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British Indian Ocean Territory:
Geography

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British Indian Ocean Territory Page


Other pages in this profile of the British Indian Ocean Territory:
People, Government, Economy, Communications & Transportation, Military & Transnational Issues.
Background
Definition
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.
Location
Definition
archipelago in the Indian Ocean, south of India, about halfway between Africa and Indonesia
Geographic coordinates
Definition
6 00 S, 71 30 E; note - Diego Garcia 7 20 S, 72 25 E
Map references
Definition
Political Map of the World
Area
Definition - World rank and map
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
Definition
land area is about 0.3 times the size of Washington, DC
Land boundaries
Definition
0 km
Coastline
Definition
698 km
Maritime claims
Definition
territorial sea: 3 nm
exclusive fishing zone: 200 nm
Climate
Definition
tropical marine; hot, humid, moderated by trade winds
Terrain
Definition
flat and low (most areas do not exceed two meters in elevation)
Elevation extremes
Definition
lowest point: Indian Ocean 0 m
highest point: unnamed location on Diego Garcia 15 m
Natural resources
Definition
coconuts, fish, sugarcane
Land use
Definition - World rank and map
arable land: 0%
permanent crops: 0%
other: 100% (2005)
Irrigated land
Definition
0 sq km
Natural hazards
Definition
NA
Environment - current issues
Definition
NA
Geography - note
Definition
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


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