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British Indian Ocean Territory

 

The British Indian Ocean Territory, also referred to as Chagos Islands, is a British overseas territory situated in the Indian Ocean, approximately halfway between Indonesia and Africa. The territory comprises six atolls, with more than 1,000 individual islets. The largest island, Diego Garcia, is also the region’s capital. An estimated 3,000 people are of Chagossian descent, but they currently reside in Mauritius, pending the decision of the English High Court regarding the resettlement of the region. The Chagossians were forcibly removed from the island in 1966 and they have since been battling to return to Chagos. Given the fact that it houses the only remaining Chagossians, Mauritius has also made an unsuccessful claim on Chagos Islands.

In 2010, Chagos Islands became a marine reserve. The island of Diego Garcia is also home to a large military base, co-managed by the US and UK armies. Chagos Islands has a tropical marine climate, influenced by trade winds.  

A total of approximately 4,000 people currently reside on the islands, most of them being military personnel and contractors. In addition, there are several hundred Mauritian and Filipino contract workers living on the island.

The only economic activity in the region is represented by the military base located in Diego Garcia. According to English law, the local currency is the British pound, but the US dollar (USD) is far more widely used. The sole official language in the region is English. 

 

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