The Commonwealth of Nations comprises nearly a quarter of the world’s surface and population. It is a community of 53 independent nations with a population of about 2.2 billion.
▸ The land area of Canada is about 10 million sq. km. It is divided into ten provinces and three territories.
The capital of Canada is Ottawa, Province of Ontario.
▸ There were 35 million inhabitants in 2013. Canadian Indians and Inuits represent less than 2% of the population.
▸ English and French are the official languages, yet the province of New Brunswick is the only official bilingual area in the country. English is spoken by 63% of the population. Montreal is the second largest French-speaking city in the world.
▸ Canada is a parliamentary monarchy with a federal constitution.
2 Australia and New Zealand
▸ Australia consists of six states: Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia, Western Australia, and two major territories: the Australian Capital territory and the Northern Territory.The land area is 7,700,000 sq. km (17 times as large as France).
▸ It is a parliamentary monarchy with a federal constitution. Many Australians would like their country to become a republic.
▸ The population is 24 million in 2014 (including 1% Aborigines and 7% Asians). Life expectancy (l’espérance de vie) is 80 years.
▸ Sport is the Australian religion. Popular sports are cricket, rugby, yachting and Aussie Rules (sport exclusivement australien, comparable au football).
B New Zealand
New Zealand is situated about 2,000 km southeast of Australia. It consists of two main islands (deux îles principales). The land area is 268,000 sq. km. Europeans constitute 67% of the population (4.2 million in 2013). The economy is mainly pastoral.
▸ India is one third the area of the United States. It comprises 28 states and seven union territories. It has about 1.3 billion inhabitants in 2014. The literacy rate (niveau d’alphabétisation) is about 74%.
▸ It is a federal republic whose president is elected every five years. The Parliament consists of the Council of States and the House of the People.
▸ India became independent from Great Britain in 1947. Mahatma Gandhi played an important role in the opposition to British rule, advocating (prônant) passive resistance and non violence.
▸ The conflicts between Hindus and Muslims led to the partition of the country into two states: Pakistan and the Republic of India (1947).
4 South Africa
▸ The Republic of South Africa has an area of more than 1,200,000 sq. km and a population of about 53 million in 2014.
▸ The major industries are mining (gold, diamonds), machinery and textiles.
▸ 79% of the population classify themselves as African, 9.6% as White, 8.9% as Coloured, 2.5% as Indian / Asian. 60% of the Whites are of Afrikaner descent, most of the rest of British descent. The Afrikaners are the descendents of the first Dutch settlers (les colons hollandais) who founded the Dutch East India Company in 1652. They speak a Dutch dialect known as Afrikaans.
▸ From 1948 to 1991 South Africa was the country of apartheid. From 1989 onward Frederik Willem de Klerk accelerated the pace of reform. He released (libéra) Nelson Mandela, the deputy president of the African National Congress (anc) who had been imprisoned for more than 27 years.