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British Indian Ocean Territory (2008)

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British Indian Ocean Territory 2008 year

 British Indian Ocean Territory
Airports 1 (2007)
Airports - with paved runways total: 1

over 3,047 m: 1 (2007)
Area 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
Area - comparative land area is 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 including Diego Garcia; in 2001, the former inhabitants of the Chagos Archipelago, evicted in 1967 and 1973 and now residing chiefly in Mauritius, were granted UK citizenship and the right to repatriation; in May 2006, the High Court of London reversed U.K. Government's 2004 orders of council that banned habitation on the islands; a small group of Chagossians visited Diego Garcia in April 2006; repatriation is complicated by the exclusive US military lease of Diego Garcia that restricts access to the largest viable island in the chain
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. When the native Ilois return, they plan to reestablish sugarcane production and fishing. The territory makes money by selling fishing licenses and postage stamps.
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 Leigh TURNER (since July 2006); Administrator Tony HUMPHRIES (since February 2005); note - both reside in the UK and are represented by the officer commanding British Forces on Diego Garcia

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; note - Diego Garcia 7 20 S, 72 25 E
Geography - note 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
Irrigated land 0 sq km
Land boundaries 0 km
Land use arable land: 0%

permanent crops: 0%

other: 100% (2005)
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 November 2004, there were approximately 4,000 UK and US military personnel and civilian contractors living on the island of 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: country code (Diego Garcia) - 246; 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 two meters in elevation)
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