Cocos (Keeling) Islands

From Academic Kids

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Cocos (Keeling) Islands
For the Costa Rican island, see Cocos Island

The Territory of Cocos (Keeling) Islands, also called Cocos Islands and Keeling Islands, is a territory of Australia. There are two atolls with 27 coral islands in the group. The islands are located in the Indian Ocean, about one-half of the way from Australia to Sri Lanka, at Template:Coor dms.



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Unofficial Flag of C(K)I
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Sunset over the islands

Captain William Keeling discovered the islands in 1609, but they remained uninhabited until the 19th century, when they became a possession of the Clunies-Ross family. Slaves were brought to work the coconut plantation from Indonesia, the Cape of Good Hope and East Asia by Alexander Hare who had taken part in Stamford Raffles' takeover of Java in 1811. A merchant seaman called Captain John Clunies-Ross, who had also served under Raffles in the takeover, set up a compound and Hare's severely mistreated slaves soon escaped to work under better conditions in the Clunies-Ross compound.

On 1 April 1836 the Voyage of the Beagle under Captain Robert FitzRoy arrived to take soundings establishing the profile of the atoll. To the young naturalist Charles Darwin who was on the ship the results supported a theory he had developed of how atolls formed. He studied the natural history of the islands and collected specimens. His assistant Syms Covington noted that "an Englishman and HIS family, with about sixty or seventy Mulattos from the Cape of Good Hope, live on one of the islands. Captain Ross, the governor, is now absent at the Cape."

The islands were brought under the British Empire in 1857. In 1867, their administration was placed under the Straits Settlements, which later known as Singapore. Queen Victoria granted the islands in perpetuity to the Clunies-Ross family in 1886.

On November 9, 1914, the islands were the scene of the Battle of Cocos, one of the first naval battles of World War I. The telegraph station on Direction Island was attacked by the German light cruiser SMS Emden, which was destroyed several hours later by an Australian cruiser, HMAS Sydney.

After the Fall of Singapore in 1942 during World War II, the islands were administered under Ceylon (Sri Lanka), while West Island and Direction Island were placed under Allied military administration. In 1946 the islands were reverted back to Singapore.

The islands were transferred to Australian control on November 23, 1955 under the Cocos (Keeling) Islands Act 1955. In 1978 Australia caused a form of purchase of the islands from the Clunies-Ross family and subsequently manufactured an identity for locals to whom it gave a degree of autonomy.


The Cocos (Keeling) Islands consist of two flat, low-lying coral atolls with an area of 14.2 km, 2.6 km of coastline, a highest elevation of five metres and thickly covered with coconut palms and other vegetation. The climate is pleasant, modified by the southeast trade winds for about nine months of the year and with moderate rainfall. Cyclones may occur in the early months of the year.

North Keeling Island is an atoll consisting of just one C-shaped island, a nearly closed atoll ring with a small opening into the lagoon, about 50 m wide, on the East side. The island measures 1.1 km2 in land area and is uninhabited. The lagoon is about 0.5 km2.

South Keeling Islands is an atoll consisting of 26 individual islets forming an incomplete atoll ring, with a total land area of 13.1 km2. Only Home Island and West Island are populated.

There are no rivers or lakes on either atoll; fresh water resources are limited to rainwater accumulations in natural underground reservoirs.


As of 2004, there are 629 inhabitants of the Cocos (Keeling) islands. The population on the two inhabited islands generally is split between the ethnic Europeans on West Island and the ethnic Malays on Home Island. A Cocos dialect of Malay and English are the main languages spoken and 80% of Cocos Islanders are Sunni Muslim.


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Palm trees on the islands

The capital of the Territory of Cocos (Keeling) Islands is West Island. Some sources say that the capital is a small settlement named Bantam which is located on West Island. Governance of the islands is based on the Cocos (Keeling) Islands Act of 1955 and depends heavily on the laws of Australia. The islands are administered from Canberra by the Department of the Environment, Sport, and Territories, with a non-resident Administrator (Evan Williams, appointed on 1 November 2003) appointed by the Governor-General (Evan Williams is also the Administrator of Christmas Island. These two Territories together make up Australia's Indian Ocean Territories). There also exists a unicameral Cocos (Keeling) Islands Shire Council with seven seats. A full term lasts four years, though elections are held every two years; approximately half the members retire each two years. Federally, Cocos (Keeling) Islanders form the electorate of Lingiari with Christmas Island and outback Northern Territory.

While the islands' defence is the responsibility of Australia, the Cocos (Keeling) Islands do have a five-person police force.


One such group who are dedicated to the well being of the island are the Cocos Crew (brothers)


Grown throughout the islands, coconuts are the sole cash crop. Copra and fresh coconuts are the major export earners. 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 but growing tourist industry.

The Cocos Islands Cooperative Society Ltd. employs construction workers, stevedores, and lighterage worker operations. Tourism employs others.

The islands are connected within Australia's telecommunication system. There is one paved airport (on the West Island) and a lagoon anchorage.

The internet top level domain is .cc.

Links and References


de:Kokosinseln es:Islas Cocos fr:les Cocos gl:Illas Cocos he:איי קוקוס nl:Cocoseilanden ja:ココス諸島 pl:Wyspy Kokosowe fi:Kookossaaret sv:Kokosarna


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