British Indian Ocean Territory Population: 1,200

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 History
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. Only Diego Garcia, the largest and most southerly of the islands, is inhabited. It contains a joint UK-US naval support facility and hosts one of four dedicated ground antennas (the others are on Ascension (Saint Helena, Ascension, and Tristan da Cunha), Kwajalein (Marshall Islands), and at Cape Canaveral, Florida (US)) that assist in the operation of the Global Positioning System (GPS) navigation system. The US Air Force also operates a telescope array on Diego Garcia as part of the Ground-Based Electro-Optical Deep Space Surveillance System (GEODSS) for tracking orbital debris, which can be a hazard to spacecraft and astronauts. 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.

 Geography
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
Location: archipelago in the Indian Ocean, south of India, about halfway between Africa and Indonesia
Geographic coordinates: 6 00 S, 71 30 E; note - Diego Garcia 7 20 S, 72 25 E
Area: total: 60 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

Size comparison: land area is about one-third the size of Washington, DC
Land Boundaries: 0 km
Coastline: 698 km
Maritime claims: territorial sea: 3 nm exclusive fishing zone: 200 nm
Climate: tropical marine; hot, humid, moderated by trade winds
Terrain: flat and low (most areas do not exceed two m in elevation)
Elevation extremes:
Natural resources: coconuts, fish, sugarcane
Land use: agricultural land: 0% arable land 0%; permanent crops 0%; permanent pasture 0% forest: 0%
other: 100% (2011 est.)
Natural hazards: NA
Current Environment Issues: NA
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 People
Nationality:
Ethnic groups:
Languages:
Religions:
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; approximately 3,000 UK and US military personnel and civilian contractors were living on the island of Diego Garcia
Population growth rate:
Sex ratio:
Literacy:
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 Government
Country name: conventional long form: British Indian Ocean Territory
conventional short form: none
abbreviation: BIOT
etymology: self-descriptive name specifying the territory's affiliation and location
Government type:
Capital:
Administrative divisions:
Independence:
National holiday:
Constitution:
Legal system: the laws of the UK, where applicable, apply
Suffrage:
Executive branch: chief of state: Queen ELIZABETH II (since 6 February 1952)

head of government: Commissioner Dr. Peter HAYES (since 17 October 2012); Administrator John MCMANUS (since April 2011); note - both reside in the UK and are represented by the officer commanding British Forces on Diego Garcia

cabinet: NA elections/appointments: the monarchy is hereditary; commissioner and administrator appointed by the monarch
Legislative branch:
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Political parties and leaders:
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International organization participation:
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Diplomatic representation in the US: none (overseas territory of the UK)
Diplomatic representation from the US: none (overseas territory of the UK)
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 Economy
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. Some of the natural resources found in this territory include coconuts, fish, and sugarcane. Sugarcane is still a major export for this territory. There are no industrial or agricultural activities on the islands. The territory earns foreign exchange by selling fishing licenses and postage stamps. 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. Some of the natural resources found in this territory include coconuts, fish, and sugarcane. Sugarcane is still a major export for this territory. There are no industrial or agricultural activities on the islands. The territory earns foreign exchange by selling fishing licenses and postage stamps.
Agriculture - products:
Industries:
Labor force:
Budget:
Exports:
Exports - commodities:
Imports:
Imports - commodities:
Exchange rates: the US dollar is used the US dollar is used
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 Energy
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 Communications
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 (2015)
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)
Internet country code: .io
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 Transportation
Airports: 1 (2013)
Airports (paved runways): total 1
over 3,047 m: 1 (2013)
Roadways:

note: short section of paved road between port and airfield on Diego Garcia
Ports and terminals: major seaport(s): Diego Garcia
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 Military
Defense is the responsibility of the UK; the US lease on Diego Garcia expires in December 2016
Military branches: no regular military forces (2014)
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 Transnational Issues
Disputes - International: Mauritius and Seychelles claim the Chagos Islands; 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, who were evicted between 1967-73; in 2001, the former inhabitants of the archipelago were granted UK citizenship and the right of return; 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; in 2008 a House of Lords' decision overturned lower court rulings, once again denying the right of return to Chagossians; in addition, the UK created the world's largest marine protection area around the Chagos islands prohibiting the extraction of any natural resources therein
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   Source: CIA - The World Factbook
 

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