British Overseas Territories #01: British Indian Ocean Territory
The Plight of the Chagos Islands
Student Tours Scotland loves Scotland. The name says it all. This week we look at the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland in all it's glory. It turns out that there is much more to the United Kingdom than initially meets the eye. The United Kingdom still has claim to fourteen territories around the world, three island groups around the mainland UK and Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales and England. That's a lot of Britain so it is! In these days or potential Scottish Independence; Welsh Assemblies and Irish Nationalism it's often easy to forget the other possessions around the world that still hold dear to the British ideal. In the middle of the Indian Ocean is British Indian Ocean Territory.
It's a peculiar group of islands made up of six main atolls and over 1000 islands. The largest island of Diego Garcia was the subject of some controversy in the 1960's when the UK government shamefully deported the population to nearby Seychelles and Mauritius which had just received independence from the UK. In recent months in 2013 there have been great strides to potentially repopulate the Chagos Islands (as British Indian Ocean Territory is mostly comprised of).
It's a magical place to read about, a fantastic place to watch online and browse the photos. The place holds a lot of charm. The abandoned church on Boddam Island in the Saloman Atoll looks awesome. It stands alone to a time long goneby. There are countless stories of sailors who have breached the imposed blockade by the UK and USA governments and reached the outer atolls of the territory. The islands are now home of a USA military base on the main island of Diego Garcia which is due for lease renewal in 2016. Whether this agreement with the UK continues will be key to the repopulation of the locals who are spread elsewhere across the Indian Ocean island nations.
Regardless, the area is an unspoiled (mostly) landscape. It was home to the dodo (may it rest in peace) and is one of the those places that inspires you by merely thinking about it. Hopefully within my lifetime I will be able to go there and see the majesty of this place before it is spoiled and gone forever.
Posted on 19th October 2013 : permalink