British Indian Ocean Territory

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British Indian Ocean Territory,

archipelago, c.1,180 mi (1,900 km), NE of Mauritius, in the central Indian Ocean. The more than 50 islands, which form the Chagos Archipelago and are located on the southern end of a chain of sea mounts that also includes LakshadweepLakshadweep
, union territory (2001 provisional pop. 60,595), 11 sq mi (28 sq km), SW India, consisting of the Laccadive, Minicoy, and Amindivi islands in the Arabian Sea off the coast of Kerala state.
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 and the MaldivesMaldives
, Divehi Divehi, officially Republic of Maldives, republic (2005 est. pop. 349,000), 115 sq mi (298 sq km), off the coast of S Asia in the N Indian Ocean. Malé is the capital and the largest island. Land and People

The Maldives stretch c.
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, were administered by MauritiusMauritius
, officially Republic of Mauritius, republic (2005 est. pop. 1,231,000), 790 sq mi (2,046 sq km), in the SW Indian Ocean. It is part of the Mascarene Islands, c.500 mi (800 km) E of Madagascar.
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, but they were made a separate dependency by the British in 1965 before Mauritius became (1968) independent. Their importance is primarily strategic; the United States and Britain maintain a major naval facility on the main island, Diego GarciaDiego Garcia,
coral island, 11 sq mi (28 sq km). Indian Ocean, largest island of the Chagos Archipelago, SW of Sri Lanka. Part of the British Indian Ocean Territory, the island was leased (1970) to the United States and later developed as a joint U.S.
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. Between 1967 and 1973 Britain evicted the Chagos islanders as the archipelago was converted to purely military use; a case brought in 1975 by islanders led to a settlement and compensation in 1982. In 2000, however, islanders secured a British court decision declaring their explusion illegal, but the British government subsequently (2004) prevented their return to the outlying Chagos islands. Islanders again successfully challenged the government in court in 2007, but the government won on appeal the following year (on the basis of the 1982 settlement), and that decision was upheld by the European Court of Human Rights in 2012 and the British Supreme Court in 2016. In 2010 the British government established one of the world's largest marine reserves (210,000 sq mi/545,000 sq km) in the waters surrounding the islands. The UN General Assembly, at Mauritius's urging, in 2017 referred the question of the Chagos Islands' legal status to the International Court of Justice. The archipelago is claimed by Mauritius, Maldives, and Seychelles.

British Indian Ocean Territory

a UK Overseas Territory in the Indian Ocean: consists of the Chagos Archipelago (formerly a dependency of Mauritius) and formerly included (until 1976) Aldabra, Farquhar, and Des Roches, now administratively part of the Seychelles. Diego Garcia is an important US naval base
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