Cocos Islands


There are 27 coral islands in the group. Captain William KEELING discovered the islands in 1609, but they remained uninhabited until the 19th century. From the 1820s to 1978, members of the CLUNIE-ROSS family controlled the islands and the copra produced from local coconuts. Annexed by the UK in 1857, the Cocos Islands were transferred to the Australian Government in 1955. The population on the two inhabited islands generally is split between the ethnic Europeans on West Island and the ethnic Malays on Home Island.

Location: South-eastern Asia, group of islands in the Indian Ocean, southwest of Indonesia, about halfway from Australia to Sri Lanka
Geographic coordinates: 12 30 S, 96 50 E
Population: 596 (July 210 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: NA

15-64 years: NA

65 years and over: NA

Country name: conventional long form: Territory of Cocos (Keeling) Islands

conventional short form: Cocos (Keeling) Islands

Dependency status: non-self governing territory of Australia; administered from Canberra by the Australian Attorney-General’s Department
Telephones – main lines in use: 287 (1992)
Telephone system: general assessment: connected within Australia’s telecommunication system; a local mobile-cellular network is in operation

domestic: NA

international: country code – 61; telephone, telex, and facsimile communications with Australia and elsewhere via satellite; satellite earth station – 1 (Intelsat) (2001)


Defence is the responsibility of Australia; the territory has a five-person police force
Economy:Grown throughout the islands, coconuts are the sole cash crop. Small local gardens and fishing contribute to the food supply, but additional food and most other necessities must be imported from Australia. There is a small tourist industry.