains the position until the following CHOGM.[24] After the most recent CHOGM, in Perth in October 2011, Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard became Chairperson-in-Office. Compaq Presario CQ42-228LA Laptop Keyboard

In recognition of their shared heritage and culture, Commonwealth countries are not considered to be "foreign" to each other.[25][26][27] When engaging bilaterally with one another, Commonwealth governments exchange High Commissioners instead of ambassadors. Between two Commonwealth realms, ACER Aspire 7745G Laptop Keyboard

they represent theHead of Government rather than the Head of State. Outside of bilateralism, however, some Commonwealth states do consider other members to be foreign for certain purposes. For example, the High Court of Australia ruled, in Sue v Hill, that the United Kingdom is a foreign power for the purposes of Section 44 of theConstitution of Australia. TOSHIBA Satellite P105-S6102 laptop keyboard

 In addition, some members treat resident citizens of other Commonwealth countries preferentially to citizens of non-Commonwealth countries. Britain and several others, mostly in the Caribbean, grant the right to vote to Commonwealth citizens who reside in those countries. Some states, such as Canada and New Zealand, have abolished such preferences. In non-Commonwealth countries in which their own country is not represented, Commonwealth citizens may seek consular assistanceat the British embassy. ASUS F9J laptop keyboard

The criteria for membership of the Commonwealth of Nations have developed over time from a series of separate documents. The Statute of Westminster 1931, as a fundamental founding document of the organisation, laid out that membership required dominionhood. The 1949 London Declaration ended this, ACER Aspire 4315 laptop keyboard

allowing republican and indigenous monarchic members on the condition that they recognised the British monarch as the "Head of the Commonwealth".[28] In the wake of the wave ofdecolonisation in the 1960s, these constitutional principles were augmented by political, economic, and social principles. Lenovo 04W0872 laptop keyboard

The first of these was set out in 1961, when it was decided that respect for racial equality would be a requirement for membership, leading directly to the withdrawal of South Africa's re-application (which they were required to make under the formula of the London Declaration upon becoming a republic). The 14 points of the 1971 Singapore Declaration dedicated all members to the principles of world peace, liberty, human rights, equality, and free trade.[29] ACER Aspire 7745G Laptop Keyboard

These criteria were unenforceable for two decades,[30] until, in 1991, the Harare Declaration was issued, dedicating the leaders to applying the Singapore principles to the completion of decolonisation, the end of the Cold War, and the end of apartheid in South Africa.[31] The mechanisms by which these principles would be applied were created, and the manner clarified, DELL NSK-DD101 Laptop Keyboard

by the 1995 Millbrook Commonwealth Action Programme, which created the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG), which has the power to rule on whether members meet the requirements for membership under the Harare Declaration.[32] Also in 1995, an Inter-Governmental Group was created to finalise and codify the full requirements for membership. Upon reporting in 1997, SONY VAIO VGN-C2S Series Laptop Keyboard

as adopted under the Edinburgh Declaration, the Inter-Governmental Group ruled that any future members would have to have a direct constitutional link with an existing member.[33] HP Pavilion dv6-2112sa Laptop Keyboard

In addition to this new rule, the former rules were consolidated into a single document. These requirements are that members must accept and comply with theHarare principles, be fully sovereign states, recognise the monarch of the Commonwealth realms as the Head of the Commonwealth, accept the English language as the means of Commonwealth communication, and respect the wishes of the general population with regard to Commonwealth membership.[33] These requirements had undergone review,  Lenovo 0A62075 Laptop Keyboard

and a report on potential amendments was presented by the Committee on Commonwealth Membership at the 2007 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting.[34] New members were not admitted at this meeting, though applications for admission were considered at the 2009 CHOGM.[35]

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In most cases, this is due to being a former colony of the United Kingdom, but some have links to other countries, either exclusively or more directly (e.g. Samoa to New Zealand, Papua New Guinea to Australia, and Namibia to South Africa). The first member to be admitted without having any constitutional link to the British Empire or a Commonwealth member was Mozambique, a formerPortuguese colony, SONY VAIO VGN-FS742/W Laptop Keyboard

in 1995 following its first democratic elections and South Africa's re-admission in 1994. Mozambique's controversial entry led to theEdinburgh Declaration and the current membership guidelines.[36] In 2009, Rwanda became the second Commonwealth member admitted not to have any such constitutional links. It was a Belgian trust territory that had been a German colony until World War I.[37] Consideration for its admission was considered an "exceptional circumstance" by the Commonwealth Secretariat.[36] ASUS X53S Laptop Keyboard

