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Cocos (Keeling) Islands

Cocos (Keeling) Islands (Australia-Oceania)

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. 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 from Australia to Sri Lanka

Geographic coordinates:
12 30 S, 96 50 E

Map references:



total: 14 sq km country comparison to the world: 240 land: 14 sq km

water: 0 sq km

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


26 km

Maritime claims:

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

Elevation extremes:

lowest point: Indian Ocean 0 m

highest point: unnamed location 5 m

Natural resources:


Land use:

arable land: 0%

permanent crops: 0%

other: 100% (2005)

Irrigated land:

Natural hazards:

cyclone season is October to April

Environment - current issues:

fresh water resources are limited to rainwater accumulations in natural underground reservoirs

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

People ::Cocos (Keeling) Islands


596 (July 2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 237

Age structure:

0-14 years: NA

15-64 years: NA

65 years and over: NA

Population growth rate:

0% (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 197

Birth rate:

Death rate:

Net migration rate:

Infant mortality rate:

total: NA

male: NA

female: NA

Life expectancy at birth:

total population: NA

male: NA

female: NA

Total fertility rate:

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:

HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:

HIV/AIDS - deaths:


noun: Cocos Islander(s)

adjective: Cocos Islander

Ethnic groups:

Europeans, Cocos Malays


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


Malay (Cocos dialect), English


Government ::Cocos (Keeling) Islands

Country name:

conventional long form: Territory of Cocos (Keeling) Islands

conventional short form: Cocos (Keeling) Islands

Dependency status:

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

Government type:


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)

Administrative divisions:

none (territory of Australia)


none (territory of Australia)

National holiday:

Australia Day, 26 January (1788)


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

Legal system:

based upon the laws of Australia and local laws


18 years of age

Executive branch:

chief of state: Queen ELIZABETH II (since 6 February 1952); represented by the Australian governor general

head of government: Administrator (nonresident) Brian LACY (since 5 October 2009)

cabinet: NA (For more information visit the World Leaders website ) elections: the monarchy is hereditary; administrator appointed by the governor general of Australia and represents the monarch and Australia

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)

Judicial branch:

Supreme Court; Magistrate's Court

Political parties and leaders:


Political pressure groups and leaders:

The Cocos Islands Youth Support Centre

International organization participation:


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

National anthem:

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)

Economy ::Cocos (Keeling) Islands

Economy - overview:

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.

GDP (purchasing power parity):

Labor force:

Labor force - by occupation:

note: the Cocos Islands Cooperative Society Ltd. employs construction workers, stevedores, and lighterage workers; tourism employs others

Unemployment rate:

60% (2000 est.) country comparison to the world: 195

Agriculture - products:

vegetables, bananas, pawpaws, coconuts


copra products and tourism


Exports - commodities:



Imports - commodities:


Exchange rates:

Australian dollars (AUD) per US dollar - 1.1151 (2010), 1.2822 (2009), 1.2059 (2008), 1.2137 (2007), 1.3285 (2006)

Communications ::Cocos (Keeling) Islands

Telephones - main lines in use:

287 (1992) country comparison to the world: 229

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)

Broadcast media:

1 local radio station staffed by community volunteers; broadcasts of several Australian radio and TV stations are received via satellite (2009)

Internet country code:


Internet hosts:

35,312 (2010) country comparison to the world: 96

Transportation ::Cocos (Keeling) Islands


1 (2010) country comparison to the world: 234

Airports - with paved runways:

total: 1

1,524 to 2,437 m: 1 (2010)


total: 22 km country comparison to the world: 220 paved: 10 km

unpaved: 12 km (2007)

Ports and terminals:

Port Refuge

Military ::Cocos (Keeling) Islands

Military - note:

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

Transnational Issues ::Cocos (Keeling) Islands

Disputes - international:



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