Cocos (Keeling) Islands

The Territory of Cocos (Keeling) Islands (Cocos Islands Malay: Pulu Kokos (Keeling)) is an Australian external territory in the Indian Ocean, comprising a small archipelago approximately midway between Australia and Sri Lanka and relatively close to the Indonesian island of Sumatra. The territory's dual name (official since the islands' incorporation into Australia in 1955) reflects that the islands have historically been known as either the Cocos Islands or the Keeling Islands.

Cocos (Keeling) Islands
Territory of Cocos (Keeling) Islands
Pulu Kokos (Keeling)  (Cocos Islands Malay)
Wilayah Kepulauan Cocos (Keeling)  (Malay)
"Maju Pulu Kita" (Cocos Islands Malay)
(English: "Onward our island")
Location of the Cocos (Keeling) Islands (circled in red)
Sovereign stateAustralia
Annexed by the United Kingdom1857
Transferred from Singapore
to Australia
23 November 1955
CapitalWest Island
12°11′13″S 96°49′42″E
Largest villageBantam (Home Island)
Official languagesNone
Spoken languages
GovernmentDirectly administered dependency
Elizabeth II
David Hurley
Natasha Griggs
Seri Wati Iku
14 km2 (5.4 sq mi)
 Water (%)
Highest elevation
5 m (16 ft)
 2016 census
544[1] (not ranked)
43/km2 (111.4/sq mi) (not ranked)
GDP (nominal)2010 estimate
CurrencyAustralian dollar (AUD)
Time zoneUTC+06:30
Calling code+61 891
WA 6799
ISO 3166 codeCC

The territory consists of two atolls made up of 27 coral islands, of which only two – West Island and Home Island – are inhabited. The population of around 600 people consists mainly of Cocos Malays, who mostly practise Sunni Islam and speak a dialect of Malay as their first language.[3] The territory is administered by the Australian federal government's Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications as an Australian external territory and together with Christmas Island (which is about 960 kilometres (600 mi) to the east) forms the Australian Indian Ocean Territories administrative grouping. However, the islanders do have a degree of self-government through the local shire council. Many public services – including health, education, and policing – are provided by the state of Western Australia, and Western Australian law applies except where the federal government has determined otherwise. The territory also uses Western Australian postcodes.

The islands were discovered in 1609 by the British sea captain William Keeling, but no settlement occurred until the early 19th century. One of the first settlers was John Clunies-Ross, a Scottish merchant; much of the island's current population is descended from the Malay workers he brought in to work his copra plantation. The Clunies-Ross family ruled the islands as a private fiefdom for almost 150 years, with the head of the family usually recognised as resident magistrate. The British annexed the islands in 1857, and for the next century they were administered from either Ceylon or Singapore. The territory was transferred to Australia in 1955, although until 1979 virtually all of the island's real estate still belonged to the Clunies-Ross family.