Facts about British Indian Ocean Territory
|British Indian Ocean Territory||Territory of United Kingdom|
|Coordinates||7° 18′ 0″ S, 72° 24′ 0″ E|
|Location||British Indian Ocean|
|Area||54,400 km2, 21,004 sq m|
|Government||British Overseas Territory|
British Indian Ocean Territory Map
British Indian Ocean Territory, as the name suggests, is a British territory in the Indian Ocean. Located roughly halfway between Indonesia in
About British Indian Ocean Territory
British Indian Ocean Territory, an overseas territory of UK, is an archipelago located in the equatorial region of the Indian Ocean. It comprises 55 islands of which Diego Garcia is the largest, only inhabited, and the main island for all intents and purposes. It is, in fact, a military base jointly owned by UK and US. The island is a center for various military activities, including naval support and security, space shuttle landing, air force satellite control, and monitoring of the global positioning system.
According to the records, the earlier residents of the British Indian Ocean Territory islands were Chagossians, who had settled in the islands from Madagascar and Mozambique. The archipelago was, although, part of the overseas territory of France, until 1810, when control shifted to the British, after signing the Treaty of Paris. In 1965, the UK Government decided to establish military facilities in the archipelago in collaboration with the US, which was considered a retaliation for the increased Russian naval presence in the Indian Ocean. Diego Garcia being the largest and southern-most, surrounded by other coral atolls, was considered an ideal location. In order to achieve this mammoth task, islands of the British Indian Ocean Territory were depopulated and the natives were made to relocate to nearby island countries of Seychelles and Mauritius between 1967 and 1973. Today, the islands are directly administeredfrom London and access to them is highly restricted.
Geography of British Indian Ocean Territory
Spread across 54,400 sq km in the Indian Ocean (of which land area is only 60 sq km), near the equator, the 55 islands of British Indian Ocean Territory are part of a much larger archipelago with over 2,300 islands. The islands under the Territory are within six coral atolls formed at the peaks of submerged volcanic mountains of the Chagos-Laccadive Ridge. The islands here include Eagle Islands, Nelsons Island, Egmont Islands, Peros Banhos atoll, Danger Island, Salomon Islands, and the largest among all Diego Garcia. These islands feature flattened landscapes with lagoons, deep channels, and surrounding coral reefs. Most of the islands have undisturbed equatorial forest vegetation and are, therefore, part of the Chagos Marine Protected Area.
How to Reach British Indian Ocean Territory
According to the official website for travel to the British Indian Ocean Territory, tourism here is prohibited by law. Entry to Diego Garcia is granted to those “with connections to the military facility”. For other islands here, one can apply for a permit from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office based in London.Since there is no commercial connection with the islands either by air or sea, the only way is by a private yacht with prior permission and at a site decided by the authorities.
Weather in British Indian Ocean Territory
Owing to its proximity to the equator, the islands of the British Indian Ocean Territory have a tropical marine climate. So, it is usually hot and humid all round the year. The weather is although moderated by the trade winds. Temperature varies between 24°C to 30°C throughout the year, with a comfortable breeze blowing almost constantly. Even though, it rains most months in this archipelago, monsoon season is considered between May and December, August having the heaviest rainfall (298 mm), and February having the lowest (18 mm). The most comfortable months for visiting here is March and April.
Points of Interest in British Indian Ocean Territory
Being a remote place that requires a permit to even enter and if one is fortunate enough to visit the British Indian Ocean Territory or the Chagos Archipelago, here's what one can expect:
Chagos Archipelago, a constituent of the British Indian Ocean Territory is considered to have the largest coral atolls and marine bio-diversity in the world. It is renowned for having the cleanest waters and the best quality reefs. The reefs are, in fact, best known for being the most resilient to environmental change in the planet. Along with the reefs, the surroundings waters have a variety of marine life including tuna, barracuda, sharks, marlin, snapper, sea birds, and turtles, etc. These make Chagos one of the richest marine reserves in the world, along with being the largest. These also make for the best points of interest in the British Indian Ocean Territory.
Accommodation in British Indian Ocean Territory
As mentioned, British Indian Ocean Territory, especially Diego Garcia, is a restricted area with the UK and US military base. Hence, there are no accommodations available here. One will need to get one's provisions and permits before planning the travel.
Last Updated on: January 22, 2018