Ashmore Cartier Islands


These uninhabited islands came under Australian authority in 1931; formal administration began two years later. Ashmore Reef supports a rich and diverse avian and marine habitat; in 1983, it became a National Nature Reserve. Cartier Island, a former bombing range, is now a marine reserve.


Location: South-eastern Asia, islands in the Indian Ocean, midway between north-western Australia and Timor island
Geographic coordinates: 12 14 S, 123 05 E


no indigenous inhabitants

note: Indonesian fishermen are allowed access to the lagoon and fresh water at Ashmore Reef’s West Island

Country name: conventional long form: Territory of Ashmore and Cartier Islands

conventional short form: Ashmore and Cartier Islands

Dependency status: territory of Australia; administered by the Australian Attorney-General’s Department
Legal system: the laws of the Commonwealth of Australia and the laws of the Northern Territory of Australia, where applicable, apply

Defence is the responsibility of Australia; periodic visits by the Royal Australian Navy and Royal Australian Air Force


no economic activity

Transnational Issues:

Indonesian groups challenge Australia’s claim to these islands; Australia closed parts of the Ashmore and Cartier Reserve to Indonesian traditional fishing and placed restrictions on certain catches