Cocos Keeling Islands

Cocos Keeling Islands -
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Cocos (Keeling) Islands
Territory of the Cocos (Keeling) Islands
 - Flag of Cocos (Keeling) Islands
Coat of Arms
 -
The Cocos (Keeling) Islands are one of Australia's territories
Capital - West Island
Largest village - Bantam (Home Island
Official language(s) - English (de facto
People : - Cocossian (Cocos Islandian
Government : - Federal constitutional monarchy
Queen - Elizabeth II
Administrator - Brian Lacy
Shire President : - Balmut Pirus
Territory of Australia
Annexed by
British Empire -
1857
Transferred to
Australian control -
1955
Area Total : 14 km
5.3 (sq mi)
Water (%) - 0
Population : July estimate in 2009 : 596 - Density : 43/km (n/a)
112/sq mi
Currency : - Australian dollar (AUD)
Time zone : - (UTC) +6½
Internet domain name for the country (TLD) - .cc
Calling code + 61 891
The Territory of Cocos (Keeling) Islands , also called Cocos Islands and Keeling Islands , is a territory of Australia. There are two atolls and twenty-seven coral islands in the group. The islands are located in the Indian Ocean, about halfway between Australia and Sri Lanka.
Geography - - Fauna - - Demographics -
- Annexed to the British Empire - World War I - - World War II - - Transfer to Australia -
Government - Economy -
Communications and transport - Media - - Television - Education - Gallery -
- Geography
Cocos (Keeling) Islands
The Cocos (Keeling) Islands consist of two flat, low-lying coral atolls with an area of 14.2 square kilometres (5.5 (sq mi), 26 kilometres (16 mi) of coastline, a highest elevation of 5 metres (16 ft) and thickly covered with coconut palms and other vegetation. The climate is pleasant, moderated 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 metres (160 ft) wide, on the east side. The island measures 1.1 square kilometres (270 acres) in land area and is uninhabited. The lagoon is about 0.5 square kilometres (120 acres). North Keeling Island and the surrounding sea to 1.5 km (0.93 mi) from shore form the Pulu Keeling National Park, established on 12 December 1995. It is home to the only surviving population of the endemic, and endangered, Cocos Buff-banded Rail.
South Keeling Islands is an atoll consisting of twenty-four individual islets forming an incomplete atoll ring, with a total land area of 13.1 square kilometres (5.1 (sq mi). Only Home Island and West Island are populated. The Cocos Malays maintain weekend shacks, referred to as pondoks, on most of the larger islands.
Table of the islets, with areas, numbered islets clockwise starting in the north:
Map of South Keeling Islands (1889
Map of South Keeling Islands
Nr. - Islet
(Malay name) - English name - Area
(km²)
1 - Pulau Luar - Horsburgh Island - 1.04
2 - Pulau Tikus - Direction Island - 0.34
3 - Pulau Pasir - Workhouse Island - 0.00
4 - Pulau Beras - Prison Island - 0.02
5 - Pulau Gangsa - Woeplace Islets - <0.01
6 - Pulau Selma - Home Island - 0.95
7 - Pulau Ampang Kechil - Scaevola Islet - <0.01
8 - Pulau Ampang - Canui Island - 0.06
9 - Pulau Wa-idas - Ampang Minor - 0.02
10 - Pulau Blekok - Goldwater Island - 0.03
11 - Pulau Kembang - Thorn Island - 0.04
12 - Pulau Cheplok - Gooseberry Island - <0.01
13 - Pulau Pandan - Misery Island - 0.24
14 - Pulau Siput - Goat Island - 0.10
15 - Pulau Jambatan - Middle Mission Isle - <0.01
16 - Pulau Labu - South Goat Island - 0.04
17 - Pulau Atas - South Island - 3.63
18 - Pulau Kelapa Satu - North Goat Island - 0.02
19 - Pulau Blan - East Cay - 0.03
20 - Pulau Blan Madar - Burial Island - 0.03
21 - Pulau Maria - West Cay - 0.01
22 - Pulau Kambling - Keelingham Horn Island - 0.01
23 - Pulau Panjang - West Island - 6.23
24 - Pulau Wak Bangka - ?Turtle Island - 0.22
There are no rivers or lakes on either atoll. Fresh water resources are limited to water lenses on the larger islands, underground accumulations of rainwater lying above the seawater. These lenses are accessed through shallow, bores or wells.
