Cocos (Keeling) Islands

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The Cocos (Keeling) islands (96°50'E 12°10'S) are an Australian territory comprising two large coral atolls made up of 27 coral islands. They lie some 2770 km north-west of Perth, Western Australia, in the Indian Ocean, and cover an area of 14 km2. Heavily vegetated, despite the constant occurrence of cyclones, the islands support a population of 546, mostly on Home Island and West Island.

Captain William Keeling discovered the islands in 1609. Keeling is used in the name of the island group to avoid confusion with Cocos Island, a volcanic about 530 km south-east of Puntaneros, Costa Rica.

Alexander Hare settled the islands in 1826, before which they were uninhabited. In 1827, John Clunies-Ross brought Malay labourers in to harvest coconuts. The islands were annexed by Britain in 1857, but given to the Clunies-Ross family in 1886. The Australian government bought the islands from the family in 1978; in 1984 the islanders voted to retain their links with Australia.

Reference

Geoscience Australia. 2006. "Cocos (Keeling) Islands". Retrieved 15 August 2008 from http://www.ga.gov.au/education/facts/dimensions/externalterr/cocos.htm