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Cocos (Keeling) Islands

Cocos Islands, Territory of Australia

Last modified: 2003-07-18 by jonathan dixon
Keywords: cocos | keeling | territory | island | australia | cluniess-ross |
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[Flag of Australia] by Antonio Martins

See also


The Cocos Islands fly the Australian national flag and do not have an individual flag. See at Ausflags site.
Brendan Jones, 08 December 1995


The Cocos Islands lay the Indian ocean, off the West coast of Australia, approximately one-half the way between Australia and Sri Lanka.
James Dignan, 08 December 1995


Between 1831 and 1857, the Cocos Islands constituted a feudal "fiefdom", and was ruled by John Cluniess-Ross. In 1886, Queen Victoria relinquished the islands to the Cluniess-Ross family, who then proclaimed their islands as a kingdom, and themselves as monarchs. Of course, this title was not recognized by the British or the Australians. In the 1980s, after tremendous pressure, "King" Ross V. handed the islands over to Australia.
Jaume Ollé, Christopher Vance, and Harald Muller, 01 August 1996

from The Statesman's Yearbook (1993-94):

Although the Cocos (Keeling) islands were discovered in 1609 by Capt. William Keeling of the East India Company, they remained uninhabited until 1826, when the first settlement was established on the main atoll by an Englishmen, Alexander Hare, with a group of followers, predominantly of Malay origin. Hare left the islands in 1831, by which time a second settlement had been formed on the main atoll by John Clunies-Ross, a Scottish seaman and adventurer, who began commercial development of the islands' coconut palms.

In 1857 the islands were annexed to the Crown; in 1878 responsibility was transferred from the Colonial Office to the Government of Ceylon, and in 1886 to the Government of the Straits Settlements. By indenture in 1886 Queen Victoria granted all land in the islands to George Clunies-Ross and his heirs in perpetuity (with certain rights reserved to the Crown). In 1803 the islands were incorporated in the Settlement of Singapore and in 1942-46 temporarily placed under the Governor of Ceylon. In 1946 a Resident Administrator, responsible to the Governor of Singapore, was appointed.

On 23 Nov. 1955 the Cocos Islands were placed under the authority of the Australian Government as the Territory of Cocos (Keeling) Islands. An Administrator, appointed by the Government's representative in the Territory and is responsible to the Minister for Territories and Local Government. The Cocos (Keeling) Islands Council, established as the elected body of the Cocos Malay community in July 1979, advises the Administrator on all issues affecting the Territory.

In 1978 the Australian Government purchased the Clunies-Ross family's entire interests in the islands, except for the family residence for A$6.250.000. A Cocos Malay co-operative was established to take over the running of the Clunies-Ross copra plantation and to engage in other business with the Commonwealth in the Territory, including construction projects.

The islands became world-famous when in 1914 the German cruiser 'Emden' was sunk by the Australian cruiser Sydney.

According to the Dutch author Boudewijn Buch (Eenzaam, 1992)the only book about the atolls is 'The Cocos (Keeling) Islands. Australian atolls in the Indian Ocean', by Pauline Bunch, 1988, available at Robert Muirs antiquariat in Perth, and at the Post Office of West Island; In the community center of Home Island there were in 1992 50 boxes with copies of that book.
Jarig Bakker, 11 November 1998

Coat of arms

Nothing was found about a flag, but at the beginning of the century, the Cluniess-Ross family issued coins and banknotes with a coat of arms (coa). The shield is quartered. Fields 1 and 4 contain a standing bird (like a duck) looking to the right, 2 and 3 have a fish. In the center of the shield the letter "Z" is displayed. The shield is between two palm trees and stands on on a piece of soil. Below, there is a scroll with the motto "Pro Patria". There is also a crest, but it's hardly recognizable since the coins are very crude. However, it is not certain if this is the coat of arms of the Cocos islands. It is more probably the coa of the Cluniess-Ross family.
Harald Muller, 30 July 1996