Cocos (Keeling) Island is located on almost exactly the opposite side of the globe from Cocos Island, Costa Rica.
- Fauna
Fauna of the Cocos (Keeling) Islands
- Demographics
In 2010, the population of the islands is estimated at just over 600. - The population on the two inhabited islands generally is split between the ethnic Europeans on West Island (estimated population 100) and the ethnic Malays on Home Island (estimated population 500). A Cocos dialect of Malay and English are the main languages spoken, and 80% of Cocos Islanders are Sunni Muslim.
- History
NASA picture of the southern Cocos (Keeling) Islands
In 1609 Captain William Keeling was the first European to see the islands, but they remained uninhabited until the nineteenth century, when they became a possession of the Clunies-Ross Family. A Scottish merchant seaman named Captain John Clunies-Ross from the Shetland Islands explored the islands in 1825, aiming to settle on them with his family. Alexander Hare, who had taken part in Stamford Raffles' takeover of Java in 1811 ] landed and settled with his slaves who originated from Indonesia, the Cape of Good Hope and East Asia. Clunies-Ross returned and set up a compound on South Island consisting of his family and some other settlers. Hare's severely mistreated slaves soon escaped to work under better conditions for Clunies-Ross. - The workers were paid in a currency called the Cocos rupee, a currency John Clunies-Ross minted himself that could only be redeemed at the company store. -

An 1840 chart of the Cocos (Keeling) Islands
On April 1, 1836, HMS Beagle under Captain Robert FitzRoy arrived to take soundings establishing the profile of the atoll as part of the survey expedition of the Beagle . 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, "an Englishman [he was of course Scottish] 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."
- Annexed to the British Empire
The islands were annexed by the British Empire in 1857. In 1867, their administration was placed under the Straits Settlements, which included Penang, Malacca and Singapore. Queen Victoria granted the islands in perpetuity to the Clunies-Ross family in 1886. The Cocos Islands under the Clunies-Ross family have been cited as an example of a nineteenth-century micronation. ]
- World War I
On November 9, 1914, the islands became the site of the Battle of Cocos, one of the first naval battles of World War I. The wireless telegraph station on Direction Island, a vital link between the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand, was destroyed by sailors from the German light cruiser SMS Emden , which was in turn surprised and destroyed by the Australian cruiser, HMAS Sydney . -
- World War II
During World War II, the cable station was once again a vital link. Allied planners noted that the islands might be seized as a base for German raider cruisers operating in the Indian Ocean. Following Japan's entry into the war, Japanese forces did occupy neighbouring islands. To avoid drawing their attention to the Cocos cable station and its islands' garrison, the seaplane anchorage between Direction and Horsburgh islands was not used. Radio transmitters were also kept silent, except in emergencies. ]
After the Fall of Singapore in 1942, the islands were administered from Ceylon (Sri Lanka), and West and Direction Islands were placed under Allied military administration. The islands' garrison initially consisted of a platoon from the British Army's King's African Rifles, located on Horsburgh Island, with two 6-inch (152.4 mm) guns to cover the anchorage. The local inhabitants all lived on Home Island. Despite the importance of the islands as a communication centre, the Japanese made no attempt either to raid or to occupy them and contented themselves with sending over a reconnaissance aircraft about once a month. ]
On the night of 8 - 9 May 1942, fifteen members of the garrison, from the Ceylon Defence Force, mutinied, under the leadership of Gratien Fernando. The mutineers were said to have been provoked by the attitude of their British officers, and were also supposedly inspired by anti-imperialist beliefs. They attempted to take control of the gun battery on the islands. The Cocos Islands Mutiny was crushed, although the mutineers killed one non-mutinous soldier and wounded one officer. Seven of the mutineers were sentenced to death at a trial which was later alleged to have been improperly conducted. Four of the sentences were commuted, but three men were executed, including Fernando. These were to be the only British Commonwealth soldiers executed for mutiny during the Second World War. - 6 ] - -
