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British Indian Ocean Territory

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British Indian Ocean Territory

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Flag
Io-flag.png
Quick Facts
Capital
Government
Currency
Areatotal: 60 sq km
note: includes the entire Chagos Archipelago
water: 0 sq km
land: 60 sq km
Populationno indigenous inhabitants
note: approximately 1,200 former agricultural workers resident in the Chagos Archipelago, often referred to as Chagossians or Ilois, were relocated to Mauritius and the Seychelles around the time of the construction of UK-US military facilities; in 2001, there were approximately 1,500 UK and US military personnel and 2,000 civilian contractors living on the island of Diego Garcia (July 2002 est.)
Language
Religion

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Established as a territory of the UK in 1965, a number of the British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT) islands were transferred to the Seychelles when it attained independence in 1976. Subsequently, BIOT has consisted only of the six main island groups comprising the Chagos Archipelago. The largest and most southerly of the islands, Diego Garcia, contains a joint UK-US naval support facility. All of the remaining islands are uninhabited. Former agricultural workers, earlier residents in the islands, were relocated primarily to Mauritius but also to the Seychelles, between 1967 and 1973. In 2000, a British High Court ruling invalidated the local immigration order which had excluded them from the archipelago, but upheld the special military status of Diego Garcia.


Geography

Io-map.png
Map of British Indian Ocean Territory
Location 
Southern Asia, archipelago in the Indian Ocean, about one-half the way from Africa to Indonesia
Geographic coordinates 
6 00 S, 71 30 E
Map references 
Political Map of the World
Area 
total: 60 sq km
note: includes the entire Chagos Archipelago
water: 0 sq km
land: 60 sq km
Area - comparative 
about 0.3 times the size of Washington, DC
Land boundaries 
0 km
Coastline 
698 km
Maritime claims 
exclusive fishing zone: 200 NM
territorial sea: 3 NM
Climate 
tropical marine; hot, humid, moderated by trade winds
Terrain 
flat and low (most areas do not exceed four meters in elevation)
Elevation extremes 
lowest point: Indian Ocean 0 m
highest point: unnamed location on Diego Garcia 15 m
Natural resources 
coconuts, fish, sugarcane
Land use 
arable land: NEGL
permanent crops: 0%
other: 100% (1998 est.)
Irrigated land 
0 sq km (1998 est.)
Natural hazards 
NA
Environment - current issues 
NA
Geography - note 
archipelago of 2,300 islands; Diego Garcia, largest and southernmost island, occupies strategic location in central Indian Ocean; island is site of joint US-UK military facility

People

Population 
no indigenous inhabitants
note: approximately 1,200 former agricultural workers resident in the Chagos Archipelago, often referred to as Chagossians or Ilois, were relocated to Mauritius and the Seychelles around the time of the construction of UK-US military facilities; in 2001, there were approximately 1,500 UK and US military personnel and 2,000 civilian contractors living on the island of Diego Garcia (July 2002 est.)

Government

Country name 
conventional long form: British Indian Ocean Territory
conventional short form: none
abbreviation: BIOT
Dependency status 
overseas territory of the UK; administered by a commissioner, resident in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London
Legal system 
the laws of the UK, where applicable, apply
Executive branch 
chief of state: Queen ELIZABETH II (since 6 February 1952)
head of government: Commissioner Alan HUCKLE (since 2001); Administrator Louise SAVILL (since NA); note - both reside in the UK
elections: none; the monarch is hereditary; commissioner and administrator appointed by the monarch
cabinet: NA
Diplomatic representation in the US 
none (overseas territory of the UK)
Diplomatic representation from the US 
none (overseas territory of the UK)
Flag description 
white with six blue wavy horizontal stripes; the flag of the UK is in the upper hoist-side quadrant; the striped section bears a palm tree and yellow crown centered on the outer half of the flag

Economy

Economy - overview 
All economic activity is concentrated on the largest island of Diego Garcia, where joint UK-US defense facilities are located. Construction projects and various services needed to support the military installations are done by military and contract employees from the UK, Mauritius, the Philippines, and the US. There are no industrial or agricultural activities on the islands. When the Ilois return, they plan to reestablish sugarcane production and fishing.
Electricity - production 
NA kWh; note - electricity supplied by the US military
Electricity - consumption 
NA kWh

Communications

Telephones - main lines in use 
NA
Telephone system 
general assessment: separate facilities for military and public needs are available
domestic: all commercial telephone services are available, including connection to the Internet
international: international telephone service is carried by satellite (2000)
Radio broadcast stations 
AM 1, FM 2, shortwave 0 (1998)
Radios 
NA
Television broadcast stations 
1 (1997)
Televisions 
NA
Internet country code 
.io
Internet Service Providers (ISPs) 
1 (2000)

Transportation

Highways 
total: NA km
paved: short stretch of paved road of NA km between port and airfield on Diego Garcia
unpaved: NA km
Waterways 
none
Ports and harbors 
Diego Garcia
Airports 
1 (2001)
Airports - with paved runways 
total: 1
over 3,047 m: 1 (2002)

Military

Military - note 
defense is the responsibility of the UK; the US lease on Diego Garcia expires in 2016

Transnational Issues

Disputes - international 
Mauritius and Seychelles claim the Chagos Archipelago and its former inhabitants, who reside chiefly in Mauritius, but in 2001 were granted UK citizenship and the right to repatriation since eviction in 1965; repatriation is complicated by the US military lease of Diego Garcia, the largest island in the chain