The Commonwealth comprises 53 countries (excluding one currently suspended member), across all six inhabited continents. The members have a combined population of 2.1 billion people, almost a third of the world population, of which 1.17 billion live in India and 94% live in Asia and Africa combined.[38] HP 605344-001 Laptop Keyboard

After India, the next-largest Commonwealth countries by population arePakistan (176 million), Bangladesh (156 million), Nigeria (154 million), the United Kingdom (63 million) and South Africa(52 million). Tuvalu is the smallest member, with about 10,000 people.[39] FUJITSU CP270342-02 Laptop Keyboard

The land area of the Commonwealth nations is about 31,500,000 km2 (12,200,000 sq mi), or about 21% of the total world land area. The three largest Commonwealth nations by area are Canada at 9,984,670 km2 (3,855,100 sq mi), Australia at 7,617,930 km2 (2,941,300 sq mi), and India at 3,287,263 km2 (1,269,219 sq mi).[40] SONY Vaio PCG-K215S laptop keyboard

The Commonwealth members have a combined gross domestic product of over $10 trillion, 65% of which is accounted for by the four largest economies: the United Kingdom ($2.4 trillion), India ($1.9 trillion), Canada ($1.8 trillion) and Australia ($1.5 trillion).[41] ACER Aspire 2003WLMi laptop keyboard

The status of "Member in Arrears" is used to denote those that are in arrears in paying subscription dues. The status was originally known as "special membership", but was renamed on the Committee on Commonwealth Membership's recommendation.[42]There are currently no Members in Arrears. The most recent Member in Arrears, SONY KFRMBA151B laptop keyboard

Nauru, returned to full membership in June 2011.[43] Nauru has alternated between special and full membership since joining the Commonwealth, depending on its financial situation.[44]

South Sudan has applied to join the Commonwealth.[45] HP G72-b20SG laptop keyboard

Andrew Roberts, the British author of A History of the English-Speaking Peoples since 1900, has written: "We should think carefully about what the Commonwealth means before we allow just anyone to join. It should mean a connection with the British Crown however historical, and an appreciation of the political culture of the English-speaking peoples. GATEWAY M-6333 laptop keyboard

And that seems to be lacking in every country [that would like to join] apart from Israel."[46] In 2006, C

ommonwealth Secretary-General Don McKinnon said: "Many people have assumed an interest from Israel, but there has been no formal approach."[46] ASUS X85S laptop keyboard

Other eligible applicants could be any of the remaining inhabited British overseas territories, Crown dependencies,Australian external territories and Associated States of New Zealand if they become fully independent.[47] Many such jurisdictions are already directly represented within the Commonwealth, particularly through the Commonwealth Family.[48] HP Pavilion dv6-2131so laptop keyboard

All three Crown dependencies regard the existing situation as unsatisfactory and have lobbied for change. The States of Jerseyhave called on the UK Foreign Secretary to request that the Commonwealth Heads of Government "consider granting associate membership to Jersey and the other Crown Dependencies as well as any other territories at a similarly advanced stage of autonomy". TOSHIBA Satellite U305-S5077 laptop keyboard

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Jersey has proposed that it be accorded "self-representation in all Commonwealth meetings; full participation in debates and procedures, with a right to speak where relevant and the opportunity to enter into discussions with those who are full members; and no right to vote in the Ministerial or Heads of Government meetings, which is reserved for full members".[49] The States of Guernsey and the Government of the Isle of Man have made calls of a similar nature for a more integrated relationship with the Commonwealth,[50] SONY VAIO VGN-AR370E laptop keyboard

including more direct representation and enhanced participation in Commonwealth organisations and meetings, including Commonwealth Heads of Government Meetings.[51] The Chief Minister of the Isle of Man has said: "A closer connection with the Commonwealth itself would be a welcome further development of the Island’s international relationships"[52]  HP Pavilion DV6-1027nr laptop keyboard

At the time of the Suez Crisis in 1956, in the face of colonial unrest and international tensions, French Prime Minister Guy Mollet proposed to British Prime Minister Anthony Eden that their two countries be joined in a "union". When that proposal was turned down, Mollet suggested that France be allowed to join the Commonwealth, with "a common citizenship arrangement on the Irish basis."[53][54] SONY VAIO PCG-FR77G/B laptop keyboard

