The Anglosphere is a group of English-speaking nations that share cultural or historical ties with England,[2][3][4] and which today maintain close political, diplomatic and military co-operation. While the nations included in different sources vary, the Anglosphere is usually not considered to include all countries where English is an official language, so it is not synonymous with anglophone, though the nations that are commonly included were all once part of the British Empire.[5]

The Anglosphere, according to James Bennett (The Anglosphere Challenge)[1]
  Core Anglosphere
  Middle Anglosphere (states where English is one of several official languages)
  Outer sphere (English-using states of other civilisations)
  Periphery (states where English is widely used but is not an official governmental language)

The definition is usually taken to include Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States[6][7][8][9][10][11][12][13] in a grouping of developed countries called the core Anglosphere. This term can also encompass Ireland[9][14][15] and less frequently Malta and the Commonwealth Caribbean countries.[16]

Public opinion research has found that people in the five core Anglosphere countries consistently rank each other's countries as their country's most important allies in the world.[17][18][19][20] Relations have traditionally been warm between Anglosphere countries, with bilateral partnerships such as those between Australia and New Zealand, the United States and Canada and the United States and the United Kingdom (the Special Relationship) constituting the most successful partnerships in the world.[21][22][23]

Definitions and variable geometry

The term Anglosphere was first coined, but not explicitly defined, by the science fiction writer Neal Stephenson in his book The Diamond Age, published in 1995. John Lloyd adopted the term in 2000 and defined it as including English-speaking countries like the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, South Africa, and the British West Indies.[16] The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines the Anglosphere as "the countries of the world in which the English language and cultural values predominate".[24][lower-alpha 1]

Core Anglosphere

The five main ("core") countries in the Anglosphere (Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States) are developed countries that maintain close cultural and diplomatic links with one another. They are aligned under such military and security programmes as:[25][16][26][27]

  • ABCANZ Armies
  • Air and Space Interoperability Council (air forces)
  • AUSCANNZUKUS (navies)
  • Border Five
  • Combined Communications Electronics Board (communications electronics)
  • Five Eyes (intelligence)
  • Five Nations Passport Group
  • Migration 5
  • The Technical Cooperation Program (technology and science)
  • The UKUSA Agreement (signals intelligence).

In terms of political systems, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom have Charles III as head of state, form part of the Commonwealth of Nations and use the Westminster parliamentary system of government. Most of the core countries have first-past-the-post electoral systems, though Australia and New Zealand have reformed their systems and there are other systems used in some elections in the UK. As a consequence, most core Anglosphere countries have politics dominated by two major parties.

Below are two tables comparing the five core countries of the Anglosphere (data for 2021/2022):

Australia[28] Canada[29] New Zealand[30] United Kingdom[31] United States[32]
Coat of arms
Population 25,522,169
(as of 2019)[33]
(as of 2020)[34]
(as of July 2021)[35]
(as of 2019)[36]
Area 7,741,220 km2[38] 9,984,670 km2[39] 268,838 km2[40] 243,610 km2[41] 9,833,520
Population density 3.3/km2 3.9/km2 18.3/km2 270.7/km2 33.8/km2
Exclusive Economic Zone[42] 8,505,348 km2 5,559,077 km2 4,420,565 km2 6,805,586 km2 11,351,000 km2
Capital city Canberra Ottawa Wellington London Washington, D.C.
Largest urban areas


