British Commonwealth 1956
The British Commonwealth 1956 was the first
edition of this most useful book about the community of nations
headed by Queen Elizabeth II. These included Pakistan. In view of
the historic importance of the material presented at that time,
and due to the fact that it is very difficult to obtain now, we
are preserving on this website the sections of the book relevant
to Pakistan. Spellings have been Americanized for convenience of
See the list of contents on the left for what is
British Commonwealth 1956
With a Foreword by The Earl Of Swinton, P.C., G.B.E.,
Europa Publications Limited
56 Bloomsbury Street, London, W.C.1
First Year of Publication
Copyright by Europa Publications Limited
All Rights Reserved
Made and printed in England by J. W. Arrowsmith Limited
Winterstoke Road, Bristol
By the Rt. Hon. the EARL OF SWINTON, P.C.,
G.B.E., C.H., M.C. Secretary of State for the Colonies 1931-35;
Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations 1952-55.
THE compilers and editors of The British Commonwealth
are to be congratulated on their courage and their achievement.
There is a mass of literature about individual countries
of the Commonwealth - and about particular subjects touching the
Commonwealth as a whole. But there has never been, so far as I know,
an attempt to combine in a single volume the story of Commonwealth
development and an account of every country, great and small, within
this vast and varied Commonwealth of Nations.
I imagine the attempt was not made because the task
appeared too formidable. That it was well worth while to try I have
no doubt. I have often felt how useful it would be to have what
I may call a comprehensive "Guide to Knowledge" covering
the whole Commonwealth. Now we have it.
It would be impossible in such a volume to tell the whole of truth.
But there is a lot of interesting and useful information about every
country; and the reader is put on the track how to get more special
and detailed knowledge.
The editors have been fortunate in obtaining the collaboration
of men and women in different parts of the Commonwealth. They write
with a special knowledge and understanding of their own countries.
This greatly enhances the value and interest of the book. It also
typifies the diversity and the unity of this unique family of nations.
15th February, 1956
A work of reference is an organic body, which cannot
easily be built in a day. Each edition provokes new ideas, criticisms
and suggestions, from both contributors and readers, on which the
editors can draw for the preparation of the next; each entry in
an old edition serves as a proof for the revised entry which will
appear in the new; and it is only in collecting information on new
organizations or changing circumstances that fresh ground is broken.
As the years go by, the reputation of the book becomes its capital;
as each new edition appears its sponsors, while hoping that it will
be even better received than its predecessors, are at worst comforted
by the knowledge that much of it is already well tried.
There is no such comfort in the first edition. Like
all first editions, THE BRITISH COMMONWEALTH is a venture and the
story of its production one of trial and enterprise. The story began
several years ago when the directors of Europa Publications were
considering whether they might make any addition to their list of
international reference books, and when they decided that there
was enough interest in the British Commonwealth, and enough demand
for detailed information on the various countries and territories
which belong to it, to justify a reference book devoted specially
to it. And so the gigantic task of collecting, sorting and correlating
The information is of two kinds. There are for each
country or area articles on geography, history and economic conditions,
most of which are written by experts in their respective fields
who are either nationals of the country concerned or who know it
well. Many of these articles are signed and therefore give the views
of their authors. If there are inconsistencies, if the articles
contradict each other, in matters of opinion, or stress different
aspects of their subjects, the editors offer no apology. The object
is in every case to give an interesting and authoritative view rather
than to aim at text-book uniformity. The British Commonwealth is
a loose, illogical and complex association of peoples which defies
any attempt at rigid treatment.
The sections on the constitution, government, administration,
legal and religious affairs of each member of the Commonwealth,
and those on many aspects of their national and international life
which follow, consist almost entirely of facts-detailed information,
as accurate as we can make it-about many thousands of institutions
and organizations. In presenting this category of information, the
problems vary with the country or territory: in the case, for instance,
of the United Kingdom or Canada or Australia, selection was the
great difficulty; in the case of some of the more remote or smaller
territories, collection; and in yet other countries-particularly
in parts of Africa-political and commercial development is so fast
that information is often outdated while it is going through the
There were many other problems. The choice of title
seemed at first to be easy enough. We decided quite spontaneously
on THE BRITISH COMMONWEALTH as being the most straightforward description
of the contents. But when the book was well under way we were asked
to consider THE COMMONWEALTH or THE COMMONWEALTH OF NATIONS as possible
alternatives. The suggestion came from a friendly and responsible
quarter and we therefore considered the question of the title in
all its aspects. We decided for what we believe to be good reasons
(including the fact that the Commonwealth might be confused with
the Commonwealth of Australia and The Commonwealth of Nations taken
to mean all the nations of the world or the members of some future
world organisation) that our original choice was best.
