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The English noun "Commonwealth" dates originally from the fifteenth century and in different contexts indicates one of:
  1. a nation, state or political unit
  2. a state founded on law by agreement of the people for the common good
  3. a republic
  4. a federated union of constituent states.

The original phrase "common wealth" or "the common weal" comprises a calque translation of the Latin term res publica, from which the word republic comes. The Commonwealth of England was the official title of the political unit that replaced the kingdoms of Scotland and England under the rule of Oliver Cromwell. It formed the first republic in the English-speaking world.

Four states in the United States later used the title "commonwealth".

The term also served when the Australian colonies federated to form the 'Commonwealth of Australia' in 1901. The design of the Australian government blends the US-style republican senate and British parliamentary systems, though in the Australian context the Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act made it clear that the federation existed as a constitutional monarchy, with the federal state and the individual states each directly linked to the British monarch, and each of which possesses a representative of the Crown.

Various states have used the title "commonwealth" since that time.

The term "commonwealth" also expresses the political relationship between the United States and the dependent territories of Puerto Rico and of the Northern Marianas.

When capitalised, "Commonwealth" refers to the Commonwealth of Nations - formerly the "British Commonwealth" - a loose confederation of nations formerly members of the British Empire (with some exceptions). The Commonweath's membership involves both republics and monarchies: the head of the Commonwealth of Nations is Queen Elizabeth II, who reigns as monarch directly in a number of states, notably the United Kingdom, Canada, Jamaica, Australia and New Zealand, among others.

States that use the name Commonweath

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