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Cocos (Keeling) Islands

The Territory of Cocos (Keeling) Islands is a territory of Australia, administered from Canberra by the Australian Department of the Environment, Sport, and Territories. The islands are located in the Indian Ocean. The capital is West Island. It is not to be confused with Cocos Island, which is an uninhabited offshore island in the Pacific Ocean, and forms an integral part of the Republic of Costa Rica.


A possession of the Clunies-Ross family from the early 19th century, the islands were brought under the British Empire in 1857 and were transferred to Australia on November 23, 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 UN legalisms used paralleled similar ones used in territories passing to Indonesia in the 1960s and 1970s, though history has not revealed any parallel later complications.


Southeastern Asia, group of islands in the Indian Ocean, south of Indonesia, about one-half of the way from Australia to Sri Lanka Geographic coordinates12 30 S, 96 50 E

Map references:Southeast Asia

total:14 km²
land:14 km²
water:0 km²
note:includes the two main islands of West Island and Home Island

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

Land boundaries:0 km

Coastline:2.6 km

Maritime claims:
exclusive fishing zone:200 nm
territorial sea:3 nm

Climate:pleasant, modified by the southeast trade winds for about nine months of the year; moderate rainfall

Terrain:flat, low-lying coral atolls

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

Natural resources:fish

Land use:
arable land:0%
permanent crops:0%
permanent pastures:0%
forests and woodland:0%
other:100% (1993 est.)

Irrigated land:NA km²

Natural hazards: cyclones may occur in the early months of the year

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

Geography - note: Two coral atolls thickly covered with coconut palms and other vegetation. There is a Cocos Island or Isla del Coco in the Pacific Ocean that belongs to Costa Rica and not to be confused with these Cocos Islands.


635 (July 2000 est.)

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

Population growth rate:-0.21% (2000 est.)

Birth rate:NA births/1,000 population

Death rate:NA deaths/1,000 population

Net migration rate:NA migrant(s)/1,000 population

Infant mortality rate:NA deaths/1,000 live births

Life expectancy at birth:
total population:NA years
male:NA years
female:NA years

Total fertility rate:NA children born/woman

noun:Cocos Islander(s)
adjective:Cocos Islander

Ethnic groups:Europeans, Cocos Malays

Religions:Sunni Muslim 57%, Christian 22%, other 21% (1981 est.)

Languages:English, Malay


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

Data code:CK

Dependency status: territory of Australia; administered from Canberra by the Australian Department of the Environment, Sport and Territories

Government type:NA

Capital:West Island

Administrative divisions:none (territory of Australia)

Independence:none (territory of Australia)

National holiday:NA

Constitution:Cocos (Keeling) Islands Act of 1955

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


Executive branch:
chief of state: Queen ELIZABETH II (since 6 February 1952), represented by the Australian governor general
head of government:Administrator (acting) Maureen ELLIS (since NA)
Elections:none; the monarch is hereditary; administrator appointed by the governor general of Australia and represents the monarch and Australia

Legislative branch:unicameral Cocos (Keeling) Islands Shire Council (NA seats)

Judicial branch:Supreme Court

Political parties and leaders:none

International organization participation:none

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

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

Flag description:the flag of Australia is used


Overview 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.

GDP: purchasing power parity - $NA

GDP - real growth rate:NA%

GDP - per capita:purchasing power parity - $NA

GDP - composition by sector:

Population below poverty line:NA%

Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%:NA%
highest 10%:NA%

Inflation rate (consumer prices):NA%

Labor force:NA

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

expenditures:$NA, including capital expenditures of $NA

Industries:copra products and tourism

Industrial production growth rate:NA%

Electricity - production:NA kWh

Electricity - production by source:
fossil fuel:NA%

Electricity - consumption:NA kWh

Electricity - exports:NA kWh

Electricity - imports:NA kWh

Agriculture - products: vegetables, bananas, pawpaws, coconuts


Exports - commodities:copra

Exports - partners:Australia


Imports - commodities:foodstuffs

Imports - partners:Australia

Debt - external:$NA

Economic aid - recipient:$NA

Currency:1 Australian dollar ($A) = 100 cents

Exchange rates: Australian dollars ($A) per US$1 - 1.5207 (January 2000), 1.5497 (1999), 1.5888 (1998), 1.3439 (1997), 1.2773 (1996), 1.3486 (1995)

Fiscal year:1 July - 30 June


Telephones - main lines in use:287 (1992)

Telephones - mobile cellular:NA

Telephone system:
general assessment: connected within Australia's telecommunication system
international: telephone, telex, and facsimile communications with Australia and elsewhere via satellite; 1 satellite earth station of NA type (2002)

Radio broadcast stations:AM 1, FM 0, shortwave 0 (2000)

Television broadcast stations:NA

Internet Service Providers (ISPs):2 (2000)

Country codes: CC


Railways:0 km

total:15 km (2001)
paved:NA km
unpaved:NA km

Ports and harbors:none; lagoon anchorage only

Merchant marine:none (2002 est.)

Airports:1 (2002)

Airports - with paved runways:
1,524 to 2,437 m:1 (2002)


Note: Defense is the responsibility of Australia; the territory does have a five-person police force.

Information from the CIA World Factbook.

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