On December 25, 1942, the Japanese submarine I-166 bombarded the islands but caused no damage. - 7 ] - -
Later in the war, two airstrips were built, and three bomber squadrons were moved to the islands to conduct raids against Japanese targets in South East Asia and to provide support during the reinvasion of Malaya and reconquest of Singapore. The first aircraft to arrive were Supermarine Spitfire Mk VIIIs of No. 136 Squadron RAF. They included some Liberator bombers from No. 321 (Netherlands) Squadron RAF (members of exiled Dutch forces serving with the Royal Air Force), which were also stationed on the islands. When in July 1945 No. 99 and No. 356 RAF squadrons arrived on West Island, they brought with them a daily newspaper called Atoll which contained news of what was happening in the outside world. Run by airmen in their off-duty hours, it achieved fame when dropped by Liberator bombers on POW camps over the heads of the Japanese guards. In 1946 the administration of the islands reverted to Singapore.
- Transfer to Australia
On November 23, 1955, the islands were transferred to Australian control under the Cocos (Keeling) Islands Act 1955 (an Australian Act) pursuant to the Cocos Islands Act, 1955 (a UK Act). . Mr H J Hull appears to have been appointed the first Official Representative (now Administrator) of the new Territory. Under Commonwealth Cabinet Decision 1573 of 9 September 1958,Mr Hull's appointment was terminated and John William Stokes was appointed on secondment from the Northern Territory Police, serving from 31 October 1958 to 30 September 1960. Mr C.I. Buffett MBE from Norfolk Island succeeded him and served from 28 July 1960 to 30 June 1966, and later acted as Administrator back on Cocos and on Norfolk Island. In 1974 Ken Mullen wrote a small book about his time with wife and son from 1964 to 1966 working at the Cable Station on Direction Island. In the 1970s, the Australian government's dissatisfaction with the Clunies-Ross feudal style of rule of the island increased. In 1978, Australia forced the family to sell the islands for the sum of AU$6,250,000, using the threat of compulsory acquisition. By agreement, the family retained ownership of Oceania House, their home on the island. However, in 1983 the Australian government reneged this agreement, and told John Clunies-Ross that he should leave the Cocos. The following year the High Court of Australia ruled that resumption of Oceania House was unlawful, but the Australian government ordered that no government business was to be granted to his shipping company, an action that contributed to his bankruptcy. John Clunies-Ross now lives in Perth, Western Australia. However, some members of the Clunies-Ross family still live on the Cocos.
- Government
The capital of the Territory of Cocos (Keeling) Islands is West Island while the largest settlement is the village of Bantam (Home Island). Governance of the islands is based on the Cocos (Keeling) Islands Act 1955 and depends heavily on the laws of Australia. The islands are administered from Canberra by the Attorney-General's Department - 12 ] - - (before November 29, 2007 - 13 ] - - administration was carried out by the Department of Transport and Regional Services), through a non-resident Administrator appointed by the Governor-General. The current Administrator is Brian Lacy, who was appointed on 18 September 2009 and is also the Administrator of Christmas Island. These two Territories comprise 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.
The islands have a five-person police force but their defence remains the responsibility of Australia.
- Economy
There is a small and growing tourist industry focused on water-based or nature activities.
Small local gardens and fishing contribute to the food supply, but most food and most other necessities must be imported from Australia or elsewhere.
