Sunday, January 24, 2010

Cocos (Keeling) Islands

Do you know Cocos Island was once part of the Strait Settlement?

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The Territory of Cocos (Keeling) Islands, also called Cocos Islands and Keeling Islands, is a territory of Australia. There are two atolls and twenty-seven coral islands in the group. The islands are located in the Indian Ocean, about halfway between Australia and Sri Lanka.

Map of Cocos Islands

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1609 Islands discovered by English Capt. William Keeling
1825 Temporary settlement (several weeks) on Direction
Island, by shipwrecked Captain Le Cour.
6 Dec 1825 Brief visit by U.K. Capt. John Clunies-Ross.
May 1826 Settlement established on main island by Alexander
27 Feb 1827 Settlement established on South Island by John
1831 Hare leaves; Clunies-Ross takes possession of all
islands; Cocos Islands constituted as a feudal
"fiefdom" of the Clunies-Ross family.
1857 Formally annexed for Britain (crown colony)
by Capt. Fremantle on H.M.S. Juno.
Nov 1878 - 1886 Part of Ceylon.
7 Jul 1886 Granted in perpetuity to the Clunies-Ross family
by Queen Victoria.
1886 - 15 Feb 1942 Part of Straits Settlements (see Singapore).
9 Nov 1914 German warship Emden landed a raiding party on
Direction Island to destroy cable and wireless
equipment. HMAS Sydney severely damaged the
Emden in a battle and the Emden was beached on
Keeling Island, the raiding party escaped.
1942 - Apr 1946 Part of Ceylon (West Island and Direction Island
under allied military administration).
1946 - Jun 1951 Part of Singapore.
23 Nov 1955 Australian territory (Territory of Cocos [Keeling]
1 Sep 1978 Australia purchases all of the land on Home Island,
with the exception of Oceania House and grounds,
from John Cecil Clunies-Ross for $6,250,000;
John Cecil Clunies-Ross relinquishes his
25 Jul 1979 Autonomy granted.
6 Apr 1984 Islands integrated with Australia in an Act of
Self Determination by the Cocos community.
1986 John Cecil Clunies-Ross sells Oceania House.
1 Jul 1992 Cocos became subject to Western Australian law.
1995 Part of Australian Indian Ocean Territories
(Christmas Island and Cocos Islands).

In 1609 Captain William Keeling was the first European to see the islands, but they remained uninhabited until the nineteenth century, when they became a possession of the Clunies-Ross Family. A Scottish merchant seaman named Captain John Clunies-Ross from the Shetland Islands explored the islands in 1825 with the intention of settling on them with his family. Alexander Hare, who had taken part in Stamford Raffles' takeover of Java in 1811[citation needed] landed and settled with his Slaves who originated from Indonesia, the Cape of Good Hope and East Asia. Clunies-Ross returned and set up a compound on South Island consisting of his family and some other settlers. Hare's severely mistreated slaves soon escaped to work under better conditions for Clunies-Ross. The workers were paid in a currency called the Cocos rupee a currency John Clunies-Ross minted himself and which could only be redeemed at the company store.

On April 1, 1836, HMS Beagle under Captain Robert FitzRoy arrived to take soundings establishing the profile of the atoll as part of the survey expedition of the Beagle. To the young naturalist Charles Darwin, who was on the ship, the results supported a theory he had developed of how atolls formed. He studied the natural history of the islands and collected specimens. His assistant Syms Covington noted that "an Englishman (he was of course Scottish) and HIS family, with about sixty or seventy Mulattos from the Cape of Good Hope, live on one of the islands. Captain Ross, the governor, is now absent at the Cape."

British rule under Strait Settlement

The islands were annexed to the British Empire in 1857. In 1867, their administration was placed under the Straits Settlements, which included Penang, Malacca and Singapore. Queen Victoria granted the islands in perpetuity to the Clunies-Ross family in 1886. The Cocos Islands under the Clunies-Ross family have been cited as an example of a nineteenth century micronation

The Cocos (Keeling) Islands (which were settled and once owned by a Scottish family named Clunies-Ross)and Christmas Island, formerly attached to Ceylon, were in 1886 transferred to the care the government of the Straits Settlements in Singapore along with the addition of Labuan in 1906.