Form of government Federal parliamentary
constitutional monarchy[38]
Federal parliamentary
constitutional monarchy[39]
Unitary parliamentary
constitutional monarchy[40]
Unitary parliamentary
constitutional monarchy[41]
Federal presidential
constitutional republic
Head of State King Charles III
(Governor General David Hurley)
King Charles III
(Governor General Mary Simon)
King Charles III
(Governor General Cindy Kiro)
King Charles III President
Joe Biden
Head of government Prime Minister
Anthony Albanese
Prime Minister
Justin Trudeau
Prime Minister
Chris Hipkins
Prime Minister
Rishi Sunak
Governing party Labor Party Liberal Party Labour Party Conservative Party Democratic Party
Largest opposition party Liberal Party Conservative Party National Party Labour Party Republican Party
Official languages None (de facto Australian English) Canadian English
Canadian French
New Zealand Sign Language
(de facto New Zealand English[lower-alpha 2])
None (de facto British English) None (de facto American English)
Main religions
(As of 2021)[lower-alpha 3]
(As of 2021)[lower-alpha 4]
(As of 2018)[lower-alpha 5]
(As of 2021)[46]
(As of 2020)[lower-alpha 6]</ref>
Currency Australian dollar Canadian dollar New Zealand dollar Pound sterling United States dollar

Country Population Land area
(USD bn)[49]
GDP PPP per capita
National wealth PPP (USD bn)[50][49][38] Military spending PPP
(USD bn)[40]
 Australia 26,009,249[51] 7,692,020 1,346 52,675 7,661 22.0
 Canada 38,708,793[52] 9,984,670 1,932 51,477 9,971 23.3
 New Zealand 5,130,623[53] 262,443 218 43,686 1,229 3.1
 United Kingdom 67,081,234[54] 241,930 3,246 48,599 16,208 70.2
 United States 332,718,707[55] 9,833,520 21,373 65,052 114,932 734.3
Core Anglosphere 469,648,606 27,329,350 28,115 60,668 150,001 852.9
... as % of World 5.9% 18.4% 20.8% 3.4× 24.9% 32.9%

Culture and economics

Due to their historic links, the Anglosphere countries share many cultural traits that still persist today. Most countries in the Anglosphere follow the rule of law through common law instead of civil law, and favour democracy with legislative chambers above other political systems.[56] Private property is protected by law or constitution.[41]

Market freedom is high in the five core Anglosphere countries, as all five share the Anglo-Saxon economic model a capitalist model that emerged in the 1970s based on the Chicago school of economics with origins from the 18th century United Kingdom.[57] The shared sense of globalisation led cities such as New York, London, Los Angeles, Sydney, and Toronto to have considerable impacts on the financial markets and the global economy.[58] Global popular culture has been highly influenced by the United States and the United Kingdom.[41]

Imperial and US customary measurement systems are often used in Anglosphere countries in addition to or instead of the International System of Units.

Proponents and critics

Proponents of the Anglosphere concept typically come from the political right (such as Andrew Roberts of the UK Conservative Party), and critics from the centre-left (for example Michael Ignatieff of the Liberal Party of Canada).


As early as 1897, Albert Venn Dicey proposed an Anglo-Saxon "intercitizenship" during an address to the Fellows of All Souls at Oxford.[59]

The American businessman James C. Bennett,[60] a proponent of the idea that there is something special about the cultural and legal (common law) traditions of English-speaking nations, writes in his 2004 book The Anglosphere Challenge:

The Anglosphere, as a network civilization without a corresponding political form, has necessarily imprecise boundaries. Geographically, the densest nodes of the Anglosphere are found in the United States and the United Kingdom. English-speaking Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland and English-speaking South Africa (who constitute a very small minority in that country) are also significant populations. The English-speaking Caribbean, English-speaking Oceania and the English-speaking educated populations in Africa and India constitute other important nodes.

James C. Bennett.[25]

Bennett argues that there are two challenges confronting his concept of the Anglosphere. The first is finding ways to cope with rapid technological advancement and the second is the geopolitical challenges created by what he assumes will be an increasing gap between anglophone prosperity and economic struggles elsewhere.[61]

British historian Andrew Roberts claims that the Anglosphere has been central in the First World War, Second World War and Cold War. He goes on to contend that anglophone unity is necessary for the defeat of Islamism.[62]

According to a 2003 profile in The Guardian, historian Robert Conquest favoured a British withdrawal from the European Union in favour of creating "a much looser association of English-speaking nations, known as the 'Anglosphere'".[63][64]


