British Indian Ocean Territory History

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History[edit | edit source]

The British Indian Ocean Territory is an overseas territory of the United Kingdom situated in the Indian Ocean halfway between Tanzania and Indonesia. The territory comprises the seven atolls of the Chagos Archipelago with over 1,000 individual islands, many very small. The largest and most southerly island is Diego Garcia, 10 sq miles, the site of a joint military facility of the United Kingdom and the United States.

The removal of Chagossians from the Chagos Archipelago occurred between 1968 and 1973. The Chagossians, then numbering about 2,000 people, were expelled by the British government to Mauritius and Seychelles to allow the United States to build a joint UK/US military base there. Today, the exiled Chagossians are still trying to return, arguing that the forced expulsion and dispossession was illegal.

Since the 1980s the government of Mauritius has sought to regain control over the Chagos Archipelago, which was separated from the British Colony of Mauritius by the UK in 1965 to form the British Indian Ocean Territory. On 23 June 2017, the United Nations General Assembly voted in favour of referring the territorial dispute between Mauritius and the UK to the International Court of Justice in order to clarify the legal status of the Chagos Islands archipelago in the Indian Ocean. The motion was approved by a majority vote with 94 voting for and 15 against.
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Timeline[edit | edit source]

1965 - The United Kingdom split the Chagos Archipelago from Mauritius and the islands of Aldabra, Farquhar and Desroches from the Seychelles to form the British Indian Ocean Territory
1976 - Aldabra, Farquhar and Desroches were returned to Seychelles as a result of its attaining independence