British Indian Ocean Territory


Tropical marine; hot, humid, moderated by trade winds.


Established as a territory of the UK in 1965, a number of the British Indian Ocean Territory BIOT islands were transferred to the Seychelles when it attained independence in 1976, leaving only the six main island groups comprising the Chagos Archipelago of 2,300 islands. The largest and most southerly of the islands, Diego Garcia, contains a joint UK-US naval support facility. All of the remaining islands are uninhabited. Approximately 3,000 former agricultural workers, earlier indigenous residents in the islands often referred to as Chagossians or Ilois were relocated primarily to Mauritius but also to the Seychelles, between 1967 and 1973. In 2000, a British High Court ruling invalidated the local immigration order which had excluded them from the archipelago, but upheld the special military status of Diego Garcia. No timetable has been set for the Ilois return, but when they do they plan to reestablish copra production and fishing.


Flat and low most areas do not exceed four meters in elevation.