In 1957, after both proposals had been rejected, France signed the Treaty of Rome with West Germany and the other founding nations of the Common Market, later to become the European Union, which the United Kingdom joined in 1973. Malta and Cyprus, also Commonwealth members, joined in 2004. ACER Aspire 3810T laptop keyboard

In recent years, the Commonwealth has suspended several members "from the Councils of the Commonwealth" for "serious or persistent violations" of the Harare Declaration, particularly in abrogating their responsibility to have democratic government.[55] This is done by the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG), TOSHIBA Satellite L655-S5160 laptop keyboard

which meets regularly to address potential breaches of the Harare Declaration. Suspended members are not represented at meetings of Commonwealth leaders and ministers, although they remain members of the organisation. Currently, there is one suspended member, Fiji.[56]

Nigeria was suspended between 11 November 1995 and 29 May 1999,[57] following its execution of Ken Saro-Wiwa on the eve of the 1995 CHOGM.[58] Pakistan was the second country to be suspended, ACER Aspire 5742 Laptop Keyboard

on 18 October 1999, following the military coup by Pervez Musharraf.[59] The Commonwealth's longest suspension came to an end on 22 May 2004, when Pakistan's suspension was lifted following the restoration of the country's constitution.[60] Pakistan was suspended for a second time, far more briefly, for six months from 22 November 2007, HP 605344-001 Laptop Keyboard

when Musharraf called a state of emergency.[61] Zimbabwe was suspended in 2002 over concerns with the electoral and land reform policies of Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF government,[62] before it withdrew from the organisation in 2003.[63]

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 [62] Fiji has been suspended again since 8 December 2006, following the most recent coup. At first, the suspension applied only to membership on the Councils of the Commonwealth.[65][66] After failing to meet a Commonwealth deadline for setting a date for national elections by 2010, Fiji was "fully suspended" on 1 September 2009.[65][66]  HP G72-a10SV Laptop Keyboard

The Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, Kamalesh Sharma, confirmed that full suspension meant that Fiji would be excluded from Commonwealth meetings, sporting events and the technical assistance programme (with an exception for assistance in re-establishing democracy). Sharma also stated that Fiji would remain a member of the Commonwealth during its suspension, but would be excluded from emblematic representation by the secretariat.[66] DELL Vostro 1015 Laptop Keyboard

Most recently, international pressure has been mounting to suspend Sri Lanka from the Commonwealth and to change the 2013 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) from Sri Lanka to another member country, citing grave human rights violations by the host country. SONY VAIO VGN-N31S/W Laptop Keyboard

As membership is purely voluntary, member governments can choose at any time to leave the Commonwealth. Pakistan left on 30 January 1972 in protest at the Commonwealth's recognition of breakaway Bangladesh, but rejoined on 2 August 1989. Zimbabwe's membership was suspended in 2002 on the grounds of alleged human rights violations and deliberate misgovernment, and Zimbabwe's government terminated its membership in 2003.[69] SONY VAIO VGN-CR150F Laptop Keyboard

Although heads of government have the power to suspend member states from active participation, the Commonwealth has no provision for the expulsion of members. Until 2007, Commonwealth realms that became republics automatically ceased to be members, until (like India in 1950) they obtained the permission of other members to remain in the organisation. DELL Inspiron 9300 Laptop Keyboard

This policy has been changed, so if any current Commonwealth realms were to become republics, they would not have to go through this process.[70] Ireland left the Commonwealth when it declared itself a republic, on 18 April 1949, after enacting the Republic of Ireland Act 1948.

South Africa was prevented from continuing as a member after it became a republic in 1961, due to hostility from many members, particularly those in Africa and Asia as well as Canada, DELL Latitude D505 Laptop Keyboard

to its policy of apartheid. The South African government withdrew its application to remain in the organisation as a republic when it became clear at the 1961 Meeting of Commonwealth Prime Ministers that any such application would be rejected. South Africa was re-admitted to the Commonwealth in 1994, following the end of apartheid earlier that year. HP Pavilion DV3000 Laptop Keyboard

The declaration of a republic in Fiji in 1987, after military coups designed to deny Indo-Fijians political power, was not accompanied by an application to remain. Commonwealth membership was held to have lapsed until 1997, after discriminatory provisions in the republican constitution were repealed and reapplication for membership made.[66][71] Lenovo 0A62075 Laptop Keyboard

