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Difference Between Commonwealth and Protectorate

Commonwealth vs Protectorate

Commonwealth and protectorate nations are the status of a group of nations forming a commonwealth together and a nation being protected by another more powerful nation respectively. In both cases, the countries which come together or are protected by another are free sovereigns and independent.

Commonwealth refers to a group of independent and sovereign nations or sometimes territories inside a country who form a group or alliance. This alliance is formed on the basis of some common threads bringing the nations together like culture, history, religion, and common beliefs. These countries might be in different continents and yet they have some basic similarities which bring them together for the common good of all nations involved.

One of the examples is the British Commonwealth nations. It includes countries like India, New Zealand, Australia, Canada, Jamaica, Fiji, etc. They are geographically diverse as well as their cultures. Their languages are diverse and different, but the common thing between all of them is that they were part of the British Empire once.

Examples of a commonwealth within a nation is the alliance between 4 states of the U.S. namely, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Kentucky. They had rebelled against the British and declared independence. To remember the rebellion their alliance has been retained by the Government, and they are considered a commonwealth.

A protectorate is defined as an autonomous territory or independent nation which is protected by a stronger nation or state. The protection is diplomatic, political, and militarily against any third nation or party. Depending upon the relationship between the two nations, the one which is providing the protection and the one which is being protected, the protectorate has to accept some obligations specified by the protecting nation.

All of this doesn’t mean that the protected nation is not independent or is annexed; it retains sufficient sovereignty and comes under international law.

According to the British, a protectorate is a nation or territory which comes under the Crown and has power and jurisdiction over it either by grant, treaty, or other lawful measures. It is not considered formally annexed by the British Empire. Examples are Swaziland, which ceased to be a protectorate in 1968. Qatar, which was a protectorate of British Empire, ceased to be one in 1971.


Commonwealth refers to a group of independent and sovereign nations or sometimes territories inside a country who form a group or alliance. This alliance is formed on the basis of culture, history, religion, and common beliefs; a protectorate is an autonomous or independent nation or territory which is protected by a stronger nation or state diplomatically, militarily, and politically.

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