The Straits Settlements were a group of British territories located in Southeast Asia. Originally established in 1826 as part of the territories controlled by the British East India Company, the Straits Settlements came under direct British control as a crown colony on 1 April 1867. The colony was dissolved as part of the British reorganisation of its South-East Asian dependencies following the end of the Second World War.

The Straits Settlements consisted of the individual settlements of Malacca, Penang (also known as Prince of Wales Island), and Singapore, as well as (from 1907) Labuan, off the coast of Borneo. With the exception of Singapore, these territories now form part of Malaysia.

The colony was dissolved with effect from 1 April 1946, with Singapore becoming a separate crown colony (and ultimately an independent republic), while Penang and Malacca joined the new Malayan Union (a predecessor of modern-day Malaysia). Labuan was briefly annexed to Singapore, before being attached to the new colony of British North Borneo.

The Cocos or Keeling Islands and Christmas Island, originally made part of the crown colony of Singapore in 1946, were transferred to Australian administration in 1955 and 1957 respectively.

World War I

On November 9, 1914, the islands became the site of the Battle of Cocos, one of the first naval battles of World War I. The wireless telegraph station on Direction Island, a vital link between the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand, was destroyed by sailors from the German light cruiser SMS Emden, which was in turn surprised and destroyed by the Australian cruiser, HMAS Sydney.

World War II

During World War II, the cable station was once again a vital link. Allied planners noted that the islands might be seized as a base for German raider cruisers operating in the Indian Ocean. Following Japan's entry into the war, Japanese forces did occupy neighbouring islands. To avoid drawing their attention to the Cocos cable station and its islands' garrison, the seaplane anchorage between Direction and Horsburgh islands was not used. Radio transmitters were also kept silent, except in emergencies.

After the Fall of Singapore in 1942, the islands were administered from Ceylon (Sri Lanka), and West and Direction Islands were placed under Allied military administration. The islands' garrison initially consisted of a platoon from the British Army's King's African Rifles, located on Horsburgh Island, with two 6-inch (152 mm) guns to cover the anchorage. The local inhabitants all lived on Home Island. Despite the importance of the islands as a communication centre, the Japanese made no attempt either to raid or to occupy them and contented themselves with sending over a reconnaissance aircraft about once a month.

On the night of 8–9 May 1942, fifteen members of the garrison, from the Ceylon Defence Force mutinied, under the leadership of Gratien Fernando. The mutineers were said to have been provoked by the attitude of their British officers, and were also supposedly inspired by anti-imperialist beliefs. They attempted to take control of the gun battery on the islands. The Cocos Islands Mutiny was crushed, although they killed one non-mutinous soldier and wounded one officer. Seven of the mutineers were sentenced to death at a trial which was later alleged to have been improperly conducted. Four of the sentences were commuted, but three men were executed, including Fernando. These were to be the only British Commonwealth soldiers to be executed for mutiny during the Second World War.

On December 25, 1942, the Japanese submarine I-166 bombarded the islands but caused no damage.

Later in the war, two airstrips were built and three bomber squadrons were moved to the islands to conduct raids against Japanese targets in South East Asia and to provide support during the reinvasion of Malaya and reconquest of Singapore. The first aircraft to arrive were Supermarine Spitfire Mk VIIIs of No. 136 Squadron RAF. They included some Liberator bombers from No. 321 (Netherlands) Squadron RAF (members of exiled Dutch forces serving with the Royal Air Force), which were also stationed on the islands. When in July 1945, No. 99 and No. 356 RAF squadrons arrived on West Island they brought with them a daily newspaper called Atoll which contained news of what was happening in the outside world. Run by airmen in their off-duty hours, it achieved fame when dropped by Liberator bombers on POW camps over the heads of the Japanese guards.

