Diego Garcia Commonwealth Walkway

British Indian Ocean Territory / Asia

BRITISH INDIAN OCEAN TERRITORY The British Indian Ocean Territory is a British Overseas Territory, located halfway between Tanzania and Indonesia, and south-west of Sri Lanka.  It was first discovered by the Portuguese in the 16th century.  France then took possession in the 18th century and imported slaves from Africa to work on plantations.  In the early 19th century Britain took over and under an agreement with the United States, the British Indian Ocean Territory was established in 1965.  The territory was accepted to be a defence against the Soviet Union during the cold war.  At this time this territory also included other islands such as Aldabra, Mauritius and the Seychelles. Today the British Indian Ocean Territory is only made up of the Chagos Archipelago.  The British Indian Ocean Territory is composed of 7 atolls.  Many of the islands are very small and the total land area of all the atolls is around 60 square miles.  The largest island is Diego Garcia which is also the most southern atoll. The only inhabitants are British and US military and contract civilian personnel, some 3,000 people in 2018.  In order for the UK and US to build their military base here, the Chagossians were expelled to Mauritius and Seychelles.  Today the Chagossians are trying to return.  However, the British government have repeatedly denied them this right.  For this reason, these islands are off-limits to Chagossians, casual tourists and the media.  Capital The British Indian Ocean Territory is administered by a commissioner of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London.  As there are no civilian population on the island, these islands do not have a capital. However, Diego Garcia is the largest of all the islands.  There are 4,000 British and US military and contract civilian personnel stationed there. Fun Facts
  • As the British Indian Ocean Territory is a restricted area, there are no commercial flights, nor are permits available for boats. 
  • This location is also restricted to media and tourists.

5.8 miles / 9.3 kilometres

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