The Transfer of sovereignty over Hong Kong in 1997 ended the colony's ties to the Commonwealth through the United Kingdom. The government of Hong Kong, as aspecial administrative region of China, did not pursue membership. HP Pavilion G6-1B59WM Laptop Keyboard

Hong Kong SAR has nevertheless continued to participate in some of the organisations of the Commonwealth family, such as the Commonwealth Lawyers Association, the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, the Association of Commonwealth Universities and the Commonwealth Association of Legislative Counsel.[72][73] SONY VAIO VGN-FZ19VN laptop keyboard

The Commonwealth's objectives were first outlined in the 1971 Singapore Declaration, which committed the Commonwealth to the institution of world peace; promotion of representative democracy and individual liberty; the pursuit of equality and opposition to racism; the fight against poverty, ignorance, and disease; and free trade.[74] TOSHIBA Satellite U305-S5077 laptop keyboard

To these were added opposition to discrimination on the basis of gender by the Lusaka Declaration of 1979,[29] and environmental sustainability by the Langkawi Declaration of 1989.[75] These objectives were reinforced by the Harare Declaration in 1991.  Acer eMachines E730 laptop keyboard

 The Commonwealth's current highest-priority aims are on the promotion of democracy and development, as outlined in the 2003 Aso Rock Declaration,[76] which built on those in Singapore and Harare and clarified their terms of reference, stating, "We are committed to democracy, good governance, human rights, SONY VAIO VGN-NW15G/S laptop keyboard

gender equality, and a more equitable sharing of the benefits of globalisation."[77] The Commonwealth website lists its areas of work as: Democracy, Economics, Education, Gender, Governance, Human Rights, Law, Small States, Sport, Sustainability, and Youth.[78]

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This aim has sometimes been difficult to achieve, as when disagreements over Rhodesia in the late 1960s and 1970s and over apartheid in South Africa in the 1980s led to a cooling of relations between the United Kingdom and African members. ASUS A6J laptop keyboard

Through a separate voluntary fund, Commonwealth governments support the Commonwealth Youth Programme, a division of the Secretariat with offices in Gulu(Uganda), Lusaka (Zambia), Chandigarh (India), Georgetown (Guyana) and Honiara (Solomon Islands). SONY VAIO VGN-CR21SR laptop keyboard

In recent years, the Commonwealth has been accused of not being vocal enough on its core values. Allegations of a leaked memo from the Secretary General instructing staff not to speak out on human rights were published in October 2010.[79] ACER TravelMate 8210 laptop keyboard

The Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting 2011 considered a report by an Commonwealth Eminent Persons Group panel which asserted that the organisation had lost its relevance and was decaying due to the lack of a mechanism to censure member countries when they violated human rights or democratic norms.[80] TOSHIBA Satellite L775D-S7340 laptop keyboard

The panel made 106 "urgent" recommendations including the adoption of a Charter of the Commonwealth, the creation of a new commissioner on the rule of law, democracy and human rights to track persistent human rights abuses and allegations of political repression by Commonwealth member states, recommendations for the repeal oflaws against homosexuality in 41 Commonwealth states and a ban on "forced marriage."[81][82] SONY VAIO PCG-FR130 laptop keyboard

The failure to release the report, or accept its recommendations for reforms in the area of human rights, democracy and the rule of law, was decried as a "disgrace" by former British Foreign Secretary Sir Malcolm Rifkind, a member of the EPG, who told a press conference: "The Commonwealth faces a very significant problem. It's not a problem of hostility or antagonism, it's more of a problem of indifference. Its purpose is being questioned, TOSHIBA Satellite C655-S9520D laptop keyboard

its relevance is being questioned and part of that is because its commitment to enforce the values for which it stands is becoming ambiguous in the eyes of many member states. The Commonwealth is not a private club of the governments or the secretariat. It belongs to the people of the Commonwealth." ACER TravelMate 6292 laptop keyboard

In the end, two-thirds of the EPG's 106 urgently recommended reforms were referred to study groups, an act described by one EPG member as having them "kicked into the long grass". There was no agreement to create the recommended position of human rights commissioner,  HP G62-b12SL laptop keyboard

instead a ministerial management group was empowered with enforcement: the group includes alleged human rights offenders. It was agreed to develop a charter of values for the Commonwealth without any decision on how compliance with its principles would be enforced.[80]  HP Pavilion DV7-3060us laptop keyboard