In 1946 the administration of the islands reverted to Singapore.

Transfer to Australia

On November 23, 1955, the islands were transferred to Australian control under the Cocos (Keeling) Islands Act 1955 (an Australian Act) pursuant to the Cocos Islands Act, 1955 (a UK Act). In the 1970s, the Australian government's dissatisfaction with the Clunies-Ross feudal style of rule of the island increased. In 1978, Australia forced the family to sell the islands for the sum of AU$6,250,000, using the threat of compulsory acquisition. By agreement the family retained ownership of Oceania House, their home on the island. However, in 1983 the Australian government reneged this agreement, and told John Clunies-Ross, that he should leave the Cocos. The following year the High Court of Australia ruled that resumption of Oceania House was unlawful, but the Australian government ordered that no government business was to be granted to his shipping company, an action which contributed to his bankruptcy. John Clunies-Ross now lives in Perth, Western Australia however, some members of the Clunies-Ross family still live on the Cocos.

The Cocos (Keeling) Islands consist of two flat, low-lying coral atolls with an area of 14.2 square kilometres (5.5 sq mi), 26 kilometres (16 mi) of coastline, a highest elevation of 5 metres (16 ft) and thickly covered with coconut palms and other vegetation. The climate is pleasant, moderated by the southeast trade winds for about nine months of the year and with moderate rainfall.[citation needed] Cyclones may occur in the early months of the year.

North Keeling Island is an atoll consisting of just one C-shaped island, a nearly closed atoll ring with a small opening into the lagoon, about 50 metres (160 ft) wide, on the East side. The island measures 1.1 square kilometres (270 acres) in land area and is uninhabited. The lagoon is about 0.5 square kilometres (120 acres). North Keeling Island and the surrounding sea to 1.5 km from shore form the Pulu Keeling National Park, established on 12 December 1995. It is home to the only surviving population of the endemic, and endangered, Cocos Buff-banded Rail.

South Keeling Islands is an atoll consisting of twenty-four individual islets forming an incomplete atoll ring, with a total land area of 13.1 square kilometres (5.1 sq mi). Only Home Island and West Island are populated. People from Home Island maintain weekend shacks on the lagoon shore of South Island and on some of the smaller islands.

Map of Home Island

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Map of West Island & South island

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In 2010, there are an estimated 600+ inhabitants of the islands.The population on the two inhabited islands generally is split between the ethnic Europeans on West Island (est. pop. 100) and the ethnic Malays on Home Island (est. pop. 500). A Cocos dialect of Malay and English are the main languages spoken, and 80% of Cocos Islanders are Sunni Muslim.

The Cocos Islands are actually populated by Malaysian descendants, many of them were given the right to live and work on the Island to farm coconuts. Under the Old Empire as Malaya was British turf and so was Australia, these Malayans were given settlement. The Island is actually part of Western Australia but has its own local government.

By the way Cocos island is the only territory of Australia, which the flag is having crescent and 5 stars at the right of the crescent, with green backround. At the left top is the coconut tree inside a yellow moon. Look like a flag from an Arabian country.

Cocos Island in Costa Rica

There is another more famous Cocos Island in Pacific Ocean.

Cocos Island (Spanish: Isla del Coco) is an uninhabited island located off the shore of Costa Rica. It constitutes the 11th district (one of 13) of Puntarenas Canton of the province of Puntarenas.. It is one of the National Parks of Costa Rica. It is located in the Pacific Ocean, approximately 550 km (340 mi) from the Pacific shore of Costa Rica, at 05°31′08″N 087°04′18″W / 5.51889°N 87.07167°W / 5.51889; -87.07167. With an area of approximately 23.85 km² (9.2 mi²), about 8×3 km (5×1.9 mi) and a perimeter of around 23.3 km this island is more or less rectangular in shape.

Related articles:

1. Cocos (Keeling) Islands,
2. Cocos Island,

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