There were also of course, endless minor difficulties
and decisions such as beset every work of reference, but that so
many of the problems have been solved and in fact that this book
appears at all is due to the help of people in all parts of the
Commonwealth. Before all of them we must thank our two advisory
editors. Professor GERALD S. GRAHAM, Rhodes Professor of Imperial
History at King's College, University of London, who contributed
the first chapter of the book and who organized the historical sections;
and Dr. W. B. FISHER, Head of the Department of Geography, Durham
Colleges, University of Durham, who contributed -several of the
geographical sections and commissioned and supervised the rest,
and the maps. Both of them have been ready at all stages to answer
queries and to give advice, and have been most patient with our
We must also thank the following, both for their contributions
and for their help:
H. A. ALAVI, former Secretary, State Bank
F. H. ANDREASEN-AALEN, Hatfield College, Durham.
J. H. APPLEBEY, Leader Writer on the Daily Telegraph.
H. BOWEN-JONES, Lecturer in Economic Geography, Durham Colleges,
University of Durham.
Professor A. BRADY, Department of Political Science, University
A. C. BUCKLEY, former Demonstrator, Department of Geography, Durham
Colleges, University of Durham.
Sir CHARLES COLLINS, C.M.G., late of the Ceylon Civil Service.
C. D. COWAN, Lecturer in History, School of Oriental and African
Studies, University of London.
J. C. DEWDNEY, Lecturer, Department of Geography, Durham Colleges,
University of Durham.
Dr. K. ONWUKA DIKE, Head of the Department of History, University
College of Ibadan, Nigeria.
Dr. R. Dow, I.C.I. Ltd., former Research Fellow of the University
Miss ETHEL DRUS, Lecturer in History, Birkbeck College, University
Dr. H. S. FERNS, Senior Lecturer in Modern History and Government,
University of Birmingham.
J. F. FLAHERTY, of Buchanan's Bulletin, Ottawa, Canada.
H. A. DE S. GUNASEKERA, Lecturer in Economics, University of Ceylon.
Dr. A. J. HANNA, Lecturer in History, University of Southampton.
J. H. HUBBARD, Former Lecturer, Department of Geography, Durham
Colleges, University of Durham.
Professor ARTHUR KEPPEL-JONES, Department of History, University
A. D. KNOX, Lecturer in Economics, London School of Economics.
Miss HILDA LEE, Lecturer in History, London School of Economics.
D. H. MALING, Lecturer, University College of Wales (Swansea);
former member of the Falkland Island Dependencies Survey (1947-50).
Professor NICHOLAS MANSERGH, Smuts Professor of the History of
the British Commonwealth, University of Cambridge.
P. K. MITCHELL, Demonstrator, Department of Geography, Durham
Colleges, University of Durham.
Professor C. G. PHILIPS, Department of History, School of Oriental
and African Studies.
Professor V. K. R. V. RAO, Head of the Delhi School of Economics.
E. J. TAPP, Senior Lecturer, Department of History, University
of New England, N.S.W., Australia.
C. H. THOMPSON, Department of the Prime Minister, and Cabinet
Office, Central African Federal Government.
I. B. THOMPSON, University College, Durham.
J. S. G. WILSON, Reader in Money, Banking and Public Finance,
London School of Economics.
B. J. P. WOODS, Editorial Staff of The Economist.
After that, it is difficult to know where to start
or where to stop; but we should like in particular to thank Mr.
C. C. WIGLEY, of the Institute of Commonwealth Studies, for his
help with the East African Economic Survey; Mr. B. C. HARFORD, of
the Commonwealth Bank of Australia and Mr. H. R. WOODROW, economic
adviser to the Australian Treasury, for their help at the proof
stage with the Australian economic and statistical surveys; and
Mr. D. SIMPSON, Assistant Librarian of the Royal Empire Society
for his help with the book list. The rest of our thanks must be
anonymous, because they go to the many hundreds of individuals in
all the parts of the Commonwealth who have answered our letters
or questionnaires, checked our drafts or suggested how this or that
subject might be treated. These include officials in the offices
of the High Commissioners and Commissioners in London and officials
in overseas governments, many of whom have taken far more trouble
than we had any reason to expect to give us up-to-date details,
to check statistics, to encourage and advise; and the secretaries,
librarians or Public Relations Officers of the many banks, insurance
companies, trade organizations, transport offices, societies, institutes,
libraries, museums, colleges and other organizations of which details
are given in this book. They have gone out of their way to help
us, often, we know, at the cost of much time and trouble, and we
are glad to have this opportunity to show our very deep appreciation
of their support.
We hope too that they will find this volume useful
and, in the course of time, let us have their comments and criticisms
before we embark on the second edition. In compiling the book we
have had them particularly in mind and we should like in future
editions to adapt it as far as possible to their needs; and indeed
to the needs of the intelligent citizen in every country who wants
concise, dependable information about a unique experiment in international
co-operation involving over a quarter both of the land area of the
globe and of the world's population.
Source: The British Commonwealth 1956
With a Foreword by the Earl of Swinton P.C., G.B.E., C.H., M.C.
Europa Publications Limited, London (1956)
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