There are 27 coral islands in the group. Captain William Keeling discovered the islands in 1609, but they remained uninhabited until the 19th century. Annexed by the UK in 1857, they 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.
Southeastern Asia, group of islands in the Indian Ocean, south of Indonesia, about halfway from Australia to Sri Lanka
12 30 S, 96 50 E
Total: 14 sq km
water: 0 sq km
land: 14 sq km
: includes the two main islands of West Island and Home Island
632 (July 2002 est.)
Population growth rate:
-0.22% (2002 est.)
NA births/1,000 population
Europeans, Cocos Malays
Malay (Cocos dialect), English
Conventional long form:Territory ofCocos (Keeling) Islands
conventional short form: Cocos (Keeling) Islands
: Territory of Australia; administered from Canberra by the Australian Department of Transport and Regional Services
: West Island
: Cocos (Keeling) Islands Act of 1955
Based upon the laws ofAustralia and local laws
: Chief of state: Queen ELIZABETH II (since 6 February 1952), represented by the Australian governor general
elections: none; the monarch is hereditary; administrator appointed by the governor general of Australia and represents the monarch and Australia
head of government: Administrator (nonresident) William Leonard TAYLOR (since 4 February 1999)
:Supreme Court; Magistrate's Court
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.
: 60% (2000 est.)
: Copra products and tourism
Vegetables, bananas, paw paws, coconuts
Telephones - main lines in use:
General assessment: connected within Australia's telecommunication system
international: telephone, telex, and facsimile communications with Australia and elsewhere via satellite; 1 satellite earth station of NA type (2002)
Radio broadcast stations:
AM 1, FM 0, shortwave 0 (2000)
Internet Service Providers (ISPs):
Total: 15 km (2001)
paved: NA km
unpaved: NA km
Sunni Muslim 80%, other 20% (2002 est.)
Today the cornerstone of Coco Malay society and the focus of each individual's life is the Islamic religion. The Cocos people have been described as Islamic since the first settlement. Throughout the year a large number of ceremonies are held at various houses in the kampong for a wide range of family celebrations
The Cocos (Keeling)Islands has been a unique place for coral atoll research since the days when Charles Darwin visited the atoll in April, 1836. On his voyage home after a three year journey aboard the HMS "Beagle" he stayed for only 10 days where he recorded evidence to support his theory of coral atoll formation, "Fringing reefs are converted into barrier reefs and barrier reefs, when encircling islands are thus converted into atolls", he wrote in 1836.
It was the only coral atoll he had ever visited to support his theory. Darwin's theory recognises an evolutionary sequence by vertical reef growth from volcanic island fringing reefs, through barrier reefs, to coral atolls driven by gradual subsidence of the volcanic island core.
The Cocos (Keeling)Islands were named after sighting of the group by Captain William Keeling in 1609. However records of his sightings were not known until 1631. They are recorded with the name Cocos Eylanden in a manuscript map drawn by Hessel Gerritsz.
On the 6th December 1825 Captain John Clunies Ross, when on a short stop over on theIslands, cleared an area on Direction and Horsburgh Island and planted cereal and vegetable crops. At the time, Captain Ross was sailing a trading vessel called theBorneo for Alexander Hare's trading company. It wasn't until the following year that a settlement was established by Alexander Hare. With him, he brought a crew of mainly Sumatran and Javanese seamen and women of various nationalities.