Last modified: 2013-07-19 by ian macdonald
Keywords: diego garcia | british indian ocean territory | palm | crown | skull | crossed swords | stripes: 13 |
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British Indian Ocean Territory
image by Martin Grieve, 20 August 2006
ISO Code: DG DGA (reserved at the request of the International Telecommunications Union)
Diego Garcia (7°19'S, 72°25'E) is an atoll located in the heart of the Indian Ocean, some 1,000 miles (1,600 km) south of India's southern coast. Diego Garcia is the largest atoll by land area of the Chagos Archipelago. It is part of the British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT), a British overseas territory.
Portuguese explorers discovered Diego Garcia in the early 16th century. The island's name is believed to have come from either the ship's captain or the navigator on that early voyage of discovery. The islands remained uninhabited until the 18th century when the French established copra plantations with the help of unfree labour. Diego Garcia became a possession of the United Kingdom after the Napoleonic wars, and from 1814 to 1965, it was a dependency of Mauritius.
In 1965, the Chagos Islands, which include Diego Garcia, were detached from Mauritius to form part of the British Indian Ocean Territories (BIOT). In 1966, the crown bought the islands and plantations, which had been under private ownership and which had not been profitable with the introduction of new oils and lubricants. In 1971, the plantations were closed because of the agreement between the United Kingdom and the United States to make Diego Garcia available to the U.S. as a military base. No payment was made as part of this arrangement, although it has been claimed that the United Kingdom received a US$14 million discount on the acquisition of Polaris missiles from the United States. This agreement also forbids any other economic activity on the island.
Until 1971, Diego Garcia had a native population, known as the Ilois (or Chagossians),
which was composed of the descendants of East Indian workers and African slaves who had
been brought to the island in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries to work on the
coconut and copra plantations. They lived in three settlements: East Point (the main
settlement on the eastern rim of the atoll), Minni Minni (2.75 mi or 4.5 km north of
East Point), and Pointe Marianne (on the western rim). The islanders were transferred
off Diego Garcia to Seychelles and then
Mauritius amid allegations of starvation and
intimidation tactics by the U.S. and UK governments, including the alleged killing
of island dogs by American soldiers. Ever since their expulsion, the Ilois have
continually asserted their right to return to Diego Garcia. In April 2006, 102
Chagossians were allowed to visit Diego Garcia for a week, to tend to graves and
visit their birthplaces.
Source: Wikipedia: Diego Garcia
In the newly published 11th Edition of The World Guide (Oxford:
New Internationalist Publications, 2007) is a page of flags which includes some
non-self-governing territories. Diego Garcia is credited with a flag, of which there is no
explanation in the text. It resembles a White Ensign
, but the field (apart from the canton) is
composed of blue and white stripes, from the top: blue, white, blue, white, [red], white, blue,
white, blue. Overall, in the centre, is something like a skull and crossbones: but the illustration
is too small to make out.
Kenneth Fraser, 8 May 2007
The description fits with the flag shown at http://hk.geocities.com/sovereigntylinks/ for the "Provisional Peoples' Democratic Republic of Diego Garcia" in the list of "Sovereignty projects" of this page. You can see at http://www.zianet.com/tedmorris/dg/flag.html that this "so-called republic" meanwhile changed its flag.
This flag is of course not at all official; Google describes this site as "Tongue in cheek site from US servicemen who served, or are serving, in Diego Garcia."
It looks like The World Guide did not check the accuracy of its information.
Olivier Touzeau, 8 May 2007
image by António Martins-Tuválkin, 12 March 2007
I'm sort of guessing that the Provisional Peoples' Democratic Republic of
Diego Garcia from time to time changes the flag graphic, and we're referring to
two separate versions here; there may be more.
Peter Hans van den Muijzenberg, 3 September 2011