The Cocos Islands Cooperative Society Ltd. employs construction workers, stevedores, and lighterage worker operations. Tourism employs others. The unemployment rate was 11.3% in 2006. - 15 ] - -
- Communications and transport
The islands are connected within Australia's telecommunication system (with number range +61 8 9162 xxxx) and postal system (post code : 6799). Public phones are located on both West Island and Home Island. A local digital mobile phone network operates on Cocos (Keeling) Islands. Phones must be registered through the Telecentre to access this service.There is one paved airport on the West Island, Cocos (Keeling) Island International Airport, to which National Jet Systems and Virgin Blue operate scheduled jet services from Perth, Western Australia. There is also a lagoon anchorage.
- Media
Cocos (Keeling) Islands has access to a range of modern communication services. Four television stations are broadcast from Western Australia via satellite. These are ABC, SBS, W - GWN. A local radio station, 6CKI - Voice of the Cocos (Keeling) Islands, is staffed by community volunteers and provides some local content. ABC Regional Radio, and FM music stations are also broadcast. As television and radio stations are broadcast through a satellite service rainfall may cause interference.
- Television
Cocos Island received four channels from Western Australia via Satellite:
ABC1
SBS One
WIN Television (Affiliated of Nine Network Perth
GWN (Affiliated of Seven Network Perth
Cocos Island only receive four channels because Freeview were not available yet.
- Education
There are two schools in the archipelago. They are on the two inhabited islands. One is on West Island, and the other on Home Island.
School instruction is in English, and efforts are made to discourage students from speaking the local language (Cocos Islands Malay, a Malay dialect) on school premises. -
- Gallery

Sunset over the islands

Palm trees on the islands

- See also
Outline of the Cocos (Keeling) Islands
Index of Cocos (Keeling) Islands-related articles
Banknotes of the Cocos (Keeling) Islands
Cocos Malays
King of the Cocos (Keeling) Islands
Pearl Islands Isla de Cocos, Panama and Cocos Island, Costa Rica
Transport in the Cocos (Keeling) Islands
- References
Cocos (Keeling) Islands, The World Factbook , CIA. Accessed 14 April 2009.
  • CIA World Factbook
  • http://www.clunies-ross.com The Clunies-Ross Chronicle
    End of a kingdom
    HMAS Sydney (I). Royal Australian Navy. http://www.navy.gov.au/w/index.php/HMAS_Sydney_%28I%29 -
    http://www.combinedfleet.com/I-166.htm
    Parliamentary Debates , House of Commons, 1977-06-28
    Cocos Keeling, the islands time forgot (1974). Ken Mullen. published by Angus and Robertson, Sydney. 122 pages.
    WebLaw - full resource metadata display
    ComLaw Act Compilations - Cocos (Keeling) Islands Act 1955 (34)
    First Assistant Secretary, Territories Division (2008-01-30). Territories of Australia. Attorney-General's Department. http://www.ag.gov.au/territories -
    DOTARS Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government. Territories of Australia. http://www.infrastructure.gov.au -
    cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/ck.html
  • 2006 Census, Australian Bureau of Statistics
  • Paige Taylor, Crime in paradise lost in translation "The Australian", August 17, 2009
    Search Wikimedia Commons - Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Cocos (Keeling) Islands
    Shire of Cocos (Keeling) Islands homepage
    Cocos (Keeling) Islands Tourism website
    Areas of individual islets
    Atoll Research Bulletin vol. 403
    Cocos (Keeling) Islands entry from the CIA World Factbook
    Noel Crusz, The Cocos Islands mutiny , Reviewed by: Peter Stanley, Principal Historian, Australian War Memorial
    History of Cocos (Keeling) Islands
    The man who lost a "coral kingdom
    Coordinates :
    Map Latitude : 12°07′S - Longitude : 96°54′E - 12.117°S 96.9°E - -12.117; 96.9 - - -
    References from: Cocos_(Keeling)_Islands General Information and Updated References
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    John Clunies-Ross, ‘king’ of the Cocos Islands, was toppled by Canberra Sydney Morning Herald
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