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  Cocos (Keeling) Islands   
  Introduction Back To Top

There are 27 coral islands in the group. Captain William KEELING discovered the islands in 1609, but they remained uninhabited until the 19th century. From the 1820s to 1978, members of the CLUNIE-ROSS family controlled the islands and the copra produced from local coconuts. Annexed by the UK in 1857, the Cocos Islands were transferred to the Australian Government in 1955. The population on the two inhabited islands generally is split between the ethnic Europeans on West Island and the ethnic Malays on Home Island.

  Geography Back To Top

Land boundaries:
0 km

tropical with high humidity, moderated by the southeast trade winds for about nine months of the year

Map references:
Southeast Asia

Geographic coordinates:
12 30 S, 96 50 E

Natural resources:

Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Indian Ocean 0 m
highest point: unnamed location 5 m

flat, low-lying coral atolls

Geography - note:
islands are thickly covered with coconut palms and other vegetation; site of a World War I naval battle in November 1914 between the Australian light cruiser HMAS Sydney and the German raider SMS Emden; after being heavily damaged in the engagement, the Emden was beached by her captain on North Keeling Island

total: 14 sq km
land: 14 sq km
water: 0 sq km
note: includes the two main islands of West Island and Home Island

Southeastern Asia, group of islands in the Indian Ocean, southwest of Indonesia, about halfway from Australia to Sri Lanka

26 km

Area - comparative:
about 24 times the size of The Mall in Washington, DC

Irrigated land:

Environment - current issues:
fresh water resources are limited to rainwater accumulations in natural underground reservoirs

Maritime claims:
territorial sea: 12 nm
exclusive fishing zone: 200 nm

Natural hazards:
cyclone season is October to April

Land use:
arable land: 0%
permanent crops: 0%
other: 100% (2005)

  People Back To Top

Total fertility rate:
NA (2008 est.)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:

HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: NA
male: NA
female: NA (2008 est.)


Net migration rate:
NA (2008 est.)

Ethnic groups:
Europeans, Cocos Malays

596 (July 2007 est.)

Population growth rate:
0% (2008 est.)

Malay (Cocos dialect), English

Death rate:
NA (2008 est.)

Infant mortality rate:
total: NA
male: NA
female: NA (2008 est.)

HIV/AIDS - deaths:

Age structure:
0-14 years: NA
15-64 years: NA
65 years and over: NA

Birth rate:
NA (2008 est.)

Sunni Muslim 80%, other 20% (2002 est.)

noun: Cocos Islander(s)
adjective: Cocos Islander

  Government Back To Top

Diplomatic representation from the US:
none (territory of Australia)

National holiday:
Australia Day, 26 January (1788)


Government type:

Political pressure groups and leaders:
The Cocos Islands Youth Support Centre

Diplomatic representation in the US:
none (territory of Australia)

Dependency status:
non-self governing territory of Australia; administered from Canberra by the Australian Attorney-General's Department

International organization participation:

Legislative branch:
unicameral Cocos (Keeling) Islands Shire Council (7 seats)
elections: held every two years with half the members standing for election; last held in May 2007 (next to be held in May 2009)

Legal system:
based upon the laws of Australia and local laws

Flag description:
the flag of Australia is used

none (territory of Australia)

Country name (Goverment):
conventional long form: Territory of Cocos (Keeling) Islands
conventional short form: Cocos (Keeling) Islands

Political parties and leaders:

name: West Island
geographic coordinates: 12 10 S, 96 50 E
time difference: UTC+6.5 (11.5 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)

Cocos (Keeling) Islands Act of 1955 (23 November 1955) as amended by the Territories Law Reform Act of 1992

Executive branch:
chief of state: Queen ELIZABETH II (since 6 February 1952); represented by the Australian governor general
head of government: Administrator (nonresident) Neil LUCAS (since 30 January 2006)
cabinet: NA
elections: the monarch is hereditary; administrator appointed by the governor general of Australia and represents the monarch and Australia

Administrative divisions:
none (territory of Australia)

Judicial branch:
Supreme Court; Magistrate's Court

  Economy Back To Top

Unemployment rate:
60% (2000 est.)

GDP (purchasing power parity):

Exchange rates:
Australian dollars (AUD) per US dollar - 1.2059 (2008 est.), 1.2137 (2007), 1.3285 (2006), 1.3095 (2005), 1.3598 (2004)

Labor force:


Currency (code):
Australian dollar (AUD)

Economy - overview:
Grown throughout the islands, coconuts are the sole cash crop. 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 tourist industry.

Imports - commodities:

copra products and tourism


Labor force - by occupation:
note: the Cocos Islands Cooperative Society Ltd. employs construction workers, stevedores, and lighterage workers; tourism employs others

Currency code:

Exports - commodities:

Economic aid - recipient:

Electricity - production by source:
fossil fuel: NA
hydro: NA
nuclear: NA
other: NA

revenues: $NA
expenditures: $NA

Fiscal year:
1 July - 30 June

  Communications Back To Top

Internet users:

Telephones - main lines in use:
287 (1992)


Internet country code:

Radio broadcast stations:
AM 1, FM 2, shortwave 0 (2004)

300 (1992)

Television broadcast stations:
4 (2007)

Telephone system:
general assessment: connected within Australia's telecommunication system; a local mobile-cellular network is in operation
domestic: NA
international: country code - 61; telephone, telex, and facsimile communications with Australia and elsewhere via satellite; satellite earth station - 1 (Intelsat) (2001)

Internet Service Providers (ISPs):
2 (2000)

  Transportation Back To Top

Ports and terminals:
Port Refuge

Airports - with paved runways:
total: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1 (2007)

total: 22 km
paved: 10 km
unpaved: 12 km (2006)

1 (2007)

  Military Back To Top

Military - note:
defense is the responsibility of Australia; the territory has a five-person police force

  Transnational Issues Back To Top

Disputes - international:

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