Overview: Cocos (Keeling) Islands

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.

Surface Area: 14 square km
Population: 629 (July 2004 est.)
Located in: Southeastern Asia, group of islands in the Indian Ocean
Capital City: West Island
Head of State: Queen ELIZABETH II, represented by the Australian governor general
Prime Minister: Administrator (nonresident) Evan WILLIAMS
Independent since: territory of Australia; administered from Canberra by the Australian Department of Transport and Regional Services
Currency: Australian dollar (AUD)
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