Favourability ratings tend to be overwhelmingly positive between countries within a subset of the core Anglosphere known as CANZUK (consisting of Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom),[65][66][67][20] whose members form part of the Commonwealth of Nations and retain Charles III as head of state. In the wake of the United Kingdom's decision to leave the European Union (Brexit) as a result of a referendum held in 2016, there has been mounting political and popular support for a loose free travel and common market area to be formed among the CANZUK countries.[68][69][70]


In 2000, Michael Ignatieff wrote in an exchange with Robert Conquest, published by the New York Review of Books, that the term neglects the evolution of fundamental legal and cultural differences between the US and the UK, and the ways in which UK and European norms drew closer together during Britain's membership in the EU through regulatory harmonisation. Of Conquest's view of the Anglosphere, Ignatieff writes: "He seems to believe that Britain should either withdraw from Europe or refuse all further measures of cooperation, which would jeopardize Europe's real achievements. He wants Britain to throw in its lot with a union of English-speaking peoples, and I believe this to be a romantic illusion".[71]

In 2016, Nick Cohen wrote in an article titled "It's a Eurosceptic fantasy that the 'Anglosphere' wants Brexit" for The Spectator's Coffee House blog: "'Anglosphere' is just the right's PC replacement for what we used to call in blunter times 'the white Commonwealth'."[72][73] He repeated this criticism in another article for The Guardian in 2018.[74] Similar criticism was presented by other critics such as Canadian academic Srđan Vučetić.[75][76][77]

In 2018, amidst the aftermath of the Brexit referendum, two British professors of public policy Michael Kenny and Nick Pearce published a critical scholarly monograph titled Shadows of Empire: The Anglosphere in British Politics (ISBN 978-1509516612). In one of a series of accompanying opinion pieces, they questioned:[78]

The tragedy of the different national orientations that have emerged in British politics after empire—whether pro-European, Anglo-American, Anglospheric or some combination of these—is that none of them has yet been the compelling, coherent and popular answer to the country's most important question: How should Britain find its way in the wider, modern world?

They stated in another article:[6]

Meanwhile, the other core English-speaking countries to which the Anglosphere refers, show no serious inclination to join the UK in forging new political and economic alliances. They will, most likely, continue to work within existing regional and international institutions and remain indifferent to – or simply perplexed by – calls for some kind of formalised Anglosphere alliance.

Opinion polls

A 2020 poll by YouGov revealed that all four of the other core Anglosphere countries were among the top 10 most positively viewed countries by Americans, with Australia and Canada ranking behind only the United States itself in the poll.[79] Another 2020 poll by YouGov showed that New Zealand, Canada and Australia were the most positively viewed countries by the British.[80]

A 2018 poll by the Lowy Institute similarly indicated that New Zealand, Canada and the United Kingdom were the three most positively viewed countries by Australians.[81] Their 2020 version of the poll again put Canada and the United Kingdom at the top, but New Zealand was not included as an option.[82] A 2020 poll by the Macdonald–Laurier Institute suggested that Australia was the most positively viewed country by Canadians.[83] Australia and the U.S. were ranked as having the most favorable view of Canada's influence to the outside world, according to a 2012 GlobeScan survey of 22 countries.[84] In a 2019 Pew Research Center poll, a plurality of Canadians and Australians named the United States as their country's closest ally.[85]

See also


  1. "The group of countries where English is the main native language." (Shorter Oxford English Dictionary (6th ed.), Oxford University Press, 2007, ISBN 978-0-19-920687-2 ).
  2. English is a de facto official language due to its widespread use[44]
  3. Australian religions are 2021 estimates.[38]
  4. Canadian religions are 2021 estimates.[45]
  5. New Zealand religions are "based on the 2018 census of the usually resident population; percentages add up to more than 100% because respondents were able to identify more than one."[40]
  6. American religions are 2020 estimates.[47][48][45] Thus, it can be roughly estimated that there are around 472,498 Sikhs in the United States, using the ratio of Punjabi speakers to Sikhs.



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