British Indian Ocean Territory

British Indian Ocean Territory

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British Indian Ocean Territory, part of the Chagos archipelago, is located south of India, halfway between East Africa and Indonesia. This British overseas territory is composed of more than 50 small islands; only the largest island, Diego Garcia, is inhabited by a non-permanent population of people posted to the island for work. Diego Garcia hosts a joint UK-US military facility, a ground antenna for GPS navigation systems (one of 4 in the world), and a US Air Force telescope used to track debris in orbit.

Despite not having a permanent population today, the islands were first inhabited in the late 18th century by the French and their slaves who came to the island to establish a copra plantation (coconut kernels used to make coconut oil). In 1814, the islands became a British colony and in 1965 British Indian Ocean Territory was officially established as a British overseas territory. In 1966, the British government established an arrangement with the US government, allowing the US to use the territory and allowing for the establishment of a joint military base. Between 1967 and 1973, the British government forced the native population, the Chagossians, to relocate. Although they received compensation from the British government, disputes over Chagossian removal from the islands and adequate compensation for removal persists.

In this British overseas territory, the chief of state is the Queen/King of England and the head of government is held by a commissioner and an administrator, both located in London, England.

Access to the islands is restricted. You must obtain a permit to travel to the islands and permits are only issued for military or administrative purposes. British Indian Ocean Territory is not a tourist destination.

Due to its location, British Indian Ocean Territory experiences a hot and humid climate year-round.

Because of their isolated location, the islands are home to extraordinary biodiversity, clean waters, and unspoiled coral reefs. The islands are important breeding grounds for many species of birds and the reefs are home to a great number of endemic fish species. The largest arthropod species on the planet, the coconut crab, lives on the islands and is up to 1m in size. Despite their biodiversity, the islands are a largely untapped research field.

Currency USD: US Dollar
Language English
Capital Camp Justice
Recent Alerts None
Latest Alert Not Available

Diseases To Be Aware Of

The diseases listed below are those which occur most often in British Indian Ocean Territory. Other, less frequently encountered diseases might be displayed within the Travel Alerts section if they have occurred recently.

Hepatitis A

There is a risk of exposure to hepatitis A virus through contaminated food or water.

Hepatitis B

There is a risk for acquiring hepatitis B.

Typhoid Fever

Unvaccinated people can become infected through contaminated food and water in this country, especially when visiting smaller cities, villages, or rural areas where water and food may not be safe.


Rabies may be present in bats, but has not been reported in domestic or wild animals.

Chikungunya Fever

Chikungunya fever may occur in the British Indian Ocean Territory.

Vaccinations to Consider

The following is a list of recommended vaccinations for travelling to British Indian Ocean Territory.

Hepatitis A Vaccine

There is a risk of exposure to hepatitis, therefore, the vaccination is recommended

Hepatitis B Vaccine

There is a risk of infection with hepatitis B, therefore, the vaccination is recommended.

Typhoid Fever Vaccine

There is a risk of exposure to typhoid fever through consumption of unsafe food and water. Since exposure to unsafe sources is variable within this country, the vaccination against typhoid fever is generally recommended, especially when visiting smaller cities, rural areas, or staying with friends and family.

Rabies Vaccine

Vaccination against rabies is recommended for travellers whose activities or employment may bring them into direct contact with bats (i.e. adventure travellers, veterinarians, wildlife professionals, researchers, etc.).

Medications to Consider

The following is a list of recommended medications for travelling to British Indian Ocean Territory.

None required.

Safety and Security in British Indian Ocean Territory

Emergency Numbers

Personal Safety

Crimes rates are low.

Piracy and armed robbery in the Gulf of Aden, around the horn of Africa, off the coast of Somalia, and in the Indian Ocean may present a risk to those travelling by ship.

Ensure travel insurance is purchased before departing as medical facilities are limited. In the case of a severe medical emergency, evacuation will likely be required.

Same-sex sexual activity and marriage are legal in British Indian Ocean Territory.

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