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Classified in History

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1953: Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II who becomes Head of the Commonwealth.

1957: Ghana becomes independent and the first majority-ruled African Commonwealth member

1960: Commonwealth Scholarship and Fellowship Plan helps graduates study in other member countries.

1961: South Africa withdraws from the Commonwealth, after pressure from member states against its apartheid policies. 

1965: Commonwealth Secretariat set up to administer Commonwealth economic and international affairs. Adam Smith of Canada becomes the first Commonwealth Secretary-General.


1954: The Empire games are renamed the British Empire and Commonwealth Games.

1972: Pakistan withdraws from the Commonwealth over impending recognition of Bangladesh. 

1978: The competition adopts its current name of Commonwealth Games.

1980: Zimbabwe becomes independent after Lancaster House agreement; first time Commonwealth Observers monitor elections.

1989: Pakistan re-joins the Commonwealth after an absence of 17 years. (Suspended again 1999-2004 and 2007-8).

1994: South Africa rejoins the Commonwealth following the end of apartheid. 

2003: Zimbabwe leaves the Commonwealth after being suspended for violence and intimidation during the general election of 2002.

2009: Fiji Islands suspended from membership. Rwanda joins; second country after Mozambique to be admitted without a British colonial past or constitutional link to Britain.  • 2013: Gambia withdraws from the Commonwealth on the grounds that they refuse to belong to a “neo-colonial institution”.

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