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Cocos (Keeling) Islands country facts

Territory of Cocos (Keeling) Islands Australia-Oceania West Island 596 inhabitants 14 sq km 42.57 inhabitants/sq km Australian dollars (AUD) territory of Australia population evolution



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. Apart from North Keeling Island, which lies 30 kilometers north of the main group, the islands form a horseshoe-shaped atoll surrounding a lagoon. North Keeling Island was declared a national park in 1995 and is administered by Parks Australia. 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, southwest of Indonesia, about halfway between Australia and Sri Lanka

Geographic coordinates

12 30 S, 96 50 E

Area (sq km)

total: 14 sq km
land: 14 sq km
water: 0 sq km
note: includes the two main islands of West Island and Home Island

Area - comparative (sq km)

about 24 times the size of The Mall in Washington, DC

Land boundaries (km)

0 km

Coastline (km)

26 km

Maritime claims

territorial sea: 12 nm
exclusive fishing zone: 200 nm


tropical with high humidity, moderated by the southeast trade winds for about nine months of the year


flat, low-lying coral atolls

Elevation extremes (m)

lowest point: Indian Ocean 0 m
highest point: unnamed location 5 m

Natural resources


Land use (%)

arable land: 0%
permanent crops: 0%
other: 100% (2011)

Irrigated land (sq km)


Natural hazards

cyclone season is October to April

Environment - current issues

freshwater resources are limited to rainwater accumulations in natural underground reservoirs

Geography - note

islands are thickly covered with coconut palms and other vegetation; site of a World War I naval battle in November 1914 between the Australian light cruiser HMAS Sydney and the German raider SMS Emden; after being heavily damaged in the engagement, the Emden was beached by her captain on North Keeling Island

People and Society


noun: Cocos Islander(s)
adjective: Cocos Islander

Ethnic groups (%)

Europeans, Cocos Malays

Languages (%)

Malay (Cocos dialect), English

Religions (%)

Sunni Muslim 80%, other 20% (2002 est.)


596 (July 2014 est.)   evolution and prospects (1950-2100)

Population growth rate (%)

0% (2014 est.)

Infant mortality rate (deaths/1,000 live births)

total: NA
male: NA
female: NA

Life expectancy at birth (years)

total population: NA
male: NA
female: NA

Total fertility rate (children born/woman)

NA (2014 est.)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate (%)


HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS


HIV/AIDS - deaths


Literacy (%)



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 Department of Regional Australia, Local Government, Arts and Sport

Government type



name: West Island
geographic coordinates: 12 10 S, 96 50 E
time difference: UTC+6.5 (11.5 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)

Administrative divisions

none (territory of Australia)


none (territory of Australia)

National holiday

Australia Day, 26 January (1788)


23 November 1955 (Cocos (Keeling) Islands Act 1955); amended many times, last in 2010 (2010)

Legal system

common law based on the Australian model


18 years of age

Executive branch

chief of state: Queen ELIZABETH II (since 6 February 1952) represented by the Australian governor general
head of government: Administrator (nonresident) Jon STANHOPE (since 5 October 2012)
cabinet: NA
elections: the monarchy is hereditary; governor general appointed by the monarch on the recommendation of the Australian prime minister; administrator appointed by the governor general of Australia for a two-year term and represents the monarch and Australia

Legislative branch

unicameral Cocos (Keeling) Islands Shire Council (7 seats)
elections: held every two years with half the members standing for election; last held in October 2011 (next to be held in October 2013)

Judicial branch

highest court(s): under the terms of the Territorial Law Reform Act 1992, Western Australia provides court services as needed for the island including the Supreme Court and subordinate courts (District Court, Magistrate Court, Family Court, Children's Court, and Coroners' Court)
judge selection and term of office: NA
subordinate courts: NA

Political parties and leaders


Political pressure groups and leaders

The Cocos Islands Youth Support Centre

International organization participation


Diplomatic representation in the US

none (territory of Australia)

Diplomatic representation from the US

none (territory of Australia)

Flag description

the flag of Australia is used

National anthem

note: as a territory of Australia, "Advance Australia Fair" remains official as the national anthem, while "God Save the Queen" serves as the royal anthem (see Australia)


Economy - overview

Coconuts, grown throughout the islands, 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.

GDP (purchasing power parity)


GDP - real growth rate (%)

1% (2003)

Labor force


Labor force - by occupation (%)

note: the Cocos Islands Cooperative Society Ltd. employs construction workers, stevedores, and lighterage workers; tourism is the other main source of employment

Unemployment rate (%)

60% (2000 est.)


revenues: $NA
expenditures: $NA

Agriculture - products

vegetables, bananas, pawpaws, coconuts


copra products, tourism



Exports - commodities (%)




Imports - commodities (%)


Exchange rates

Currency converter
Australian dollars (AUD) per US dollar -
1.031 (2013)
0.9658 (2012)
1.0902 (2010)
1.2822 (2009)
1.2059 (2008)

Fiscal year

1 July - 30 June


Telephone system

general assessment: telephone service is part of the Australian network; an operational local mobile-cellular network available; wireless Internet connectivity available
domestic: NA
international: country code - 61; telephone, telex, and facsimile communications with Australia and elsewhere via satellite; satellite earth station - 1 (Intelsat) (2001)

Broadcast media

1 local radio station staffed by community volunteers; satellite broadcasts of several Australian radio and TV stations available (2009)

Internet country code


Internet hosts

42,820 (2012)



1 (2013)

Airports - with paved runways

total: 1
2,438 to 3,047 m: 1 (2013)

Roadways (km)

total: 22 km
paved: 10 km
unpaved: 12 km (2007)

Ports and terminals

major seaport(s): Port Refuge


Military - note

defense is the responsibility of Australia; the territory has a five-person police force

Transnational Issues

Disputes - international


Largest cities of Cocos (Keeling) Islands

These are the 50 largest cities of Cocos (Keeling) Islands ordered based on their number of inhabitants.

# City Population