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Australia-Oceania :: Cocos (Keeling) Islands
(territory of Australia)
Page last updated on September 04, 2015
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Cocos (Keeling) Islands
  • Introduction :: COCOS (KEELING) ISLANDS

  • 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. Apart from North Keeling Island, which lies 30 kilometers north of the main group, the islands form a horseshoe-shaped atoll surrounding a lagoon. North Keeling Island was declared a national park in 1995 and is administered by Parks Australia. 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 :: COCOS (KEELING) ISLANDS

  • Southeastern Asia, group of islands in the Indian Ocean, southwest of Indonesia, about halfway between Australia and Sri Lanka
    12 30 S, 96 50 E
    Southeast Asia
    total: 14 sq km
    land: 14 sq km
    water: 0 sq km
    note: includes the two main islands of West Island and Home Island
    country comparison to the world: 241
    about 24 times the size of The Mall in Washington, DC
    0 km
    26 km
    territorial sea: 12 nm
    exclusive fishing zone: 200 nm
    tropical with high humidity, moderated by the southeast trade winds for about nine months of the year
    flat, low-lying coral atolls
    lowest point: Indian Ocean 0 m
    highest point: unnamed location 5 m
    agricultural land: 0%
    arable land 0%; permanent crops 0%; permanent pasture 0%
    forest: 0%
    other: 100% (2011 est.)
    cyclone season is October to April
    freshwater resources are limited to rainwater accumulations in natural underground reservoirs
    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
  • People and Society :: COCOS (KEELING) ISLANDS

  • noun: Cocos Islander(s)
    adjective: Cocos Islander
    Europeans, Cocos Malays
    Malay (Cocos dialect), English
    Sunni Muslim 80%, other 20% (2002 est.)
    596 (July 2014 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 237
    0% (2014 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 197
    total: NA
    male: NA
    female: NA
    total population: NA
    male: NA
    female: NA
  • Government :: COCOS (KEELING) ISLANDS

  • conventional long form: Territory of Cocos (Keeling) Islands
    conventional short form: Cocos (Keeling) Islands
    non-self governing territory of Australia; administered from Canberra by the Department of Regional Australia, Local Government, Arts and Sport
    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)
    none (territory of Australia)
    none (territory of Australia)
    Australia Day, 26 January (1788)
    23 November 1955 (Cocos (Keeling) Islands Act 1955); amended many times, last in 2010 (2010)
    common law based on the Australian model
    18 years of age
    chief of state: Queen ELIZABETH II (since 6 February 1952); represented by Governor General of the Commonwealth of Australia General Sir Peter COSGROVE (since 28 March 2014)
    head of government: Administrator (nonresident) Barry HAASE (since 6 October 2014)
    cabinet: NA
    elections/appointments: the monarchy is hereditary; governor general appointed by the monarch on the recommendation of the Australian prime minister; administrator appointed by for a 2-year term and represents the monarch and Australia
    description: unicameral Cocos (Keeling) Islands Shire Council (7 seats; members directly elected by simple majority vote to serve 4-year terms with a portion of the membership renewed every 2 years)
    elections: held every two years with half the members standing for election; last held in October 2011 (next to be held in October 2013)
    highest court(s): under the terms of the Territorial Law Reform Act 1992, Western Australia provides court services as needed for the island including the Supreme Court and subordinate courts (District Court, Magistrate Court, Family Court, Children's Court, and Coroners' Court)
    The Cocos Islands Youth Support Centre
    none (territory of Australia)
    none (territory of Australia)
    the flag of Australia is used
    note: as a territory of Australia, "Advance Australia Fair" remains official as the national anthem, while "God Save the Queen" serves as the royal anthem (see Australia)

  • Coconuts, grown throughout the islands, 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.
    1% (2003)
    country comparison to the world: 185
    vegetables, bananas, pawpaws, coconuts
    copra products, tourism
    note: the Cocos Islands Cooperative Society Ltd. employs construction workers, stevedores, and lighterage workers; tourism is the other main source of employment
    60% (2000 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 200
    revenues: $NA
    expenditures: $NA
    1 July - 30 June
    Australian dollars (AUD) per US dollar -
    1.098 (2014)
    1.0358 (2013)
    0.97 (2012)
    0.9695 (2011)
    1.0902 (2010)
  • Communications :: COCOS (KEELING) ISLANDS

  • general assessment: telephone service is part of the Australian network; an operational local mobile-cellular network available; wireless Internet connectivity available
    domestic: NA
    international: country code - 61; telephone, telex, and facsimile communications with Australia and elsewhere via satellite; satellite earth station - 1 (Intelsat) (2001)
    1 local radio station staffed by community volunteers; satellite broadcasts of several Australian radio and TV stations available (2009)
    AM 1, FM 2, shortwave 0 (2004)
    4 (2007)
  • Transportation :: COCOS (KEELING) ISLANDS

  • 1 (2013)
    country comparison to the world: 216
    total: 1
    2,438 to 3,047 m: 1 (2013)
    total: 22 km
    paved: 10 km
    unpaved: 12 km (2007)
    country comparison to the world: 222
    major seaport(s): Port Refuge

  • defense is the responsibility of Australia; the territory has a five-person police force
  • Transnational Issues :: COCOS (KEELING) ISLANDS

  • none