The result of the effort was that a new Charter of the Commonwealth was signed by Queen Elizabeth on 11 March 2013 at Marlborough House, which opposes "all forms of discrimination, whether rooted in gender, race, colour, creed, political belief or other grounds".[83][84]

The Commonwealth Foundation is an intergovernmental organisation, resourced by and reporting to Commonwealth governments, TOSHIBA NB100 laptop keyboard

and guided by Commonwealth values and priorities. Its mandate is to strengthen civil society in the achievement of Commonwealth priorities: democracy and good governance, respect for human rights and gender equality, poverty eradication and sustainable, people-centred and sustainable development, and to promote arts and culture. TOSHIBA Satellite L200 laptop keyboard

The Foundation was established by the Heads of Government in 1965. Admittance is open to all members of the Commonwealth and in December 2008 stood at 46 out of the 53 member countries. Associate Membership, which is open to associated states or overseas territories of member governments, has been granted to Gibraltar. Lenovo 0A62075 laptop keyboard

2005 saw celebrations for the Foundation's 40th Anniversary. The Foundation is headquartered in Marlborough House, Pall Mall, London. Regular liaison and cooperation between the Secretariat and the Foundation is in place.

The Foundation continues to serve the broad purposes for which it was established as written in the Memorandum of Understanding.[93] TOSHIBA Satellite L750-ST4N02 Laptop Keyboard

The Commonwealth Games, a multi-sport event, is held every four years; the 2010 Commonwealth Games were held in New Delhi, India in 2010, and the next in Glasgow, Scotland in 2014 and the next after that in Gold Coast, Australia in 2018. As well as the usual athletic disciplines, as at the Summer Olympic Games, the games include sports particularly popular in the Commonwealth, such as bowls, netball, and rugby sevens. TOSHIBA Satellite A215-S4807 Laptop Keyboard

Started in 1930 as the Empire Games, the games were founded on the Olympic model of amateurism, but were deliberately designed to be, as they are still renowned for being "the Friendly Games",[94] with the goal of promoting relations between Commonwealth countries and celebrating their shared sporting and cultural heritage.[95] HP G72-b67CA Laptop Keyboard

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The Games are the Commonwealth's most visible activity,[94] and interest in the operation of the Commonwealth increases greatly when the Games are held.[96] There is controversy over whether the Games – and sport generally – should be involved in the Commonwealth's wider political concerns.[95] HP 597635-001 Laptop Keyboard

The 1977 Gleneagles Agreement was signed to commit Commonwealth countries to combat apartheid through discouraging sporting contact with South Africa (which was not then a member), whilst the 1986 Games were boycotted by most African, Asian, and Caribbean countries for the failure of other countries to enforce the Gleneagles Agreement.[97] ACER Aspire 5742 Laptop Keyboard

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) is responsible for maintaining the war graves of 1.7 million service personnel that died in the First and Second World Wars fighting for Commonwealth member states. Founded in 1917, the Commission has constructed 2,500 war cemeteries, and maintains individual graves at another 20,000 sites around the world.[98] The vast majority of the latter are civilian cemeteries in Great Britain. In 1998, the CWGC made the records of its buried online to facilitate easier searching.[99] ACER Aspire 5336 Laptop Keyboard

Commonwealth war cemeteries often feature similar horticulture and architecture, with larger cemeteries being home to aCross of Sacrifice and Stone of Remembrance. The CWGC is notable for marking the graves identically, regardless of the rank, country of origin, race, or religion of the buried.[99] It is funded by voluntary agreement by six Commonwealth members,  HP 605344-001 Laptop Keyboard

in proportion to the nationality of the casualties in the graves maintained,[98] with three-quarters of the funding coming from Britain.[99]

found that most people in all countries were largely ignorant of the Commonwealth's functions and indifferent towards its future. In Canada one third of respondends said they would not care if Canada left the Commonwealth,  DELL PVDG3 Laptop Keyboard

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half could not describe what it does, and Canadians were four times more likely to support closer ties to the United States. Support was also weak in other wealthier Commonwealth realms much stronger in poorer Commonwealth republics. Nearly one fifth of Australian respondents said they would be "delighted" or "pleased" if their country left the Commonwealth.[107][108] TOSHIBA Mini NB 505-SP0160 Laptop Keyboard

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