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British Indian Ocean Territory (2004)

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British Indian Ocean Territory 2004 year

 British Indian Ocean Territory
Airports 1 (2003 est.)
Airports - with paved runways total: 1

over 3,047 m: 1 (2004 est.)
Area total: 60 sq km

land: 60 sq km

water: 0 sq km

note: includes the entire Chagos Archipelago
Area - comparative about 0.3 times the size of Washington, DC
Background 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 that had excluded them from the archipelago, but upheld the special military status of Diego Garcia.
Climate tropical marine; hot, humid, moderated by trade winds
Coastline 698 km
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
Diplomatic representation from the US none (overseas territory of the UK)
Diplomatic representation in the US none (overseas territory of the UK)
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; the UK resists the Chagossians' demand for an immediate return to the islands; repatriation is complicated by the exclusive US military lease of Diego Garcia that restricted access to the largest island in the chain
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 - consumption NA kWh
Electricity - production NA kWh; note - electricity supplied by the US military
Elevation extremes lowest point: Indian Ocean 0 m

highest point: unnamed location on Diego Garcia 15 m
Environment - current issues NA
Executive branch chief of state: Queen ELIZABETH II (since 6 February 1952)

head of government: Commissioner Tony CROMBIE (since January 2004); Administrator Charles A. HAMILTON (since 2002); note - both reside in the UK

cabinet: NA

elections: none; the monarch is hereditary; commissioner and administrator appointed by the monarch
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
Geographic coordinates 6 00 S, 71 30 E
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
Highways total: NA km

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

unpaved: NA km
Irrigated land 0 sq km (1998 est.)
Land boundaries 0 km
Land use arable land: 0%

permanent crops: 0%

other: 100% (2001)
Legal system the laws of the UK, where applicable, apply
Location archipelago in the Indian Ocean, south of India, about one-half the way from Africa to Indonesia
Map references Political Map of the World
Maritime claims territorial sea: 3 nm

exclusive fishing zone: 200 nm
Military - note defense is the responsibility of the UK; the US lease on Diego Garcia expires in 2016
Natural hazards NA
Natural resources coconuts, fish, sugarcane
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 2000 they were granted the right of return by a British High Court ruling, though no timetable has been set; 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 2004 est.)
Ports and harbors Diego Garcia
Radio broadcast stations AM 1, FM 2, shortwave 0 (1998)
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)
Telephones - main lines in use NA
Television broadcast stations 1 (1997)
Terrain flat and low (most areas do not exceed four meters in elevation)
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