[Country map of British Indian Ocean Territory]

British Indian Ocean Territory

(dependent territory of the UK)


Location: Southern Asia, archipelago in the Indian Ocean, about one-half the way from Africa to Indonesia

Map references: World

total area: 60 sq km
land area: 60 sq km
comparative area: about 0.3 times the size of Washington, DC
note: includes the island of Diego Garcia

Land boundaries: 0 km

Coastline: 698 km

Maritime claims:
exclusive fishing zone: 200 nm
territorial sea: 3 nm

International disputes: the entire Chagos Archipelago is claimed by Mauritius

Climate: tropical marine; hot, humid, moderated by trade winds

Terrain: flat and low (up to 4 meters in elevation)

Natural resources: coconuts, fish

Land use:
arable land: 0%
permanent crops: 0%
meadows and pastures: 0%
forest and woodland: 0%
other: 100%

Irrigated land: 0 sq km

current issues: NA
natural hazards: NA
international agreements: NA

Note: archipelago of 2,300 islands; Diego Garcia, largest and southernmost island, occupies strategic location in central Indian Ocean; island is site of joint US-UK military facility


Population: no indigenous inhabitants
note: there are UK-US military personnel; civilian inhabitants, known as the Ilois, evacuated to Mauritius before construction of UK-US military facilities


conventional long form: British Indian Ocean Territory
conventional short form: none

Abbreviation: BIOT

Digraph: IO

Type: dependent territory of the UK

Capital: none

Independence: none (dependent territory of the UK)

Executive branch:
chief of state: Queen ELIZABETH II (since 6 February 1952)
head of government: Commissioner Mr. D. R. MACLENNAN); Administrator Mr. David Smith; note - both reside in the UK

Diplomatic representation in US: none (dependent territory of the UK)

US diplomatic representation: none (dependent territory of the UK)

Flag: white with the flag of the UK in the upper hoist-side quadrant and six blue wavy horizontal stripes bearing a palm tree and yellow crown centered on the outer half of the flag


Overview: All economic activity is concentrated on the largest island of Diego Garcia, where joint UK-US defense facilities are located. Construction projects and various services needed to support the military installations are done by military and contract employees from the UK, Mauritius, the Philippines, and the US. There are no industrial or agricultural activities on the islands.

Electricity: provided by the US military


Railroads: 0 km

total: NA
paved: short stretch of paved road between port and airfield on Diego Garcia
unpaved: NA

Ports: Diego Garcia

total: 1
with paved runways over 3,047 m: 1


Telephone system: NA telephones; minimal facilities
local: NA
intercity: NA
international: 1 INTELSAT (Atlantic Ocean) earth station

broadcast stations: AM 1, FM 1, shortwave 0
radios: NA

broadcast stations: 1
televisions: NA

Defense Forces

Note: defense is the responsibility of the UK

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