11th March 2019

10 facts you didn’t know about the UK’s links with the Commonwealth

The Commonwealth is one of the world’s oldest international networks, and this year, we celebrate its 70th anniversary.

Since the modern Commonwealth came into being, independent countries from Africa, the Americas, Asia, Europe and the Pacific have joined the Commonwealth family. Membership is voluntary and based on shared values. And it’s those common values of democracy, human rights, gender equality that connect us together. Its strength lies in the deep and diverse links between our peoples and our joint desire to tackle today’s global challenges.

This year we’re celebrating a ‘connected Commonwealth’. We’re celebrating not just the values we share, but also the many interesting and unusual links between the UK and the other countries of the Commonwealth. Here are just a few…

Sierra Leone’s Premier League has a team called the Mighty Blackpool

The Sierra Leone Premier League has one of the best-named teams in the world: Mighty Blackpool. And yes, they play in bright orange.

Highclere Castle played a surprising role in the founding of modern Canada

Highclere Castle, setting of Downton Abbey

Highclere Castle, better known as the location of TV’s Downton Abbey, was at the centre of the drafting of the British North America Act 1867, which led to the founding of what we now know as Canada. In 2018, the Canadian High Commissioner to the UK planed a maple tree in the grounds, on the birthday of Canada’s first Prime Minister, John A McDonald.

Guyanese rum was the Royal Navy’s choice for the daily ‘rum ration’

Aside from being known for the Navy’s preferred tipple, Guyana is also the original source of Demerara sugar, named after the river in Georgetown, Guyana’s capital city.

British design contributed to Singapore’s world famous Gardens by the Bay

Singapore is the only true city state of the modern world, a city of 5.6 million people on an Island around half the size of London. There are about 45,000 British residents of Singapore.

British design, including firms Arup, Grant Associates and Wilson Eyre Architects, contributed to Singapore’s iconic and world famous Gardens by the Bay and Marina Bay Sands.

75% of Belize’s bananas are exported to the UK

28.5% of Belize’s total exports go to the UK, including more than 80% of the sugar production and 75% of the bananas grown.

The James Bond novels were written in Jamaica

British author Ian Fleming wrote all the James Bond novels from his ‘Goldeneye’ home on the island’s north coast.

46% of Scots have a friend or family member with a connection to Malawi

Malawi, a nation of 19 million people, has strong Scottish connections. Malawi’s economic powerhouse Blantyre was founded by Scottish settlers in 1876, and today 46% of Scots can name a friend or family member with a connection to Malawi.

More than 300,000 Scots and Malawians are involved in community partnerships.

Seychelles’ famous clock tower is a replica of Little Ben

The clock tower in Victoria, Seychelles is an exact replica of the cast iron clock tower ‘Little Ben’ which is found near Victoria Station in London.

The Notting Hill Carnival owes its creation to Trinidad and Tobago

Trinidadian Claudia Jones, known as ‘the mother of the Notting Hill Carnival’ first organised a Caribbean celebration in London in 1959, at St Pancras Town Hall. This event inspired the yearly carnival that we have today at Notting Hill.

In Trinidad and Tobago, carnival is celebrated before Lent. Thousands of people go out into the streets dressed in colourful costumes, dancing through the parade routes to soca, steelpan and calypso music.

London has more Indian restaurants than Mumbai

There are more than 12,000 Indian restaurants in the UK serving up over 3 million meals a week. The first curry house in the UK opened in 1809 in London, It was called The Hindostanee Coffee House and was owned by Dean Mahomed.

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