Posted on Apr 21, 2021 121
In the Indian Ocean, about equidistant from Australia and Sri Lanka are the Cocos Island, or Keeling Islands as they are called. The archipelago of coral origin includes 27 small islands, with a total area of only 14 square kilometers. The population of Cocos Island is small. There are about 600 people. They were discovered in 1609 by English navigator William Keeling, hence their second name.
The first settlement of Europeans was founded here only over 200 years later. In 1825, Scotsman John Clunies-Ross visited the islands and two years later moved there with his family. The settlers were engaged in the cultivation of coconut palm trees, and the Malays were brought here to work in the plantations. In 1836, the English naturalist Charles Darwin visited the islands.
The property of the Clunis-Ross family for two decades, the islands were annexed by Britain in 1857, and after 21 years the Cocos Island were given to the British governor of Ceylon. In 1886 Queen Victoria made a luxurious gift to the family of the first owners - she gave the islands for perpetual use. Interestingly, for 91 years, from 1887 to 1978, the Clunis-Rosses even issued the local currency, called the rupiah of the Cocos Island.
Despite its remoteness from Europe, where the major battles of World War I took place, this tragedy touched the Cocos Island as well, in November 1914, a battle between two warships, the Australian cruiser Sidney and the German ship Emden, took place in coastal waters. The German cruiser sustained serious damage and was thrown against the rocks. It has long since been disassembled for metal, but even today diving enthusiasts often find small pieces of wreckage.
Despite the small population, the Cocos Island has their own capital called West Island, where 130 people live. In 1945 an airfield was built here, which allows residents by air to reach Australia, a distance of over 2,000 kilometers. On the islands themselves, because of the tiny area, there are, of course, no roads or railroads. In one lagoon, there is only a berth for small ships.
In 1955, the Cocos Island was transferred to Australia and after 23 years the islanders, descendants of Scottish John Clancy-Ross, gave up their rights to the territory by selling most of the land. The remaining small holdings were sold in 1986. The population of the islands gradually decreased, many islanders moved to Australia. In 1984, a referendum was held on the islands, in which most of the Cocos Islanders voted to join the state.
Coconut cultivation has been the mainstay of the economy from the earliest days of European settlement to the present day. Bananas and papaya are also grown in small amounts. Some part of the population are employed in the airport's maintenance. In recent years, tourism is developing on the islands. Currently, five small hotels have been built on the islands.
Tourists are attracted here the opportunity not only to relax on the tropical beaches but also to take part in catching exotic fish and scuba diving. The remote islands allow at least some time to get away from civilization. And the tourist season goes on here all year round.
There are no significant fluctuations in temperature. Tourists may not take out of here shells, products from the shell of turtles and even coconuts. There are some restrictions on importation. For example, to bring with them on the Cocos Island can only one liter of alcoholic beverages, the strength of which is higher than 22 degrees.
Most of the population is Malaysians and descendants of Europeans. Virtually all residents are housed only on the two islands of Christmas and West. About 2/3 of the islanders are Muslim, over 20 percent are Christian. There are no political parties here; local government is handled by the Island Council. Almost all residents have Australian citizenship.
As on many other tropical islands, fresh water is scarce here, and it must be collected when it rains and stored in vast underground reservoirs. Heavy, though brief, downpours often fall on the islands.
Although the Cocos Island are becoming increasingly popular with divers, diving is a serious hazard. In coastal waters a huge number of sharks, as well as poisonous coral snakes. For lovers of flora and fauna, it is safer to visit Pulu National Park, which opened in 1995.