About British Indian Ocean Territory [ Territory ]

Here we've distilled information and facts from various sources about the location, size, population, geography, transport, climate, economy, history, government, law, and so on, of British Indian Ocean Territory; into a view that makes sense for a traveller to, or within, this territory.

Location

Archipelago in the Indian Ocean, south of India, about halfway between Africa and Indonesia

Climate

Tropical marine; hot, humid, moderated by trade winds

Terrain

Flat and low (most areas do not exceed two meters in elevation)

Elevation

lowest point: Indian Ocean 0 m
highest point: unnamed location on Diego Garcia 15 m

Geo Notes

Archipelago of 55 islands; Diego Garcia, largest and southernmost island, occupies strategic location in central Indian Ocean; island is site of joint US-UK military facility

Approved Official Names

conventional long form: British Indian Ocean Territory
conventional short form: none
abbreviation: BIOT

Natuaral Hazards

NA

Environmental Issues

NA

Legal System

The laws of the UK where applicable apply

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: country code (Diego Garcia) - 246; international telephone service is carried by satellite (2000)

Broadcast Media

Armed Forces Radio and Television Service (AFRTS) broadcasts over 3 separate frequencies for US and UK military personnel stationed on the islands (2009)

Background

Formerly administered as part of the British Crown Colony of Mauritius, the British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT) was established as an overseas territory of the UK in 1965. A number of the islands of the territory were later 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. Between 1967 and 1973, former agricultural workers, earlier residents in the islands, were relocated primarily to Mauritius, but also to the Seychelles. Negotiations between 1971 and 1982 resulted in the establishment of a trust fund by the British Government as compensation for the displaced islanders, known as Chagossians. Beginning in 1998, the islanders pursued a series of lawsuits against the British Government seeking further compensation and the right to return to the territory. In 2006 and 2007, British court rulings invalidated the immigration policies contained in the 2004 BIOT Constitution Order that had excluded the islanders from the archipelago, but upheld the special military status of Diego Garcia. In 2008, the House of Lords, as the final court of appeal in the UK, ruled in favor of the British Government by overturning the lower court rulings and finding no right of return for the Chagossians.

Economy Overview

All economic activity is concentrated on the largest island of Diego Garcia, where a joint UK-US military facility is located. Construction projects and various services needed to support the military installation are performed by military and contract employees from the UK, Mauritius, the Philippines, and the US. There are no industrial or agricultural activities on the islands. The territory earns foreign exchange by selling fishing licenses and postage stamps.

British Indian Ocean Territory location map
Size

total: 54,400 sq km
land: 60 sq km; Diego Garcia 44 sq km
water: 54,340 sq km
note: includes the entire Chagos Archipelago of 55 islands

British Indian Ocean Territory flag
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 in the 1960s and 1970s; in November 2004, approximately 4,000 UK and US military personnel and civilian contractors were living on the island of Diego Garcia

Dependency Of

Overseas territory of the UK; administered by a commissioner, resident in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London

Internet Hosts

827 (2010)

Internet Country Code

.io

Number Airports

1 (2010)

Number Paved Airports

total: 1
over 3,047 m: 1 (2010)

Roadways

note: short section of paved road between port and airfield on Diego Garcia

Ports & Terminals

Diego Garcia

Exchange Rates

the US dollar is used