About Cocos & Keeling Islands [ 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 Cocos & Keeling Islands; into a view that makes sense for a traveller to, or within, this territory.


Southeastern Asia, group of islands in the Indian Ocean, southwest of Indonesia, about halfway from Australia to Sri Lanka


Tropical with high humidity, moderated by the southeast trade winds for about nine months of the year


Flat, low-lying coral atolls


lowest point: Indian Ocean 0 m
highest point: unnamed location 5 m

Geo Notes

Islands are thickly covered with coconut palms and other vegetation; site of a World War I naval battle in November 1914 between the Australian light cruiser HMAS Sydney and the German raider SMS Emden; after being heavily damaged in the engagement, the Emden was beached by her captain on North Keeling Island

Approved Official Names

conventional long form: Territory of Cocos (Keeling) Islands
conventional short form: Cocos (Keeling) Islands

Capital City

name: West Island
geographic coordinates: 12 10 S, 96 50 E
time difference: UTC+6.5

Administrative Divisions

None (territory of Australia)

Natuaral Hazards

Cyclone season is October to April

Environmental Issues

Fresh water resources are limited to rainwater accumulations in natural underground reservoirs

Life Expectancy

total population: NA
male: NA
female: NA

Languages Spoken

Malay (Cocos dialect), English

Religions Practiced

Sunni Muslim 80%, other 20% (2002 est.)

Legal System

Based upon the laws of Australia and local laws

National Holiday

Australia Day, 26 January (1788)

Telephone System

general assessment: connected within Australia's telecommunication system; a local mobile-cellular network is in operation
domestic: NA
international: country code - 61; telephone, telex, and facsimile communications with Australia and elsewhere via satellite; satellite earth station - 1 (Intelsat) (2001)

Broadcast Media

1 local radio station staffed by community volunteers; broadcasts of several Australian radio and TV stations are received via satellite (2009)


There are 27 coral islands in the group. Captain William KEELING discovered the islands in 1609, but they remained uninhabited until the 19th century. From the 1820s to 1978, members of the CLUNIE-ROSS family controlled the islands and the copra produced from local coconuts. Annexed by the UK in 1857, the Cocos Islands were transferred to the Australian Government in 1955. The population on the two inhabited islands generally is split between the ethnic Europeans on West Island and the ethnic Malays on Home Island.

Economy Overview

Coconuts, grown throughout the islands, are the sole cash crop. Small local gardens and fishing contribute to the food supply, but additional food and most other necessities must be imported from Australia. There is a small tourist industry.

National Anthem

note: as a territory of Australia, "Advance Australia Fair" remains official as the national anthem, while "God Save the Queen" serves as the royal anthem (see Australia)

Cocos & Keeling Islands location map

total: 14 sq km
land: 14 sq km
water: 0 sq km
note: includes the two main islands of West Island and Home Island

Cocos & Keeling Islands flag

596 (July 2010 est.)


noun: Cocos Islander(s)
adjective: Cocos Islander

Ethnic Groups

Europeans, Cocos Malays



Dependency Of

Non-self governing territory of Australia; administered from Canberra by the Australian Government Attorney-General's Department

Independence Date

none (territory of Australia)

Government Type


Voting Rights

18 years of age

Internet Hosts

35,312 (2010)

Internet Country Code


Number Airports

1 (2010)

Number Paved Airports

total: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1 (2010)


total: 22 km
paved: 10 km
unpaved: 12 km (2007)

Ports & Terminals

Port Refuge

National Budget

revenues: $NA
expenditures: $NA

Exchange Rates

Australian dollars (AUD) per US dollar - 1.2894 (2009), 1.2059 (2008), 1.2137 (2007), 1.3285 (2006), 1.3095 (2005)

Main Industries

Copra products and tourism

Agricultural Products

Vegetables, bananas, pawpaws, coconuts

Labor Force


Main Occupations

note: the Cocos Islands Cooperative Society Ltd. employs construction workers, stevedores, and lighterage workers; tourism employs others

Unemployment Rate

60% (2000 est.)

GDP (USD Parity)