In terms of constitutional rights, there is no real difference between a commonwealth and a state in the United States. “Commonwealth” is an old term that has largely been replaced with the title of “state.”Continue Reading
In the 17th century, the term “commonwealth” referred to an organized political community, or what today is called a “state.” Four states in the Union—Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and Virginia—are still officially called commonwealths. When they joined the United States, they chose to keep the old form instead of using “state” as their title.
In modern times, the term commonwealth also refers to “a political unit having local autonomy but voluntarily united with the U.S.” Examples of these types of commonwealths are Puerto Rico and the Northern Mariana Islands.Learn more about Types of Government
State government refers to the government offices, elected officials, bureaucrats, laws and government services that exist at the state level in each of the 50 states in the United States while local government refers to governments that cover smaller jurisdictions below the state level, including county and city government. For example, a state's governor serves at the state level of government while an individual town's mayor or city council is part of the local level of government. According to the U.S.'s Constitution, state governments, such as governor, state supreme court and state congress, have powers that are separate from the federal government, which is the president, Supreme Court and Congress.Full Answer >
Canada, the United Kingdom, South Africa, India and Australia make up some of the Commonwealth member countries. Altogether there are 53 member countries from Africa, the Americas, Europe, Asia, the Caribbean and the Pacific, as of 2015.Full Answer >
A confederal system is a mode of government in which a number of smaller states choose to delegate some of their policy making rights to a central body. In this way, the collection of the smaller states can be thought of as a country. A good example of this is the former Soviet Union, which was a conglomeration of a large number of smaller states.Full Answer >
In a democracy, the rights of the majority can overwhelm the rights of the minority, whereas in a republic, a constitution or charter protects its citizens with laws that cannot be changed by a simple majority vote.Full Answer >